If you were involved in a car accident, you probably have a few questions about your legal rights. That is why the accident attorneys at the Levy Law Offices in Cincinnati put together a list of the questions clients ask us most frequently. For answers to additional questions or to schedule a free consultation with an attorney from our car accident team, call us today.
Who is going to pay for my medical expenses following my Ohio car accident?
Even if you receive only a minor injury in your car crash, the hospital bill for your medical treatment could be thousands of dollars. If your injury was more serious or requires long-term treatment, the bills could easily become overwhelming. Luckily, you may not have to pay these costs alone.
If another driver caused your accident, the law requires his/her insurance company to reimburse you for any medical expenses that you faced as a result of the crash (if you can prove the other driver was at fault). The other driver might be liable for your injury costs even if you were partially to blame for the accident.
Typically, the negligent driver or his/her insurance company will compensate you for the cost of medical services or products like:
Doctor’s office or emergency room visits (you can also recover transportation to and from appointments)
Over-the-counter and prescription medications
Any necessary medical devices
Even though you may be legally entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, the insurance company might refuse to pay you a fair amount after a crash. In some cases, it may refuse to pay you any compensation whatsoever.
Regardless of whether the insurer offers you a settlement or denies your claim entirely, you should speak with an Ohio accident attorney. Our team will look over the offer and determine whether it is enough to cover all of your expenses. If the insurer denied your claim entirely, we will investigate your claim and determine what else we need to get you the compensation you deserve.
How long will my Ohio auto accident case take?
Depending on whether you are able to reach a settlement or you have to go to court, the length of your car accident case could vary greatly. It is not unusual for accident claims to stretch on for years, especially if the insurer refuses to offer you a fair settlement or disputes liability.
Even for clear cut cases of fault, a settlement may take months to complete. If the insurance company contests liability or outright refuses to settle, you may have to take your case to court which will significantly extend the amount of time it will take to resolve your case.
The following factors are common reasons why it may take longer than normal to resolve your car accident claim:
You waited too long to go to the doctor to document your injuries
Your injuries are complex and require time to evaluate
Your medical bills and other expenses are extremely high
The negligent driver’s insurance company is particularly unwilling to negotiate or settle
The insurer is disputing liability
Factors outside of either driver’s control, such as bad weather or potholes in the road, may have contributed to the accident
The above reasons may extend your case, but that does not mean that you are not entitled to compensation. We will do what we can to expedite your case and get you the compensation you need more quickly.
Who determines who is at-fault for an Ohio car accident?
Who determines fault depends on where you file. If you file an insurance claim, the other party’s insurance adjuster will likely conduct an investigation to determine liability. If you file suit in court, a judge or jury will determine liability based on the facts and evidence that your attorney presents.
How can I prove that I did not cause the car accident?
It is likely that the other driver or his/her insurer will claim you caused the accident. This is a frustrating situation to be in, but there are several pieces of evidence that you can collect to prove that the other driver was solely responsible for the accident:
A copy of the police report from the crash (the report will include information on any issued citations and might include the officer’s opinion on fault)
Photographs from the scene of the accident
Surveillance footage from traffic cameras, dash cameras, or nearby stores
Eyewitness testimony from people present at the scene of the crime (e.g., an eyewitness can say that she saw you focusing on traffic and following traffic laws while the other driver was texting and swerved into your lane)
Medical reports detailing how your injuries could have occurred (medical reports will help prove that your injuries resulted from the accident in question, not another activity)
What are comparative negligence, proximate cause, and intervening causes?
During a car accident case, there are a few important terms you may come across:
Comparative negligence: Comparative negligence is the system Ohio uses to assign fault for an accident. It allows for car accident victims to recover their fair allotment of damages even when they are partly at fault for the accident.
Each state provides its own specific rules regarding comparative negligence. In Ohio, for instance, the rule stipulates that if you are 50 percent or less at fault, you can recover damages minus your share of fault. So, if an investigation finds you to be 30 percent at fault and your total losses amount to $100,000, you can still recover $70,000. (If an investigation finds you more than 50 percent at fault, you will be unable to recover any compensation.)
Proximate cause: In a car accident case, proximate cause refers to the driver’s behavior that actually causes the collision and resulting injuries. In other words, if it were not for the driver’s conduct, e.g., running a red light, the car accident would not have occurred.
Proximate cause is a critical aspect of a car accident claim because in order to win your case, you must establish that you would not have been injured had the at-fault driver not caused your accident.
Intervening causes: An intervening cause is a separate act by a third party or a natural occurrence (such as a faulty braking system or a snow storm) that breaks the direct link between the driver’s actions and the injury to the plaintiff. A defendant can use an intervening cause as a defense against liability if he can prove that there was another outside factor that caused or contributed to the accident.
Should I bring anything to my initial consultation with an Ohio auto accident attorney?
The initial consultation with your car accident lawyer gives you an opportunity to ask questions, get to know more about the firm, and get an overview of how the lawyer handles car accident cases. The more prepared you are, the more you will get accomplished during the meeting.
Here is a checklist of items you may want to bring to the consult:
• Contact information for all the medical providers from which you have received care
• Names and contact information for eyewitnesses or anyone else involved in the accident
• A copy of the police report
• Your insurance policy and the names and phone numbers of any adjusters you have spoken with (you may also want to include notes on what you discussed)
• Your health insurance and disability insurance policies
• Your medical bills and receipts for other accident-related expenses you have accumulated thus far
• A list of questions you want to ask the lawyer
When should I contact an attorney following a car accident?
The sooner you contact an attorney to discuss your accident, the better. Directly after you have spoken with the police and tended to your immediate medical concerns is the best time to contact a lawyer. Talking to a lawyer early on provides you with several benefits:
• You will have a clear understanding of your rights and how to proceed to make your case progress smoother.
• You will know how to avoid common mistakes claimants make when giving a recorded statement to the insurance company.
• You will increase your chances of collecting more evidence to support your case. (Evidence can grow stale or get lost if you wait too long to hire a lawyer to start investigating the facts.)
• Your lawyer will have more time to prepare for any hiccups or hassles that may come along during your case.
How does Ohio handle car accidents when negligence or carelessness is involved?
Ohio is a “fault” car accident state, which means the person who caused the accident will be responsible for paying for damages. Most collisions are not accidents, per se; someone’s actions (or inaction) are usually to blame.
In a fault state, car accident cases hinge on drivers’ negligence. When negligence or carelessness is involved, the insurance companies will review the case and assign a degree of fault to each involved party for its role in causing the accident. The party most at fault will be liable for the victims’ damages.
Do I have to see a doctor following my car accident?
If you want to protect yourself — yes. Any time you are involved in a car accident, you want to get a medical evaluation even if you think your injuries are not serious. This protects you in two ways. First, it safeguards your health. You might have internal injuries that take time to manifest. Left untreated, internal injuries can be life-threatening.
Second, having a medical evaluation on record protects you legally. If you file an insurance claim and do not have a documentation of medical care, the insurer will likely dispute your injuries and deny your claim. If you wait too long to seek care, the insurer will probably assert that your injuries are minor, fabricated, or unrelated to the accident. So, it is simply good practice to see a doctor and have your car accident noted on your medical record.
For more information about Levy Law Offices and how we may be of service to you, call us today.