In reviewing files sent to us, we see some misinterpretations of the law or expectations regarding what will happen at trial. As a result, we included a few tips you should keep in mind regarding witnesses and defenses.

Knowing Your Witnesses

Just because a person is riding in the car with the other driver, doesn’t mean he or she will be a biased witness. His or her testimony at trial will be that of an eyewitness to the event. He or she will be sworn in and agree to testify under oath, under the penalty of perjury. This is not something witnesses take lightly. The judge or jury will not assume that he or she is lying or that he or she is biased simply because he or she is riding in the car with the uninsured driver.

If you are involved in car accident litigation, don’t just assume if the other driver has two passengers in his or her car that you should discount their testimony.

If you are involved in car accident litigation, don’t just assume if the other driver has two passengers in his or her car that you should discount their testimony. Moreover, don’t assume what it would sound like for a judge or jury to hear their version of events supporting the other driver.

Misinterpreting Case Law

In Ohio, there is no duty to “maintain a proper lookout.” This implies that you should anticipate the negligence of another party. If a driver could anticipate another’s negligence, there would be no car accidents! If a car runs a red light, that driver is negligent and caused the accident. The other driver he or she hits while running the red light has no duty to anticipate that a car will run a red light, and no duty to drive in a manner such that he or she will be able to stop – just in case he or she encounters a negligent driver. Arguing that the other driver has some proportion at fault for “failing to maintain a proper lookout” will not succeed at trial. The case law does not support this and it should not be a factor when evaluating a case.

Arguing Comparative Fault

Similarly, there is no “last clear chance to avoid the accident” rule in Ohio. Again, this would require the other driver to anticipate the negligence of another person while driving. That is not the legal standard in Ohio. At trial, we are required to prove the defendant was negligent. In other words, that he or she had a duty of reasonable care, that he or she violated that duty, and as a result, he or she caused damage. This last clear chance to avoid an accident would really be an argument of comparative fault.

Arguing that the other driver has some proportion at fault for “failing to maintain a proper lookout” will not succeed at trial.