Who's At Fault in a Car Accident? A Guide to Liability in Ohio | Kisling, Nestico & Redick
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In the aftermath of a car accident, one question looms large: Who is at fault?
Written by
KNR Legal
Date posted
April 8, 2024

Determining fault not only influences the immediate steps someone should take after an auto collision but also affects those involved’s legal responsibilities and financial burdens.

Ohio Auto Accident Liability

In Ohio, fault is fundamental to the claims process, so understanding the principles of liability is paramount. This guide sheds light on Ohio’s approach to determining fault in car accidents, navigating the intricacies of comparative negligence, and clarifying what evidence matters.

How is Fault Determined in Ohio After a Car Accident?

Determining liability isn’t always a straightforward process and is dependent upon a variety of factors, such as:

  • Who had the right of way?
  • The type of accident (i.e., left turn or rear-end collision)
  • Driver negligence, recklessness, or carelessness (i.e., texting while driving, running a red light, or “blowing a stop”)
  • Causes of the accident (a tire blowout, rollover, or other vehicle malfunction, for example)

Ohio is a Fault State

This means a driver at fault for an accident will be responsible for paying for repairs and damages through insurance liability coverage. Usually, the person at fault for the accident – and thereby responsible for paying damages – is determined by negligence.

What is Negligence?

Negligence describes a person who has failed to act responsibly or reasonably. When irresponsible, reckless, or unreasonable actions lead to an accident that causes injuries or property damages, that person is said to have acted negligently.

When talking about auto accidents, negligence is usually assigned if a driver committed a traffic violation that caused the accident, such as driving under the influence, speeding, or illegally turning or changing lanes.

What if I’m Partially at Fault for a Car Accident

Ohio is a comparative negligence state. This means that a person’s ability to recover damages can be reduced by their own negligence. For example, if a victim is 10% liable and suffered $10,000 in damages, they would recover $9,000.

Recovery is not allowed if a victim is over 51% responsible for the accident; that’s why establishing fault is essential to ensure fair recovery of damages.

What Evidence is Needed to Prove Fault for a Car Accident?

Insurance companies and Ohio courts are usually tasked with determining fault in car accident cases.  However, determining fault shouldn’t be your word against the other driver’s. After all, their insurance company might try to assert that you share more blame for the accident than you do.

The truth about who’s to blame and ultimately responsible for a car crash is rarely uncovered through the accusations of those involved. Instead, the fault is determined through the collection and examination of tangible proof.

Here are the common types of evidence after a car accident that carries weight in Ohio’s legal system:

  • Police Reports: These documents offer an objective overview of the accident, often including an officer’s assessment, which can be persuasive in fault determination.
  • Traffic Camera Footage: Videos capturing the collision provide irrefutable timestamps and sequences of events, which can confirm or contest statements made by those involved.
  • Medical Records: Immediate and detailed reports of injuries link the accident to the harm suffered, demonstrating the impact and potential negligence that caused it.
  • Witness Testimony: Bystanders or passersby with no stake in the outcome can provide unbiased accounts of the accident, which may clarify discrepancies between the drivers’ versions of events.
  • Photographic Evidence: Pictures of the accident scene, including skid marks, vehicle positions, and road conditions, offer visual proof that can support or undermine the alleged series of events.

All this evidence can help indicate who might be at fault for the accident. Your attorney will investigate the accident, use this evidence to negotiate with the other driver’s insurance company, and litigate your case in court if necessary.

Crash Accountability: Fault & Liability by Car Accident Type

Every car accident is unique, with its own set of circumstances that contribute to the event. While some scenarios clearly determine who is at fault, such as a rear-end collision where the following driver is typically responsible, other incidents are not as straightforward. Multiple factors, such as road conditions, driver actions, and adherence to traffic laws, can complicate the liability question.

Here, we’ll explore the nuances of car crash accountability and how fault and liability vary with different types of vehicle accidents. From head-on impacts to multi-car pileups, understanding the subtleties of car accident liability can help those injured in a collision to realize their legal standing and potential for recovery.

Who’s Responsible for a Read-End Collision?

One of the most common types of accidents is the rear-end collision. Typically, the motorist who did the rear-ending is the one who’s liable for any damage and is at fault for the accident.

However, there are some exceptions to this rule. Suppose the rear-end collision resulted from the other motorist’s negligent actions, such as performing an illegal lane change. In that case, the motorist who was rear-ended may be responsible.

Who’s At Fault for a Failure to Yield?

Another common type of accident in Ohio is caused by a motorist’s failure to yield appropriately at a stop sign or stop light. According to Ohio Code 4511.41, “the driver of the vehicle on the left shall yield the right-of-way to the vehicle on the right” when two vehicles approach an intersection simultaneously from different directions. If a person fails to yield the right of way to another driver, and if the failure causes an accident, that driver will typically be liable for damages.

Right-of-way rules are also crucial for left turns – the driver planning to turn left must yield the right of way to any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction, according to Ohio Code 4511.42.

Who is To Blame in a T-Bone Collision?

T-Bone collisions, often occurring at intersections, can lead to severe consequences. The driver who fails to observe right-of-way laws typically bears the fault. This is frequently the driver who strikes the side of the other vehicle, indicating they may have ignored a stop sign, a traffic light, or failed to yield.

Nevertheless, the specifics of the traffic situation can alter liability, such as obscured signage or malfunctioning lights.

Liability in Multi-Vehicle Pile-Ups

Identifying who’s at fault requires thorough examination in the chaos of a multi-vehicle accident. Usually, a driver who fails to maintain a safe following distance may be held liable. Yet, in the web of impacts, multiple drivers may share responsibility—for instance, due to chain reactions from sudden stops, inclement weather, or distracted driving.

Who’s At Fault for Left-Turn Accidents?

In left-turn accidents, the driver turning left is typically held accountable, as they are expected to yield to oncoming traffic. But this isn’t absolute. If evidence shows the oncoming driver exceeded the speed limit or ran a red light, they may bear full or partial responsibility for the collision.

Who is Responsible for Pedestrian & Bicyclist Accidents?

Drivers must exercise caution to avoid colliding with pedestrians and bicyclists, who have the right of way under many circumstances. Should a driver fail to yield or be negligent, they will likely be found at fault. However, if a pedestrian steps out suddenly against signals or a bicyclist veers into traffic unlawfully, they can also be deemed at fault.

Who’s At Fault for a Parking Lot Accident?

Parking lots are a web of lanes and movements where liability is not always straightforward. Drivers backing out or moving through the parking lot must do so carefully. If drivers are negligent, such as speeding or not checking their surroundings, they’re likely at fault. However, the fault may be shared if two drivers collide while both are moving.

Who Bears Responsibility in a Single Vehicle Crash?

When a vehicle crashes on its own, the presumption is that the driver’s actions led to the incident. Situations like distracted driving or loss of control due to excessive speed are common culprits. However, external factors, such as road hazards or vehicle defects, can shift or share the blame away from the driver, underscoring the importance of a thorough investigation.

Need Help Proving Fault? KNR Can Help

If you’re grappling with the aftermath of an Ohio car accident, Kisling, Nestico & Redick is here to support your journey to just compensation. Our experienced and highly skilled Ohio car accident attorneys understand the complexities of proving fault and have well-established strategies to secure the compensation you need for lost wages, medical expenses, and property damage.

Whether you’re an injured driver, passenger, or family member of a car accident victim, we offer comprehensive services that include:

  • Investigate & Gather Evidence of Fault
  • Negotiate with Insurance Companies
  • Personal Injury Claim Management
  • Courtroom Representation, if Necessary
  • Access to a Network of Experts
  • Maximize Possible Compensation

Get a Free Consultation Today

At KNR, our legal team is dedicated to holding the right parties accountable for the harm they inflict in auto accidents across Ohio. We’re also focused on minimizing stress and maximizing your personal injury claim’s potential.

Contact us at 1-800-HURT-NOW for a 100% free case assessment, or submit your details online. We will explain the law, help determine who’s at fault, and guide you through the personal injury claim process so you recover all the compensation you need.