A Franklin County resident who receives serious injuries in an accident with a drunk driver might wrongly assume that the law automatically imposes liability on the intoxicated driver. Depending on the circumstances surrounding how the accident happened, Ohio negligence laws may or may not impose liability on drunk driver.
Liability in an auto accident depends upon proving negligence on the part of a driver. If an accident victim claims that he or she was hit by a drunk driver, it is still necessary to prove that the driver was negligent.
Proving negligence requires evidence to establish each of the following:
- Existence of a duty owed by the defendant to the plaintiff
- Breach of the duty
- Defendant's conduct caused injury to the plaintiff
- Foreseeability that plaintiff could be injured by defendant's conduct
- Injury or harm to the plaintiff
Drivers owe a duty to other motorists, pedestrians and others using the roads to use reasonable care in operating their vehicles by keeping them under control and keeping a proper lookout. Being drunk could be a breach of the duty to use reasonable care if the facts of how the accident occurred support that conclusion.
For example, an intoxicated driver who stops at a red traffic light and is hit from behind by another car might be committing the criminal offense of impaired driving, but he or she might not have done anything to cause the accident to happen. The results of a police investigation into the cause of the accident would have to reveal conduct on the part of the drunk driver to prove the elements of negligence.
Seeking legal advice from a personal injury attorney is a good idea following an auto accident in which your or a member of your family suffered serious injuries. Negligence is a complex area of the law of which this post can only provide an overview. It is not offered as legal advice, and you should not rely upon it as offering answers to questions you might have concerning a drunk driving accident.