Fault is among the most critical components of any car accident claim. When a claim for damages stemming from an accident is filed, it must first be determined which party caused the accident. The person deemed to be at fault is the individual whose negligence caused the accident to occur, and is typically the one who must pay for any damages resulting from his or her negligence.
The term “negligence” refers to a failure to exercise a certain degree of care expected or required of a reasonably prudent individual in a given circumstance, and it results in injury or damage to another person.
If more than one party caused the damage or accident, then the negligence is distributed among the parties according to state law. Before 1980, Ohio law was based on contributory negligence, which indicated that injured persons could only obtain compensation for their injuries and damages if they did not contribute to the accident at all. Parties guilty of any degree of negligence would be unable to achieve recovery.
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In 1980 the state legislature adopted a comparative negligence law. Under Ohio’s comparative negligence law, injured parties may still be able to recover some of their damages, even if they are partially to blame for the accident. The law assigns a proportion of blame in an accident to each party, and the parties share the cost of damages and losses according to their share of negligence.
This means that if you are an injured driver who is deemed to be at fault by 50 percent or less, then you may recover damages. However, the amount of compensation you are eligible to receive will first be reduced by the amount equivalent to your percentage of fault in the accident.
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If, however, you are deemed to be negligent or at fault by more than 50.1 percent or more, then you cannot file a liability claim against the other driver, and therefore cannot achieve recovery. It does not matter if you were injured and acquired costly medical bills, vehicle damage, and missed time from work.
All Ohio courts are mandated to follow the comparative negligence law in all injury claims that make it to trial. Adjusters are also likely to raise this rule during settlement negotiations.
It is important to note that there is no one method or formula for establishing the appropriate percentages of fault in accident injuries. Typically, the insurance company claims adjuster assigns the degrees of fault according to the various circumstances surrounding the accident. If you are partly responsible for an accident, then you may have to negotiate with the claims adjuster and arrive at an agreement as to what extent you are at fault.
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Numerous accident victims opt to settle their claims without hiring a lawyer, though it may be in your best interest to seek legal representation when your injuries are serious or if there is a dispute against negligence. An experienced car accident attorney can assess the accident thoroughly and help you establish proper fault percentages.
Call The Fitch Law Firm at 855-LAW-OHIO or fill out our online consultation form to schedule a free consultation and put our 30+ years of personal injury law experience to work for you.