Thursday, October 31, 2013

Dangers of Tired Drivers

A tired driver is a dangerous driver. Drowsy driving slows reaction time, decreases awareness, impairs judgment and increases aggressiveness. If that sounds familiar, it should. You've heard the same warnings about driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs. Just like driving drunk or driving drugged, drowsy driving causes you to make mistakes behind the wheel that can injure or kill you, your passengers or other motorists.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drowsiness or fatigue is the principal cause of up to 100,000 police-reported passenger vehicle crashes every year, killing at least 1,500 people and injuring 71,000. Many more fatigue-related crashes go unreported. But don't blame it on the long-haul truckers: Less than 1 percent of all sleep-related crashes involve truck drivers, who are prohibited, by federal regulation, from driving more than 10 hours in a 24-hour period.
In 2003, New Jersey passed Maggie's Law, named after a 20-year-old college student killed by a drowsy driver. The law states that a sleep-deprived driver qualifies as a reckless driver who can be convicted of vehicular homicide and serve jail time. While most states don't have such laws on the books, the dangers of drowsy driving are getting more attention. One factor recently identified in drowsy driving is the prevalence of obstructive sleep apnea, which can cause its sufferers to experience extreme daytime sleepiness. Sleep apnea affects approximately 20 percent of U.S. adults, but 90 percent remain undiagnosed, according to the National Institutes of Health.
In some respects drowsy driving is very much like drunk driving. When it comes to drunk driving, once someone has a blood alcohol level over 0.08 percent, he or she is considered legally drunk. Studies have shown that a driver who has gone a day without sleep is very similar to a driver with a blood alcohol level of 0.10, well above the legal limit.
It's the rare driver who hasn't yawned a few times during a long or boring drive. To this end, several car manufacturers have recently rolled out crash-avoidance technology to alert us before we doze offand drive off the road. But sleep experts say that while these stay-awake systems may serve as a good backup plan, no one should get behind the wheel tired in the first place.
Signs of Drowsy Driving
2006 NHTSA study showed that 20 percent of crashes and 12 percent of near-crashes were caused by drowsy drivers, said Charlie Klauer, the study's project manager and a research scientist at Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.
Researchers determine a driver was drowsy by outfitting 100 vehicles with five cameras each, linked to computers to record driver action and reaction. NHTSA monitored the drivers for more than a year and nearly 2 million miles of driving. Researchers determined that the drivers were drowsy if their eyes closed for longer than a blink, or if their heads bobbed forward and then bolted back upright. The classification also included drivers who didn't move at all, staring fixedly ahead instead of reacting to oncoming traffic or checking the rearview or sideview mirrors.
Time, Age and Work Schedules Are Factors
Surprisingly, the study showed that the majority of crashes and near-crashes occur during daytime hours, when roads are more crowded, rather than at night. But sleep-related accidents at night tend to be more serious because they are more likely to occur on high-speed highways and rural roads, when the driver is alone.
Among the groups studied, all the age groups had the same percentage of drowsy-driving crashes and near-crashes, except for one. "The 18-20 age group was involved in five times more fatigue-related accidents and near-accidents than any other group," due to their inexperience behind the wheel and irregular sleep habits, Klauer said.
Teens and young adults are also more likely to get behind the wheel tired. A recent AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety survey found that one in seven licensed drivers ages 16-24 admitted to having dozed off at least once while driving in the past year, compared to one in 10 of all licensed drivers who confessed to falling asleep during the same period.
A National Sleep Foundation poll found that one in five teens and adults in their 20s could be rated as "sleepy" by a standard clinical assessment tool that determines whether sleepiness impairs daily activities.
"A big factor for youth driving drowsy is high school starting times across the country. Many have start times between 7:20 and 7:30 in the morning," says Dr. Helene Emsellem, director of The Center for Sleep & Wake Disorders in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Several studies have associated early start times with increased teenage car crash rates.
To be safer drivers, teens need their rest. "Typical high-schoolers need between 8.5 and 9.5 hours of sleep each night. Many are getting even less than seven hours, which is the minimum threshold for adults," says Emsellem, author of Snooze...or Lose! 10 "No-War" Ways to Improve Your Teen's Sleep Habits.
Work schedules also are a factor in drowsy driving. An AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study, based on interviews with drivers after crashes, indicated that drowsy drivers were nearly twice as likely to work at more than one job and their primary job was much more likely to involve non-standard hours. Working the night shift increased the odds of a sleep-related accident by nearly six times.
Additionally, Klauer said, many people are commuting much longer distances now, increasing the number of drowsy-driving incidents.
The Role of Sleep Apnea and Other Sleep Disorders
Drowsy driving is particularly common among drivers who say they get fewer than six hours of sleep a night or who have sleep disorders, according to a new report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Of the 150,000 drivers surveyed in 19 states and the District of Columbia, 4.2 percent said they had fallen asleep at the wheel in the last 30 days.
An estimated 50 million to 70 million Americans chronically suffer from sleep disorders and sleepiness, according to the Institute of Medicine. Some have sleep disorders that contribute to drowsy driving and they may not even know it.
Obstructive sleep apnea is one of those. The chronic disorder causes repeated pauses in breathing and shallow breath while sleeping. Signs of sleep apnea include loud, irregular snoring or choking and gasping sounds and extreme daytime sleepiness and fatigue.
Obesity is one of the highest risk factors for developing sleep apnea. Studies have found that people with sleep apnea are at twice the risk of being in a car crash, and three to five times more likely to be in a serious crash resulting in personal injury.
New research from University Hospital in Leeds, England, finds that drivers with untreated sleep apnea are more likely to fail driving simulation tests and to report nodding off at the wheel.
"Driving simulators can be a good way of checking the effects that a condition like sleep apnea can have on driving ability," said Dr. Mark Elliott, the study's chief investigator. "Our research suggests that people with the condition are more likely to fail the test."
Exercise can help people who have trouble getting a good night's sleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation's most recent "Sleep in America" poll. "If you are inactive, adding a 10-minute walk every day could improve your likelihood of a good night's sleep," said Max Hirshkowitz, Ph.D., chairman of the poll's task force.
More Factors: Allergy, Cold and Flu Medicines
Dr. Joel Zive, an independent pharmacist in New York and a spokesman for the American Pharmacists Association, cautions consumers to read their medication labels or talk to their pharmacist for warnings about ingredients that cause drowsiness. Many drivers still don't realize that legal, over-the-counter treatments for allergies, cold and flu can cause significant sleepiness at the wheel.
For example, the antihistamines dipenhydramine (in Benadryl), clorpheniramine (in Chlor-Trimeton) and brompheniramine (in Dimetane) can cause drowsiness.
The so-called second-generation antihistamines fexofenadine (in Allegra), loratadine (in Claritin and Alavert) and cetirizine (in Zyrtec) are non-sedating and do not cause impairment under normal circumstances, Zive said.
How To Avoid Falling Asleep at the Wheel
Here are the top 10 things to do to avoid falling asleep at the wheel, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and the University of Iowa:
1. Stop driving if you feel sleepy. Stop and drink a caffeinated beverage.
2. Since it takes about 30 minutes for caffeine to enter the bloodstream and take effect, use that time to take a nap.
3. Get plenty of sleep the night before taking a long trip. Get at least six hours, though more is better.
4. Don't plan to work all day and then drive all night.
5. Drive at times when you are normally awake and stay overnight in a hotel or motel rather than driving straight through.
6. Avoid driving at so-called sleepy times of day. Take a midafternoon break for a short nap and find a place to sleep between midnight and dawn. If you can't nap, at least stop your drive and rest for awhile.
7. Avoid carbohydrate-laden foods that can make you sleepy. Eat some protein instead.
8. Avoid allergy and cold or flu medications containing diphenhydramine, such as Benadryl, which can contribute to drowsiness. And don't take prescribed sleep aids such as Ambien until you are finished driving for the day.
9. On long trips, keep a passenger who's awake in the front seat. Increasing the volume on the car stereo is not a substitute for somebody you can talk to.
10. Take a break every two hours or every 100-120 miles, even if you don't need a pit stop or gas. Get out of the car, take some deep breaths and do some stretching exercises, especially for the neck and shoulders, to relieve cramping and stress. And try to set a limit of 300-400 miles of driving per day.
When To Take a Break
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that nine out of every 10 North American police officers had stopped a driver who they believed was drunk, but turned out to be drowsy instead. Johns Hopkins Medical Center says drivers should be aware of these warning signs:
  • You can't remember the last few miles driven.
  • You hit a rumble strip or drift from your lane.
  • You keep pulling your vehicle back into the lane.
  • Your thoughts are wandering and disconnected.
  • You yawn repeatedly.
  • You have difficulty focusing or keeping your eyes open and your head up.
  • You tailgate or miss traffic signs.
  • You have barely avoided being in an accident.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Top 10 Tips To Prevent Road Rage

Recently, a roadside billboard showed an infuriated driver screaming at the car ahead of her while her toddler observed from the backseat. The tag line said, "She learns by watching you."

Like most people, I figured the anti-road rage advertisement didn't apply to me. I'm a decent, courteous driver, right? Yet it was only a few minutes before I found myself shouting "Go, lady!" at the driver in front of me, who took more than 3 seconds to react to a green light. As if on cue, my 5-year-old in the backseat said, "Beep at her, Mama!" Was I on my way to becoming a member of the "road rage club"? How is road rage different from good old "aggressive driving," anyway?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that road rage "involves a criminal act of violence, whereas aggressive driving can range from tailgating to speeding to running red lights." The number of deaths related to road rage is difficult to track, but NHTSA estimates that aggressive driving accounts for about one-third of all crashes and about two-thirds of the resulting fatalities.

Increasingly congested roadways are a growing source of driver frustration, but studies suggest the real root of aggressive driving lies within each of us. Drivers can cope by taking an honest look at their driving behavior and attempting to reduce their stress level behind the wheel.

Get your Zs.
A national epidemic of sleepiness is a contributing factor to road rage, according to the National Sleep Foundation. We all know how cranky we get without enough sleep. It makes us prone to feelings of annoyance, resentment and even anger. Eight hours is still the recommended daily dose of sleep for adults.

Plan ahead.
Do you regularly whiz through your morning routine in a whirlwind of chaos, trying to make up time while on the road? Do you allow just enough time to drive to an appointment? Then you're probably also more prone to a lead foot and a lost temper. If you add 10 minutes to your expected travel time, you'll have time to stop for gas, safely navigate those snowy roads or detour around road construction. Also, try preparing clothing, briefcases, children's school bags and lunches the night before to minimize your morning rush. Extra time equals calmer driving.

Your car is not a therapist.
Many of us love and identify with our cars, but sometimes you can take the "car as extension of self" idea too seriously. If your boss or your spouse left you steaming, take care not to use driving as a way to blow off steam. Competitive types (you know who you are) shouldn't try to prove themselves on heavily traveled thoroughfares — save that enthusiasm for weekend romps on your favorite back roads. No matter how much power you've got under the hood, your vehicle is first and foremost a mode of transportation, not a weapon.

Turn down the bass.
Without getting into the argument over "aggressive music makes people aggressive," it makes sense that listening to relaxing music — or even a comedy channel on satellite radio — will make you less pumped up for action than a driving bass line. Try tuning in to classical or jazz to reduce stress. Or listen to an audiobook. (Here are our Top 10 Audiobooks to get you started.) Either way will also help drown out stressful traffic noise.

Loosen up, then breathe:
If you notice yourself clenching the steering wheel in a death grip, try flexing your fingers and loosening your hold — you'll find that you can control the car just as well. If your right foot is cramped, set the cruise control if traffic allows. If you're on a prolonged road trip, try not to exceed three hours of travel time without a break where you get out and stretch. Struggling to see through a dirty windshield is also an unnecessary stress factor, so fill up with washer fluid before you go. Periodically roll down the window and breathe deeply and slowly.

It's not about you.
Perhaps another driver cut you off. Or the car in front of you is braking erratically. Before you assume the driver is getting off on your rising anger levels, realize that you, as an individual, are not the target. Perhaps the driver simply made a mistake or was just being oblivious. Maybe there's a screaming baby, a loose pet or a crazed bee in the car. Maybe he was on a cell phone. The point is, don't take things so personally.

Hostility is toxic. And risky.
People most prone to anger are almost three times more likely to have a heart attack than those with low anger, according to the American Psychological Association. Other health risks seen in those who display hostility include obesity, depression and stroke. Wow, who knew? Safe driving promotes healthy hearts! Not only will giving into anger not resolve an irritating situation, it can increase the risk of retaliation. Think to yourself, "Is making my point worth endangering my life?" If all else fails, do a mental 180 and try to laugh it off.

Use restaurant etiquette.
While it's upsetting when a stranger is rude or cuts in line in a restaurant or store, most folks wouldn't lose their cool and become abusive as a result. It isn't only because they have good manners. Driving a car makes people feel more isolated and protected, allowing them to act in ways they would normally find embarrassing. So when another driver acts like a jerk, respond as though you're in a restaurant. And we don't mean Chuck E. Cheese's.

Take the self-test.
Classes designed to help curb aggressive driving often have participants tape-record themselves while driving. Hearing themselves swear or rant on tape is enough of a wake-up call for them to recognize and reduce dangerous behavior. So try analyzing your driving. Do any of the following statements sound like you?
I regularly exceed the speed limit in order to get to work on time.
- I tailgate other drivers, especially those who sit in the left lane.
- I flash my lights and honk my horn to let drivers know when they annoy me.
- I verbally abuse other drivers whether they can hear me or not.
- I frequently weave in and out of traffic to get ahead.
- I feel the need to set bad drivers straight.
If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, your driving may qualify as aggressive. The American Institute for Public Safety (AIPS) has a more detailed RoadRageous Test that determines if your driving habits fall under the "aggressive zone," "hostile zone" or — worse yet — "war zone."

Practice kindness:
Dr. Leon James, a.k.a. "Dr. Driving" and author of Road Rage and Aggressive Driving, says that remembering simple courtesies, like allowing someone to merge or apologizing when we make a mistake, can go a long way in making the driving experience positive for ourselves and others. His basic motto is the old "do unto others" rule: Treat fellow drivers how you would like to be treated. As additional incentive, reducing your aggressiveness on the road can also keep you out of serious trouble: Several states have created special law enforcement teams to seek out and cite aggressive drivers. Depending on the frequency of offenses, violators may be fined, lose their license temporarily or even face jail time. Often, they are required to take a behavior-modification class as well.

We're all bound to lose our cool at some point, but by planning ahead and keeping things in perspective, we can prevent our emotions from getting the best of us. Putting aggressive driving in park will help to ensure your own safety, as well as the safety of everyone around you.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Discussing Driving With Senior Parents

Maybe it was the last time your parents picked you up at the train station when you came for a holiday visit, and you were alarmed by a change in their driving skills. Or perhaps you're worried because your parents' eyesight isn't what it used to be. Whatever the reason, you know that it might be time to bring up the topic of their driving - but it's not an easy conversation to have. In fact, a survey from the National Safety Council and found that adult children ranked talking to elderly parents about their driving more difficult than talking to them about selling their house or even funeral wishes.

"Many family members and even medical professionals are reluctant to bring up this topic," said Elizabeth Dugan, Ph.D., associate professor of gerontology at the University of Massachusetts, Boston and author of
 The Driving Dilemma: The Complete Resource Guide for Older Drivers and their Families. "Driving is so closely tied to a sense of freedom and autonomy." 

But having this conversation, difficult though it may be, is vitally important. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), per mile traveled,
 fatal crash rates increase starting at age 75 and increase notably after age 80. Alarmingly, an average of 500 elderly adults are injured in the U.S. in car crashes every day. 

How can you know for sure when senior parents should stop driving and that it's time to broach this sensitive topic? It's not simply a matter of age; some elderly people can continue driving well into their 80s and others may have their driving compromised much earlier by illness, medication, or factors of aging. The American Association of Retired Persons (
AARP) has a helpful list of signs that indicate it may be time to limit or stop driving. The list includes things like frequent "close calls," getting lost, issues with eyesight, and easily becoming distracted. Once you've decided to have the talk, here are some tips for making it comfortable and effective:

             Take a ride to assess your parent's driving skills yourself. It's a great conversation starter. "It can be helpful to take a ride with your parent, and then debrief them afterwards," recommends Dugan. "You can say, ‘I know this is difficult, but you seem to have trouble making left hand turns.'" Be especially observant about how your parent handles situations involving right-of-way. Studies of crashes involving seniors have found that failure to yield the right-of-way is one of the most common driving errors.

 Keep your tone respectful and sympathetic. Driving represents autonomy, mobility, and social life. You're not bringing up this topic to be cruel and take away your parent's independence. You're having the discussion because you love your parents and are worried about their health and safety. "You're not saying, ‘Give me the keys,'" says Dugan, "but ‘I care for you and I want you to be as healthy, mobile and independent as possible. If you can't drive, then we'll work together to figure out something else.' The tone you take can make a big difference."

 Provide alternative options. Follow up and help your parents find ways to continue their current activities even if they can't drive. Perhaps friends and family members can pitch in. In many areas there are public transportation options specifically for seniors. Often church and community groups provide local senior transport too.

 Get experts involved, if necessary. If your parent seems unreceptive to your message, schedule a medical appointment to see if illness or medication is affecting their driving. Make sure your parent has an annual eye exam. A doctor can also refer your parent to a driving clinic to have his/her skills assessed by a professional.

Keep an open, ongoing dialogue. Finally, don't stop talking after just one conversation. Return to the topic periodically, and continually reassess your parent's driving. A change in skills behind 
the wheel doesn't necessarily mean going from driving anywhere to driving nowhere. A senior driver may be fine with familiar local driving, or driving only during daytime hours. "It's not one 
conversation that you have to get right," says Dugan. "Think about it as a process," a process with the goal of keeping your parents as active as possible AND as safe as possible.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Fall Hazard Driving Checklist

As we enter the fall season, new driving hazards present themselves and affect our lives on the road. With sharp glares, frequent showers and puddles concealed with leaves, the fall brings about new surprises for even the most responsible drivers.
Before the flurries fall, get your auto needs in order. Prepare for safer driving with these quick car maintenance tips, and ensure your auto insurance offers the best coverage at a competitive price.

Help reduce potential accidents that occur in more extreme driving conditions. Follow these five fix-it tips to help deter fall driving hazards this year.

Fall Hazard Driving Checklist
  1. Change your wiper blades.
    If you haven't changed your blades in a couple years, you'll find that this inexpensive and easy process really helps reduce glare from dust and debris buildup. When the rains come you'll feel prepared.
  2. Check tire treads.
    Tread thickness should be more than 1/16 inches. Your tire will display its built in indicator when it's time for a replacement. Colder temperatures and wet surfaces can make driving with bald tires disastrous, so a small amount of extra tread could help you gain more grip to the ground.
  3. Test your old battery.
    Your automobile will use more electricity in the colder climates, which will require work from your electrical system. Check your battery's voltage to ensure it keeps a proper charge. Are the cables in good condition?
  4. Maintain your car's fall essentials.
    Morning frost is best eliminated if the defroster is working properly. Make sure your head lights and fog lights are operational and aligned. Fill anti-freeze and oil reservoirs. Replace brake pads before the black ice arrives.
  5. Avoid fall driving hazard money pits.
    Running errands could get more difficult on the road ahead, so pay registration and insurance fees on time or in advance. Check for roadside assistance deals with your insurer and don't get caught in an accident without coverage.

See you on the road!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Knowing your responsibilities as a new driver

When can I get a license?
You can get a temporary permit at age 15 1/2. The permit allows you to drive as long as you have a licensed driver age 21 or older in the front passenger seat. You must carry your permit and an identification (ID) card while driving. You must complete driver education, any other required training, and pass the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicle tests. Then you can be eligible for a probationary license, which is valid until you turn 18.

I have my license, now what?
In order to drive legally in Ohio, you must comply with the state’s Financial Responsibility (or FR) Law. The FR law requires each Ohio driver to demonstrate an ability to pay for injuries to other people or damages to other people’s property if the driver causes an accident. Buying insurance is one way to show financial responsibility. The easiest way to meet your financial responsibility is to buy automobile insurance with liability coverage.

Why should I bother getting insurance?
First of all, it’s the law. Second, if you don’t get insurance, you could end up spending a lot more than the insurance would have cost. If you cannot demonstrate financial responsibility, then your license will be suspended, your car will be impounded and it will cost you a very large sum of money to regain your driving privileges.

OK, I’m reading about insurance, but what do all these different terms mean? 
There are different types of coverage's you can purchase in an insurance policy. They are:

  • Liability coverage - pays costs if someone claims you hurt them or damaged their property. It pays the cost to defend you against their claim and the cost of the damages if you are found liable. Ohio law requires you to purchase a minimum amount of this type of coverage. Those minimums are:
  • Bodily Injury Coverage
    • $12,500 per person
    • $25,000 per accident
  • Property Damage Coverage
    • $7,500 per accident
  • Collision coverage - pays you if your own car is damaged in a crash with another vehicle.
  • Comprehensive coverage– pays for losses that result from incidents that are not collisions,such as theft, fire, hail, falling objects or hitting an animal.
  • Uninsured Motorist (UM) and Uninsured Motorist Property Damage (UMPD):  UM pays for your injuries if you are injured by a driver with no insurance or by a hit-and-run driver.   You cannot be responsible for the accident.  UMPD pays for your car if it is damaged by someone without insurance.  It DOES NOT pay for a hit-and-run accident.
  • Medical expense coverage - pays medical expenses for you and your passengers if you are injured in an accident.
Should I buy my own insurance policy or should I be listed as an insured under my parent’s policy?

There is no simple answer to this question. Begin the decision-making process by discussing your options with your parents’ insurance agent. You should shop around to determine the best option to meet your family’s needs. Be sure to let the agent know if you will be sharing a vehicle with your parents or if you have your own vehicle to use.

I have my insurance — why is it so expensive? I haven’t had an accident or a ticket!

Insurance rates, or premiums, are based on statistical groups. Your driving record, age, sex, age/type of vehicle and place of residence are all taken into consideration. As a group, teen drivers have a much higher accident rate than other drivers.

What are some ways to reduce my premium costs?
  • Drive safely.
  • Increase your deductibles — a deductible is the amount you must pay out of your own pocket if you have a claim.
  • Drop collision and/or comprehensive on an old car.
  • Qualify for discounts — most companies offer a “good student” discount.
  • Shop for a better deal.
  • Lower limits of liability.
Oops! I just got my first ticket. Can my company raise my premium?

That depends on the company. Some insurers do not raise premiums if the first moving violation is minor. However, if your first ticket is a major moving violation, the company may increase your premium. In all cases, ask the company about its policies regarding moving violations.

Somebody hit my car. Can the company raise my premium?

Perhaps. By law, an insurance company is not permitted to increase your premium because you were in an accident with an uninsured motorist. Additionally, an insurance company is not permitted to increase your premium the first time you have an accident that was not your fault. However, the company has the right to increase your premium if you have a second not-at-fault accident within the policy period.

Can my insurer cancel my policy?

During the first 89 days after you purchase a policy, a company can cancel it for almost any reason. As of the 90th day, your liability coverage is protected from cancellation for two years, except for specific reasons permitted by law. The permissible reasons include:
  • Lying on your application
  • Suspension or revocation of your driver’s license
  • Filing false claims
  • Not paying your premiums
I forgot to pay my premium.

If — for any reason — you do not pay your premium, the company will cancel the policy. The company must notify you 10 days before cancellation. Getting coverage from another company may be difficult and probably will cost more if you let your insurance policy lapse.

I gave a friend permission to drive my car. Does my insurance cover me and my friend? 

That depends. Unless your policy states specifically that only you are covered when driving, other people will be covered as long as you give them your permission to drive your car.

What if I have a problem with the insurance agent or the company? 

Call the Ohio Department of Insurance at 1-800-686-1526. The Department regulates agents and companies that are licensed to sell insurance in Ohio. The Department’s Consumer Services representatives can answer your insurance questions and investigate your complaints about an insurance company or agent.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

How to Determine Settlement Amount | Calculate Settlement Amount

A personal injury settlement amount is determined differently for each case. Two important elements that are considered are liability and the type of injury.

How is the value of a personal injury settlement amount determined?

The personal injury settlement will vary from one case to another. Although no one can predict an exact amount, there are some common factors that are used to determine the settlement amount. Two main elements that will impact the settlement are liability and the type of injury sustained.

Impact of Liability When on Value of a Personal Injury Settlement

It’s critical to establish fault in a personal injury claim because it could impact not only how much an injured person is entitled to receive, but if a settlement will be available at all. It’s possible to be only partially responsible for an accident but recover nothing.

That’s because Ohio follows the modified comparative fault system when it comes to negligence. An injured person can only recover damages if his/her fault was 50 percent or less. Once fault reaches 51 percent, compensation cannot be recovered.

Even if the individual’s degree of fault falls within the necessary range to file a lawsuit, settlement amount could still be impacted. From the total damages, whatever percentage the plaintiff is found responsible, that amount will be deducted. So if an individual is 30 percent at fault and damages total $15,000, the claimant would only be able to receive $10,500 ($15,000 minus 30 percent).

Impact of Injury When Determining Settlement Amount

The type of injury will be another important element for determining settlement amount. Typically when someone walks away from an accident with just a few scratches, the only money that can be recovered are actual losses, such as repair costs for a fender bender or possibly an emergency room visit to ensure the person is in good shape.

When injuries are serious, it will be important to seek legal counsel. There can be a lot more at stake if the victim is out of work for an extended period of time or incurs significant medical bills.

Factors besides missing work that could impact the outcome of a settlement are:

  • future medical costs (such as for a subsequent surgery or physical therapy);
  • disability (injuries that prevent someone from returning to work); and
  • pain and suffering (the physical and emotional impact of injuries).

Certain injuries will have more worth than others. For instance, a broken arm can certainly be painful and may keep someone out of work. But the impact of a traumatic brain injury or damage to the spinal cord could be life-altering. These are critical factors to consider when determining a settlement amount.

How an Attorney Can Help

In addition to medical bills, lost wages and expenses for property damage, there may be compensation available that address issues such as mental anguish, reduced qualify of life and disfigurement. By consulting with an attorney, an injured person can get a more accurate understanding of how to determine settlement amount for their particular case.

Bressman Law can assist victims who are filing a claim. This personal injury law firm can help calculate the value of injuries sustained in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence.