Who is Responsible When Both Parties Act with Negligence?

June 3, 2014

It does not take special legal training to understand the basics of a negligence lawsuit: if someone negligently injures you, that party is responsible for making you whole for your injuries.  Whether those injuries were caused by a defective product, medical malpractice, legal or professional malpractice, job site accidents, or a car accident, the underlying principle remains the same.  People and businesses have an obligation to take certain precautions to minimize injuries to others and may be held liable if their failure to take those precautions actually causes injury to others.

This obligation, though, applies to injured victims as well.  If you file a lawsuit to recover for your injuries, your own actions will be scrutinized.  If you failed to act with due care, your own negligence may limit or preclude your ability to be compensated for your injuries, regardless of severity.  That is why so many of the posts on this blog discuss safety tips and recommended courses of action; by doing your best to always take all necessary precautions, not only will you reduce your chance of injury but you will protect your right to recovery in the event that you are injured.

But the reality is that no one can take every precaution all the time.  This means that many, if not most, personal injury lawsuits involve negligence on both sides.  Even if you may have been partly responsible for your injuries, though, you should still contact an experienced personal injury lawyer if you have been injured.

Ohio law applies comparative negligence to personal injury cases.  Under Ohio law, if you were injured by a combination of the negligence of others and your own negligence, you are not barred from recovery so long as your own negligence was not greater than 50% responsible for your injuries.  If you were 50% or less responsible for your injuries, then you may still recover damages in proportion to fault.  So, for example, if the court or jury determines that you were 40% responsible but the defendant was 60% responsible, your recovery would be 60% of your damages.  If, however, you were determined to be 51% responsible, then you would be unable to recover compensation in court.

Unlike the high-level basics of a negligence lawsuit, assessing whether you were greater than 50% at fault in an accident is a fact-specific determination that requires the special training and experience that can only be provided by an attorney.  If you have been injured—even if your actions contributed to your injury—contact the experienced Cleveland personal injury lawyers at Lowe Scott Fisher Co., LPA for a free telephone consultation.

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