Thursday, August 21, 2014

What is the Value of Your Claim Following an Automobile Accident in Toledo, Ohio

What is the Value of Your Claim Following an Automobile Accident in Toledo, Ohio

It is a difficult decision whether or not to accept a low ball offer from the at fault party's insurance carrier when you've been injured in an accident. So how is it that a determination is made regarding the value of your claim following an automobile accident? A claim is valued and settled based upon an estimate of what a jury would most likely regard as fair and reasonable compensation given the severity of the injury and the effects of the accident on your life, as well as the probability that a recovery against the wrongdoer is warranted. In addition to medical expense and wage loss, plaintiffs may be entitled to money damages for "personal injuries" including pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. Severe injuries requiring substantial medical treatment, extended absences from work and permanent physical or mental impairments may command substantial compensation. When a claim is settled, both sides should have a clear "before and after" picture of the injuries and how they have affected the victim's life. The "difference" is the value of the claim. For example, a previously healthy, productive, young worker injured severely by an obviously culpable defendant will recover substantial compensation. This is especially true where the victim has undergone substantial medical care, extended loss of earnings and is facing a future of impaired earning capacity, disfigurement, pain and suffering. On the other hand, the claim of an older person injured under questionable circumstances resulting in subjective complaints that can be established only by the word of the claimant may be substantially discounted both by a jury and a claims adjuster.

Here is a synopsis of a case that was recently settled in Toledo, Ohio (Lucas County)

Plaintiff Attorneys: Drew R. Masse, Gallon, Takacs, Boissoneault & Schaffer, Co., LPA, Toledo, OH and Jeffrey Swiech, Gallon, Takacs, Boissoneault & Schaffer, Co., LPA, Toledo, OH

Defense Attorneys: Robert Lee Austria, Law Offices of Craig S. Cobb, Cleveland, OH (Mack Moon) Kathleen M. Davis, Ritter Robinson McCready & James, Ltd, Toledo, OH (State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co.) Shannon J. George, Ritter Robinson McCready & James, Ltd, Toledo, OH (State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co.)

On Sept. 21, 2012, plaintiff Raynard Armstrong, 50, a production laborer, was operating his vehicle in Toledo. He slowed for heavy construction traffic and was rear-ended by a vehicle driven by defendant Mack Moon. Armstrong claimed neck, back and shoulder injuries as a result of the impact. Armstrong filed suit against Moon for negligence. Armstrong alleged that Moon failed to maintain an assured clear distance ahead and failed to keep a proper lookout. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, which had paid medicals on Armstrong's behalf, was named for subrogation purposes. Defendant Moon admitted liability for causing the accident.

Injuries/Damages: back and neck; rotator cuff, injury (tear); shoulder; soft tissue; strain, cervical; strain, lumbar

Armstrong presented to a local emergency room later on the day of the accident with complaints of neck, back and right shoulder pain. He was diagnosed with soft tissue cervical, lumbar and sacral injuries, as well as a right rotator cuff tear. He did not require surgery and was able to return to work.

The parties stipulated to medicals of $7,457.40 ($4,075.09 under Robinson v. Bates) and $4,530.96 for lost wages. In addition, Armstrong sought damages for pain and suffering.

Moon contended that Armstrong was not seriously injured and that his complaints were not necessarily related to this accident.

Result: The jury determined that the plaintiff's damages totaled $6,000

Demand: $33,000

Offer: $2,494.91

Trial Details: Trial Length: 2 days

Trial Deliberations: 2 hours

Jury Vote: 8-0

Monday, August 18, 2014

Tolling of Statute of Limitations When Defendant Absent from the State of Ohio

There was one case this date from Lucas County, Ohio, Tremp v. Mash - 2014-Ohio-3516, which dealt with the statute of limitations in a sex abuse case against a teacher. The minor waited almost 30 years before filing but made the argument that the teacher had moved out of the State. The Court held that still was not sufficient proof of tolling of the statute and affirmed the summary judgment for the defendant teacher which dismissed the case and the ruling was 3 to 0. It is a good discussion of the statute in regard to tolling for defendants who are absent from the State of Ohio.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Steps to Take After an Automobile Accident

Steps to Take After an Automobile Accident

Step #1: Stop your car. Never leave the scene of an accident no matter how minor you believe the accident was. If you fail to stop you could be criminally prosecuted. Stop your car as soon as safely possible without endangering any person, property, or disrupting traffic.

Step #2: Warn oncoming traffic. Do whatever is necessary to warn oncoming traffic in order to prevent further accidents and protect the victims. At night, use flares, a reflector or a flashlight. You may be liable for damages to approaching vehicles unless they are properly warned. Vehicles should not be left in a position of danger on a highway if they can be moved. Passengers should not remain in such a vehicle.

Step #3: Aid the injured. If anyone has been hurt, note your location and call a doctor and/or ambulance. Do not try rendering first aid if you are not proficient at it. Moving an injured person may aggravate the injury. Keep the person warm until skilled help arrives. If there is severe bleeding, try to stop it with direct pressure.

Step #4: Call the police. The police can handle any emergency and investigate the accident. The police report of the investigation may be helpful to you later if you are sued or if you decide to sue someone.

Step #5: Provide legally required information. State motor vehicle laws require the driver of any vehicle in the accident to give his name, address and vehicle license number. If you collide with a vehicle that is unattended, the law requires you to locate the operator or owner of the vehicle and tell him your name and address. If you cannot locate the owner, leave a written message stating your name and address and the circumstances of the collision in a conspicuous place, or in the unattended vehicle. Do not give any more information than the law requires. Do not comment on the cause of the accident or admit fault even if you think you were in the wrong. You may discover later that the other driver was equally or more to blame. No one has the right to force you to give an opinion as to the cause of the accident at police headquarters or elsewhere. You have the right to consult a lawyer before making a statement.

Step #6: Obtain protective information. Just as the law requires you to give certain information, you are entitled to the same information from other persons involved in the accident, i.e., passengers. In addition to the names and addresses of the persons actually involved, obtain the names and addresses of all witnesses to the accident. Witnesses may be important later if legal action becomes necessary. Make a note of the details of the accident, including the date and time, road conditions, weather conditions and the speed of all other cars.

Step #7: See your doctor. If you have any doubt at all about your own medical condition or that of your passengers, see your doctor immediately for an examination, and ask your passengers to do the same.

Step #8: File accident reports. Notify your automobile insurance company immediately. Cooperate with your insurance representative in their investigation. State law usually requires you to file a written report of any accident in which you were involved, which resulted in the death or injury to any person, and in most accidents where property damage of at least $1,000 value has occurred. Failure to file a report within ten (10) days may cause you to lose your license. To complete the accident report, you will need to note the following:
(a) Location of the accident;
(b) Time and date of the accident;
(c) Nature and extent of damages and injuries;
(d) Name, address, driver's license and vehicle registration numbers of any other drivers involved;
(e) Automobile insurance companies of all vehicle owners and drivers involved;
(f) Names and addresses of witnesses, including passengers;
(g) Locations of cars and pedestrians involved and their directions of movement, both before and after collision; and
(h) Condition of roadway, type of weather at the time of the accident and any other pertinent information.
Do not admit fault at this point. Remember to keep copies of all correspondence and reports for your records. Failure to comply with the law can be grounds for suspension or revocation of your driver's license or vehicle registration. If you fail to notify your insurance company of the accident in writing within a reasonable time, it could deny coverage. Send written notice to your insurance company including the time, place and circumstances of the accident as well as the names of all injured persons including passengers, pedestrians, drivers and available witnesses.

Step #9: Obtain legal advice if you are arrested or issued a ticket. An arrest does not necessarily indicate liability for the accident. However, a statement of guilt or a plea of guilty to a traffic ticket may be used as an admission. It is important that you obtain legal advice if you are arrested. A lawyer can help you assess your situation. If you decide to contest the ticket, you are entitled to a trial.

Step #10: Determine your rights. Consult an attorney if you are uncertain about your rights. Your insurance company will always be represented by trained adjusters or by an attorney. Ignore any attempt by a representative of the other party to influence you against the advice of your own attorney.

Step #11: Inform your insurance company of any claims. State law requires that all motor vehicles be covered by liability insurance. You must also carry proof of insurance. Violations of this provision will result in significant financial penalties and loss of driving privileges. Refer all persons making claims against you to your insurance company. Make no payments, or promises to pay, to any claimant. Immediately send your insurance company all legal papers served on you. You may have insurance coverage under more than one policy. Claims or damages to your vehicle will be covered by your own collision or comprehensive insurance policy, if you have one. If another motorist is at fault in an accident, you retain the right to sue the person for property damage.

Step #12: Recover damages. If you lose work, sustain injuries or have other losses, you may be entitled to reimbursement under your own policy. You may also be entitled to damages from the other party to the accident. You may be entitled to recover money for the following:
(a) Nature, extent and duration of injuries;
(b) Pain and suffering from injuries;
(c) Disability, both temporary and permanent;
(d) Reasonable expenses resulting from injury, including medical and hospital expenses;
(e) Loss of income; and/or
(f) Value of damage to property.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Automobile Accidents are the Number One Source of Personal Injury Lawsuits

Automobile accidents are the number one source of personal injury lawsuits. A person is liable to the injured person if he was negligent in causing the accident. Persons who act negligently do not intend to cause an injury to another person or to their property. Nonetheless, liability for the injures comes from the failure to act like a reasonable person would have acted. Every driver has a duty is to use reasonable care to avoid injury to anyone that he or she meets on the road. If a driver fails to use reasonable care and, as a result of that failure, injures you, then that driver is liable to you for those injuries.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

What are the Grounds for Personal Injury Lawsuits?

Personal injury lawsuits will compensate a plaintiff injured because of someone else's act or failure to act. If you can prove that the defendant was liable for damages, and the nature and extent of damages, the court will award money damages.

There are generally three (3) grounds for personal injury lawsuits:

1. Negligence is the basis for liability in most personal injury lawsuits. For instance, the driver who operates his car carelessly, the doctor who fails to follow accepted medical procedures or the store owner whose poor maintenance causes a customer to fall. Individuals or companies are liable if they were negligent in causing an injury. Their liability stems from careless or thoughtless conduct or a failure to act when a reasonable person would have acted. Conduct becomes "negligent" when it falls below a legally recognized standard of taking reasonable care under the circumstances to protect others from harm. A driver has a duty to use reasonable care to avoid injuring anyone he meets on the road. If he fails to use reasonable care and injuries to another are a result of this failure, he is responsible (or liable) for those injuries.

2. Strict liability holds manufacturers strictly liable for injuries from defective products without the need to establish negligence. Rather, the plaintiff must show the product was designed or manufactured in a manner that made it unreasonably dangerous when used as intended.

3. Intentional wrongs are the basis for holding a defendant liable for assault, battery, false imprisonment or intentional infliction of mental distress.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Statute of Limitations in Personal Injury Actions

The law in Toledo, Ohio and in the State of Ohio provides for statute of limitations in personal injury actions and other types of actions, such as car accident cases, property damage, medical malpractice, and contract disputes. One of the purposes behind such statute of limitations is to limit delay in bringing a cause of action to court against the person or company you believe is liable to you for injury or other compensation. The following website provides references to some of the statutes which govern the limitation of certain types of actions: