Ohio Comparative Negligence Laws
When someone is injured in a car accident because of the negligence of someone else, the injured party may be entitled to seek compensation for their injuries and losses. This means if you are driving home from work, for example, and you are struck by a drunk driver, you may be able to recover damages from the at-fault driver. All drivers have an obligation to operate a motor vehicle in a reasonable and prudent way. When they fail this obligation, they may be held liable (responsible) for any injuries or losses they cause.
However, Ohio law says if you are partly responsible for that accident, the amount of damages you can seek will be reduced according to your percentage of the fault. But if you are 50 percent responsible or more, you can’t seek compensation at all. As an example, if you were 20 percent negligent in a car accident and the other driver was 80 percent negligent, you could recover up to 80 percent of your damages, and the other driver would not be able to recover any damages because they were more than 50 percent responsible.
Those drivers who don’t always wear a seatbelt must be aware that an at-fault driver can sometimes use the safety belt defense to reduce the amount of damages you can recover. Under this defense, it will be argued that if you had been wearing your seat belt you would not have been injured (or as injured). If the court agrees, under comparative negligence, your percentage of fault may be increased.
Determining Percentage of Fault
Generally, the insurance company will conduct an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the crash to determine negligence. Part of this investigation includes gathering information from the police report. Not only will the insurance company consider current state laws, they will also factor in what actions a reasonable and prudent driver would have taken in the same situation.
If you don’t agree with the percentage of responsibility assigned by the insurance company, you have two choices: file a coverage claim with your own insurance company, or speak to an attorney and let them negotiate with the insurance company and fight for your rights.
Ohio Limits Damage Amounts
In 2004, Ohio enacted tort reform that limits personal injury non-economic damages to $250,000. If the economic damages are more than $300,000, then non-economic damage limits may be increased to $350,000.
There is no damages cap for catastrophic injury, which is basically defined as the loss of limb or loss of use of body organ system, or suffering permanent scars.