Car accidents happen on country roads in Ohio all the time. More specifically, country roads in Clinton County, Fayette County, and Pickaway County can be extremely dangerous. You might assume that a majority of severe and life-threatening traffic collisions occur on highways at high speeds. Or, you might suspect that most debilitating crashes happen in urban areas with heavy traffic. Certainly, serious and deadly accidents occur in these places. Yet it is also important to know that country roads can be extremely hazardous. Although fewer cars travel on rural roads, these roads have particular dangers on them. Unlike interstate highways or urban streets, country roads often have limited lighting, few or no shoulders or guardrails, poor maintenance, and obstacles like debris or deer.
Anyone who was injured in a crash on a rural road should find out how to file a claim. Before filing a claim, it will be important for you to learn more about how country road accidents happen, what you can do to prevent them, and how you can determine liability in the event of a crash. Once you determine who is liable, you will need to move quickly with an insurance claim and lawsuit.
Rural roadway accidents have been on the rise recently, according to data from the Pew Charitable Trusts. Indeed, recent information from Pew shows that rural roads have become especially deadly. In 2019 alone, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reported that “the fatality rate on rural roads was nearly twice as high as on urban ones.”
In some cases, the quality of the roads could be to blame. Better infrastructure could prevent some of the collisions that occur on country roads. Pew also emphasizes that the addition of certain “engineering changes” to rural roads could prevent crashes. Examples of potential “engineering changes” include, for instance:
Of course, infrastructure problems are not the only cause of rural crashes. Driver negligence, vehicle defects, objects and debris on the road, and many other factors also play roles in causing collisions. Data suggests that a high number of rural road accidents result from roadway departures or lane departures. On two-lane rural roads, in particular, head-on collisions are more prevalent since drivers attempt to pass.
There are country roads throughout rural counties in Ohio, including in the following counties:
Clinton County, Ohio, is located off I-71, but there are many rural roads that run through the county. Between Wilmington and nearby small towns like Midland, Martinsville, New Vienna, Reesville, Clarksville, and Blanchester, there are rural roads. Some of those routes are more frequently traveled than others. Whether you are on Route 22, Route 68, or a more rural road like 134 or 730, it is critical to be aware of rural car accident risks.
In Fayette County, Ohio, small towns like Washington Court House, Staunton, Good Hope, Bloomingburg, Jeffersonville, New Holland, and Octa can be sites of rural traffic crashes, particularly for motorists traveling at night or exceeding posted speed limits. Commonly traveled rural roads in Fayette County include Route 62, Route 41, Route 35, and Route 22. Even less traveled roads like Robinson Road can be sites of deadly collisions.
Pickaway County is another location in Ohio with many rural roads where accidents can occur. In Pickaway County, towns like Darbyville, Circleville, Williamsport, Asheville, Derby, Westfall, and New Holland are connected by rural roads. At any time of the day, but after dark, in particular, those rural roads can be dangerous.
What are some of the common causes of accidents and injuries on rural roads in Clinton, Fayette, and Pickaway Counties? Data shows that rural or country roads, in general, are extremely dangerous. Car accidents can happen anywhere, yet there are features of rural roads that can increase the likelihood of a collision. Indeed, country roads come with specific dangers to motorists. Some of the suggested infrastructure improvements listed above refer to some of those hazards. Generally speaking, the following are some of the distinctive threats that exist in rural areas and roadways:
Motorists often speed on rural roads throughout Ohio, including in Clinton, Fayette, and Pickaway Counties. They assume that they will not get caught due to limited law enforcement presence. In addition, drivers often assume that there are few cars, making it possible to drive at especially high speeds. Like other areas, speeding can be deadly on rural roads. Moreover, since country roads may be more likely to have sharp curves and steep slopes, speeding can become even deadlier. According to an NPR report, only about 23 percent of Americans live in rural areas, but a much higher percentage of deadly collisions occur on rural roads. Speeding is one of the major causes.
The logistics of rural roads also make them more dangerous. Many rural roads have limited lighting or no lighting at all. As such, after dark, it can be challenging to see curves or objects. In particular, wildlife on the road can pose significant hazards. When a motorist does swerve, the lack of a shoulder or guardrail can result in a deadly crash.
Many rural roads are maintained less effectively than highly trafficked roads. Since fewer cars drive on rural roads, many counties do not pay much attention to them. In addition, it may take longer for debris or obstacles to be cleared from the road effectively. Moreover, many rural roads are unpaved or covered in gravel, making them more dangerous.
Deer pose a serious problem on rural roads in Ohio, and they can cause severe and deadly accidents. As we noted above, it can be difficult to see deer when lighting is limited. In addition, there are simply more deer in rural areas to cause crashes. To be sure, NPR reports that “deer, elk, moose, and other wild animals are more likely to dart out into traffic on rural roads.”
While you might not be able to prevent all accidents, you can take steps to avoid car accidents on country roads in Ohio. Consider some of the following tips for your safety and the safety of your passengers:
Similar to car accidents in other areas or locations, it is important to take steps after a collision on a rural road to protect your right to compensation. You should consider the following steps:
Many drivers will initially file an auto insurance claim following a rural road crash. If another driver caused the accident, you might be able to file a third-party claim. At the same time, many rural road collisions are one-vehicle crashes. If this type of accident happens, you can find out about a first-party claim through your insurer. Most auto insurance policies include liability and comprehensive coverage. As such, you should be able to seek compensation if you hit a deer, drive off the roadway, or are struck by another vehicle.
When you report the accident to your insurer initially, you should provide only basic facts. You do not want to risk limiting your compensation or having a claim denied because you admitted fault, for example. After reporting the accident, your insurance company can clarify what your coverage includes.
Who is at fault for a rural road accident? Multiple parties could be liable, such as:
Under Ohio’s personal injury statute of limitations, you will likely have two years to file a rural road accident claim. However, the claim timeline could be shorter depending on liability issues. You might need to go through the process of filing a claim against the government if your county failed to maintain or clear a rural road, for example. The sooner you get started on your case, the better for you.
Car accidents can be serious and devastating under any circumstances, no matter where they occur. Crashes that happen on rural or country roads can be particularly severe. There are many factors that contribute to dangerous conditions on rural roads. There are hazards such as negligent road maintenance or driving at excessive speeds. At the same time, country roads are rural and pose risks due to deer and ineffective lighting. It is critical to remember that motorists have a duty to drive safely under the circumstances. Accordingly, even if a driver goes the speed limit on a rural road, they could be negligent if the conditions necessitate slowing down. For example, heavy rain or snow could require a reasonable driver to slow down. Likewise, when a motorist is on a county road after dark, being reasonable might mean slowing down to avoid deer.
Were you injured in a car accident on a rural road? Or did you lose a loved one in a collision that happened on a country road? It is important to find out more about filing a claim for financial compensation. In many circumstances, one or more other parties may be at fault and responsible for paying damages. One of our experienced car accident lawyers in Ohio can assist you with your case. Contact the law firm of Kruger & Hodges online or call today at 513-894-3333. We represent plaintiffs and their families in Clinton County, Fayette County, and Pickaway County.