Auto accidents that occur in Columbus, Ohio, are subject to Ohio’s comparative negligence laws. If you’ve been in an auto accident in this area, then you need to understand how comparative negligence works. To begin with, negligence is defined as failing to behave in a manner that is cautious, lawful, and safe to prevent accidents from occurring.
There are states with no-fault laws, contributory negligence, laws, comparative negligence laws, and modified comparative negligence laws. Ohio used to use contributory negligence laws, so that nobody who was partially at fault for an auto accident was allowed to recover compensation from the other at-fault party, no matter the percentage of fault. However, in 1980, Ohio joined 34 other states in following a comparative negligence law. This means that any auto accidents that occurred after the 1980 decision would be subject to a law in which the individual who is less than 51% at fault could recover compensation for the value of their damages, reduced by their own percentage of negligence.
These comparative negligence laws apply to all personal injury claims, including auto accidents. Anyone who is more than 50% at fault for an auto accident cannot recover compensation.
The Importance of Investigation in Your Columbus Auto Accident
Because your degree of negligence will impact the value of your claim, if you can recover compensation at all, the importance of a proper investigation into the incident cannot be overstated. If your Columbus, Ohio, auto accident is not properly investigated, you may be assigned an inaccurate percentage of fault, and you may receive far less compensation than you are owed, or you may get no compensation. Your auto insurance policy might end up unfairly compensating the driver who was truly more negligent. So, how do you make sure that your auto accident is properly investigated?
For one thing, you can gather evidence at the scene of the accident. You can take photos of injuries, the position of vehicles, any relevant traffic signals, and property damage. You can also get the contact information of witnesses. You will have to report your auto accident to your insurance company, but you should not discuss fault when you do. You can expect them to conduct their own investigation, but you should also contact a Columbus, Ohio, auto accident attorney to thoroughly investigate your claim.
How is Your Percentage of Fault Determined in a Ohio Auto Accident?
As mentioned above, when you get into a Columbus, Ohio, auto accident, the insurance companies of both drivers are going to conduct an investigation. They may use the police report and various other forms of evidence to reach a conclusion. Yet, you may not wish to rely on the often misleading insurance companies who rarely have the best interests of their customers or other drivers at heart. This is where it is wise to contact a Columbus, OH, auto accident attorney, schedule a free consultation, and bring in all of the evidence that you collected at the scene of the accident.
Reporting Columbus, Ohio, Auto Accidents to the Insurance Company and Police
While you may not trust your auto insurance company, you do need to report any accidents that occur. You also need to report accidents to the police if there is more than $400 of damage, or if anyone is injured. If you do not contact the police directly, then you must report the incident with the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles if the property damage is greater than $400.
Can the Owner of a Parked Vehicle Be At-Fault for a Car Wreck?
It is possible for the owner of a parked vehicle to be found to have the majority of negligence or partial negligence in a Columbus, Ohio, auto accident claim. This typically happens when the owner of the vehicle parked it illegally. For instance, if they are blocking a stop sign, they may be the cause of a collision between other vehicles. If they are parked in the middle of the road, and another care strikes their vehicle, then this could involve liability on the part of the parked driver as well.
There are Multiple Resources to Answer Your Columbus, OH, Auto Accident Questions
When it comes to questions about your auto insurance policy or the auto insurance policy of another at fault driver, you can always contact the Ohio Department of Insurance to address your concerns. You also always have the option of contacting a Columbus auto accident attorney. Yet, one of the biggest questions concerning auto accidents in Columbus, OH, is whether you need an attorney at all.
It never hurts to seek a free consultation for any auto accident claim, but there are some situations that indicate the need for a lawyer. For instance, if there are any severe injuries or deaths from the accident, then you should definitely contact an attorney. If the medical expenses are very high, involve surgical care, or extensive rehabilitation, then again, it is wise to have legal representation. In cases where the auto accident was work related or where it resulted in a lot of lost wages, then an attorney can help with these cases, too. The more financial losses you sustain, the more necessary it becomes to have qualified legal representation in recovering your damages.
The same is true with more complex auto accident claims. If there are multiple vehicles involved, if fault is difficult to determine, if you disagree with the investigation of your percentage of fault, or if there are any other complications or confusing situations, then you should definitely contact a Columbus, Ohio, auto accident attorney to learn more. If you are offered a settlement from an auto insurance company, then you want to at least get an attorney to evaluate the claim and the settlement to determine whether or not it is a fair offer. Contact the skilled Columbus, Ohio auto accident attorneys at the Chester Law Firm to get a free consultation and learn more about how we can help.