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  • Writer's pictureRobert Schuerger II

What If My Personal Injury Was Partially My Fault? | Ohio's Fault Laws

In most personal injury cases, such as slip-and-fall or car accidents, the person who sustained injuries or suffered monetary losses sues the at-fault individual or entity for negligence. However, sometimes, multiple parties can share responsibility, including victims.


Ohio allows people who are partially responsible for their injuries to take legal action against the other party and recover compensation as long as their percentage of fault is within certain limits. Therefore, victims should understand how this state's contributory fault laws work.


Individuals who partially contributed to their injuries or the accident that caused them can find more information on this topic below. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can also provide more insight on the catastrophic injury legal definition.


Proving Liability in an Ohio Personal Injury Case

Proving Liability in an Ohio Personal Injury Case


In Ohio, people who want to recover compensation for their injuries must prove the following:


  • The defendant owed a duty of care to the victims.

  • The defendant failed to provide a reasonable level of care.

  • The defendant's breach of the duty of care caused victims' injuries and attendant damages.


Sometimes, the defendant's failure to provide a reasonable level of care isn't the only cause of victims' injuries. In many personal injury cases, the plaintiff is also found to be liable because their negligence was part of the reason the incident occurred.


How Are These Cases Handled in Ohio?


As mentioned, most personal injury claims have historically involved an injured party suing the at-fault individual or organization for the accident where they were harmed. However, Ohio law has changed over time to address cases where multiple actors may be liable.


Since 1980, the Ohio contributory fault statute has allowed many personal injury victims to recover compensation even if they have been partially at fault for their damages.


What Does the Ohio Contributory Fault Statute Say?

This statute explains that a plaintiff's contributory fault doesn't automatically ban recovery, which means victims are still entitled to compensation even if they partially contribute to their injuries. However, their percentage of responsibility shouldn't be greater than 50%.


Ohio follows a modified comparative negligence system. Victims can recover damages if their percentage of liability doesn't exceed the fault of the other parties, including those who aren't named as defendants in the personal injury lawsuit.


If they aren't more than 50% at fault for the accident, victims could recover compensation, but the amount of damages they can be awarded should be reduced in proportion to their percentage of liability.


Below is a detailed example of how Ohio's comparative negligence law should be applied to these cases:


  • Someone is injured in a car accident caused by a negligent driver and suffers $100,000 in damages. However, they're found to be only 70% at fault, as the victim contributed in some way to the accident. Since the plaintiff is 30% responsible for the incident, they'd only be entitled to recover $70,000 of the total damages and are responsible for the remaining $30,000.


Damages That Personal Injury Victims Can Recover Even If They're Partially At Fault


Although this depends on the circumstances of each case, people who are partially responsible for their injuries can recover the same damages that are often available in personal injury claims, including the following:


  • Economic damages: These are the ones that provide direct compensation for quantifiable damages, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and other documentable injury-related costs or losses.

  • Non-economic damages: They compensate for losses or damages that aren't quantifiable, such as emotional trauma and pain and suffering.

  • Punitive damages: They don't compensate the victim but punish the defendant if their behavior is especially harmful.


Ohio has set caps on non-economic damages, limiting them to $250,000 or three times economic damages, whichever is greater. However, this amount cannot exceed $350,000 per plaintiff and $500,000 per accident.


Punitive damages aren't common in cases where plaintiffs and defendants share fault, but they're also limited to twice the compensatory amount.


Who Determines Fault for a Personal Injury?


In a personal injury case, the percentage of fault for each party will be determined by a jury based on several factors, including the following:


  • Details about the accident that caused the injury

  • The accident report

  • The police report, which should contain information about the responding police officer's thoughts on who was responsible for the accident

  • Eyewitness accounts about the accident that caused the injury


The other party's insurance company may also want to determine a person's share of negligence and make a settlement offer accordingly if victims file a liability insurance claim. However, these firms often assign fault even when claimants aren't responsible for the accident or alter their percentage of liability to reduce the amount of compensation they must pay to settle the case.


Fortunately, insurance companies don't have the last word on injured people's percentage of liability.


Who Bears the Burden of Proof in an Ohio Personal Injury Claim?


In Ohio, the person who files a personal injury claim and seeks compensation possesses the burden of proof. This means the injured party should present sufficient evidence to show that someone else was at fault for the accident that caused their injuries.


How Can a Personal Injury Attorney Benefit Victims' Claims?

How Can a Personal Injury Attorney Benefit Victims' Claims?


As mentioned, the jury or the insurance company will evaluate the evidence and details of the case to determine liability and assign a percentage of fault to each party. Insurers will protect their best interests and will always try to find a way to make a lowball offer.


If the case must be resolved in court because claimants don't agree with the insurance company's estimates, the jury will have the final say. However, the defendant will also have a lawyer by their side to try to win the lawsuit and avoid paying compensation to injured parties.


Although personal injury attorneys cannot guarantee a favorable outcome, they can provide legal representation and help victims build a solid case with strong evidence. If they hire an experienced personal injury attorney in Cincinnati OH who understands how the Ohio legal system works, injured people may have a better chance of recovering full compensation.


Personal injury cases are complex, but lawyers can make all the difference by helping injured individuals understand their rights, collecting evidence to refute the claims that insurance companies or defendants make about their percentage of fault, and handling all the legal aspects of their lawsuits. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys is also able to help with questions such as can I hire a personal injury lawyer from another state?


Contact Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys Today!


In Ohio, people who were injured due to someone else's negligence may be entitled to recover compensation, even if they're found to be partially at fault. However, these cases are complex, so they'll need help from an experienced attorney.


At Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys, a dedicated and experienced legal team is ready to guide personal injury victims through the Ohio contributory fault system. Schedule a free consultation today!

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