The most common form of personal injury case is an automobile accident. Insurance coverage is mandatory in Ohio; thusly, if the other driver is at fault, procedures exist to gain compensation for an injured victim. The statute of limitations on this type of claim is two years. The primary issue is one of negligence, although damages issues are also contested in many of the personal injury cases that are tried to a jury. Damages must always be proximately caused by the individual or company that was negligent.
Sub-issues within the personal injury field include doctrines such as the “assured clear distance” rule and comparative negligence. The assured clear distance ahead provision of Section 12603, General Code, requires that a driver of a motor vehicle must not operate the car at a greater speed than will permit him or her to bring it to a stop within the distance between his motor vehicle and a discernible object obstructing his or her path or line of travel, unless such assured clear distance ahead is, without his or her fault, suddenly cut down or lessened by the entrance, within such clear distance ahead and into his or her path or line of travel, of some obstruction which renders him or her unable, in the exercise of ordinary care, to avoid colliding therewith. State v. Cheatwood (2nd Dist., 1948), 84 Ohio App. 125. In other words, if you are driving behind a car or truck, you must be able to stop if that car or truck stops.
Negligence is the word ordinarily used to express the foundation of liability for injury to a person or one’s property when such injury is not the result of premeditation and formed intention. 70 Ohio Jur. 3d Negligence §1. Negligence has four basic elements: 1) the existence of a duty owed to one person by another, 2) the failure of a person to fulfill this duty, 3) injury, and 4) the injury must be caused by the failure of one person to fulfill his/her duty to another. 70 Ohio Jur. 3d Negligence §9 and Zuzan v. Shutrump (7th Dist., 2003) 155 Ohio App. 3d 589. The established test of negligence is the conduct of a reasonably prudent person in like circumstances. Comparative negligence situations arise when both drivers are at fault and a judge or jury must apportion to what degree each party is negligent.