Ohio Car Accident Lawyers
Despite the advances in safety technology, car accidents continue to happen across the state of Ohio. The majority of these collisions are avoidable if motorists make safety a top priority and obey the rules of the road. Even the most experienced and responsible drivers can be involved in a serious accident if another motorist is driving negligently at the time of the accident. An experienced legal team can assist you with every step of the claims process, address all of your questions and concerns, and ensure that you receive
Whether you are involved in a minor fender bender, or a devastating multi-vehicle collision, the Ohio car accident lawyers at Wolterman Law Office understand how stressful and overwhelming car accidents can be, particularly when there are severe injuries involved.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Car Accidents?
Understanding the common causes of car accidents is the first step to avoiding them when behind the wheel. The following are the top causes of car accidents in Ohio and across the country:
- Distracted driving. It should come as no surprise that this is the leading cause of car accidents. Whether you are talking on the phone, texting, reaching for something in the backseat, or programming the GPS, these common distractions take your attention off the road.
- Drunk driving. Consuming alcohol causes a range of impairments including slowed reaction times, decreased coordination, and poor decision-making skills.
- Speeding. Speeding is not only illegal, speeding also makes it difficult to slow down to avoid an accident. In addition, speed-related accidents often result in more severe injuries due to the extreme force of impact.
- Reckless driving. Tailgating, weaving in and out of lanes, and cutting off other drivers are all examples of reckless driving. If you spot a driver engaging in this type of behavior, put distance between you and the other car, and call 911, especially if the driver appears to be drunk.
- Inclement weather. You cannot control the weather, but you can take steps to avoid driving when roads are covered in ice, snow or freezing rain. Extreme fog and sun glare can also cause hazardous driving conditions. Take the necessary precautions when driving in inclement weather.
- Drowsy driving. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately one-third of adults do not get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep. Drowsiness has a negative impact on judgment, coordination and one’s physical and mental health. The CDC reports that drowsy driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving. If a motorist has been awake for 18 consecutive hours, he or she may experience the same visual, motor and cognitive impairments as someone who has a blood alcohol level of 0.05, which is just shy of the legal threshold of intoxication at 0.08.
What Steps Should I Take After a Car Accident?
Getting into a car accident can leave you feeling confused and overwhelmed. Suffering serious injuries as a result of a car accident can make the insurance ordeal afterward that much more traumatic. However, if you know the steps to take immediately following an accident, it can make the insurance claims process less stressful. Keep the following tips in mind if you are involved in an accident:
- Collect evidence. If you are able to safely get out of your car and assess the situation, start documenting the scene by taking pictures of the vehicles involved, your injuries, debris on the road, and any other evidence that may help prove that the other driver was at fault. In addition, if there were witnesses who saw the accident happen, ask if they would be willing to provide a statement and get their contact information.
- Get a copy of the police report. Once police arrive at the accident scene, they will fill out a report, which will include the location of the accident, the information of the motorists involved and witnesses who were present at the scene of the accident, statements from all involved motorists, and a general description of the accident. This police report will often include information about who was at fault for causing the accident. This is valuable evidence if you pursue an accident claim.
- Seek immediate medical attention. If you are in a car accident, get examined by a medical professional even if you do not think you suffered any serious injuries. Oftentimes, symptoms of an injury can be masked by the adrenaline coursing through the body after an accident. If you fail to seek medical attention, or if you wait to see a doctor until the symptoms appear, the insurance company may argue that your injury must not be very serious if you did not find it necessary to be examined by a healthcare professional immediately.
- Find out what type of insurance the other driver has. Ohio state laws require motorists to have a minimum of $25,000 of coverage for injuries or fatalities that you cause to another driver, and at least $50,000 for the total injuries possibly caused to multiple motorists in a single car accident. Motorists must also purchase at least $25,000 in coverage for property damage. However, if your total damages exceed these figures, you may pursue the total sum of your financial damages from the other party, his or her insurance company, and your own insurance provider if necessary.
- Avoid talking to the other driver’s insurance company. After the accident, the liable driver’s insurance company may contact you and ask you questions about the accident. These companies can twist your words and use them against you. For example, it is common for motorists who are involved in an accident to apologize to the other driver, even if they were not responsible for causing the accident. The insurance company may use this well-meaning comment against you and argue that it is an admission of guilt.
- Contact a car accident lawyer. An experienced lawyer will protect your best interests, help you avoid some of the common pitfalls associated with filing a car accident claim.
What If I Am Partially at Fault for Causing the Accident?
Even if you were partially to blame for the accident, you may still be eligible to collect damages. Ohio follows the rule of comparative negligence, which means that your damages will be reduced by the percentage that corresponds to your share of liability. For example, if you were driving ten miles per hour over the speed limit, and another motorist suddenly cuts you off after driving through a stop sign and you were not able to slow down in time before hitting their vehicle, you may be held only partially liable for the accident.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Filing a Car Accident Claim?
A statute of limitations is a law that sets a maximum amount of time that an individual has to file a claim or a lawsuit. In Ohio, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim after a car accident is two years from the date of the injury. If the accident resulted in a fatality, the deceased person’s family members may file a wrongful death lawsuit within two years of the date of the deceased’s death, which may or may not be different from the date of the accident. If you file a lawsuit after the deadline has passed, the court will most likely dismiss the case, but there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, if the injured party is a minor, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of their 18th birthday, rather than the date of the injury. In addition, if the injured party is not aware of an injury until after the date of the accident, the statute of limitation will not begin until the date that the injury was discovered, which is known as the “discovery of harm” rule. Regardless of the type, severity, or timing of the injury, it is important to initiate the claims process as soon as possible. This will allow you to fill out the necessary paperwork, collect medical records, and negotiate a fair settlement well before the deadline passes.
What Damages Am I Entitled to Receive?
In order to be eligible for financial damages, you must prove that the other motorist was negligent, and that their negligent behavior caused the accident. For example, if the other driver was distracted at the time of the accident, and the police report states that the other motorist was talking on the phone or sending a text when the accident occurred, the other driver will likely be held liable for the accident, and you will be eligible for the following damages:
- All medical expenses associated with the injury, including hospitalization, follow-up care, physical therapy and prescription medication.
- Lost wages as a result of incapacitating injuries.
- Loss of future earning capacity.
- Pain and suffering.
- Loss of enjoyment of life.
- Loss of consortium.
How Can a Car Accident Lawyer Help Me?
If you were involved in a minor fender bender, and there were no injuries involved, you may be able to handle the claims process on your own. However, if you suffered any injuries or significant property damage, it is highly recommended that you seek legal representation. A skilled and dedicated car accident lawyer will ensure that you receive the best possible settlement by helping you take the following steps:
- Communicate with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. It is important to understand that insurance companies are in the business of making money, so they will employ a range of tactics to avoid paying a major settlement. A skilled car accident lawyer will be able to anticipate these tactics, communicate with the insurance adjuster, and negotiate the best possible settlement.
- Obtain the evidence necessary to prove liability. If you are able to collect evidence from the accident scene immediately following the collision including pictures of the vehicles, your injuries, and any debris on the road, this can help prove that the other driver was at fault. In addition to the pictures, your lawyer will collect other important evidence including copies of police reports and witness testimonies. In some cases, a car accident lawyer will hire an accident reconstructionist to analyze the factors that led to the accident and help determine who was at fault for causing the accident.
- Collect evidence of damages. If you suffered a serious injury in a car accident, the costs associated with your medical care can accumulate very quickly. In order to be eligible for financial compensation, you must be able to prove that you suffered an injury caused by the other party’s negligence. A car accident lawyer will obtain copies of your medical records and bills from health care providers. If the medical records are incomplete, or the health care provider does not respond to a request for records, a car accident lawyer will follow up and secure the necessary information. In addition, if the healthcare provider failed to include a specific prognosis, or provide details about the extent of your injury or disability, your lawyer will contact the healthcare provider and request that he or she write a letter stating that the accident caused the injury or disability, and attesting to the fact that you will likely be disabled by your injuries for an extended period of time.
- Negotiate with lien holders. If you received healthcare benefits from a health insurance policy or a workers’ compensation plan, that insurer will receive payments from a settlement before you do. Your lawyer will work with these lien holders to reduce the amount of money.
- Identify all liable parties. In some cases, there may be more than one party who is responsible for a serious car accident. Other groups that could be held liable in addition to the negligent driver include defective auto manufacturers, the at-fault driver’s employer if the accident involved a company-owned vehicle, or the vehicle owner if the car belonged to someone other than the driver at the time of the accident.
- Negotiate with insurance companies. An experienced car accident lawyer understands how much a car accident is worth and knows how to negotiate the best possible settlement. The average layperson may not understand the common pitfalls when communicating with insurance companies, or the most effective tactics to secure a settlement.
Ohio Car Accident Lawyers at Wolterman Law Office Represent Those Injured in Car Accidents
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a car accident, do not hesitate to contact the Ohio car accident lawyers at Wolterman Law Office. Our dedicated legal team will assist you with every step of the claims process and continue to fight for you until you are completely satisfied. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 513-964-2589 or contact us online. Our office is located in Loveland, Ohio where we service clients in Hamilton County, Fairfield, Norwood and Forest Park, Ohio.