The matter of who caused an auto accident is not always simple. There are oftentimes many factors to consider, including location, type of accident, and the number of parties involved; one of these or other factors can make the analysis tricky. With so many potential factors in play, it is important to recognize if you might be considered at-fault, because it could affect your recovery.
Negligence is the failure to do something you are supposed to do. In motor vehicle accidents, it often comes from the failure to control a vehicle as the law requires. Ohio has adopted a comparative negligence standard for injury cases, which means that more than one person can be responsible for a single motor vehicle accident. Ohio law does not prevent an injured party from recovering damages from another person who caused the accident, as long as the injured party is less than 50% at fault for the accident. However, if you do share fault for causing an accident, your recovery will be reduced by your proportion of fault for the accident.
For example, imagine you were in an accident in which you and another driver attempted to merge into the same lane, and it resulted in a crash. You were 20% at fault for the crash and the other driver was 80% at fault for the crash. In that case, you would be able to recover compensation from the other driver because you were less than 50% at fault. The other driver, on the other hand, will not be able to recover any monies from you, since his fault is greater than 50%. In this scenario, if your damages were $10,000.00, you would recover only 80% of this damages since you cannot recover from another for your own share of fault. Thus, in this situation, you would recover $8,000.00.
Insurance companies use Ohio’s comparative negligence law to reduce the amount of money injured parties can recover from car accidents. When insurance companies apply the comparative negligence standard, they often apply it in an unfair manner, to reduce your right to recovery. Insurance companies apportion fault to drivers involved in an accident to protect their own monies, and force other parties to pay; this often has the effect of hurting injured parties, because the insurance companies are not willing to accept their share of the blame. Insurance companies use things like speeding, failure to avoid an accident, whether you wear a seatbelt, and many other excuses to attempt to blame you for the accident, and limit your recovery. If the insurance company can find you at fault for a percentage of the accident (and sometimes even when it cannot), insurance companies will seek to reduce your ability to recover fair compensation.
It is important to have someone knowledgeable of the traffic laws on your side, to ensure your settlement is not arbitrarily reduced by an unscrupulous insurance adjuster. If your own comparative negligence could be an issue, only a competent finder of fact, like a jury or judge, can make that determination. Your attorney will be able to apply the facts of your case to Ohio law to eliminate or reduce your comparative negligence from an accident.