Personal Injury Case Law from Ohio's Fifth Appellate District

The law firm of Harris & Engler helps personal injury victims across Central Ohio, including in the Tenth and Fifth Appellate Districts.  Ohio's Fifth Appellate District includes the following counties:  Ashland, Coshocton, Delaware, Fairfield, Guernsey, Holmes, Knox, Licking, Morgan, Morrow, Muskingum, Perry, Richland, Stark, and Tuscarawas.

Every Appellate District in Ohio has its' own body of case law that governs how the law is interpreted in that particular district.  Decisions by the Supreme Court of Ohio govern statewide case law, and otherwise the highest legal authority is from your local appellate district case law.  The 5th District covers a wide geographic area throughout Ohio and there has been a unique development of case law throughout the Fifth District of Ohio as it relates to personal injury cases.  One of these cases found as follows:

Willful and Wanton Misconduct Trumps Contributory Negligence Defense

In most car accident and personal injury cases, the plaintiff brings a "negligence" cause of action against the defendant.  By bringing a negligence cause of action, you are basically saying that the defendant did not do what they were supposed to do and as a direct result you were injured.  It is fairly common for the defendant to claim that the plaintiff was contributorily negligent, or that their actions contributed to the accident.  

In Stark County, one summer in 1940, a group of high school musicians piled into a couple cars to drive around the town square to advertise a band concert.  On one of the cars there were a couple girls sitting on the front fender of one of the automobiles as it drove through town.  Miesmer v. Dillin, 69 Ohio App. 197, 43 N.E.2d 305 (5th Dist., 1941). The boy driving the car was going faster than the speed limit through town and it started raining and the girls started banging on the car hood for thee boy to stop and let them get off the fender and out of the rain.  Instead of stop, the boy lit a cigarette and kept going.  Then the girls saw a stopped car in front of their vehicle and they started shouting at the boy to stop.  He didn't stop and they had to jump from the moving vehicle injuring themselves.  One of the girls sued the boy to recover for her injuries. 

In the lawsuit, the boy driving the car claimed that the girls were contributorily negligent in that they should not have been riding on the vehilce fender, which is naturally dangerous and likely to result in injury.   The plaintiff girl who got hurt countered the contributory negligence claim with a claim that the boy acted out of wilfull and wanton misconduct.  The court defined wanton misconduct as follows:  "when the concomitant facts show an unusally dangerous situation and a consiousness on the part of the driver that his conduct will in common probability result in injury to another of whose dangerous position he is aware, and he drives on without any care whatever, and without slackening his speed, in utter heedlessness of the other person's jeopardy, speed plus such unusually dangerous surroundings and knowing disregard of another's safety may amount to wantonness."  

The appellate court ultimately found that the lower court did not properly consider whether the boy's conduct was wanton or not, but his conduct sure looks like it was wanton.  If that is the case then the girl would be able to win the lawsuit even though under different circumstances she might be considered contributorily negligent by the very virtue of sitting on the fender of a moving vehicle.

Fifth District Personal Injury Attorneys

If you've been injured in a car accident in any of the counties comprising of Ohio's Fifth Appellate District, then contact an attorney at Harris & Engler to discuss the legal process for collecting damages for your injuries.  You can call a personal injury attorney at Harris & Engler by calling (614) 610-9988.

Columbus Personal Injury Attorney

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