How Long After a Car Accident Can You File an Injury Claim?

Getting into a car accident in Ohio is not that different from a car accident anywhere else. In fact, most people respond to being in an accident in Ohio in much the same way as they would in California, Texas, or Connecticut. It’s what you do after the accident that may make a big difference and a bigger impact on your life than you expected. 

Suing After a Car Accident

Not everyone sues after a car accident. However, in instances where you have been severely injured, or new injuries appear several months later you may want to sue. In the state of Ohio, can you sue if you change your mind after the fact? Are you able to file a claim despite the fact that you didn’t do within a month or two after the accident? Would a judge even allow the case to be heard at that point?

Undoubtedly, many of these questions spring to your mind. You may have other questions that only pertain to your accident too. Plymale and Dingus in Columbus, OH can answer a lot of these questions.

Statute of Limitations

This thing called “statute of limitations” is a legal phrase that means to restrict would-be claimants from filing years after the incident occurred. Depending on the supposed crime, you only have “x” number of months or years to file a lawsuit. In Ohio, the statute of limitations on car accidents is two years. That is actually a pretty generous amount of time to file a claim against the other driver. When you take into consideration that many internal injuries are not immediately discoverable or discovered, it’s a good amount of time to file.

If you did not go to a hospital to be examined after your accident, you will need some sort of medical record that shows injury and attests to injury being tied to a car accident. A car accident attorney can’t defend you if there’s not enough substantial evidence to show that you were (unwittingly) injured and did not seek medical help. If you were injured but simply refused care until you felt or noticed something was really wrong, gather the medical documentation before you file. 

Hearing Your Case in Court

Unlike all the dramatic legal TV shows you could rattle off, many cases are actually settled outside of court. Car accident lawyers frequently settle cases without going before a judge. If you are concerned that a judge would not be willing to hear an almost two-year-old lawsuit about injuries in a car accident, don’t be. Most judges don’t hear these cases because they rarely get that far. Lawyers settle the cases, have everyone sign the paperwork, and collect the settlement checks. 

It’s only when the case might present a questionable doubt or the other driver involved refuses to settle that a case might go to court. If your case does go to court, judges know what’s on their docket months in advance and they know about the two-year statute. You would be fine either way.

Evidence You Will Need

Besides presenting with injuries that can be tied back to the car accident, you will need documentation of missed work hours, how the injuries prevent you from working your current or previous job, any potential therapies or rehab you have to go through, and if applicable, the documentation for mental and psychological harm. If any of these don’t apply to you, then just gather what you can. 

What You Can Reasonably Expect

Ohio law allows you to recoup lost wages, payment for medical bills and related medical expenses, and pain and suffering. If you do not file soon after the accident, pain and suffering may not be entertained during mediation or the court hearing. If the case never goes to court, it may be resolved within a few months after filing. If it goes to court, it might take a couple of years depending on how long the wait is to get your case on the docket.

Nobody really becomes insanely wealthy from a car accident case unless the situation was particularly extreme and there was a loss of life, loss of limbs, or loss of eyesight. Yet Plymale & Dingus has managed to get its clients over $70 million in the years that the firm has been open. What you get will be fair and reasonable for the extent of your injuries and losses. 

Contact Plymale & Dingus in Columbus, OH 

Contact Plymale & Dingus in Columbus, OH regarding your car accident case. Make sure it has been less than two years since your crash before scheduling a consultation. Any cases that are older than two years have surpassed the statute of limitations and cannot be tried or mediated for compensation. Plymale & Dingus are awaiting your call.

Ohio Car Accident Laws

Car accidents occur all too often in Ohio, and it’s important to know the laws surrounding them. This article will provide an overview of accident laws in Ohio, including the statute of limitations, driver’s duties after an accident, insurance requirements, and damages recoverable in a lawsuit.

In Ohio, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit is two years from the date of the accident. If you don’t file a lawsuit within two years of the accident, you won’t be able to pursue any legal action against the other driver.  

Driver’s Duties After an Accident

Ohio law requires drivers to stay at the scene of the accident and exchange information with the other driver, including name, address, driver’s license number, and insurance information.

Ohio requires drivers to carry minimum auto insurance coverage, including $25,000 per person for bodily injury, $50,000 per accident for bodily injury, and $25,000 for property damage. 

Drivers must also carry uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, which covers the insured driver if someone hits them without insurance or with insufficient coverage. 

What a Car Accident Lawyer Does After an Accident

Car accident lawyers are responsible for helping injured individuals and their families to obtain the compensation they are entitled to for their medical bills and other costs associated with the crash. 

A car accident lawyer will handle various tasks, including gathering evidence and information about the crash, speaking to witnesses, filing insurance claims, and handling legal proceedings. They can also help you understand the laws that apply to your case and ensure you get the compensation you deserve.  

Car Accident Claims Statute of Limitations in Ohio

Injury claims resulting from auto accidents must be made within two years of the collision. The statute of limitations refers to this. The victim may not be able to get any compensation for their damages if a claim is not made within this period.

There are caps on the number of damages awarded in car accident cases. This means that even if you are entitled to a large compensation, you may only receive a certain amount.  

The caps on damages vary depending on the type of claim. For instance, in Ohio, the cap on non-economic damages (e.g. pain and suffering) is $250,000 in most cases. However, in cases involving “catastrophic injury”, the cap is $500,000.  

Understanding Ohio car accident laws is essential if you’ve been in a crash. These laws, known as Ohio car accident laws, set out the legal framework for who is responsible for paying for the medical bills, lost wages, and other costs associated with a car accident. 

Fault in a Car Accident in Ohio?  

The fault system for auto insurance is in effect in Ohio. This implies that whoever caused the accident is accountable for its consequences. If the other driver caused the collision, the at-fault party or their insurance provider might be liable for covering the other driver’s medical expenses, missed earnings, and other accident-related expenses.

It’s important to take certain steps to protect your rights. First, you should contact the police and file a police report. This will provide you with an official record of the accident. Next, you should gather evidence from the scene of the accident, such as pictures and witness statements. 

Car accidents can be complicated, and it’s important to understand the laws governing them in Ohio. These laws, known as Ohio car accident laws, set out the legal framework for who is responsible for paying for the medical bills, lost wages, and other costs associated with a car accident. 

The amount of damages each party will be liable for will then be determined according to the percentage of fault assigned. For example, if one party is assigned 50 percent of the fault, they may be liable for 50 percent of the damages.

Common Injuries in Car Accidents  

Car accidents can result in various injuries from small scratches and bruises to more serious injuries, including shattered bones, head injuries, and spinal cord damage.

If hurt in a car accident, you might be eligible for financial assistance for your medical expenses, lost earnings, suffering, and other crash-related expenses.

In Ohio, the responsible party or insurance company may be responsible for these costs. It’s important to understand the compensation you may be entitled to for your car accident injuries in Ohio. 

It’s also important to contact an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible, as they can help you understand your rights and ensure you get the compensation you deserve.

Paying Medical Bills After a Car Accident

The at-fault person or their insurance provider may be liable for covering the other driver’s medical expenses, missed earnings, and other accident-related expenses.

In Ohio, all motorists are required to maintain a minimum level of liability coverage. If the other driver is at fault, this coverage will cover related charges like missed wages, medical expenses, and other incidental expenses. If you were at fault for the collision, it also covers damage to the other driver’s vehicle.

What Is the Average Settlement for a Semi-truck Accident?

Semi-truck accidents are traumatic and dangerous events that can result in serious injuries. If you or a loved one has been injured or lost property in a semi-truck accident, you may be entitled to a semi-truck accident settlement. These settlements, however, are not fixed amounts and may vary greatly depending on several variables.

What Is the Average Semi-truck Accident Settlement?

In most cases, large settlements are hard to come by when it comes to semi-trucks and liability lawsuits. However, there are exceptions to this rule. An experienced attorney can help you determine what type of semi-truck accident or injury you have suffered and how much money you may receive in compensation. This amount may range anywhere from $20,000 up to seven figures, depending on the circumstances of your case.

What Are the Factors That Affect Semi-truck Accident Settlement?

  1. Liability: Who was at fault in the accident? Who was driving the truck?
  1. Injuries: Are you currently suffering from physical injuries that are debilitating or painful? If yes, how long do you expect them to last? Do you have any mental or psychological problems resulting from this accident? Traumatic brain injury, TBI, spinal cord injury, and concussion usually add additional medical bills that result in a higher settlement amount.
  1. Insurance: What insurance coverage do the trucking company and its drivers have? Does the collision policy include semi-trucks? Does it cover medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and permanent injuries? What is the company’s deductible?
  1. Court Proceedings: How much can you expect to receive if you take this case to court? The truck attorney may guide their client through the settlement process and bring their case to court if they believe this is the best option.

These factors may result in higher compensation depending on how well a truck accident lawyer can present his case.

Semi-truck accident settlements may be far less than the fair compensation amount. For those injured and seeking compensation, it is important to hire an experienced truck accident attorney who can guide them throughout the process in making sure that they get the maximum compensation possible.

The Truth About the Geico HPV Case

The Truth About the Geico HPV Case

This past weekend, a friend of mine told me a fantastical story about Geico Insurance Company being ordered to pay more than $5 million to a lady who had contracted the HPV virus in a car insured by Geico.  I told him that the story must be apocryphal.  Interested in whether the story had any merit, I conducted a quick Google search and found at least 100 articles from different “news” organizations claiming that Geico had been ordered to pay the lady $5.2 million by a court in Missouri.  I then also heard the same claim being made by Trevor Noah on his talk show.  Being extremely skeptical about these claims based on my experience in personal injury actions, I decided to conduct some research.  The following is what I discovered.  .

The Allegations

In 2017, two adults, identified as M.O. and M.B. in the legal actions, engaged in consensual sexual intercourse in M.B.’s vehicle, which was insured by Geico.  M.G. also possessed an umbrella liability policy with Geico.  Unknown to M.O., M.B. had been previously diagnosed with Human Papillomavirus (HPV), a fact he did not disclose to M.O., who was later diagnosed with HPV.  M.O. sought compensation from M.B. for causing her to contract this contagious, and sometimes deadly, disease.

Since M.B.’s policies with Geico provided coverage to M.B. for injuries that arose out of the “use” of M.B’s vehicle, M.O. attempted to settle her claim against M.B. within the monetary limits of the policy of $1 million.  Geico refused to engage in settlement discussions with M.O.  As such, she informed Geico that she intended to file a legal action against M.B. for her injuries.  Geico then refused to either indemnify M.B. or to even provide a defense for him.

The Law

While I am unfamiliar with the specific law in Missouri, most states require people who have been diagnosed with an STD to disclose that fact to any sexual partner. In fact, in Ohio, failing to disclose an STD diagnosis to a sexual partner is a crime, either as a misdemeanor or a felony offense if the STD is HIV.  Further, a person who fails to disclose his/her STD diagnosis can also be held liable for monetary damages in a civil action, which is what we have in this case.

The Legal Actions

Apparently in Missouri, parties to a civil case can submit the entire matter to arbitration and agree to be bound by that decision, which the parties did in this case.  Just as in a trial before a jury or judge, the parties are given an equal opportunity to submit evidence in the form of testimony from witnesses and physical exhibits, and to make arguments in support of their case.   Although Geico was made aware of this process, it chose not to get involved and not to hire an attorney to represent M.B.  In my experience, insurance companies almost always hire an attorney to represent their insured if there is even the slightest possibility that it may need to extend coverage to its insured.  Geico simply decided to take that risk in this case.  

The case eventually proceeded to an arbitration hearing, during which both parties were afforded the opportunity to submit evidence.  At the conclusion of the hearing, the arbitrator awarded M.O. $5.2 million for her damages.  A Missouri court later adopted that award and issued a judgment against M.B, not against Geico.  While Geico attempted to intervene in the action following the arbitration decision, the Missouri court found that Geico was given the opportunity to participate and defend M.B. at the arbitration and simply chose not do so, and as such, dismissed it from the case.  A Missouri Appellate Court affirmed that decision.

The Truth

At around the same time as the arbitration hearing, Geico filed an action in federal court seeking a declaration that it was not obligated to extend coverage to M.B.  As of the date of this article, that action is still pending; however, many news organizations have falsely reported that Geico has been ordered to pay M.O. $5.2 million.  That is simply not true.   The issue of coverage is yet to be decided, but that has not stopped Geico’s public relations department from misinforming and misleading the public into believing that it has been ordered to pay the award.  Based on my reading of the pleadings filed in the case, I believe that M.O. will likely have a difficult time convincing the court that coverage should be extended to M.B., in which case, she would receive none of the $5.2 million award.  Further, barring some extraordinary circumstances, Geico’s overall exposure is likely limited to the $1 million policy limit.  So, even if the federal court determines that Geico must indemnify M.B., $4.2 million of the award will likely go unpaid.  

I am disappointed in the failure of many journalists to accurately report the facts of this case, and to once again spread false information about the legal system, especially relating to tort cases.   But then again, accurately reporting the facts is not good business for many “news” organizations, especially those in the conservative media that care little about the facts.  The attorneys at Plymale & Dingus care about the truth and about protecting the rights of injury victims.  While insurance companies have the resources to spend millions of dollars on misinformation campaigns, individual injury victims lack those same resources.   I hope that this article serves, in even a small way, to combat that effort.  

The Fallacy of Frivolous Lawsuits

The Perception

If you stop 10 people on the street and ask them about lawsuits, 8 or 9 of them will likely tell you that there are too many of them.  They will also likely tell you that frivolous lawsuits make up a generous percentage of those lawsuits, especially in injury cases, and that juries are “out of control” by either finding defendants responsible when they are not or by rendering large and unreasonable monetary verdicts. Many will claim that the legal system is broken and that government intervention is necessary to stem the tide of these frivolous actions.  However, neither the facts nor my personal experience supports this perception.

The Reality

According to a study conducted by the American Bar Association, fewer than 4% of civil cases filed in 2015 in U.S. state courts were “tort cases” and only 2 out of 1,000 people filed tort actions in 2015. [1]  A “tort” is simply a private or civil wrong that causes damage or injury to another person.   Contract cases accounted for the majority of these filings, and the majority of those were either debt collection or landlord/tenant matters.  In another study, of the tort cases filed in 2013, three-quarters of them resulted in recoveries of less than $12,200.00, and only .2% resulted in recoveries exceeding $500,000.00. [2]  That means that only 1 out of 250,000 people in 2013 received a recovery of more than $500,000.   Based on my experience as a trial lawyer, the people who comprise this .0004% likely suffered catastrophic injuries, including paralysis, loss of a limb or death.  On the other hand, 375 of them would have received a recovery of less than $12,200.

Notwithstanding the actual facts, large businesses, especially multi-billion-dollar insurance companies, have convinced the general public that too many frivolous lawsuits are being filed and that juries are rendering unfair and unreasonable verdicts.  I will agree with the insurance companies on one claim, that juries can render unfair and unreasonable verdicts, but for too little, not too much.  I have yet to review one case in Ohio where a jury rendered a verdict exceeding $500,000 against a defendant who was not liable and that did not involve a Plaintiff who had suffered serious and life-changing injuries.   On the other hand, I have seen numerous jury verdicts for less than even the Plaintiff’s medical bills.  However, I do not blame individual jurors for rendering such inadequate verdicts because the business community, especially insurance companies, have done such a great job of misleading and deceiving them.   Spending millions of dollars on a disinformation campaign will often have that effect (please see my next article about Geico’s efforts to misinform the public about a case involving a Plaintiff contracting the HPV virus).   

The Jury System

I have great faith in our jury system.  It is what largely sets us apart from other countries.  It is one of the few opportunities the citizens of this country have to ensure that the rights of all people are preserved.  The right to a jury trial in a civil action is guaranteed by both the U.S. Constitution in the 7th Amendment and in the Ohio Constitution in Article I, section 5.  Unfortunately, the Ohio legislature, along with the legislatures of several other states, with the support of the insurance industry, has seen fit to infringe upon that right by enacting “tort reform” measures, citing to non-existent frivolous tort actions and excessive jury verdicts, which we know do not exist.  In Ohio, any jury verdict exceeding $250,000, or $350,000 if the Plaintiff’s economic damages exceed $116,667.00, will be automatically reduced by the court unless the Plaintiff’s injuries are of a type contained on a small and limited list (and that amount has not been increased since the law was initially passed in 2005).   

In my experience, jurors are in the best position to decide what is fair and just – not elected officials sitting in the Ohio Statehouse who know absolutely nothing about the case being tried.  During a trial, juries will hear testimony from multiple witnesses, including expert witnesses like surgeons, engineers and scientists, and they will be able to review and scrutinize tangible evidence, which often includes medical records, photographs, diagrams, written statements, etc.  So, the clear message from our state government is that regular people are either too stupid to know what is fair and just or are not to be trusted, even though those same people considered the actual evidence in the case.  Rather, as our elected officials, they are just plain smarter and able to predict what is fair and just, without needing to consider the actual evidence.  The next time you vote, please pay special attention to the voting record of your state representative, state senator or governor.  I believe many of you will be surprised at how many of them vote to infringe the rights of the people in favor of the interests of big business.  

I will leave you with this last thought.  I have filed hundreds of tort cases in my 24-year career, and in almost every, single case, the defendant’s attorney has requested a jury trial.  A jury trial is not automatic.  At least one of the parties must formally request a jury trial or the case will be heard by the assigned judge.  To be clear, in almost every tort case, the defendant’s attorney is hired and paid by the defendant’s insurance company.  So, this begs the question: if juries are not to be trusted as the insurance companies have so claimed over the last several decades, why would the attorneys they hire request one?  The simple answer is that they have been given their cake and been allowed to eat it too.  They have convinced the Ohio legislature to limit a jury’s power, and Constitutional right, to render a verdict based on the actual evidence, and at the same time convinced the jury, before any evidence has actually been admitted, that frivolous lawsuits and excessive jury verdicts are rampant.  It’s a win-win for the billion-dollar insurance industry and a lose-lose for injury victims.  I, along with the other attorneys at Plymale & Dingus, have worked diligently over the years to fight and counter the misinformation campaigns of the insurance industry and its supporters.  I hope that this article continues to serve that effort, however small that impact may be.

[1] Cassens Weiss, Debra. “Tort Suits in State Courts Are ‘Down Sharply’ as Contract Claims Grow.” ABA Journal 26 July 2017.

[2] Civil Justice Initiative: The Landscape of Civil Litigation in State Courts

Anatomy of a Personal Injury Case: Motor Vehicle Collision

The Initial Stage: A Collision Occurs

When you are injured in a motor vehicle collision the very first thing you should do is to seek treatment immediately! If you are hurt, go to the emergency room or see a doctor so that they can determine the extent of your injury and recommend a treatment program. Delaying treatment can delay your physical recovery, signal to the insurance companies that the injury “wasn’t that bad,” and can also impact the believability of the claim, and in turn, affect the amount of the settlement or verdict. Additionally, delaying treatment can also call into question whether the injury was sustained during the incident or at another time.

The Claims Stage

In order to open a case, the injured person meets with an attorney todiscuss the case and share information regarding the collision and subsequent injury. During the initial consultation, the attorney gathers pertinent information to your case, including medical treatment, insurance coverage, names and information of the at-fault party, potential witnesses and photographs of the vehicles involved in the collision and evidence of your physical injuries. Once the initial meeting concludes and the attorney is retained, the attorney then delivers letters of representation to the appropriate parties, which typically include the at-fault driver’s insurance company and your insurance company. While the investigation is taking place, you should continue treating for your injuries and share all case-related information with your attorney or his assistant.

The Investigation Stage

After meeting with your attorney and providing all pertinent information, your attorney will take over. During this period, all the important parts of the claim are investigated, which may include speaking with your doctors, expert witnesses, fact witnesses, defense attorneys, and insurance adjustors. Your attorney’s primary responsibility is building a case on your behalf, utilizing the attorney’s specialized knowledge and experience. The role of the attorney at this stage is to do whatever needs done to maximize the client’s monetary recovery.

The Effort to Settle

Once the investigation is completed and you have been released from further medical care, the attorney will then compile a settlement package for the at-fault party’s insurance company. The settlement package is an orderly presentation of documents that demonstrate the loss you experienced as a result of the at-fault party’s negligence. These documents may include witness statements, medical bills, medical records, wage loss documentation, photographs, expert reports, and any other document that the attorney believes will fully demonstrate your loss (including inability to perform your usual activities, pain, loss of enjoyment of life, etc.). Once the package is submitted, the negotiation process begins. If the adjuster ultimately offers an acceptable amount of compensation, the case will be settled, but only with your consent. A Settlement typically requires the execution of a release of liability. However, if no agreement is reached, which is often the case at this stage, the attorney will likely recommend filing a lawsuit against the at-fault party.

Settlement during The Litigation Stage

The litigation stage begins when the attorney files a lawsuit on your behalf. Once the lawsuit has been properly served, the insurance company will hire an attorney to represent the at-fault party, who will file an “answer” on behalf of his/her client. The defense attorney will also submit written: “discovery requests” to your attorney, which are essential questions that you will need to answer and requests for copies of documents. Your attorney will also likely submit “discovery requests” to the at-fault party as well. Once discovery is complete, but some time before it is complete, depositions of the parties are typically scheduled. A deposition is a legal device utilized by attorneys to obtain testimony under oath from the other party or a witness prior to trial. The testimony is recorded by a stenographer that can later be transcribed for use at trial or in support of a motion. Depending on the complexity of the case, the litigation process can take anywhere from six months to two years to be completed.

Resolution Before or After Trial

Once a lawsuit has been filed, there are 4 primary ways that your case will be resolved: 1) an out-of-court settlement through informal discussions with the defense attorney or insurance adjuster or 2) a formal settlement conference with a trained mediator (referred to as a mediation), 3) the issuance of a “summary judgment” (granting judgment in favor of one party on a legal issue), and, finally 4) by a jury verdict. Many times, before a jury trial, the at-fault insurance company will make a final effort to resolve the case. If both parties accept the settlement, then the case is resolved, and the lawsuit will be dismissed. If the parties are unable to reach a settlement, either informally or at mediation, and summary judgment has not been granted to one of the parties, the case will proceed to a jury trial. Jury trials can take as little as two days to complete, or in a complex case, multiple weeks to complete.