The Help You Need After An Accident

Can I seek damages after a car crash if I was partially at-fault?

On Behalf of | Dec 3, 2021 | Motor Vehicle Accidents

Car accidents occur every day in Akron, and they can be pretty complex, especially if both parties played a role in the crash. For example, imagine you are making your daily commute to work and were driving 12 miles above the posted speed limit. Suddenly, you are rear-ended by another driver, causing you to break a leg and suffer a concussion. You want to seek damages from the other driver. However, you also broke the law by speeding. Does that mean you are barred from pursuing damages in a personal injury claim? In Ohio, not always, due to the state’s comparative negligence laws.

What is negligence?

Before we delve into comparative negligence it is important to understand what negligence is. There are five elements to a negligence claim in car accident cases. First, the defendant must have owed the plaintiff a duty. All drivers have a duty to operate their vehicles in a reasonable and prudent manner. Second, the defendant must have breached that duty, for example, by crashing into another car. Third, the defendant’s breach must have been the actual cause of the crash. Fourth, the resulting outcome must have been foreseeable. Fifth, the plaintiff must have suffered compensable damages.

What is comparative negligence?

In car accident cases, comparative negligence allows a person to collect damages even if they were partially responsible for the crash. It used to be the case that if the plaintiff was even 1% at fault for the crash, they could not be awarded any damages at all. Nowadays, a plaintiff is less than 50% at fault for the crash, they may be awarded damages in the proportion to the extent they are at fault. For example, if the plaintiff was 25% at fault for the crash, and is successful in a personal injury claim, they will be awarded 75% of the total damages awarded. If a plaintiff is more than 50% at fault for the crash, then they will not recover any damages. So, if the plaintiff was 60% at fault for the crash, then they could not be awarded any damages in a personal injury claim.

Protect your rights in a car crash

Comparative negligence laws protect a person’s right to pursue damages in a personal injury claim following a motor vehicle accident, even if they were partially at fault. However, the degree the plaintiff was at fault cannot exceed the degree the defendant was at fault. In this way, a person who suffers injuries in a car crash in Ohio can still be compensated, at least in part, for the damages they suffered.