Cleveland Car Accident Lawyer
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. If you or someone you love was hurt in such a crash, our car accident lawyers in Cleveland can review the facts of your case and help you fight for fair compensation.
The liable party may be responsible for your medical bills, lost income, and non-economic damages. To speak with an auto accident attorney in a free consultation, call us today at 216-529-9377.
Speak with a Cleveland Car Accident Lawyer in a Free Consultation
Time is always a factor in auto accident cases. Evidence may become unavailable, witnesses could become unreachable, or the statute of limitations could expire. For these reasons, you should speak with a car accident attorney right away.
Our legal team has the resources to conduct a thorough investigation. If needed, we can bring in accident reconstructionists, economists, and medical experts to assist with building your case. We can also come to you if you are unable to come to us for the free consultation.
Liability in Ohio Auto Accident Claims
A successful automobile accident lawsuit requires you to prove another party was responsible for the collision, or at least for the harm that resulted from it. A judge or jury will decide who is legally at fault and then hold that party accountable for all recoverable damages. Potentially liable parties include another driver or multiple drivers, a manufacturer of a defective vehicle or part, or a municipality that failed to keep the roads safe for pedestrians, motorcyclists, bicyclists, or other users. Most often, lawsuits against other drivers are based on negligence, which means the responsible party or parties failed to use reasonable care to prevent accidents and injuries.
What to Do in Case of a Car Accident
If you’re in an accident in which another vehicle damages your own and causes harm to you or someone riding with you, you should take the appropriate steps to ensure the immediate safety and well-being of everyone involved and to preserve evidence to support a successful personal injury lawsuit. Such steps include:
- Exchanging contact information with the other parties, if possible, or recording as much information as you can about them (names, license plate numbers, vehicle models and descriptions, etc.).
- Exchanging carrier information with the various drivers, including auto insurance, 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, at an emergency room or urgent care center, or following-up with your primary care physician to evaluate any potential injuries.
- Filing a police report, either at the scene with help from responding officers or by going to a local station.
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 and ultimately make you whole again. One component of this compensation is economic and 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
Non-economic 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 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 others in such a manner that there was a great 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 , which decreases payouts according. For example, if the court determines you were 15 percent at fault for an accident because you failed to yield, for example, it could reduce the amount of any damage award by 15 percent. Additionally, if the court finds you 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 claim.
Factors that Could Influence a Car Accident Settlement
Being involved in an accident is a traumatic experience that disrupts your everyday routine and may have lasting effects on your quality of life. If you were involved in an accident that was not your fault, you deserve fair compensation for the unwarranted pressure your injuries may place on your finances and your ability to continue working.
As your medical expenses accumulate, you may be wondering what your personal injury claim is worth. As your Cleveland car accident attorney can explain, various factors will influence your potential settlement.
Here are a few factors that may affect the value of your case:
- Medical Expenses: After a serious accident, your medical bills can pile up quickly. Your auto accident attorney will consider all of your past and future expenses related to treating your injuries. Such expenses include all doctor’s consultations, necessary medical procedures, physical therapy, counseling, prescriptions, and any future treatment required for injuries of a more permanent nature. The severity of your condition is likely to influence the value of your recovery as minor injuries typically cost less to treat than more serious or long-lasting ones.
- Loss of Income: If your injuries have prevented you from being able to work, all your missed paychecks could be factored into your potential recovery. The amount of time that you are booked off work, therefore, has a major impact on the value of your losses. If your injury has led to a permanent disability and you are unable to return to the same line of work period, you could also claim the loss of future earning potential.
- Your Level of Liability: Liability needs to be determined in every personal injury case. If evidence emerges that your negligence played a part in the severity of your injuries in any way, you could be held partially or wholly liable for your damages. For example, if you put off seeking medical care immediately after the accident, the insurance company could dispute that you were negligent and that it led to your condition worsening.
- Cost of Repairs or Replacement: If any of your personal possessions were damaged in the accident, you can include their cost of repair or replacement in your claim. It is important, therefore, to keep all receipts and invoices for injury-related expenses as evidence of losses suffered.
Important Terminology to Know When Filing a Car Accident Claim
It can be quite intimidating to file a personal injury claim, especially while you are still in the process of recovering from your injuries after the accident. The legal jargon may send your head spinning, but do not let this discourage you. A car accident lawyer in Cleveland will help you decode complex terms, so you can make sense of the process.
While you will not need to bury your nose in a legal textbook to understand how the proceedings of a personal injury claim work, familiarizing yourself with a few important terms before meeting with your auto accident attorney may help you better understand the process.
Here are a few terms you are likely to encounter when filing a personal injury claim:
- Causation: Three elements need to be proven during a personal injury case: causation, liability, and damages. You can prove causation by showing the losses you suffered would not have happened if it were not for the other party’s negligence. The resulting damages need to be shown to be caused by the negligent party. For example, if you are stopped at a red traffic light and a drunk driver rear-ends you, resulting in severe whiplash, you are going to argue that your injuries, as well as the damage to your car, were caused by the drunk driver. The damages are not due to any fault of your own. Keep in mind that you may face disputes over causation if you had a pre-existing condition that was aggravated in the accident.
- Liability: A defendant becomes liable for the injury or loss of the claimant if the defendant is deemed legally responsible for the injury or loss in question. In personal injury cases, a party is considered liable for an injury or loss if they are proven to have been negligent or caused harm intentionally. A claim to recover damages can be made against the liable party.
- Damages: Damages are the monetary rewards given to a claimant in a personal injury case as compensation for their losses. The purpose of rewarding compensatory damages is to make the claimant whole again. When filing a personal injury claim, you can include tangible and intangible losses as part of the damages you seek to recover.
- Negligence: Individuals and entities have a legal obligation to act with reasonable care. Negligence occurs when a party fails to exercise their duty of reasonable care over something, resulting in injury and loss that could have been avoided if the necessary measures were taken.
Free Consultation with a Cleveland Car Accident Lawyer Near You
Most legal claims must be brought within a certain amount of time, which is called the “statute of limitations.” In Ohio, personal injuries claims, including those arising from car accidents, must typically be brought within two years of the occurrence. The individual facts of your case may affect this deadline, however, so it’s best to talk to a car accident attorney in Cleveland as soon as possible to determine the most appropriate course of action for you.
Consulting 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 & Pal Personal Injury Lawyers have more than 96 years of combined legal experience. Contact us to put that experience to work for you.
Call now for a free consultation.