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Ohio Negligence Laws

When an individual fails to exercise the degree of care expected of someone in that situation, and it results in an injury of some sort, it is called "negligence." The basis for most civil lawsuits, negligence laws are established at the state level. Ohio negligence laws stipulate that damages be reduced in proportion to the claimant's degree of fault, also referred to as contributory negligence.

Other than differences in comparative and contributory negligence, there is not too much variance in how negligence cases are tried from one state to the next. Generally, plaintiffs must always prove the existence of the following five elements in order to find the defendant liable for negligence:

  1. Duty - The defendant owed a duty to the plaintiff, which means he/she should have acted (or refrained from acting) in a certain way. For instance, a motorist have a duty to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.
  2. Breach of Duty - The defendant failed to exercise reasonable care and thus breached his/her duty. For example, a motorist fails to stop for a pedestrian in the crosswalk.
  3. Cause in Fact - Defendant's negligence "in fact" caused the injury. For example, the plaintiffs would not have been injured if not for the defendant's failure to stop at the crosswalk.
  4. Proximate Cause - Could the defendant have foreseen that his/her actions would cause the plaintiff's injuries? For example, a motorist who hits a pedestrian in the crosswalk should have foreseen that someone may have been walking in the crosswalk.
  5. Damages - The plaintiff was actually harmed by the defendant and can be compensated.  

As you can see, negligence cases can get quite complicated. Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis, meaning you don't pay until you win your case. Therefore, it's often in your best interests to hire an attorney when filing a negligence claim. See FindLaw's Using a Personal Injury Lawyer section for some helpful tips.

The basic provisions of Ohio's negligence laws are listed in the following table. See FindLaw's Negligence section to learn more.

Code Section 2315.19
Comparative Negligence -
Contributory Negligence-Limit to Plaintiff's Recovery Contributory negligence not a bar recovery if negligence was not greater than combined negligence of persons claimant seeks recovery and all other persons claimant does not seek recovery. Damages diminished in proportion to claimant's fault.
Contribution Among Tortfeasors Yes; §§2307.31, 33
Uniform Act 2307.31, 2307.33

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- contact an Ohio personal injury attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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