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Distracted Driving Accident Attorney Serving Clients in Toledo, OH
Many of us engage in distracted driving behaviors behind the wheel each day in Toledo without realizing the serious risk of a car accident. What is distracted driving? According to Distraction.gov, the U.S. government’s website for distracted driving, “distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving.” Distracted driving can take many forms, and you might not even realize that you are putting others at risk by reaching over to change a radio station, for instance, or by reading a set of directions on your GPS device. However, distracted driving crashes are a serious problem in Ohio and across the country, and they frequently result in serious and even fatal injuries.
Indeed, a fact sheet from the Ohio State Highway Patrol tracks the total number of distracted driving accidents in the state, demonstrating that more than 31,000 collisions resulted from distracted driving behaviors between 2009 and 2011. In Lucas County alone, the Ohio State Highway Patrol recorded 1,554 distracted driving crashes over that two-year period. If you or someone you love recently got hurt in a traffic collision caused by a distracted driver, you deserve to seek compensation for your injuries. An experienced Toledo distracted driving accident lawyer can assist with your case.
What Kinds of Driving Behaviors Might Result in a Distracted Driving Collision in Ohio?
The Ohio State Highway Patrol fact sheet emphasizes that there are three general types of distractions that can impact a vehicle operator’s ability to pay attention to the road:
- Visual distractions, which involve taking your eyes off the road, even for a second or two;
- Manual distractions, which involve taking your hands off the wheel even for a brief period; and
- Cognitive distractions, which involve taking your mind off the driving task (and can occur even when your eyes are on the road and your hands are on the wheel.
Indeed, according to facts and figures presented by Distraction.gov, there are many different types of behaviors that can distract a driver, and many of these behaviors may not be immediately recognizable as distracted driving risks. Examples include some of the following:
- Texting while driving;
- Talking on the phone while driving;
- Browsing the Internet or posting to a social media site while driving;
- Eating or drinking behind the wheel;
- Talking to other vehicle passengers;
- Reading maps or other materials;
- Using a GPS navigation system, including a navigational system on your smartphone;
- Watching videos;
- Adjusting your radio; and
- Grooming yourself while you are behind the wheel.
Texting while driving is among the most serious distracted driving behaviors listed above. To be sure, Distraction.gov clarifies that the average time a driver’s eyes are off the road when she or he is texting is approximately five seconds. While five seconds might not sound like too much time, if you are driving at even 55 miles per hour while sending a text, you likely have engaged in a behavior equivalent to driving the entire length of a football field with a blindfold over your eyes. And since 2011—the last year of data from the Ohio State High Highway Patrol—smartphone use has continued to increase. In 2011, only about 52 percent of American drivers owned smartphones, while about 80 percent of those drivers owned smartphones by 2014.
Ohio Laws Prohibit Texting While Driving
The fact sheet from the Ohio State Highway Patrol emphasizes that texting while driving involves all three types of distractions noted above: visual, manual, and cognitive distractions. The data reported by Distraction.gov also underscores the serious risks posed by smartphone use behind the wheel. What laws are in place in our state to prevent texting while driving?
Under Section 4511.204 of the Ohio Code, driving while texting is illegal. The law specifies that “no person shall drive a motor vehicle, trackless trolley, or streetcar on any street, highway, or property open to the public for vehicular traffic while using a handheld electronic wireless communications device to write, send, or read a text-based communication.” To be clear, texting while driving is taken very seriously in Ohio.
Filing a Distracted Driving Lawsuit in Toledo
If you want to file a distracted driving claim, what laws in Toledo, Ohio should you know about? In brief, Section 2305.10 of the Ohio Code allows for an “action for bodily injury or injuring personal property.” Typically, distracted driving is viewed as negligent behavior on the part of the responsible driver. The law makes clear that anyone who is injured as a result of another driver’s negligence can be eligible to seek compensation by filing an action for bodily injury.
Keep in mind, however, that you should file your lawsuit as soon as possible. Section 2305.11 of the Ohio Code requires persons injured in distracted driving lawsuits to file claims within two years from the date of the accident.
What Damages Can I Receive By Filing an Ohio Distracted Driving Claim?
Generally speaking, a plaintiff who files a negligence lawsuit against another party can be eligible to receive compensatory damages that come in two forms:
- Economic damages: economic damages are those that compensate the injured plaintiff for direct, objective losses. These damages are not subject to interpretation, but rather are specific costs associated with hospital bills, medical treatments, medications, and lost wages. Economic damages are supplied for losses that can be calculated objectively based on receipts and paycheck stubs, for example.
- Non-economic damages: unlike economic damages, jurors can disagree on the amount of non-economic damages that a plaintiff should receive. This type of damage award is much more subjective because it is not associated with a specific and precise economic loss (like the cost of surgery or the amount of wages lost in a week). Non-economic damages are intended to compensate plaintiffs for losses such as pain and suffering, disfigurement, or the loss of enjoyment of life. There is no receipt or paycheck stub associated with these damages. Instead, a jury typically must determine what kind of amount would be fair to compensate a plaintiff for his pain and suffering, for instance.
Keep in mind, however, that Ohio’s comparative negligence law can prevent you from recovering damages if you are determined to be more than 50 percent responsible for the accident.
Contact a Toledo Distracted Driving Accident Attorney
Were you recently injured in a distracted driving accident? An aggressive Toledo distracted driving accident lawyer can discuss your options for seeking compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. Contact Groth & Associates today for more information about our services.