I’ve been involved in a car accident. What do I do now?
First, feel free to call us and ask us anything. We do not charge for phone calls or meetings, and there is no obligation on your part to retain our services. Having handled thousands of these cases, we can usually answer any question you have about the injury claim process – and we’ll be honest if we can’t. Here are some general tips on things to do following a motor vehicle accident:
- If you have insurance on the vehicle you were in at the time of the accident, you should notify your insurance agent of the accident, and confirm the insurance coverage available to you to cover your losses.
- Get a copy of the crash report; you will probably receive multiple copies from lawyers (and chiropractors) soliciting your business.
- Follow the advice of your doctors. Make sure you attend all appointments and comply with all physical therapy and other recommendations of your physician.
Each case is unique, so we urge you to call and ask us anything. We’re here to help you.
What is a “statute of limitations,” anyway? Why does it matter?
A “statute of limitations” is the time within which a person has to file or otherwise settle a legal cause of action. If you don’t file or settle your claim within this time, you may be forever barred from pursuing it. There are very few exceptions to statutes of limitations; for this reason, it is important to know what they are. It’s best to consult with an attorney if you have questions specific to your case. We’re happy to help.
Cause of action, statute of limitations
Personal injury, two years
Medical malpractice, one year
Civil assault and battery, one year
Wrongful death, two years
How do I pay for incoming medical bills?
While the party at fault (or his/her insurance company) is ultimately responsible for your medical bills, they will not pay your bills as they come in; they will simply reimburse whomever pays them when the case is settled, which may be months or years after the injury. Therefore, you are at least initially responsible for the medical expenses incurred as a result of an accident, even if the accident is not your fault. If you have automobile insurance (medical payments coverage) or health insurance, this insurance should be used to pay your bills. If you do not have insurance to pay your bills and you are not eligible for government assistance, be sure to let us know this so that we can make arrangements with your physicians and hospitals to pay them at the conclusion of the case.
Will I have to reimburse whomever pays my medical bills?
Usually, yes. This is called “subrogation.” Subrogation means reimbursement. For example, if your health insurance company pays a medical bill, they will expect to be reimbursed out of the settlement. Same for automobile insurers (medical payments coverage), government entities (Medicaid, Medicare) or whomever pays your bills. If you receive a subrogation notice from an insurance company or government entity, you must forward the notice to your lawyer.
How long will my case take to resolve? Is it necessary to go to court?
The time it takes to resolve a case depends on a number of factors. Most importantly, we usually will not recommend settling a case until our client has stabilized medically. That may take weeks or months following an injury. When you have stabilized, and once we have obtained your most recent records, and assuming we have all the medical records, medical bills, loss of income information, etc., we then can roughly estimate the case value and see if our evaluation is similar to the insurance company’s. You, of course, have the ultimate say in whether your case is settled and for how much, but your decision should be made with the advice of your lawyer.
It may or may not be necessary to go to court. Settlements are favored because they are immediate and take the risk out of the case. If the case is not settled, we will need to file suit, and this normally drags the case out for a longer period of time. If suit is filed, you can expect a trial date about 18 to 24 months from the date of filing, depending on the county in which the case is filed. The case can settle at any time during that 18 to 24 months, but if the parties cannot agree to the case value, you will need to try your case before a jury. Jury verdicts are difficult to predict, but they are usually fairly conservative. In other words, jury verdicts are lower than you might expect. This is another reason you should try to settle your case if the offer is reasonable.
What compensation might be available to me if I’ve been injured by someone else’s carelessness?
Since it is impossible to turn back the clock, we are here to assist you in pursuing financial compensation for your injuries. There are two broad categories of financial compensation: 1) damages for your economic losses; and 2) damages for your non-economic losses.
Economic losses are tangible losses – those losses that can be objectively measured. Economic losses may include your medical expenses, rehabilitation and other related expenses, and loss of income. You must be able to prove economic losses through documents (bills, receipts and wage statements), expert testimony, and the like.
Non-economic losses are those losses that are incapable of being objectively measured. Non-economic losses may include pain and suffering; emotional distress; permanent disability; and disfigurement. Ohio law limits recovery for non-economic losses, with few exceptions. Our lawyers are experienced in ensuring that we’ve captured all losses associated with your injury. Call us so we can help you.
How are medical malpractice cases different from motor vehicle accidents?
Medical malpractice cases tend to be more complicated, expensive and difficult to win than motor vehicle cases. Whereas most motor vehicle cases settle without filing a lawsuit, medical malpractice cases almost never settle without filing a civil action. Medical cases require an “affidavit of merit” from a qualified physician or other medical professional before they can be filed; automobile cases do not. Medical cases require multiple expert witnesses, which makes them very expensive (and therefore risky). And many medical malpractice cases go to trial before a jury (adding additional expense), whereas relatively few automobile cases go to trial. For these reasons, the screening process is much more rigorous in medical cases, and we are very careful about selecting medical cases.