Understanding Ohio’s Comparative Negligence Law

Forty-six states including Ohio have instituted comparative or modified comparative negligence laws to determine who is at fault in a car accident involving two or more vehicles. (read more)

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To better understand comparative negligence, a quick history lesson of contributory negligence may help. Still used by four states and the District of Columbia to determine if you can recover economic loses from an automobile accident. Negligence, for the purpose of the law, is defined as “the failure to exercise the degree of care required of a reasonable and prudent person in any given circumstance resulting in injury or damage to another.”

In a state using contributory negligence, this means if you were at all negligent in an automobile accident and were injured, you could not recover for your loss. In states that still use contributory negligence if you were 1% at fault, you could not recover from the party who was 99% at fault!

Ohio’s auto insurance laws were changed to modified comparative negligence to let a person who is 51% or less at fault in an accident recover the damages that have been incurred. These include medical costs, auto repairs and lost wages. In the modified structure if you were 10% at fault, you would recover 90% of your loss.

How is negligence determined? Insurance companies typically investigate the factual circumstance of the accident along with the police report (Ohio law states that in a traffic accident that causes more than $400.00 of property damage or bodily injury a report must be filed with the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles). Another determinant considered in placing negligence on a particular party is what would a prudent person have done in the situation.

You can still be considered negligent if your car is parked. If your car is parked illegally and blocking a stop sign and this causes another person to become involved in an accident you could be considered the at-fault party. Ohio’s comparative negligence law does not only apply to automobile accidents, it also applies to accidents that occur to guests in your home.

Understanding which auto insurance is best for you and your family is not a decision to be taken lightly. The Trusted Choice insurance professionals at Richey-Barrett can help you navigate the process and ensure you are properly protected.

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