What Is Contributory Fault In An Ohio Car Accident Case?
Car accidents in Columbus, Ohio can lead to many different types of losses, including serious physical harm that results in significant hospital bills and lost wages due to a person’s inability to work. Making the decision to file a car accident claim can be difficult when you are grappling with the physical and psychological pain associated with your car accident injuries, but filing a car accident claim is often the best route toward obtaining compensation for your losses. You might be extremely concerned, then, if the negligent motorist argues that you are also partially at fault for the collision or for the severity of your injuries.
When a defendant raises the issue of the plaintiff’s fault, the defendant is typically raising an affirmative defense known as contributory fault. A court’s approach to contributory fault, which is sometimes known as comparative fault, will depend upon the specific state in which a plaintiff brings a lawsuit. Ohio is known as a modified comparative fault state, and our Columbus car accident attorneys want to provide you with more information about the implications of contributory fault under Ohio law.
Modified Comparative or Contributory Fault in Ohio
In order to provide you with the information you need about contributory fault in Ohio, it is important to address comparative fault more generally. Some states are known as pure comparative fault states. In these states, a plaintiff can recover damages as long as the defendant bears some percentage of fault, even if the defendant is only 1 percent at fault and can prove that the plaintiff is 99 percent at fault. However, the plaintiff’s damages award will be reduced by her portion of fault.
Differently, in states known as pure contributory negligence states, a plaintiff will be barred from any recovery if the defendant can successfully show that the plaintiff is even 1 percent at fault.
Ohio and other modified comparative fault states fall in between these two models. In a modified comparative fault state like Ohio, the plaintiff can still recover damages even if that plaintiff is partially at fault as long as the plaintiff is not more than 50 percent at fault (i.e., 51 percent or more at fault). As long as a plaintiff is 50 percent or less at fault, the plaintiff can make a recovery, but her damages award will be reduced by her percentage of fault. Once a plaintiff is 51 percent or more at fault for a car accident or the severity of her injuries, that plaintiff will be barred from recovery.
How Contributory Fault Works in Practice
How does modified comparative or contributory fault work in practice? If a plaintiff is awarded $100,000 in a car accident lawsuit but the defendant successfully proves that the plaintiff is partially at fault by 20 percent, that plaintiff’s award will be reduced by 20 percent (or $20,000 less in the case of a $100,000 damages award), and the plaintiff will recover $80,000. If the defendant proves that the plaintiff is 51 percent at fault, then the plaintiff will not recover anything.
It is also critical for you to keep in mind that your damages award will not automatically be reduced simply because a defendant raises the issue of contributory fault. The defendant will need to prove that you are partially to blame, and you will be able to work with your Columbus car accident lawyer to show otherwise.
Contact Our Columbus Car Accident Attorneys
Do you have questions or concerns about contributory fault in your Ohio car accident case? Our Columbus car accident lawyers can evaluate your case. Contact Brian G. Miller CO, L.P.A. for more information.