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Cleveland Personal Injury Law Blog

Who is responsible for autonomous car accidents?

It seems like everyone is excited about the advent of automated, computer controlled cars with "auto-pilot" features. The theory is that these cars will reduce accidents caused by human error. In particular, drunk driving accidents are theoretically going to disappear from our roads, because anyone who has had too much to drink can simply set the car on auto-pilot and avoid the risks associated with drunk driving.

As the future of driving looks to be increasingly technological and automated, some serious legal questions arise. The primary question, of course, is: Who is responsible for accidents involving automated cars?

Car accidents: Ohio cheerleader dies when car leaves roadway

Auto crashes are said to be the cause of a significant percentage of teenage deaths. Along with inexperience, the new-found freedom may lead to speeding, and in some cases, alcohol plays a role when car accidents claim young lives. A community in Ohio is still reeling after the tragic death of a 15-year-old cheerleader.

In an accident report, the Ohio State Highway Patrol indicates that the crash occurred shortly after 11 p.m. on a recent Friday. They say a 16-year-old driver and a 15-year-old passenger were westbound on a Fairfield County road when the car left the road and smashed into a tree. The circumstances that caused the driver to lose control and leave the roadway are yet to be determined.

Motorcycle Helmets Found to Reduce Spinal Injuries

Although most motorcyclists would agree that helmets reduce the likelihood of skull fractures and brain injuries, few consider helmets effective at reducing back and spine injuries. In fact, some have theorized that helmets actually increase the likelihood of spine injuries because of the added torque they place on the rider's neck.

However, recent studies suggests that helmets might actually reduce the chances of spinal injuries in motorcycle accidents. If this is the case, how many more people would wear their helmets? And how many more serious injuries would be avoided?

Understanding the Ohio workers' compensation system

Coping financially after suffering an injury in a work-related accident can be challenging. For this reason, employers in Ohio must carry workers' compensation insurance. This will assist employees with the financial consequences of workplace injuries while protecting the employer from having to face lawsuits for ordinary negligence filed by injured workers.

Workers who are registered employees rather than independent contractors will be eligible to claim benefits for injuries that were not caused intentionally and occurred while the victim was on duty. Although injuries must be reported to the Bureau of Workers' Compensation within one week, only claims that are filed within two years will be considered. The BWC will accept or reject the claim within 28 days, and rejected claims can be appealed within 14 days.

Workers' compensation: Court awards $120,000 for denied claim

Workers in Ohio who are struggling to obtain workers' comp after suffering workplace injuries may be interested in a case in another state. A court recently awarded an oil-field worker $120,000 after a seven-year fight for workers' compensation benefits that were initially denied after he suffered a brain injury. Reportedly, the man fell while working on an oil rig, and the head injuries he suffered were life-changing.

According to the report, the 62-year-old was a veteran who had decades of experience when he stepped onto oily mud while working a midnight shift in 2011. His daughter says, with benefits denied, it took nine months for her to arrange life-saving brain surgery for her father. However, due to the delay, he had suffered irreversible brain damage by the time a shunt was implanted. By then his condition had rendered him unable to return to work.

Technology to stop backup accidents seems to be working

Since its introduction a few years ago, backup safety technology has supposedly reduced accidents significantly. In fact, in 2014, the U.S. National Highway Safety Administration (NHSA) declared that it would mandatory for all auto makers to integrate backup cameras in all new builds beginning in May of 2018.

However, all new technology has its doubters. With any technology involving automated driving, questions arise about whether a technological solution can be more reliable than a human being and whether the technology could fail at critical times. Is the new technology really safer?

Don't Be a Pedestrian Accident Statistic

We usually think about auto accidents as involving two vehicles. However, this notion is a bit misleading. A significant percentage of accidents do not involve two vehicles in motion.

Often enough, accidents involve a vehicle colliding with a pedestrian or bicyclist. These accidents are not only more frequent than most people think; they are also the most deadly. It is important to avoid becoming a statistic by avoiding pedestrian and bicycle accidents at all costs.

Construction workers' accidents: Lack of fall protection kills 1

There is an endless list of hazards faced by workers on building sites. Roofs alone pose a set of life-threatening risks, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration prescribes strict safety regulations to prevent roof-related construction workers' accidents. An Ohio nursing facility was recently ordered to address roof safety violations after the death of an employee who fell from the roof.

Reportedly, this followed an investigation that was launched after the accident last October. An incident report indicates that a 54-year-old telecommunications worker fell to his death. According to a spokesperson for the Cincinnati office of OSHA, the facility failed to provide safe access and work areas for subcontractors and maintenance workers who had to work on the roof of the building.

Car accidents: Driver crashes into oncoming emergency vehicle

When drivers do not know how to act when emergency vehicles such as ambulances approach, confusion can lead to chaos. Drivers must create safe passage for emergency vehicles through traffic, and negligence can cause multi-car accidents that could have devastating consequences. Several people suffered injuries of unknown severity when such a crash occurred in Warren County on a recent Friday.

According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, the crash occurred near Red Lion shortly before 8 a.m. when an ambulance transporting one patient was heading along State Route 122. Reportedly, an eastbound car noticed the emergency vehicle with its siren and flashing lights activated and pulled over to allow it to pass. However, the driver of a pickup truck decided to pass the car instead of pulling over as well.

What happens when a self-driving car causes an accident?

The literature surrounding self-driving cars is clear that the driver is ultimately responsible for the safety of the vehicle, even when operating on autopilot.

But what happens when the car puts the driver into an impossible situation? If the driver is paying attention but the car makes a sudden move that puts the driver in imminent danger, should the driver still be held responsible for the result?