Most Frequently Asked Personal Injury Questions
Suffering injuries in an accident is enough to leave anyone with questions, but throw in the complexity of the insurance claim process and the possibility of dealing with multiple negligent parties, and any accident can turn into a major frustration for victims.
At Dittmer, Wagoner & Steele LLC, we pride ourselves on being there for our clients when they need us most. We’re trustworthy guides for our clients, providing answers to questions at every turn, including these frequently asked inquiries concerning personal injury law.
Want to meet with an attorney? Schedule a free consultation at our Gahanna, Ohio, office for a more personalized assessment of your case.
How Long Do I Have To File A Claim?
Filing a personal injury claim in Ohio must be done within a certain period of time known as the statute of limitations. Depending on the type of claim you file, the statute of limitations changes:
- Personal injury claims for car accidents, product liability cases and premises liability — Two years from the time you suffer an injury or become reasonably aware of an injury
- Medical malpractice claims — One year following the discovery of an injury or medical mistake
It’s important to keep two things in mind. The first is that there are exceptions to the statute of limitations in Ohio, which can lengthen the amount of time you have to file a claim. The second thing to remember is that once the time provided in the statute of limitations runs out, you no longer have the right to seek compensation from the negligent party or parties responsible for your injuries. This is why it’s crucial to speak with a lawyer as soon as possible to discuss the details of your case and your compensation options.
What Can I Expect For Compensation?
Under Ohio law, victims who suffer personal injuries because of others’ negligence may file for compensatory and punitive damages. Compensatory damages include calculable damages to property such as lost wages, medical bills, child care and other expenses directly related to the injury. A punitive damages compensation are generally meant to punish the negligent party for his or her actions.
How Is Fault Assessed After An Accident?
Fault after an accident is assessed using a comparative negligence law set forth in Ohio in 1980. Under direction of the law, you and the other party share the cost of damages based on your portion of negligence, providing you an opportunity to recover damages minus your percentage of fault. If someone’s portion of negligence exceeds 50 percent, he or she no longer has the right to receive compensation.
Comparative negligence does reduce the amount of damages you receive after an accident, which is why it’s crucial to speak with an attorney as soon as possible after a crash or other incident. There are many things you can accidentally do or say to police or insurance adjusters that could hurt your chances to recover the compensation you deserve.
What Immediate Steps Should I Take After An Accident?
If you were involved in a motor vehicle accident or suffered injuries in another type of accident, make sure you:
- Seek medical attention right away. Even seemingly minor injuries such as whiplash can turn into major problems later. Go to the doctor right after an accident and get medical treatment for your injuries and a prognosis. This way, you’re not only establishing a timeline for your injuries, you’re also bolstering your claim for compensation.
- Take pictures and document everything. From damage to your vehicle to the location of the incident, it’s a good idea to take pictures of everything you believe will help provide useful information to police, the insurance company and even your lawyer. Nothing is too minor. Document everything either through photographs or on paper to ensure that nothing gets overlooked.
- Get insurance information on the spot. Ask for the at-fault party’s insurance information as soon as you are able after an accident. Forgetting to collect this information could leave you on the hook for damages you may not be responsible for.
- Don’t act too quickly to close your claim. Paying out on insurance claims can be expensive for insurance companies, which is why most insurers are quick to close claims. Adjusters may ask for information such as how repairs are going or whether your injuries have improved. They may even encourage you to accept a lowball settlement that may not meet your financial needs. Speaking with an attorney can ensure that you’re providing the right information to the insurance company as well as protecting your right to full and fair compensation.
- Talk to a lawyer if you have questions. Friends, neighbors and family members may give you advice after an accident and while this advice may be backed with good intentions, there is no substitute for quality legal counsel. At Dittmer, Wagoner & Steele LLC, we offer free consultations to ensure that accident victims get the sound legal advice they need to make informed decisions about their personal injury cases.
What Information Do I Need When I File A Claim?
To give your personal injury claim the best chance for success, you will need to collect several important documents and pieces of evidence:
- Past W-2 forms to show lost wages
- Official accident reports (either from police, an accident reconstructionist or another law enforcement agency)
- Photos, videos and audio recordings taken at the time of the accident
- Physical evidence such as a damaged vehicle or property
- Eyewitness testimony (if possible)
- Medical records detailing the extent of your injuries, all medical treatment received and any medical opinions regarding your injuries and recovery time
- Bills and invoices outlining medical care, vehicle or property repair, child care (if applicable) and other accident-related expenses
- Insurance information from both you and the other party
If you need help gathering this information for your claim, our attorneys can help.
Are There Things I Shouldn’t Say To The Insurance Adjuster?
Talking to an insurance adjuster after an accident but before you’ve had a chance to speak with an attorney can be dangerous because you may accidentally say something that could jeopardize your claim.
Insurance adjusters will often ask leading questions designed to get you to offer up information that could get them off the hook for compensation. Questions may lead you to offer an opinion about your injuries, provide medical information not applicable to your claim, admit fault for an accident, speculate about the accident instead of calling attention to the facts, or even get you to accept a lowball offer.
When in doubt, it’s OK to say, “I don’t know,” then speak to an attorney.
Can I Hold A Bar Or Restaurant Accountable In A Drunk Driving Accident?
In accident cases involving drunk drivers, it’s not uncommon for bars and restaurants to share responsibility. Bartenders and wait staff who overserve patrons may be held liable in a personal injury lawsuit under Ohio dram shop laws if they knowingly served alcohol to an intoxicated person who then caused injury, death or property damage.
My Car Was Totaled. How Much Will Insurance Cover?
This depends on several factors, including whether your insurance policy covers total loss. Even if your insurance policy has this type of coverage, insurance companies differ slightly on how they determine how much you will recover. They may consider:
- Age of your vehicle
- Existing damage at the time of the accident
- The fair market value of your vehicle
- The terms of your policy
It’s important to understand the valuation process used by your insurance company as well as read and understand the fine print of your policy. Insurers often bank on you not understanding your policy to get you to agree to a lower settlement than you deserve. A skilled attorney can help you understand your policy as well as ensure that you’re getting a fair settlement for your totaled vehicle.
Do I Need To Hire A Lawyer After An Accident?
While it may not be necessary to hire a lawyer in every accident case, securing legal counsel can be incredibly beneficial, especially in situations where victims experience pushback from the insurance company, feel intimidated by the other party’s lawyer or legal team, don’t understand the full extent of their rights, or are concerned about getting a fair settlement offer.
Misunderstandings of the law — specifically the statute of limitations — can easily jeopardize a claim for compensation. Working with a lawyer, however, can ensure that you are taking the proper steps to protect your rights and best interests when filing a personal injury claim.
Do You Have More Questions?
With so much on the line, the legal team at Dittmer, Wagoner & Steele LLC, recognizes the need for urgent legal advice following an accident, which is why we offer free consultations where you can get straightforward answers to all of your pressing questions. If you want to take action against the negligent party responsible for your injuries, we will be with you every step of the way, making sure justice gets served.
If you would like to speak with someone on our legal team, please contact our office in Gahanna by calling 614-800-2400 or send us an email. Let us put more than 100 years of combined experience to work for you starting today.