If you’ve been involved in a car accident in Columbus and share responsibility for the incident, you may wonder whether you can still file a claim for compensation. The short answer is yes, but the extent to which you can recover damages depends on Ohio’s comparative fault system.
Ohio follows a modified comparative negligence rule in cases involving shared fault in an accident. According to Ohio law, you retain the right to file a claim even if you contributed to the crash, provided your level of fault does not exceed 50%.
A Columbus car accident lawyer can explain your legal options during a free consultation.
Can I Recover Damages If I am Partly to Blame?
When multiple parties share responsibility for a collision, each individual is assigned a percentage of fault. Per Ohio Revised Code § 2315.33, you can pursue the full range of recoverable damages owed to you if you can prove the other driver was more at fault than you were.
If your actions are determined to be less than 50% of the accident’s cause, any compensation you obtain through a settlement or court judgment will be adjusted according to your percentage of fault.
When discussing your car accident claim during your initial consultation, one of our attorneys can explain how Ohio’s contributory negligence law might affect your potential damages.
What If the Other Driver Says It’s My Fault?
In the aftermath of a collision, it’s not uncommon for the other driver to point fingers and blame you. They may even assert that the entire incident was your responsibility. In such situations, it’s crucial to avoid admitting fault.
The responding law enforcement officer may issue traffic citations to either driver based on observed violations, which can serve as a basis for assigning responsibility. In some cases, both drivers may be deemed at fault. For instance, if the other driver ran a red light and you entered the intersection before your light turned green, you may share liability.
Your early start would violate a traffic law, placing you in the intersection as the other driver ran the red light. Consequently, you could receive a citation, and the accident’s liability would be divided between both parties.
Ohio Is an At-Fault State
In Ohio, a state that follows at-fault principles, the party responsible for the accident is generally liable for the resulting damages. In some instances, law enforcement officers present at the scene may assign fault immediately.
The Role of Police Reports in Determining Liability
In most instances, the police report is pivotal in establishing liability. Since law enforcement officers are typically the first responders at the scene, their account of the incident holds significant weight.
A comprehensive police report can include the following:
- Information on all involved drivers, including names, addresses, and insurance information
- Specifics about the accident’s location, date, and time
- Notations about weather and road conditions
- Contact information of witnesses
- A description of the involved vehicles and their respective damages
- An illustrative diagram depicting the accident scene
- Documentation of statements made to the police officer
It’s important to note that receiving a traffic citation does not automatically equate to a fault determination. Even if the police report seems to implicate you, it’s crucial not to accept blame without thoroughly assessing the accident’s circumstances. When the fault remains undetermined on-site, it can often be established later through collected evidence.
How do Attorneys Prove Liability?
Determining responsibility for a car accident hinges on demonstrating that the involved party acted negligently.
To prove negligence in a car crash, your attorney will work to establish the following elements:
- Duty of care: The party in question had a duty to exercise reasonable care in keeping others safe.
- Breach of duty: There was a breach of this duty of care.
- Causation: The breach led to the collision.
- Damages: You suffered damages due to the accident.
Identifying the liable party in your car accident requires a thorough examination of evidence. When we accept your case, our legal team will conduct a comprehensive investigation, analyzing police and medical reports, witness statements, and other relevant factors to assign liability accurately.
With this information, your Columbus personal injury lawyer will work to build a strong case on your behalf.
How Long do I Have to Take Legal Action in Columbus?
In Columbus, OH, time is of the essence when taking legal action after a collision. Ohio imposes a two-year statute of limitations for most personal injury claims arising from car accidents, as outlined in Ohio Revised Code § 2305.10.
This means you may have two years from the incident date to file a legal claim for compensation. However, exceptions may apply, which could alter this deadline.
Consulting an attorney is essential to understanding the specific deadlines that pertain to your situation and protecting your right to sue. Taking swift action gives your lawyer more time to gather evidence and build your case.
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Even if you are partially at fault for a collision, you may still be able to pursue compensation from the other party. The Fitch Law Firm is committed to helping injured accident victims in your situation recover fair compensation.
One of our Columbus car accident attorneys can investigate the crash to help pinpoint liability and negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf. If the insurer refuses to offer a fair settlement, your lawyer can take your case to court and fight for justice there. Don’t let an insurance company take advantage of you!
Contact us today to learn more during a free consultation.
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