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Rittgers Rittgers & Nakajima


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If I was partially at fault for my accident, can I still recover?

Car accidents can result in a wide range of injuries, from simple whiplash to severe, permanent disabilities. In addition, they often result in expensive vehicle damage. If a negligent driver struck your car, you can bring a lawsuit against them to recover the costs of your medical bills, vehicle repair and more. But what if you were partially responsible for the crash? Can you still recover? If so, how much?

Ohio contributory fault rules

The Ohio legislature has passed a specific law that governs what happens when the plaintiff in a case (the one bringing the lawsuit) was partially responsible for the harm they suffered. This principle is called contributory fault (also known as contributory negligence).

According to Ohio law, you can bring a lawsuit if you are not more than 50% responsible for the accident. In other words, when you bring a lawsuit, the court or jury will first examine the facts and determine the percentage of fault for each party. Then, the court or jury will compare your percentage of fault with those of everyone you are suing. If your responsibility for the accident is more than 50%, you cannot recover.

Diminishing of recovery

If you are successful in your lawsuit, the court will determine the total recovery you would have won if you had not had any responsibility at all for the accident. Then, they will subtract from that an amount proportional to your percentage of responsibility before awarding it to you.

This means that, if you were twenty percent at fault and the defendant was eighty percent at fault for your accident, you will be able to receive up to eighty percent of your total possible recovery – since the court has to subtract your twenty percent of fault from your total possible recovery.

Even if you were partially to blame for your crash, it doesn’t mean that you have no hope of recovering the costs of your accident. As long as you were not more than 50% at fault, you can still recover what you need to get your life back on track after your accident.