When it comes to car accidents, Ohio follows the traditional “tort” or “fault” system. This means the individual who caused the accident is held accountable for all resulting damages and losses, including injuries to passengers, other drivers, and property damage.
If you were the passenger of a vehicle involved in an Ohio car accident, you will generally not be held liable—unless the accident was the result of your own negligent actions, such as if you did something to distract the driver. If you had no control over the actions of the vehicle driver, then you may be eligible to receive compensation for any sustained losses and damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and property damage.
Whenever you are a passenger in a vehicle, you are owed a duty by the driver. All drivers need to take reasonable care to drive safely and prevent injury to both their passengers and other vehicles they share the road with. When drivers fail to fulfill this duty and their actions are considered negligent, then they may be held accountable for the damages resulting from their negligence.
If the driver of another vehicle was negligent, then you may opt to sue the negligent driver or the owner of the vehicle. If, on the other hand, the driver of the car you were in was negligent, then you may opt to sue the driver or owner of the vehicle you were riding in. According to state law, passengers are generally entitled to sue all parties whose negligence they believe are responsible for their injuries. If a motor vehicle accident or injuries result from the negligence of two or more drivers or parties, then the injured passenger may opt to seek compensation from them all.
In most instances, a vehicle passenger knows the driver personally. Understandably, you may be hesitant to take any form of legal action, especially if the driver at fault was a friend. Remember, however, that you may be left to deal with the unfair burden of paying for damages by failing to take action. You shouldn’t have to bear the cost of an accident that wasn’t your fault.
As difficult as it may be to take legal action, it is important to keep in mind that you are not necessarily pursuing compensation against the driver, but against the driver’s insurance company and other negligent parties.
The Ohio financial responsibility law or FR law requires all drivers in the state to establish that if they cause an accident, they can pay for damages or injuries potentially caused to others. In order to comply with the requirements of the FR law, drivers often opt to buy car insurance. If so, then the driver’s coverage will likely pay for losses resulting from the crash up to the insurance policy’s limits.
In some cases, however, drivers opt to buy a financial responsibility bond. The bond only covers the individual named in the bond for property damage or bodily injured caused by that individual and not injuries to any other drivers, passengers, or property damage.
Ohio insurance and medical payment laws can be complex, and so it may be best to consult with an experienced attorney who can protect your legal and financial rights as a passenger involved in an accident.
Call The Fitch Law Firm at 855-LAW-OHIO or fill out our online consultation form to schedule a free consultation and put our 30+ years of personal injury law experience to work for you.