Reckless Driving, Speeding and Traffic Deaths on the Rise in Ohio

car accidents

As the Coronavirus escalates, public roadways and highways have become empty in recent weeks as more people opt to stay in the safety of their homes. In an effort to reduce transmission among law enforcement officers, many police departments have also reduced the number and frequency of speed traps on highways. Many drivers appear to be taking advantage of the more open roads and lack of law enforcement, which has led to a dramatic increase in fatal car accidents nationwide.

A recent report released by the Governors Highways Safety Administration indicates a significant spike in speeding facilitated by the open highways. Many drivers have apparently completely thrown caution out the window, regularly hitting speeds of up to 100 mph. This, of course, makes the car accidents that do occur more dangerous.

The Governors Highways Safety Administration cautions every road user to adhere to set traffic safety laws, particularly during these unprecedented times where emergency response times may be longer and hospital resources are already stretched thin. The association is reminding road users to remain vigilant and follow all laws to avoid car accidents and reduce additional strain on hospital emergency rooms.

Recent car accident reports for 2020 to-date indicate that 17% of all traffic-related incidents involve pedestrians.

At the same time, the study indicates that pedestrians and bicycle riders have increased substantially in recent weeks following the decrease in motor vehicle traffic. More people sequestered at home means that more families are taking walks, going for bike rides and using our streets for entertainment rather than a means of conveyance. Drivers should be extra cautious of the increase in foot traffic.

The Governors’ Report suggest a significant increase in the number of speeding tickets issued in recent weeks.

Notably, some states have reported a reduction in crashes, but the few recorded accidents have turned out to be severe or even fatal, mainly because of over-speeding and reckless drivers. You may be tempted to put your foot down on a clear, unobstructed stretch of highway, but you should avoid this temptation at all costs.

Whether you are a driver or a pedestrian, obeying traffic rules is vital to keeping our roads and highways safe and accident-free as the country grapples with fighting this national pandemic. If you have been unfortunate enough to be involved in a car accident, you need an experienced car accident attorney on your side. Cowan & Hilgeman Law is one of Dayton’s top rated car accident attorneys. Call (937) 222-2030 today to schedule your FREE, no obligation phone or video consultation. If we don’t win your case, you don’t pay a penny.

Why Cowan & Hilgeman Consistently Ranks Among the Top Law Firms in Dayton Ohio

At the offices of Cowan and Hilgeman we believe that our clients are more than just a case.

When you come to our firm we will treat you with the dignity and respect that every human being deserves.
We will help you to make sense of this difficult time in your life, treating each case individually with an approach catered to your needs. 
More than that, we will dedicate ourselves tirelessly on your behalf, providing the stalwart service our clients have come to expect since 1994. 

At this firm, we have high standards, which is why we are consistently rated as one of the top law firms in Dayton.

We are an A+ Better Business Bureau rated firm, have 5 star google and Avvo reviews, and have a list of accolades that we are extremely proud to have earned.

Yet the most satisfying achievement for us is the trust our clients have in us and the satisfaction they have with our representation. We are touched that so many individuals have entrusted their cases with us, and we just wanted to thank all who have sought out our help, and taken the time to share their experiences. We could list our strengths all day, but don’t take our word for it. Listen to what your neighbors have had to say about us:

If you have experienced an injury at no fault of your own, and are unsure what steps you need to take next, give us a call at 937-222-2030 for a free case evaluation today. We’re one of the top rated law firms in Dayton for so many reasons.

I Got into a Bus Accident. Now What?

bus accident dayton

Since the local government owns RTA busses in Dayton, Ohio, special rules apply when they get into an accident. Governments in the United States have special protections against lawsuits called Sovereign Immunity. You can still file an injury claim or bus accident lawsuit against a government-owned bus line, if specific rules are followed. It helps to have an experienced bus accident attorney on your side.

Injury claims against the government are made under the rules of the Tort Claims Act for federal agencies. Many states and municipalities have adopted their own version of the Tort Claims Act to handle injury claims by private citizens.

Filing an injury claim under the Tort Claims Act is different from filing one against a private person or company. Claims against government agencies have special forms to complete and firm deadlines. If your forms are late or incorrect, you may lose your right to compensation.

You will have to file a “notice of claim.”

Use the exact claim form required by the agency responsible for the bus accident. Most claim forms must include:

  • Your name and address
  • A description of when, where and how the bus accident happened
  • A description of your damages, such as your medical costs, lost wages, broken glasses, etc.
  • A statement of your intent to seek compensation for injuries and property damage caused by the agency’s employee, for example, the bus driver.

Be sure to submit the notice on time, and to the right place. Keep a copy for your records.

Keep an Eye on the Statute of Limitations

In Ohio, you have two years from the date of the accident in which to file a claim. The clock starts running immediately, no matter how badly you were injured. If you miss the two year window, your claim will be thrown out. For more information on the Statute of Limitations in Ohio, please go to this article.

Bus Accidents and Common Carrier Laws

Any individual or business licensed to transport passengers for a fee is known as a common carrier. State and federal laws closely regulate most common carriers. The law holds carriers to a very high standard for the safety of their passengers, called a duty of care. Common Carriers must do everything reasonably within their power to avoid injuries to their passengers.

Common carriers’ duties of care include:

  • Making entryways and exits safe for passengers (good lighting, no obstructions, etc.)
  • Providing security where necessary to ensure the health and safety of passengers
  • Hiring qualified bus drivers
  • Maintaining bus engines, motors, and other machinery
  • Monitoring and correcting bus design flaws

When a bus company or agency violates their duty of care, they’ve become negligent, meaning they did something wrong or failed to do what they’re supposed to do to keep passengers safe.

Examples of negligence that cause bus accidents include:

  • Bus drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Bus drivers who aren’t qualified or properly trained
  • Drivers working without enough sleep
  • Poorly maintained buses and equipment
  • Improperly loaded or overloaded buses

Proving Bus Accident Negligence

To win your bus accident lawsuit, you have to prove the carrier’s negligence was the cause of your injuries. Because common carriers have a higher duty of care to passengers, you won’t need as much evidence to prove your case as you would in other injury claims. But you should still collect as much evidence as you can.

Evidence to support your case will include:

  • Photographs taken at the time of your injury and several days after
  • Witness statements
  • Incident or police reports
  • Weather reports
  • Your written recollections about the accident and your injuries

In addition to evidence of fault for the accident, you’ll need to collect evidence of your injuries, such as:

  • Your medical bills and records
  • Receipts for out-of-pocket expenses
  • Proof of your lost wages

Filing a personal injury claim is never easy or straightforward. When you’re going up against the Government – at any level, local, state or federal – it is important to have an experienced personal injury attorney on your side. The personal injury attorneys at Cowan & Hilgeman Law have successfully fought countless personal injury suits – including plenty of claims that other law firms routinely reject. Call (937) 222-2030 to schedule your FREE consultation with an experienced Bus Accident attorney.

How Much Time do I Have to File a Nursing Home Personal Injury Claim in the State of Ohio?

Nursing Home Negligence

From the moment you or someone you love is injured in a nursing home, the clock starts running on how long you have to file a claim. In Ohio, the Statute of Limitations for a nursing home negligence or injury claim is generally 1 year. If you fail to file suit within that time frame, the defendant (the person you’re trying to sue) will almost certainly file a “motion to dismiss”, and the Court will reject your case on statutory grounds.

Even if you or your loved one was horribly injured due to nursing home negligence or neglect, and they were clearly in the wrong; after a year, they can no longer be held responsible through a personal injury claim.

With a few exceptions:

  • In cases where the victim was ‘of unsound mind’, the time limit in which their next of kin can file a personal injury claim is lifted. Common diagnoses such as Alzheimer’s and dementia could extend the statute of limitations beyond one year. An experienced personal injury attorney will be able to tell you whether the statute of limitations applies in your case.
  • If the defendant “departs from the state” or absconds, or conceals” him or herself within the state of Ohio, the time limit in which to file a personal injury claim does not start again until the person can be located. In other words, if the defendant skips town for a couple of years to avoid taking responsibility for their actions, you have 1 year from the date of their return in which to file a lawsuit.
  • If your Ohio nursing home negligence or injury claim stems from injuries caused by a defective product, a special filing timeline may apply to your case, especially if consumer fraud or a product warranty is involved.

Putting a family member into a nursing home can be extremely difficult. You are trusting strangers with the care, health and happiness of your loved one, which makes it especially upsetting if they are injured or even killed by negligence or neglect.

After a nursing home negligence or neglect injury, it is extremely important to get an experienced, aggressive attorney fighting in your corner. Due to the advanced age and frailty of most nursing home residents, care facilities will often try to explain away or pass off their responsibility as just a natural consequence of being old and frail. “These things just happen sometimes”, they will say. If you suspect negligence or abuse may have contributed to the injury or death of your loved on while in the care of a nursing home, call the experienced nursing home negligence attorneys at Cowan & Hilgeman.

At Cowan & Hilgeman, we have successfully handled countless nursing home negligence cases, including cases that other law firms have rejected. To schedule your FREE consultation with our Dayton Personal Injury Attorney, call (937) 222-2030.

Fatalities on Ohio roads increase in 2019

Ohio car fatalities

In an article dated January 17, 2020, the Daily Court Reporter stated that Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced recently that fatalities on Ohio’s roads this year have increased over 2018, making 2019 one of the deadliest years on Ohio roads during this decade.

There have been a total of 1,119 fatalities on Ohio roads this year to date, as compared to 1,068 traffic deaths during the entire year of 2018. Overall, traffic fatalities have increased in five of the past six years.

“Distracted driving involving smartphones in, without a doubt, a major contributing factor to this increase in traffic fatalities, which is why I’ve asked the Ohio State Highway Patrol to increase enforcement of distracted driving violations over the holidays,” said Governor DeWine. “As we launch into one of the busiest travel times of the year, the way we drive will impact how many people are home for the holidays and how many people ring in the new year.”

According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, more than 91,000 distracted driving crashes occurred in Ohio from 2013 to today resulting in more that 47,000 injuries. A total of 305 people were killed in distracted driving crashes during the same period.

Because drivers don’t aways admit to distracted driving, the actual number of distracted driving crashes, injuries, and deaths are believed to be significantly higher.

“I’m challenging everyone to put your smartphones away while you drive over the holidays and to make it your New Year’s resolution to drive without distraction every day going forward,” said Governor DeWine. “If you have a passenger, ask them to read or write texts for you, or if you are the passenger, speak up if you see your driver reaching for the phone.”

Parents are also encouraged to take time to talk with their young drivers about driving distractions. Between 2013 and 2018, Ohioans age 16-20 had the highest number of distracted driving crashes, followed by drivers between ages of 21-23.

Ohio law bans the use of any electronic wireless communication devices for drivers under 18. Texting while driving is illegal for all drivers but is a secondary offense for drivers 18 and above.

In addition to smartphone distractions, distracted driving includes any non-driving activity with the potential to distract a person from the primary task of driving and increase the risk of crashing. Distractions can be visual, taking eyes off of the road; manual, taking hands off of the wheel; or cognitive, taking the mind off of driving. Texting while driving is an example that results in all three types of distraction.

If you have lost someone in a car accident, the Ohio Wrongful Death Lawyers at Cowan & Hilgeman offer free case evaluations and only get paid an attorney fee if we win your case. You do not pay an attorney fee if we do not win your case. If you have questions regarding a potential wrongful death lawsuit, call the Ohio Wrongful Death Lawyers at Cowan & Hilgeman to speak with an attorney and schedule a free case evaluation.

What Does “Open and Obvious” Mean in an Ohio Personal Injury Claim?

Open and obvious

It is the responsibility of every landlord, tenant and property manager to ensure that their premises are free from hazardous conditions that may cause injury. When an injury does occur, however, a commonly used defense is that the hazard was blatant and unavoidable – open and obvious to all.

In other words, anyone who was paying attention would have been able to see an obvious danger in plain sight and taken steps to avoid it.

This argument takes blame away from the property owner and places it squarely on the injured victim, even if the property owner was clearly negligent.

To prove negligence in an Ohio Slip and Fall Case, the following conditions must be met:

  • The owner owed a ‘duty of care’ to the plaintiff – The legal obligation to prevent harm to their visitors and patrons.
  • They breached that duty – such as, forgetting to put out ‘wet floor’ signs after mopping.
  • An injury occurred as a direct result of that breach – for example, someone slipped on the wet floor.

Unfortunately, even when each element of negligence has been met, a legal case against the property owner may not exist because of the Open and Obvious defense.

Some examples of hazards that have been deemed by the courts to be open and obvious – and therefore not actionable – are:

  • Planters that are six feet in diameter
  • A sidewalk curb
  • A ladder on the selling floor of a store
  • Uneven concrete where there were no obstructions to the person’s view
  • Brick border around a tree
  • Raised joints where asphalt met concrete in a parking lot
  • Disassembled store shelving in an area that was clearly being redesigned.

Defendants in these cases have successfully argued that they are not responsible for injuries that occurred due to lack of proper care and attention, or the plaintiff underestimating the danger presented by a hazard.

How is the “Open and Obvious” Rule Treated in Ohio?

There are numerous ways that the open and obvious rule can be used as a defense for property owners, but it doesn’t always end in their favor. To get a better understanding of how it works, here is an actual example from Ohio courts:

In a case in which the plaintiff tripped over some exposed computer cables and fell, no obstacles were blocking her view of the cables and no previous incidents involving similar circumstances ever occurred. When you consider the facts, it is clearly apparent that the cables presented an obvious hazard for tripping.

Nonetheless, the court found that, although the cables qualified as an “open and obvious” condition and discharged the duty to warn, it did not discharge the property owner’s duty to maintain the property in a reasonably safe condition. In conclusion, the plaintiff still had a valid claim even though the danger was glaringly obvious.

Determining whether the open and obvious rule will apply to your case is a question that only an experienced premises liability attorney can answer. Premises liability law is often complicated and hiring a lawyer who is familiar with it is always in your best interest.

To find out whether your Ohio premises liability claim has merit, or whether an ‘Open and Obvious‘ defense can successfully be used by the defendant, call to schedule a free consultation with our Personal Injury attorney. Cowan & Hilgeman frequently takes cases that other law firms reject. Call (937) 222-2030 today.