Auto Accident Attorneys in Cleveland, OH
Icy roads, inclement weather, and unpredictable driving conditions make auto accidents in Ohio unavoidable, but many crashes are the result of negligence – with serious and sometimes tragic consequences.
Speeding, driver inattention, impairment, texting and distracted driving, failing to yield, and many other factors contribute to motor vehicle accidents that can hurt drivers, passengers, and bystanders. If you are injured in an auto accident, you should contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible because you may be able to pursue a personal injury claim against the party or parties responsible for your injuries.
Liability in Auto Accident Personal Injury Claims
A successful automobile accident lawsuit requires you to prove another party was liable for the collision or harm. The judge or jury decides who is legally at fault and holds that party or parties accountable for damages. That could be another driver or multiple drivers, a manufacturer of a defectively designed or manufactured vehicle or part, or a municipality that failed to keep the roads safe for pedestrians, motorcyclists, bicyclists, or other users of the roadway. Most often, lawsuits against other drivers are based on negligence, which means that the responsible party or parties failed to use reasonable care to prevent accidents and injuries.
What to Do in Case of an Auto Accident
If you’re in an accident in which another vehicle damages your vehicle and causes injuries to you or anyone riding with you, you should take appropriate steps to ensure the immediate safety and well-being of everyone involved and preserve evidence to support a successful personal injury lawsuit by:
- Exchanging contact information with the other parties involved, if possible, or recording as much information as you can about the other parties (names, license plate numbers, vehicle models and descriptions, etc.).
- Exchanging insurance information with the various drivers, including auto insurance as well as property insurance, umbrella coverage, commercial coverage, and any other potentially relevant policies.
- Obtaining the contact information of any witnesses who observed the occurrence (home addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, etc.).
- Reporting the accident to your employer if the accident occurred while you were working.
- Taking photographs of the vehicles (including close-ups of damaged and undamaged areas), your injuries, and the scene of the occurrence, including traffic signals, signs, and property conditions.
- Seeking immediate medical treatment, either at the scene of the occurrence, at an emergency room or urgent care center, or following-up with your primary care physician to evaluate any potential injuries.
- Making a police report, either at the scene or by going to a precinct office or station and obtaining a copy of the report.
Injuries can arise or worsen in the few days after an occurrence, even if you do not immediately feel any pain. After your initial treatment, follow up with your doctor or care provider to develop a treatment plan. Documenting the course of your injuries and treatment in real-time can be a big help when you pursue a lawsuit.
Recovering Damages in an Auto Accident
The damages you can recover in a claim for personal injuries arising from an automobile accident are intended to compensate you for your losses – to make you whole. One component of this compensation is called “economic” damages, which includes reimbursement for quantifiable out-of-pocket expenses like:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Car repairs
- Future medical expenses
- Transportation costs to and from medical appointments, therapy, and treatments
- Costs of retrofitting or modifying your home to accommodate mobility or disability issues
- Other expenses related to the accident
“Noneconomic” damages, on the other hand, are intended to compensate you for the ways in which your life is affected. This includes indirect costs such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Disability or loss of mobility
- Loss of companionship
- Other types of loss or reduction in quality of life related to the accident
Ohio law generally limits your recovery of noneconomic damages to $250,000 or three times your claimed economic damages, whichever is greater, up to $350,000 for each plaintiff and $500,000 for each occurrence.
Finally, “punitive” or “exemplary” damages may be available in cases where the acts or omissions of the liable party or parties are particularly egregious. Punitive damages are intended to punish a person or entity and “make an example” of him or her so that the behavior is not repeated. To obtain these kinds of damages, you must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant acted with a conscious disregard for the rights and safety of another person in such a manner that there was a greater probability of causing substantial harm.
The court may reduce your recovery if it determines you are partially responsible for the collision. The law calls this “contributory fault,” and if the court determines you were 15 percent at fault for an accident because you failed to yield the right of way, for example, it could reduce the amount of any damage award by 15 percent. If the court finds you are more liable than all the other parties combined, you will not be able to recover any compensation at all.
An experienced attorney can help you identify and quantify these damages as you pursue your injury claims.
Contact an Attorney as Soon as Possible
Most legal claims must be brought within a certain amount of time called the “statute of limitations.” In Ohio, most personal injuries claims, including those arising from automobile accidents, must be brought within two years of the occurrence. The individual facts of your case may affect these deadlines, so it’s best to talk to an attorney as soon as possible to determine the most appropriate course of action for you.
Consulting with an attorney soon after an accident can also help ensure you receive the treatment you need, appropriately document your progress, and compile the best possible evidence to obtain the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
The skilled attorneys at Obral, Silk & Associates, LLC have more than 60 years of combined legal experience. Contact us to put that experience to work for you.
Call now for a free consultation.