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Car accident victims may recover even if they are at fault

Ohio is an at-fault insurance state, meaning that the person who caused the accident is responsible for paying the costs of losses and damages to the other driver. Those injured in a car accident may choose to pursue a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent party to recover their medical expenses and other damages. In Ohio, they may do so even if they were partially at fault.

Traditionally, plaintiffs who contributed to the accident were barred from recovery. However, because outcomes were often unfair and unduly harsh, many states adopted the comparative negligence approach, which allows parties to recover damages even if they were contributorily negligent. Only a few states still follow the pure contributory negligence rule, under which parties may not be able to collect damages if they were at all to blame for the accident.

Ohio follows the modified comparative fault theory, which allows parties to recover damages if they were less than 50 percent at fault. The amount they will be able to recover is proportionate to the amount they were at fault. Under the modified comparative fault theory, if a plaintiff was 20 percent to blame for the accident, they will be able to recover 80 percent of their damages.

Ohio also has damage caps in place that limit the amount of non-economic damages plaintiffs may recover. However, there is no limit to the amount of economic damages a plaintiff may recover. This includes damages such as medical expenses, lost wages and lost earning capacity. Non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, are subject to a maximum of $350,000 per plaintiff unless the plaintiff suffered catastrophic injuries, such as loss of a limb or a substantial physical deformity.

Source: FindLaw, "Comparative Negligence," accessed February 9, 2018

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