"Who Will Pay For My Car Accident in Ohio?"
Experienced Cleveland attorneys explain how the system works
This question might sound simple. But the answer’s often far more complicated than many people might realize. That’s because there’s so much at stake after a car accident. And the people or companies responsible for compensating you and other injury victims know this.
That’s why it’s critical that you understand how the legal system works in Ohio if you’ve been involved in a car accident caused by another driver. We know because our experienced attorneys at Merriman Legal, LLC have decades of combined experience handling such complicated legal cases.
Ohio’s car insurance requirements
By law, all drivers in Ohio must have car insurance. The state has established minimum insurance requirements which all drivers must maintain. These minimum insurance requirements include:
- $25,000 for injuries per person
- $50,000 for injuries per accident
- $25,000 for property damage
Such figures might seem like a lot of money. But the reality is many car accidents end up costing far more money. How much money your car accident claim is worth depends on many different factors. The bottom line is your accident-related expenses could add up to hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars.
Ohio’s ‘fault’ insurance system
In order to truly understand how Ohio’s legal system works, it’s important to know that the state has a fault-based insurance system. This means the "at-fault" driver who caused your crash is responsible for compensating you and everyone else injured in your accident.
However, the system isn’t as simple as it seems. One issue in particular involves accidents with uninsured or underinsured drivers. This is especially true if you’re a victim of a hit-and-run accident and police cannot track down the driver who caused your crash.
Another important element of Ohio’s fault insurance system concerns its comparative negligence system, which is also sometimes referred to as comparative fault. This part of Ohio’s system makes it different from some other fault-based systems in other states.
What is comparative negligence?
Comparative negligence means the at-fault driver may only need to compensate everyone else a certain percentage, depending upon whether or not other drivers were also at fault. For example, if the at-fault driver is 75 percent at fault, that means the at-fault driver may only need to compensate other accident victims for 75 percent of all accident-related expenses.
What if I was partially at fault?
If it is determined you did something that partially contributed to your accident, the amount of money you will receive for your crash may be reduced by the percentage you were at fault.
If you were 20 percent at fault, you will receive 20 percent less than your total accident settlement. As a result, if your accident was found to be worth $100,000, you would only receive $80,000 since you were found to be 20 percent at fault. If you are found to be 51 percent or greater at fault, you will not be entitled to recover anything. Comparative negligence technically only applies to verdicts in civil court, but you can bet that an insurance company will bring it up in negotiations as well.
Who decides who’s at fault?
This is one of the most controversial aspects of car accidents in Ohio. Insurance companies (particularly the ones representing the at-fault driver) are often the ones that decide who’s at fault in a car accident or what percentage at fault.
Such a situation is controversial since the at-fault driver’s insurance company clearly has an interest in making sure you are found to be at fault. That way, their company does not have to compensate you for your accident-related expenses.
How do they decide who’s at fault?
Accident investigators rely on a wide range of information when deciding who caused a car accident. In many cases, investigators working for insurance companies based on their decision on the following information:
- Official Ohio Public Safety Traffic Crash Report
- Medical records
- Eyewitness testimony
- Independent investigation of accident scene
Insurance companies don’t intimidate us. We know how to take them on and beat them at their own game. That’s why we have such a strong track record success. We know what evidence to look for, what questions to ask and how to turn all that information into a winning legal case.
How our law firm can help you
Taking on insurance companies on your own after an accident is a daunting task. Even if you know the other driver clearly caused your crash, that doesn’t mean you will be fairly compensated for accident.
In most cases, you have to fight for the money you rightfully deserve. That’s where we come in. Our experienced accident attorneys can work with you from start to finish to make sure you and your family receive the money you need to get your life back on track.
Whether it’s negotiating with insurance companies or filing a lawsuit on your behalf, we will not rest until justice is served. Contact our law firm and schedule your free case evaluation right now. We can meet with you in our Cleveland office or wherever’s convenient for you.