How Fault is Determined In a Car Accident
Posted on Friday, June 23rd, 2023 at 1:34 pm
Devastating car accidents occur daily, leading to injury, property damage, and fatalities. If you suffered injuries in a car accident in Ohio, understanding how fault is determined can be crucial. This is especially true when dealing with insurance claims or potential lawsuits. Knowing who is responsible for a collision is essential to seeking compensation for your injuries and other losses. Keep reading to learn more about determining fault in car accidents in Ohio and how an attorney could help your case.
How is Fault Determined?
Determining fault in a car accident involves investigating whose actions or inaction led to the collision. Often, fault in car accidents is based on the legal theory of negligence. This occurs when someone does not behave as a reasonable person would under similar circumstances. Police officers, insurance companies, and courts analyze several factors to determine who is liable for injuries and other crash-related losses:
- Police reports – Officers on the scene compile a report detailing the accident, their observations, and any traffic law violations. These reports can be valuable in establishing fault. They present an objective view of what happened and who caused the crash.
- State and local traffic laws – These laws, sometimes known as the vehicle code, provide standards for driver behavior. All motorists must drive carefully and avoid harming other road users. Violations of these duties often establish negligence.
- Evidence – Photos of the accident scene, witness testimonies, damage to vehicles, and other evidence can all contribute to determining who is at fault.
- Expert testimony – Attorneys often hire accident reconstruction experts to review the facts of a case and testify as to who is responsible for the crash.
No-Fault Versus At-Fault States
Each state in the U.S. follows a no-fault or at-fault system in determining who is liable for injuries and property damage resulting from car accidents.
In states that follow a no-fault system, each driver’s insurance pays for their own damages and injuries, regardless of who caused the accident. This system limits lawsuits, as injured parties usually cannot sue the other driver except in cases of severe injuries.
On the other hand, the party found at fault is responsible for the damages and injuries they caused. This happens in states that follow an at-fault system. Injury victims will file claims with the liable party’s insurance provider to seek compensation for medical bills and other crash-related losses. Should an injury victim’s losses exceed the at-fault driver’s policy limits, the victim can sue the at-fault driver for their damages.
Is Ohio a No-Fault State for Car Accidents?
The answer is no. Ohio follows an at-fault, or “tort,” system. The driver found at fault (and their insurance company) is responsible for all resulting damages and injuries from the accident. The injured party can file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurer to pursue compensation for their losses. If the at-fault driver’s insurance is insufficient, the injured party has options. They can file a claim with their own policy’s underinsured motorist coverage or take the matter to court for compensation.
Ohio follows a modified comparative negligence rule in cases where both parties in a car accident are at fault. This means you can still obtain compensation for your crash-related losses if you’re less than 50 percent at fault, but your percentage of fault will reduce your compensation. For instance, if you seek $100,000 for your losses but are 25 percent at fault, your compensation will be capped at $75,000.
Why Do I Need a Lawyer for My Car Accident Case?
In an at-fault state like Ohio, it’s crucial to have legal representation for your car accident case. A skilled personal injury lawyer can review your case, determine who is at fault, and pursue the best legal strategy for seeking compensation. A car accident attorney will:
- Gather and preserve evidence – They’ll compile the necessary evidence to prove the other party’s fault and the extent of your damages.
- Negotiate with insurance companies – Insurance companies are notorious for offering less compensation than victims deserve. A lawyer can handle these negotiations on your behalf.
- Represent you in court – If your case goes to trial, having an advocate on your side can make all the difference in securing maximum compensation for your losses.
Contact Our Car Accident Lawyers Today
Car accidents can be stressful and frightening. Understanding how fault is determined can empower you, especially when facing painful injuries and financial uncertainty. In Ohio, your path to compensation can be complex, making legal representation valuable and often necessary. If you’ve been in an accident and need assistance, don’t hesitate to reach out to the experienced car accident lawyers at Lawrence & Associates Accident and Injury Lawyers, LLC. Call us at (513) 351-5997 or contact us online for a free consultation.