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How vehicle accident fault could impact insurance claims

On Behalf of | May 28, 2021 | Motor Vehicle Accidents |

Every state has a law that applies when auto accidents occur, and especially when cases go to court. While most motor vehicle accidents in Ohio with obvious fault evidence are settled beforehand, this is not true in all cases. Insurance companies and claimants often disagree on the amount of compensation due and the actual version of events leading up to the incident. In many states, this is based on the percentage of fault assigned to each driver in an accident, which is then used to determine the level of liability and amount of damages any injured party may receive for injuries and property damage. This especially applies to drivers who will have their own financial award reduced by their comparative negligence percentage.

Understanding how comparative negligence applies

There are effectively three types of negligence law applied to motor vehicle accident cases in the U.S. aside from the archaic contributory negligence application used in D.C. and four additional states. Pure “contributory” negligence holds that any driver even 1% at fault for causing their own accident cannot pursue financial recovery. Ohio uses the modified comparative negligence model with a 51% bar from financial recovery for drivers who contribute significantly to causing their own injuries. Other states use pure “comparative” negligence law that allows damage claims for all who are not totally at fault for their own injuries.

How fault is determined

The degree of fault for a driver is central to negotiating injury settlements after motor vehicle accidents. Respondent insurance company agents will have their own determination of fault percentage while the accident reconstruction officials may have a different view. Personal injury attorneys can also investigate accident scenarios as well when representing their clients. These competing versions of events can often result in legal disputes regarding fault when accident liability is being discussed, which in turn affects how claims are paid and to what level of benefit. Highly contested cases usually go to court where the jury is the final arbiter of comparative negligence percentages when financial awards are officially determined.

Determination of fault is actually the most contested element of motor vehicle accident claims. Insurance companies always want to reduce the amount of liability assigned to their client, as do defending attorneys, and personal injury attorneys for injured plaintiffs have the same focus on maximizing benefits.