Since its construction in the 1960s, traffic congestion and ongoing construction have been a serious problem on Interstate 75 which runs through Dayton and connects Cincinnati with Toledo. Major renovations began in the early 2000s and continue to this day. Even more extensive projects are planned for the mid-2020s.
Roadway design is an issue as well. Interstate 75 is one of the only freeways in America with a substantial number of left-lane exits. The state plans to close most of these exits as part of the aforementioned mid-2020s renovations. These changes should make the freeway safer for future motorists. However, these changes do nothing to compensate the thousands of accident victims who were seriously hurt in an Interstate 75 accident.
A Hamilton personal injury lawyer is an advocate for safety as well as an advocate for victims. Attorneys regularly testify during legislative hearings and otherwise give lawmakers the information they need to draft needed legislation. Many times, a personal injury attorney participates in the drafting process. Additionally, a personal injury lawyer obtains the compensation victims need and deserve. To put it bluntly, these victims need money to put their lives back together. Attorneys work to ensure that this money does not come from their own pockets.
The three issues on Interstate 75 mentioned above, and discussed more fully below, may seem to have little in common with each other. However, they have at least one thing in common. Vehicle collisions, regardless of the underlying cause, generally result in serious injuries. Frequently, the motion of a wreck causes such injuries, so they are common even in relatively low-speed wrecks. Examples include:
All these injuries have diagnosis and treatment issues. Well-meaning general practice doctors often are not experienced with collision-related injuries, so they frankly do not know how to handle them. Busy emergency room doctors usually spend little time with their patients and even less time reviewing test results. As a result, they often miss important details.
To alleviate these concerns, a Hamilton personal injury lawyer connects victims with doctors who focus on injury-related conditions. These doctors know how to do things like properly diagnose whiplash and set shattered bones without extensive surgery. In other words, a lawyer helps ensure that victims get the treatment they need, as opposed to the treatment they can afford or the treatment an insurance adjuster approves.
As a bonus, these providers generally charge nothing upfront for their professional services. Instead, they delay billing until the case is resolved.
As an additional bonus, a Hamilton personal injury lawyer usually negotiates with doctors and reduces their fees. This reduction could mean the victim keeps more settlement money under Ohio’s complicated collateral source rule.
Assume Frank’s medical bills are $100,000. Frank’s lawyer negotiates the bill down to $80,000. In some cases, Frank is still entitled to $100k for his medical bills, so he retains the extra $20k.
Most vehicles in most vehicle collisions are single-occupant vehicles. Multiple-occupant crashes are a little more common on interstates. These drivers are mostly travelers instead of commuters.
Special issues are involved if the injured victim is a passenger. These victims have the same legal and financial rights as injured drivers. But, these cases involve some unique emotional and legal considerations.
Emotionally, many injured passengers have close, personal relationships with the drivers who cause these wrecks. Often, these victims don’t want to “blame” these people for these “accidents.” This sentiment is understandable and inaccurate.
Vehicle collision claims do not “blame” anybody for anything. Blame is a concept for criminal courts. Compensation for damages is the key concept in civil courts. If your friend dropped your TV while he was helping you move, you would expect compensation. The same thing is true if your friend causes a wreck that hurts you.
Furthermore, vehicle collisions usually are not “accidents.” People accidentally lose their car keys. They do not accidentally drive drunk and cause collisions. When we make mistakes, we should accept responsibility for those mistakes. That is a universal concept that is especially applicable to vehicle collisions since so much money is at stake.
No one likes sitting in traffic. To avoid it, many drivers switch lanes suddenly or dart in and out of traffic lanes. Then, once normal flow resumes, many people seek to make up for the lost time. These are all examples of aggressive driving, which is one of the most common causes of vehicle collisions in Butler County.
Speed is especially dangerous. Excessive velocity is a factor in about a third of the serious injury and fatal collisions in Ohio. Speed increases the force in a wreck as well as the risk of a collision.
According to Sir Isaac Newton’s Second Law of Motion, speed multiplies the force in a collision between two objects. Typically, vehicle speeds are much higher on interstates than on surface streets. So, what might be a non-injury “fender bender” on a surface street is a serious injury collision on an interstate.
Moreover, when a speeding car stops suddenly, because it hits another car or a fixed object, like a retaining wall, the people and things inside the vehicle keep moving forward at the same speed. Seatbelts, airbags, and other safety restraint systems cannot contain all this force. Additionally, small objects inside cars and trucks, like cell phones, suddenly become high-speed missiles.
The same multiplying factor applies to the risk of a collision. Speed multiplies stopping distance. That is the amount of time a vehicle keeps traveling forward until the driver sees a hazard, moves his/her foot to the brake pedal, and safely stops the car.
At surface street speeds or about 30mph, the stopping distance is usually six car lengths. At freeway speeds or about 60mph, the stopping distance multiplies to eighteen car lengths.
Tailgating is closely related to speeding. This issue, which also causes many wrecks, illustrates the different duties of care for noncommercial and commercial drivers. Most noncommercial drivers should maintain about a two-second distance between themselves and the vehicles in front of them. The recommended truck-driver-following distance is about eight seconds.
While they drive on Interstate 75 and other freeways, most noncommercial drivers have a duty of reasonable care at most times. They must drive defensively and avoid accidents if possible. When they go through one of the many construction zones on Interstate 75, a higher duty of care usually applies.
This duty is reflected in the different laws that apply in construction zones. Generally, motorists must reduce their speeds in these areas. The higher duty of care makes it easier for a Hamilton personal injury lawyer to prove negligence, or a lack of care, and obtain compensation for accident victims.
Lane closures and other such obstacles require motorists to react quickly and make solid decisions when they pass through construction zones. The five kinds of driver impairment, which combine to cause about half of the wrecks in Ohio, affect motor skills and judgment ability, as follows:
The five kinds of impairment are a problem everywhere and not just in construction zones on Interstate 75.
Legally, the negligence per se rule could apply to many driver impairment-related wrecks. It is illegal to drive under the influence of a substance or, in most areas, drive while using a hand-held phone. Generally, if the tortfeasor (negligent driver) breaks a safety law and causes a car crash, the victim could be entitled to damages as a matter of law.
Many impairment-related wrecks also involve third-party liability. Once again, alcohol-related wrecks are a good example. Bars, restaurants, and other commercial alcohol providers could be financially responsible for damages if they knowingly serve intoxicated individuals who later cause wrecks.
The chain of events that leads to many impairment-related wrecks starts before drivers get behind the wheel. These tortfeasors arguably know that they are too drunk, sleepy, or sick to drive, but they get behind the wheel anyway.
The same thing is true for defective roadway design wrecks. Engineers usually design roads so they quickly move traffic from one place to another. Safety comes second. Certain additional laws apply to such claims, making them very complex.
These complexities begin with identifying the responsible party. Normally, this exercise is straightforward. But that is not the case in most defective roadway design claims. Generally, the state or other government agency hires a contractor to do the work. How much “work” the contractor does has a significant bearing on the case.
Sometimes, governments give contractors broad instructions, like “widen these lanes” or “improve these interchanges.” Other times, governments are specific, and contractors simply execute the government’s plans.
In that first instance, the contractor is probably responsible for any defective design issues. In the latter instance, the state is probably responsible, which means Ohio’s partial sovereign immunity law could apply.
This law is a bit like the controversial official immunity doctrine that shields police officers from liability in excessive force cases. Sovereign immunity comes from the ancient idea that the sovereign, which in those days was a king or queen, couldn’t do anything wrong and was therefore immune from civil suits.
Today, most government entities, including the State of Ohio, have waived their sovereign immunity if the actor was negligent. So, this rule applies to defectively designed roads, at least in most cases. So, although it’s possible to sue city hall in these situations, these actions are normally quite complex.
If a government employee or contractor is negligent, the environment is much different. Basically, people are negligent when they do not do their jobs properly.
For example, if the city of Hamilton decides not to put a stop sign at a certain intersection, the city most likely isn’t responsible for damages if there’s a wreck at that intersection. However, the city is negligent if a tree grows and obscures the stop sign, making it difficult to see.
Additionally, the notice of claim requirement usually applies in these cases. Before victims sue the city or state in court, they must file a notice of claim. This process gives the defendant a chance to investigate the matter and settle it quietly. Shorter-time deadlines usually apply in these situations.
Injury victims can be entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney, contact Kruger & Hodges, Attorneys at Law by going online or calling 513-894-3333. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters.