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Drunk driver not automatically at fault in a car accident

You might think that determining the guilty party is a no-brainer in drunk driving accidents. However, a recent accident in Orange shows otherwise. The head-on collision took place on a Friday night last month. On his way home from a casino, a man crashed into a woman while she was maneuvering around a car that had been parked in the middle of the road.

When the police arrived, the man was visibly intoxicated. When asked for his driver’s license, he mistakenly presented a discount shopping card instead. He was charged with drunk driving. Nonetheless, the police found him not to be at fault in causing the accident. Why? Because in order to clear the parked vehicle, the female driver had illegally moved into the lane of oncoming traffic.

How Ohio determines fault

Ohio follows what is known as comparative negligence law. Simply put, when a car accident occurs, police seek to understand who is to blame. If multiple people are partially to blame, then this affects compensation. For instance, if one driver is 80 percent responsible and the other is 20 percent responsible in an accident, then the driver with most of the responsibility will have to pay for 80 percent of the damages to the other driver.

Police determined the drunk driver in this case was not complicit in causing the accident. Nonetheless, under comparative negligence, the woman involved still has a chance of recouping some of her damages, because there is a third party involved in this scene that could also hold some of the blame: the parked vehicle. If a court determines that the vehicle—which was illegally parked in the middle of the street—was more than 50 percent responsible for the crash, then the woman involved in the crash could stand to receive some restitution.

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