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If you or a loved one suffered a serious injury in an accident caused by another person’s negligence, you may be eligible for a settlement by filing a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent party. Depending on the nature of the accident and the severity of the injuries, the costs associated with a personal injury accident can accumulate very quickly, particularly if you require surgery, ongoing medical care, or you are unable to return to work for a significant amount of time. In addition to the physical and emotional pain associated with the injury, the mounting bills and expenses can be financially devastating. A skilled and dedicated personal injury lawyer should be able to help you with every step of the claims process, and ensure that you receive the justice you deserve for your injuries.    

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What Are the Different Types of Personal Injury Cases?

Personal injury accidents are generally the result of another person’s negligence.  For example, if you are severely injured in a car accident, and the person who hit you was under the influence of alcohol, they may be held liable for their negligent behavior. The following are examples of some of the most common types of personal injury cases:

  • Car accidents: Many devastating car accidents are preventable if motorists make safety a top priority and obey the rules of the road rather than engaging in negligent behavior including drunk driving, distracted driving, speeding, drowsy driving, and reckless driving.
  • Truck accidents: These are the most destructive accidents due to the massive size and weight of the average commercial truck. Unfortunately, it is usually the occupants of the passenger vehicle involved in the accident who suffer the most severe injuries. If a truck driver is distracted, under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or has not gotten the recommended amount of sleep, it can have catastrophic consequences.
  • Medical malpractice: While we put our health and well-being in the hands of healthcare professionals, they can make mistakes that cause serious injuries. If it can be proven that negligence was involved in your injuries, you may want to consider filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. Some common examples of medical malpractice include surgical errors, medication errors, misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis, birth injuries and improper treatment. If the injury results in a fatality, the surviving family members may pursue a wrongful death lawsuit against the physician or the hospital.
  • Bicycle accidents: Even if the accident itself seems minor, injuries from bicycle accidents can be very serious, since there is nothing protecting the bicyclist from the force of the impact. 
  • Product liability: If a product is defective in some way, it can be very dangerous, and result in serious, potentially fatal injuries. Product liability claims generally fall under three categories. Manufacturing defects, when there is a flaw in the manufacturing process; design defects, when an entire product line is inherently dangerous due to defective product design; and marketing defects, which occur when a product does not provide adequate instructions or warnings.   
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBI): In some cases, a catastrophic accident can cause severe head injuries, including TBIs that occur when a violent blow, bump, or jolt to the head causes damage to the brain. Depending on the severity of the injury, a TBI can cause permanent physical and cognitive impairments, preventing the injured person from being able to return to work, or requiring care at a long-term care facility. 
  • Wrongful death: If someone is killed as a result of another person’s negligence, the surviving family members may be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit. 

How Do I Prove That the Other Motorist In a Car Accident Was Negligent?

Every motorist has a duty to drive in a way that protects other drivers, pedestrians, and other individuals who are sharing the road. All motorists must obey the speed limit, ensure that his or her vehicle is properly maintained, avoid distractions, remain alert and aware of their surroundings, and maintain control of the vehicle at all times. In addition, motorists should never get behind the wheel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If a driver were to neglect any of these basic duties behind the wheel, they may be found to be negligent. However, it is the injured party’s responsibility to prove that the other driver was negligent. In order to prove negligence, you must be able to establish the following four elements:

  • The other motorist owed you a duty of care.
  • The other motorist breached the duty of care by engaging in unsafe or irresponsible driving behavior.
  • The other motorist’s negligent actions caused your injury.
  • You suffered damages as a result of the other motorist’s actions.

What Damages Am I Entitled to in a Personal Injury Case?

If you were injured in a car accident that was caused by the negligent behavior of another motorist, there are significant costs associated with a serious car accident, from the damage to your vehicle to your medical costs and lost wages. However, a successful personal injury lawsuit will work to make sure that you receive the damages to which you are entitled, including the following:

Economic Damages: These are the tangible losses that you incurred as a result of the accident. They are more easily quantifiable, compared to non-economic damages. They include the following: 

  • Medical expenses: These include all medical expenses associated with the injury, including hospital expenses, surgeries, prescription medication, physical therapy, and long-term care.
  • Lost wages: If your injury prevents you from being able to return to work for an extended period of time, you could receive a percentage of your weekly salary.
  • Property damage: If your vehicle was damaged in the accident, this will cover the cost of repairing your vehicle, or replacing it if your vehicle has been totaled.

Non-economic Damages: These are more subjective than economic damages. They refer to losses that are not easily quantifiable as they do not come with a receipt. They include the following:

  • Pain and suffering: This refers to the physical pain and mental anguish you experience as a result of the injuries. Examples of pain and suffering include chronic pain, nerve damage, paralysis, psychological trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), insomnia and cognitive changes due to a head trauma.
  • Loss of consortium: This is the type of pain and suffering that family members experience when a loved one is fatally injured, or is unable to fully recover from his or her injuries. Examples include loss of spousal intimacy, as well as the loss of companionship and parental guidance.
  • Disfigurement: A serious car accident can cause devastating injuries that result in severe scarring and other disfiguring injuries, like amputations.

Punitive damages: Depending on the circumstances of the accident, you may be able to seek punitive damages, which are meant to punish the person responsible for the accident. For example, if you suffered a serious injury in a car accident caused by another motorist who was intentionally trying to run you off the road, you may seek punitive damages for his or her behavior. In most cases, these are awarded when the other party’s negligent behavior is so outrageous that this punishment is justified. In Ohio, there is no cap on economic damages, meaning you can recover your actual losses. However, non-economic damages are capped at $250,000, or three times your economic damages, whichever is greater. The amount may not exceed $350,000 per person and $500,000 per accident. Punitive damages are capped at twice the value of compensatory damages.

When it comes to damages, Ohio is a comparative negligence state, which means that the amount of damages you are eligible to receive will be reduced by your percentage of fault, if it is determined that you are partially responsible for the accident. For example, if the total award for your injuries is $100,000, but a jury finds that you bear 20 percent of the fault, your compensation amount will be reduced from $100,000 to $80,000. However, if the jury finds that you bear 50 percent or more of the fault, you will not be eligible for compensation.

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Filing a Personal Injury Claim?

“The statute of limitations” is a legal term that refers to the amount of time an individual has to file a lawsuit against another person. Different states have different statutes of limitations, so it is important to understand the laws in your state if you plan to pursue legal action against the person who caused the accident. In Ohio, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit is two years from the date that the injury occurred. If you fail to file a lawsuit within this time frame, your claim will likely be denied, and you will lose the right to pursue compensation in the future.

How Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Help Me?

If you are involved in a minor fender bender that did not cause any injuries or property damage, it may not be necessary to hire a personal injury lawyer. However, accidents that involve serious injuries and extensive property damage are much more complicated. Car accident victims rarely secure the maximum financial compensation they deserve if they handle the case on their own. Experienced personal injury lawyers understand how the legal system works, and are able to negotiate the best possible settlement for your injuries. The following are examples of some of the main benefits of hiring a skilled personal injury lawyer:

  • Investigate the claim. A dedicated personal injury lawyer will conduct a thorough investigation by evaluating the evidence, talking to witnesses who were at the accident scene, collecting police reports and obtaining copies of your medical records. Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis, which means that you are only charged attorney’s fees if a successful settlement is reached. 
  • Gather evidence. The more evidence you and your legal team are able to collect, the stronger your case is likely to be. In addition to obtaining copies of police reports, medical records and witness statements, a personal injury lawyer may hire a photographer to take pictures of the accident scene and collect surveillance footage from businesses that are in the vicinity of the accident. If necessary, a personal injury lawyer might hire an accident reconstructionist, who will study the evidence from the accident scene and develop conclusions about the cause of the accident, and how it happened. They will consider a range of factors, including how fast the vehicles were traveling, whether the other motorist ran through a red light, or made any errors while changing lanes. 
  • Negotiate with insurance companies. It is important to understand that insurance companies are in the business of making money, and they will use a range of tactics to avoid a costly payout. They will use your own words against you to make it sound as if you share some or all of the blame. Personal injury lawyers have the skills to negotiate with the insurance company.
  • Send demand letters. This outlines the facts of the accident, and demands a specified amount in damages based on the injuries you suffered in the accident. After your personal injury lawyer has thoroughly investigated the details of the claim, they will send the demand letter to the insurance company.
  • Prepare complaints. In some cases, the insurance company may refuse to offer a settlement. If this happens, your personal injury lawyer will prepare a complaint against the defendant, including the reasons why the defendant is responsible for the accident. The complaint will also include the amount of damages that you are seeking. 
  • Initiate the discovery process. This process allows both sides to collect evidence and facts from the opposing side. It prevents surprises during trials and allows each side to thoroughly prepare for the case. Depending on the circumstances of the case, it may involve deposing parties, witnesses and experts.
  • Represent clients at trial. If you are unable to reach a settlement, and the case goes to trial, a personal injury lawyer will represent you in court, ensure that your legal rights are protected and that you recover the maximum financial compensation you deserve for your injuries. 

Ohio Personal Injury Lawyers at the Wolterman Law Office Secure Justice for Car Accident Victims

If you or a loved one suffered a serious injury in a car accident, or any other type of accident that is caused by another person’s negligence, it is in your best interest to contact our Ohio personal injury lawyers at Wolterman Law Office. We will not stop fighting for you until you are completely satisfied. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 513-488-1135 or contact us online.

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