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Accident FAQ’s

 

What should I do after I’ve been in a auto accident?

You may be injured, your emotions are running high, you might be worried about any loved ones in the car. So it’s good to follow the steps below after any accident, no matter how serious.

  1. Stay at the scene. Fleeing the scene of an accident, even if it isn’t your fault, could lead to criminal charges.
  2. Make sure everyone is ok. Check on your passengers, if any, and any drivers or passengers of other vehicles involved.
  3. Call the police. It’s a good idea to do this even if you don’t think the accident was serious, but especially when it is. Request a copy of the police report from the officer(s), or find out from them how to get it later once it has been completed.
  4. Take pictures with your cell phone or other camera and otherwise observe the accident scene. (Make sure to download a copy of all photos, without deleting any, from your phone soon afterward, to provide a copy for your attorney)
  5. Exchange information – the more the better, including drivers license, license plate, and insurance information.

These are the first steps you must take after you’ve been involved in an auto accident. There are some things you must NOT do, such as apologize or make any unnecessary statements.

Now, after the immediate period after the accident is over, and after everything is calm, there are some things you should be aware of for the next few days, weeks and months. A lot of activity will occur. You will be getting phone calls from your insurance company, from the other driver’s insurance company, from your health insurance company, from doctors, chiropractors and others. It’s all very dizzying and confusing. If this is too much for you, think about contacting a car accident attorney right away, even if just for a free consultation.


When is hiring an Ohio accident attorney necessary?

It may not benefit you to hire an attorney for a small claim, however, you should seek the advice of a qualified attorney if any of the following have occurred:

  • Injury to any driver or passenger
  • The insurance company has denied your claim, you believe they are incorrect in their denial, and they will not reconsider.
  • Liability is being disputed and you believe you are not responsible or are only partially responsible for the accident.
  • It’s been almost a year since your accident, you’re not close to settling your claim, and you don’t know what the statute of limitations is.
  • The other party to the accident has served you with a lawsuit.
  • You have no idea how to evaluate your claim.
  • The adjuster has asked you to provide medical records from prior to the accident.
  • The adjuster has made you an offer and you think your claim is worth a great deal more.
  • The adjuster is offering a structured settlement rather than a lump sum payment.
  • You are not confident in your ability to negotiate a settlement on your own behalf.
  • You have a claim of lost wages that is difficult to prove—for example, you are a consultant, a business owner, a sales person, etc.


What are the time limits for a auto accident lawsuit in Ohio?

Generally, the deadline or statute of limitations to file a lawsuit for a auto accident in Ohio is two years from the date of your car, motorcycle or truck accident.


How much time do I have to file my truck accident lawsuit in Ohio?

Generally, the deadline or statute of limitations to file a lawsuit for a car accident in Ohio is two years from the date of your car, motorcycle or truck accident.


How much time do I have to file my motorcycle accident lawsuit in Ohio?

Generally, the deadline or statute of limitations to file a lawsuit for a car accident in Ohio is two years from the date of your car, motorcycle or truck accident


How does an accident lawsuit usually work?

Your lawsuit is started with a simple pleading called a “Complaint”. Your attorney will draft the complaint and will often ask you to review it before filing to ensure accuracy. The Complaint is then filed with a form called a “Summons” at the courthouse. Your attorney will choose which court to file the lawsuit in based on residency and the value of your case. Once the lawsuit is filed, the client is referred to as “Plaintiff”. The at-fault driver is referred to as “Defendant”.

After the Summons and Complaint are filed, they are then served upon the Defendant usually via the Sheriff. The insurance company is also served with these documents via certified mail, which prompts them to hire a defense attorney.

After the Defendant is served, he has 30 days (through his attorney) to file an “Answer” to our Complaint. In this Answer, he will admit or deny our allegations. He may also raise certain defenses to our claim. Depending on whether or not defenses are raised, we may have to file a responsive pleading called a “Reply” within 30 days after receiving the Answer.

Once the Complaint, Answer and Reply are completed (which can take up to 90 days), then we move on to the Discovery Phase of the lawsuit.

The discovery phase describes the length of time in your lawsuit where both sides will have an opportunity to “discover” information about the other side. This phase can take up to four months to complete. There are several ways to “discover” information about the other side:

  • Interrogatories
  • Requests for Production of Documents
  • Depositions

Interrogatories: These are written questions (not exceeding 50 in number) requesting certain information about the case. We have 30 days to answer these questions once they are served upon us. When your attorney receives these questions in her office, she will send you a copy to answer, usually requesting that they are returned to our office within 10 days. It is extremely IMPORTANT that these questions be answered in the time frame requested by your attorney as the court sets strict deadlines for the final answers to be due. If the answers are not provided on time, the Court could require you to pay costs and attorney’s fees to the defense attorney.

Requests for Production of Documents: These are also written questions but particularly ask for certain documents. Again, we have 30 days to answer these questions so it is imperative to get the information your attorney asks of you in the required time frame.

Depositions: These are questions that are asked of you in person, by the defense attorney, after you are put under oath. You can guarantee that the defense attorney will want to take your deposition at some point in the discovery phase and you, as the Plaintiff, are required to attend. The deposition is usually held in your attorney’s office and your attorney will be present with you. The deposition will usually last one-two hours. Your testimony is taken down by a court reporter and then typed into written transcript. This transcript can be used later at the trial to impeach you if your testimony changes any. Therefore, it is important to be well prepared for your deposition. Your attorney will want to meet with you prior to your deposition to go over your testimony and give you a chance to review your case in more detail.

Jury Trial: The last stage of your case is the actual jury trial. The frustrating part is waiting for a court date. Your court date is set by either the trial judge or the trial court administrator. It can take quite a long time to actually get your case heard in front of a jury. For example, your case may be set for a particular week, but there may be several other cases ahead of yours, and your case may not get reached that week. Then you must wait for another setting. From the filing of your lawsuit, to an actual trial date, it can take a year to a year and a half to get your case resolved.

If your case is reached, there is no guarantee as to what part of the week it might start. You might start on a Monday or you may not get reached until a Wednesday. Regardless, you must be prepared to be available the entire week that your case is set for trial. The length of time your trial will take to complete depends on the complexity of the case.


What should I do after I’ve been in a truck accident?

Right after the Accident, At the Accident Scene:

  • Request a copy of the police report from the officer(s), or find out from them how to get it later once it has been completed.
  • When providing a statement to the police about what happened stick to sharing only the facts. Do not speculate as to what occurred and do not admit any fault.
  • Say as little as possible to the truck driver. Even what we would consider to be just social courtesy, like saying “I’m sorry,” can be brought up later in a lawsuit.
  • Take pictures with your cell phone or other camera and otherwise observe the accident scene. (Make sure to download a copy of all photos, without deleting any, from your phone soon afterward, to provide a copy for your attorney). Here are some examples of things to observe or to take pictures of:
    • Vehicle DOT (Department of Transportation) license number for both the truck and the trailer (these numbers are usually different)
    • The names or other identification on the cab and/or the trailer
    • Any skid marks made by the truck
    • The condition of the truck and trailer’s tires
    • Condition of all vehicles involved in the collision
  • Gather information from and around the accident scene. Some examples of this information include:
    • Truck driver information, such as his or her license and insurance information
    • The insurance information for the truck owner and trailer owner (if available)
    • Names and contact information of any witnesses
    • Names and contact information of any persons taking pictures, or talking to witnesses or persons involved in the collision. (Please note that it is not unusual for trucking company representatives and/or insurance company representatives for the trucking company to be present before the accident scene is even completely cleared. They often will act very nice and helpful, but understand that their loyalties lie elsewhere, and they are not there to protect your interest.)
  • Seek medical attention immediately, even if you don’t think your injuries are severe. It is very important at all times, both for any potential claims and also for your health, to be honest about your injuries, neither exaggerating nor downplaying them.

After Receiving Initial Medical Treatment

  • Write down everything you can remember about the accident, including what happened right before, during and afterward, while your memory is fresh.
  • Contact your insurance company to tell them about the accident.
  • After you’ve seen your doctor and your immediate family needs are in order, contact our trucking accident attorney.
  • Act quickly so that you do not miss any applicable statutes of limitation.
  • When Dealing With Trucking Company’s Insurance Carrier or Legal Counsel
  • Do not speak to anyone representing the trucking company, including the trucking company’s insurance provider, without your own counsel present. Do not sign anything without legal representation.


What type of evidence should I gather for a commercial trucking accident in Ohio?

Much of the evidence that an attorney will need will come from the police report and medical records of the persons involved. However, your memory of the events can be vitally important to your case. As soon as you can, write down everything you can remember about the accident, including what happened right before, during and afterward, while the incident is fresh in your mind. Bring this information with you when you meet your attorney. If you have a copy of the police report, your medical records, or records of any phone calls or letters from the other driver’s insurance company, you should bring those to the appointment with your attorney as well.


Who regulates commercial trucking companies in the United States
?

Trucking regulations in the United States are handled by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Your attorney can explain DOT regulations for trucks and help determine whether any rules were violated when your accident occurred.


Why won’t the insurance company pay me?

Most of the counties in our area support very conservative juries, meaning the verdicts are not very large. Unfortunately, we live in the age of Tort Reform, and many people (jurors) are already biased against people who bring lawsuits for personal injury. This explains why the insurance companies often deny claims, forcing people into court with no guaranteed outcome. 


How much is my case worth?

Your damages may include both economic and non-economic elements. Economic damages can include wages, lost work opportunities, medical bills, and both past and future cost of care expenses. Non-economic damages are assessed for pain and suffering and the loss of enjoyment of life. Many factors are taken into consideration when determining the level of compensation to which you are entitled. The severity of the injury is perhaps the most important factor. We are able to provide advice as to the reasonable value of your claim based on our years of experience in handling medical malpractice, nursing home negligence, personal injury and wrongful death cases


What are the time limits for a wrongful death lawsuit? How much time do I have to file a wrongful death lawsuit?

By statute, an action for wrongful death must be brought within two years after the decedent’s death, Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2125.02(D). However, when there is medical malpractice that results in death it gives rise to two distinct claims: a malpractice claim for personal loss and suffering prior to death, enforceable by the decedent’s personal representative, and a wrongful death claim for pecuniary loss to the decedent’s spouse and next of kin. Koler v. St. Joseph Hospital, 69 Ohio St. 2d 477, 432 N.E.2d 821 (1982). The first claim for pain and suffering of the decedent is subject to a one-year statute of limitations. The families claim for wrongful death is subject to a two-year statute of limitations from the date of death. A wrongful death action may be brought even if the malpractice claim is time-barred Id.; Brosse v. Cumming, 20 Ohio App. 3d 260, 485 N.E.2d 803 (1984) (malpractice claim already barred at time of death).