What is comparative negligence?

Not all accidents are clearly the fault of one individual.  If more than one person caused the damage, then negligence is distributed between the parties based on state apportionment laws.  The amount of damages are apportioned between the parties based upon the amount of negligence attributed to the individual party.  When the plaintiff and the defendant are both at fault, the amount of damages a plaintiff may recover is reduced in proportion to the amount of fault attributed to the plaintiff.  The judge or jury may determine that actions of the defendant, the plaintiff, or both, caused the accident.  Based on the facts of the case, the judge or jury will allocate the amount or percentage that each party was negligent.


The State of Ohio follows a type of apportionment called “Modified Comparative Fault, 50% rule.  The controlling statutes are found within Ohio Revised Code sections 2315.32 to 2315.36.  The Modified Comparative Fault – 50% rule states that the plaintiff may recover his/her damages as long as the plaintiff is not more than 50% at fault in the accident.  If the plaintiff is more than 50% at fault, then the plaintiff may not recover any of the damages as a result of the accident.  If the plaintiff is less than 50% at fault, then they may recover, but their recovery will be limited according to their amount of fault.


For example, if a judge or jury determines that driver 1 was 30% at fault in an accident and driver 2 was 70% at fault,  driver 1 could only recover 70% of his damages (100% minus his 30% negligence) from the other party. Driver 2 would receive no compensation from driver 1 since driver 2 was more than 50% negligent (70%).


If you have an issue regarding fault and comparative negligence, call Ryan, LLP to evaluate the facts of the accident and determine if you have a potential claim.