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Sharing the Blame: Comparative Negligence In Car Accident Settlements

Car accidents may be caused because one person is careless in how they operate their car, causing serious injury to other drivers and passengers. In most cases the careless, or negligent, driver is held solely responsible for the injuries caused and often has to pay for repairs, medical costs and other damages. However, in Ohio, as in several other states across the United States, the injured party’s negligence in the causing of the accident can also be taken into consideration when determining the amount they can recover for their injuries and other damages.

Ohio is a comparative negligence state, allowing for shared blame in car accidents. This means that in Ohio, the negligence and carelessness of the injured party is taken into consideration and analyzed to determine a percentage of the damages caused that they can recover from the other person who caused the accident. Negligence occurs when a person doesn’t act with the reasonable care that a prudent person in the same situation would use. For example, if a driver fails to stop at a stop sign, and a speeding driver collides into his car, both drivers can be said to be at fault for the accident. The degree of fault as measured by percentages must be determined to see the amount of money for damages each driver can receive. Currently, Ohio law allows recovery for a person who is less than 50 percent negligent in the accident. If a person is determined to have been more than 50 percent at fault, for example 60 percent negligent, then he cannot recover for his damages.

Ohio’s current law allowing for shared blame is an improvement on prior law, which made recovery for people who were found to have contributed to their injuries very difficult. Under previous Ohio law, a person who was even slightly careless could not recover for automobile repairs, medical costs, or other expenses related to an accident, even where the other driver was more at fault in causing the accident. This is referred to as contributory negligence and is still the law in some states; under this theory, shared blame is not allowed.

Determination of Fault

The percentages of fault can be determined by an insurance company after an investigation into the cause or causes of the accident. However, if one of the parties disagrees with the insurance company’s determination, the matter can be taken to court. In a court case, the percentages of fault are determined by a judge or jury after listening to all the evidence presented by both sides. The testimony of witnesses who were present at the scene of the accident, police reports, traffic citations issued to one or both drivers, and any statements from the drivers or passengers can all be sources of crucial information in these cases. This is part of the reason why it is important to not make any statements after an accident that could later be taken as evidence that an accident was your fault.

Contact a Personal Injury Attorney

If you have been injured in a car accident, and even if you believe you are partly at fault for the accident, you need an experienced personal injury attorney to handle your claim while you concentrate on recovering. Contact Columbus personal injury attorney Ed Schottenstein of the Schottenstein Law Offices for a free consultation today at(614) 467-8474.