A car accident almost never happens on purpose. Nobody intends to cause a wreck, but their behavior can create the conditions that made the crash possible. For example, a driver who is speeding raises the risk that they will lose control and crash into another vehicle.
In Ohio personal injury law, this is known as fault. When someone is at fault for an accident injuring another person, the first person owes compensation. The purpose of a personal injury lawsuit is to determine if the defendant is at fault — and, if so, how much they must pay.
The difference comparative negligence makes
Of course, car accidents are not always 100 percent one driver’s fault. Many years ago, the law would not let the plaintiff in an auto collision lawsuit collect damages if the jury finds that they were even one percent to blame for what happened. Then most states, including Ohio, recognized that this was an impossibly high and unrealistic standard. They moved to comparative negligence, which lets plaintiffs collect damage even when they were partly at fault for their injuries, as long as they are not more than 50 percent to blame.
For example, say a driver was going five mph over the speed limit when another motorist failed to yield on a left turn, and the two vehicles crashed as a result. In the resulting trial, the jury finds that the second driver was 90 percent to blame for the plaintiff’s injuries but also that the plaintiff was 10 percent responsible. But instead of dismissing the claim, an Ohio jury in a case like this would simply deduct 10 percent from the damages it awards the plaintiff.
Few car accident cases ever go to trial. But an experienced personal injury attorney can use the evidence from your accident to show the insurance company the level of compensation you are entitled to.