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.

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 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