If you are injured in a car accident caused by another driver’s negligence, you can hold the negligent driver liable for your damages. This theory of negligence is the legal basis for most personal injury lawsuits, and it can be a crucial way to compensate the injured for the medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and other damages they suffer in the aftermath of an accident.
But in many cases, more than one party acted negligently. How should the law deal with this kind of situation?
Traditionally, courts held that an injured person could not recover any compensation in a personal injury lawsuit if they were even slightly at fault in the accident that injured them. This led to many unjust results, and gradually states began altering their negligence laws to make them more fair.
Ohio addressed the problem by adopting a law of comparative negligence. Under this system, courts weigh the evidence and assess a percentage of fault to each party involved in the accident. If any of these people were injured, they can recover against another party so long as they held no more than 50% of the fault. Their recovery is then reduced in proportion to their share of fault.
For example, Diane is traveling south on Old Highway when she loses control of her vehicle and crosses into the northbound lane, where she collides with a car driven at a high rate of speed by Valerie. Valerie is injured and files suit against Diane. After weighing the evidence, the court decides that Diane holds 75% of the fault and, because she was speeding, Valerie holds 25% of the fault. Valerie can recover from Diane, but because she was 25% at fault, the amount of compensation she can recover will be reduced by 25%.
These cases are legally complex, and not necessarily easy to win. Many injured people may not even know it is possible to recover if they were partly at fault. However, they can be important ways for injured people to get the compensation they need.