Drowsy, Drunk or Distracted: Determining the Cause of a Car Accident in Ohio
When you get injured in a car accident, determining the cause of the accident is a critical step for recovering just compensation. You need to make sure you file your claim with the correct company; and when you file your claim, you need to be able to prove that the company is financially responsible.
In most cases, this involves filing a claim with the other driver’s insurer. Most car accidents are the result of driver negligence; and since Ohio requires all drivers to carry auto insurance, most drivers are insured. But how do you prove your right to coverage when multiple forms of driver negligence could be to blame?
Understanding Your Burden of Proof After a Car Accident in Ohio
When you have an insurance claim after a car accident, simply blaming the other driver isn’t enough. Rather, you must be able to prove the specific issue (or issues) that led to your crash. While this can be fairly straightforward in some cases, in others, it can be much more challenging.
For example, many of the symptoms of drowsy, drunk and distracted driving are similar. All of these are forms of negligence, and all of these entitle accident victims to just compensation under Ohio law. But, to convince the driver’s insurance company that it is liable to pay, you must be able to prove why it is responsible.
So, how do you prove the cause of a car accident?
The answer to this question depends on the circumstances involved. Following a car accident, it is important to investigate as soon as possible. A prompt and thorough investigation will determine the cause of the accident in most cases; and through the investigative process, your lawyer can gather the evidence needed to prove liability. Based on the facts of your case and the evidence that is available, your lawyer can then determine what additional steps are necessary to prove your legal rights.
Proving a Driver was Drowsy, Drunk or Distracted
Drowsy, drunk and distracted driving are among the leading causes of car accidents in Ohio. They are also all examples of negligence. As a result, in many cases, recovering just compensation after a car accident will involve proving that the other driver was drowsy, drunk or distracted behind the wheel.
But, as noted above, drowsiness, intoxication and driving distractions can all have similar effects. For example, all of these can cause a driver to:
- Drift out of the driver’s lane
- Merge or turn without checking for oncoming traffic
- Run a red light or stop sign
- Fail to brake in time to avoid a collision
Given that this is the case, proving that a driver was drowsy, drunk or distracted typically requires more than just evidence of the driver’s actions (or inaction) behind the wheel. For example, to prove drowsiness, it may be necessary to obtain the driver’s employment records or GPS data (to show that he or she had just gotten off of a long shift or had been driving for an extended period of time). To prove intoxication, it may be necessary to obtain the driver’s receipts or account statements showing that he or she had been drinking prior to the crash. To prove distracted driving, your lawyer may need to obtain the driver’s calling and data usage records from his or her carrier.
These are just examples—there are many other ways to prove that a driver was drowsy, drunk or distracted as well. When filing an auto insurance claim after a car accident, the key is knowing what evidence is available in your case to prove your right to coverage.
Proving the Other Driver was at Fault Regardless of His or Her State
With all of that said, even if the driver who hit you was drowsy, drunk or distracted, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to be able to prove it in order to recover just compensation. In many cases, the mistakes drivers make while they are drowsy, drunk or distracted will entitle victims to just compensation regardless of the driver’s cognitive state.
For example, let’s say you got hit by a driver who ran a red light. Running a red light is negligent regardless of why it happens. Running red lights is illegal for a reason—and drivers who run red lights can be held accountable whether they do so intentionally or because they don’t realize the light is red.
The same is true with speeding or braking too late to avoid a rear-end collision. While these are often indicative of fatigue, intoxication or being distracted behind the wheel, they are not justified under any circumstances. So, while showing that the other driver was distracted might help explain why he or she didn’t see your car, the fact that he or she failed to brake can be enough on its own to establish your claim for damages.
There are countless other examples as well. As we said above, determining what it takes to prove an accident victim’s legal rights requires a careful case-by-case assessment. When you hire an experienced lawyer to represent you, your lawyer will work quickly to gather the available evidence, evaluate all potential claims and determine what steps are necessary to establish liability.
What Are Your Next Steps for Proving Liability?
If you have been injured in a car accident, what are your next steps for proving liability? At this point, seeking medical treatment and consulting with a lawyer should be your top two priorities. Your doctor can provide the treatment you need while documenting the cause of your injuries, and your lawyer can take all of the steps necessary to protect your legal rights.
Discuss Your Claim with an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer in Columbus, OH
If you have been seriously injured in a car accident in Ohio, we can use our experience to help you seek the financial compensation you deserve. To get started with a free, no-obligation consultation, call 888-444-7440 or tell us how we can reach you online now.