Negligence is the failure to exercise the degree of care that another sensible person would under similar circumstances. For instance, all motorists have a duty of care to drive safely. Property owners have an obligation to keep their premises in good shape. Anything that deviates from what a reasonable person would do could constitute negligence.
Ohio follows a comparative negligence law, which allows an injured party to seek compensation for injuries even if they were partly responsible for the accident. This is a vast improvement from the old contributory negligence law. This law held that an injured party could not collect damages if they were even one percent at fault.
How negligence is determined
In personal injury and wrongful death cases, negligence is determined by:
- Analyzing any police or accident reports
- Consulting accident reconstruction data
- Viewing photos and videos of the accident itself
- Reviewing your medical records
- Interviewing witnesses
- Examining black box data
- Investigating the accident’s circumstances
Our team can help you with all of these tasks. If another party was negligent and caused your injuries, we’ll get to the bottom of what happened.
For a free legal consultation, call (614) 538-1116
The four elements of negligence
When proving negligence, we can demonstrate that four elements were present in your accident:
Duty of care
First, you must show that the defendant owed you a duty of care. For example, motorists owe other drivers and pedestrians a duty of care when operating a vehicle.
Breach of duty
You must demonstrate that the defendant breached their duty of care through their actions or failure to act, such as by violating a traffic law. They may have broken the speed limit or failed to yield the right of way.
Causation is the connection between the defendant’s breach of duty and the accident. Maybe a negligent driver hit you because they were tailgating, or an aggressive dog bit you.
Finally, you must show that you suffered losses due to the accident. Losses include injuries that:
- Required medical care
- Made you miss work
- Caused you pain and suffering
How comparative negligence works
In the aftermath of an accident, both parties could be deemed partially at fault for the situation. Fault begins at 100 percent and is divided based on each parties’ role in the accident. You cannot be more than 50 percent at fault and collect damages.
For example, a victim in a car accident could have suffered extensive injuries due to another driver’s negligence. This victim could pursue recompense by filing a personal injury claim.
If the victim was determined to be 20 percent at fault for the accident, his or her settlement amount would be reduced by 20 percent. So, for instance, an initial $100,000 damage award would be reduced to $80,000.
Types of negligence that may qualify you for an injury claim
Negligent actions differ based on the accident in question. Regardless of how the liable party breached their duty of care, you may have a case for compensation. The following cases involve Ohio’s negligence laws:
Car and motorcycle accidents
All motorists owe others a duty of care when operating their vehicles. They have to abide by traffic laws and take care not to cause any danger on the roads. A speeding driver could have hit you or a motorist engaged in distracted driving. This could have resulted in an accident, they may be liable for your injuries and losses.
Dog owners have a responsibility to control their pets, so they do not hurt others. Ohio follows strict liability with dog bites. This means that a victim can hold a dog owner liable if the dog never:
- Bit anyone else before
- Gave the owner a reason to believe the animal was dangerous
In the worst of cases, accidents caused by negligence lead to the loss of a loved one. If this occurs, a representative could bring a wrongful death claim or lawsuit.
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Deadlines for filing a lawsuit
If you want to hold a negligent party accountable for your injuries or losses, you might choose to pursue a personal injury lawsuit or wrongful death lawsuit. If negotiations with an insurer do not yield a fair settlement, you can take your case to trial. You do not have an unlimited amount of time to do this, though.
Under Ohio Revised Code (ORC) §2305.10, you generally have two years to file a personal injury lawsuit. Similarly, ORC §2125.02 generally gives you two years to file a wrongful death lawsuit. These deadlines begin counting down from the date of the accident.
If you miss these deadlines, you risk having your case dismissed from court and losing your chance to seek compensation. A lawyer from our firm can help you abide by the statutes of limitations once we learn about your case.
Get legal counsel for your case
Whether you experienced a car accident or got hurt in another manner, proving liability and minimizing your degree of fault is vital to a successful resolution. An attorney familiar with personal injury cases can handle your case and protect your rights throughout the legal process.
We make compassionately and respectfully serving clients our priority. We can provide clarification for your legal questions, such as how to define negligence and how comparative negligence affects your case. Call Bressman Law.