Dangerous things can happen when people let their desire to get somewhere quickly interfere with other people’s rights to safe roads. Tailgating, or following too closely, is a serious driving hazard in Ohio. According to an Ohio Department of Transportation report, following too closely accounted for 51 fatal crashes in Ohio and 19,191 injury accidents. It accounted for more than 71,000 accidents – the most of any of the contributing factors listed.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol has restarted the Operation TRIAD — Targeting Reckless, Intimidating and Aggressive Drivers — campaign to send a message to drivers that tailgating and other aggressive driving would not be tolerated. Unfortunately, that message has not sunk in with many drivers who cause accidents by tailgating.
Legal Options for Tailgating Accident Victims
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Tailgating can give rise to legal claims in the state of Ohio. Any person operating a vehicle in “willful or wanton disregard of the safety of person or property” is guilty of reckless driving — a minor misdemeanor (Ohio Rev. Code Sec. 4511.20). Additionally, reckless driving, which tailgating is considered a part of, often gives rise to civil personal injury lawsuits against the driver or his insurance company.
There are four elements that a plaintiff must prove to win a personal injury lawsuit:
- a duty of care between the parties;
- a breach of that duty;
- the breach caused injury to the plaintiff; and
- the injury resulted in damages to the plaintiff.
If a defendant in a civil case is guilty of reckless driving in a criminal case, the hurdle of establishing negligence may be lessened for the plaintiff because the defendant is considered negligent. A defendant who commits a criminal act is responsible in civil court for that act.
Personal injury cases can lead to both economic damages, like reimbursement of medical bills or property damage, and non-economic damages, like pain and suffering and emotional distress. These awards intend to compensate the victim adequately for the expenses incurred from the injury.
What to Do after a Tailgating Accident
As with any situation that may lead to a legal dispute, it is a good idea to document any expenses you incur. Sometimes in car accidents, the other driver’s insurance company will ask you questions immediately after the accident in an attempt to get you to admit fault or downplay your injuries. Contacting a lawyer as quickly as possible after the accident can help make sure that you do not fall for any tricks from the insurance company. An attorney can explain your legal rights and handle paperwork and communication with insurance companies.
David Bressman helps Columbus car accident victims who were in accidents involving tailgating and can help you get fair restitution for your case. Call our offices at (877) 538-1116 to schedule a free consultation during which you can discuss your case and the compensation to which you might be entitled.