Comparative Negligence in Ohio

Ohio implements a modified comparative negligence law. Claims can be made if the party is less than 50% at fault.
Written by Tiffany Leung
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
Ohio state implements a modified comparative negligence law, meaning drivers are only allowed to recover damages from the other party after an accident if they were less than 50% at fault. 
How much compensation you can get after an accident will depend on your state’s comparative negligence laws. Familiarizing yourself with these laws will be a big help when it comes to filing an insurance claim.
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What is comparative negligence?

Comparative negligence is a tort law that ensures victims are compensated fairly for their damages and loss in the event of an accident. This involves allocating fault to all parties involved so that each party can recover a portion of their damages, less their assigned fault.
For instance, two drivers are involved in an accident. Driver one is assigned 30% fault so they should be paid out 70% of their damages, whereas driver two is assigned 70% fault and will only be able to recover 30% of their damages.
Whether assessing personal injury lawsuits or third-party insurance claims, comparative negligence principles are followed to assign fault. In both cases, how much damage can be claimed will depend on the fault allocated to each driver.

Comparative negligence vs. contributory negligence

Depending on your state, there are three possible rules of comparative negligence: pure comparative negligence, modified comparative negligence, and contributory negligence. Below is a short explanation of each: 
  • Pure comparative negligence: Regardless of the fault assigned to the parties, everyone is entitled to make a claim.
  • Partial or modified comparative negligence: If the party is assigned under 50% or 51% fault (depending on the state), they can make a claim. 
  • Contributory negligence: Only drivers with 0% fault can make a claim.
Out of all the states, 12 are pure comparative negligence states, and 5 are pure contributory negligence states. The rest are modified comparative negligence states.

What is Ohio’s comparative negligence law? 

In Ohio, liability claims are assessed using the modified comparative negligence rule. If a party is assigned less than 50% of the blame, they will be entitled to make a claim with the other driver’s insurance company.
For example, if you are assigned 60% fault, you will not be entitled to collect damages even if the other driver was 40% at fault. However, the other driver will be able to make a claim and recoup 60% of their damages from your insurance company.

What happens if there are more than two responsible parties? 

If more than two parties are responsible for the accident, insurance companies will allocate fault to everyone involved. Those who have less than 50% blame will be entitled to recover damages from either or all insurance companies. Compensation will be proportional to how much fault was assigned to each party.

How is fault decided in a comparative negligence case?

Insurance providers assess the case by looking at the evidence and police reports. You will want to provide as much information as possible to ensure the blame is assigned fairly. 
For example, note details such as the weather and road conditions, the time and date of the accident, and information about all the cars involved.
It would also be beneficial to get statements from witnesses and take photos of the accident. This will help back up your account of what happened.
The more details you can provide, the more insurance companies can get a better picture of what happened and assign the blame fairly.

How does car insurance work with comparative negligence? 

In a modified comparative negligence state like Ohio, damages can only be recovered if you were less than 50% at fault. Your compensation will match the percentage of fault assigned to you.
Imagine driving through a parking lot. There is a 4-way stop at a pedestrian crossing so you wait. However, as you drive through the section, another driver behind you follows closely and rear-ends you.
After considering all the evidence and police reports, the insurance found that the other driver did a rolling stop while using their phone. However, the insurers also found that you drove through the intersection too slowly. As a result, the other driver is assigned 80% fault for negligence and distracted driving. You are assigned 20% fault.
According to Ohio’s modified comparative negligence law, you can recover up to 80% of your losses through the other driver’s insurer. With a fault higher than 50%, the other driver will not be entitled to recover any of their damages.

How to find affordable car insurance

The right insurance coverage will help bridge the gap between what the other driver pays you and what you need to pay out of pocket after an accident. If you’re not sure how to find better coverage without your car insurance premiums skyrocketing, the
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Yes. Insurance companies usually calculate your premiums based on certain traits including your demographics, what kind of car you drive, and your driving record. If you’re at fault in an accident, your insurer may flag you as a risk and raise your premiums by up to 20%.
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