A fault system determines who pays for the losses if an individual is injured in a car accident. In a no-fault state, the victim must first file a claim with his or her own insurance company to recover compensation. Whereas in an at-fault state, the driver who is ‘at fault’ for the accident is liable for any injuries or damage caused. Ohio is in fact, an at-fault state. This makes the process of recovering compensation in Ohio sound deceptively straightforward but believe us, it can be anything but. Here’s what you need to know.
Proving who was at fault
Columbus, Ohio has some tricky intersections, with Cleveland Avenue and Morse Road ranked as the most dangerous. Let’s say this is where your accident took place. It’s early evening and you’re driving your new Honda Civic at the speed limit. Seconds later, at the intersection, a Ford F-150 chances it through the red light and plows into your car. Your vehicle is totaled. As well as the shock and trauma, you sustain life-changing injuries.
You know you did nothing wrong; that the fault lies on the shoulders of the pick-up truck driver who drove through the red light. Nevertheless, you still have to prove it; that the other driver had a duty to drive safely, follow traffic laws, and watch out for other motorists but breached this duty by violating traffic laws or driving recklessly. You also must prove the other driver’s actions caused the accident and as a result, you incurred damages to yourself and/or your vehicle.
If you’re successful, you may then be entitled to compensation to help you cover damages including medical or physical therapy bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, disability or disfigurement, and loss of enjoyment to life. If only it was that simple.
Having an experienced lawyer on your side is invaluable
You may feel that you have ‘right on your side’, but that doesn’t mean you will automatically get the compensation you deserve. Insurance companies are businesses. They may be sympathetic to your situation, but they won’t pay more than they absolutely have to. This is why having an experienced lawyer on your side is invaluable.
The fact that the other driver went through a red light and hit your car may be inarguable, but the at-fault driver’s representatives (their lawyer and/or insurance company), will still conduct their own investigation. They’ll look at your medical records, looking for links between injuries sustained during the accident and pre-existing conditions. They may even have one of their investigators interview and ask you to make a recorded statement.
Ohio comparative negligence
Under this rule, the court can assign each party a percentage of the fault, if it’s proven that the two parties were at fault. Let’s say you were in the process of making a turn at the time of the incident. While the other driver still drove through a red light, that driver might argue you didn’t signal in time. The court might then decide you are 20% at fault, while the other driver is 80% at fault and adjust compensation accordingly. If the court or jury decides you’re more responsible for the accident than the other driver, you’ll get nothing at all.
We understand how traumatic and stressful being involved in a car collision is. It goes beyond damage to your car or physical injuries. It can affect your mental health and general wellbeing. You might not be able to work and even lose your job. It can have a catastrophic domino effect on your life. And for insurance companies, the bottom line is the bottom line.
You need a lawyer who is one step ahead
Going it alone, after being through something as traumatic as a car crash, is brave but not always a good idea. One person versus a team of determined lawyers and insurance investigators isn’t a fair fight. You might cave under the pressure and end up with less than you deserve.
We have decades of experience working with people who have been involved in car accidents. Our attorneys know the law inside and out, and like champion chess players, pride ourselves on always being several moves ahead. We’ll fight for you and get to the root cause of the matter, so you can get the justice you deserve, no matter how many obstacles people put in our way. You’ve got nothing to lose, but potentially a lot to gain.