Posted by: Kisling, Nestico & Redick, LLC
A car accident is always frustrating. Drivers often try to blame each other to avoid getting stuck with the bill. But it’s even worse when injuries and other financial losses are involved.
But what if both drivers share the blame?
The answer isn’t always clear due to Ohio’s comparative negligence law. Proving negligence is the key to recovering damages when more than one driver is involved.
Comparative Negligence in Ohio
Until 1980, Ohio law was based on contributory negligence, which completely barred drivers from recovering damages if they were in any way negligent in causing the accident, even if the other driver was much more at fault.
However, modified comparative negligence allows you and the other driver to recover damages, but the amount is reduced proportionally by your percentage of liability.
For example, if your damages amounted to $100,000, but you were found to be 20% at fault, you would recover $80,000. However, if you are found to be over 50% liable for the accident, you can’t recover damages from the other driver.
Depending on your insurance policy and the circumstances of your accident, you can either file a claim with your insurance or the other driver’s.
Determining Your Share of the Negligence
When both drivers share fault, insurance adjusters will investigate the accident and assign a percentage of fault to each driver. The adjuster will take all the evidence into accounts such as police reports, witness accounts, and vehicle damage. However, the adjuster may try to assign you a more significant percentage than what you are really at fault for, shifting the blame and resulting in underpayment.
Shared Fault Accidents
Suppose you were found to be 20% at fault for an accident in which you were injured. Perhaps the driver who hit you was distracted, but you were traveling five miles per hour over the speed limit, which made your injuries worse than if you had not been speeding. Or maybe you were rear-ended by someone who was tailgating, but your severe neck injury was sustained in part because you weren’t wearing a seatbelt when the collision occurred.
These are only a few examples illustrating shared fault in a car accident. You could be assigned a degree of fault and potentially reduced compensation in any number of scenarios. Therefore, it’s essential to work with a lawyer to ensure you don’t accept any more fault than what you are responsible for.
Disputing Your Degree of Fault
If you disagree with the share of the blame assigned to you, you can file the claim with your own insurance company or take legal action and dispute it in court.
A successful negligence claim must prove four things:
- Duty – You must prove that the defendant owed you a duty of reasonable care. Since everyone driving on the road owes a duty of care, you should be able to prove that you were in the vicinity of the other driver when the negligence occurred.
- Breach of duty – You must prove that the defendant did not meet their duty; for example, if the other driver was speeding, guilty of distracted driving, missed a stop sign, etc.
- Causation – You must prove that the defendant’s breach of duty caused the resulting harm. If you were also found to be at fault, your damages might be reduced.
- Damages – You must show that you suffered damages due to the other driver’s negligence.
Through your personal injury claim, you may be able to collect compensation for damages such as:
- Vehicle repairs
- Lost wages
- Medical expenses, including treatments and medications
- Pain and suffering
Contact KNR for Help
If you have questions about your share of fault in a car accident, the personal injury lawyers at Kisling, Nestico & Redick can help. When both drivers share the blame, we can help maximize the compensation you recover and make sure you don’t pay more than you have to.