Ask Attorney James J. Gutbrod in Akron, Ohio

Have you been in an auto accident and have questions to which you want the answers? Attorney James J. Gutbrod has put together a list of frequently asked questions that he commonly discusses with clients who have been involved in an auto accident. Please call today for your free consultation to speak with Attorney James J. Gutbrod in Akron, Ohio about your specific circumstances.

Vehicle Accident Frequently Asked Questions

Is it illegal to text and drive in Ohio?

Texting while driving laws in Ohio restrict drivers from using handheld devices (phone, laptop, iPad, etc.) to text while their vehicles are in motion or in the flow of traffic, such as when stopped at a red light. Drivers can be fined and penalized for this activity even if it does not cause another traffic violation. To learn more read more here

Is it illegal to talk on your phone while driving in Ohio?

As of this date (10/2019) it is not illegal to talk on your phone or handheld device while driving in Ohio. To learn of other non-illegal actions permitted with a handheld device, such as using navigation, calling 911, and more, read more here

What is distracted driving?

"Distracted driving in Ohio is defined as any activity drivers do that may divert their attention from driving. Thus, all driving distraction increases drivers' odds of getting involved in a car crash." "...passengers, food and music were among the biggest distractors reported by drivers, making up more than half of all distracted drivers and 49% of all fatal crashes resulting from distractions in 2017." https://www.dmv.com/oh/ohio/distracted-driving-laws

What is the first thing that I should do if I am in an auto accident?

If you are in an auto accident the very first thing you should do is seek immediate medical attention if this is needed or in question. Even in a minor accident with little injury to the vehicles, people may sustain various types of injuries. Read more here.

If I was in an auto accident, but feel okay do I need to see a doctor?

Many people do not initially feel pain or discomfort at the scene of an accident but that night or in the following day or days to come can develop significant pain, often in the neck or back. It is also possible to sustain a concussion in the crash and not have immediate symptoms. Pay close attention to how you are feeling and it is always best to be on the safe side and see your doctor.

If I do not need medical attention what are the next things I should do if I am in an auto accident?

•Call the police
•Obtain whatever evidence and information you can such as names and contact information of witnesses, photos of the vehicles, police report, etc.
Contact an attorney
•If you experience any pain or discomfort in the next few days contact your primary care physician who may well have you go to the hospital for testing.
Find more information here.

If there's not much damage to either car do I need to call the police?

In general that is the best policy and what I would recommend.

Is it ever ok to just exchange insurance information in a small car accident and not call the police?

You take a big risk when you do this. Sometimes the "nicest" people can later deny there was an accident and refuse to take any responsibility. I recently had a case like this and when I contacted the at-fault party's insurance they literally said the accident "never happened." Luckily we had enough evidence and alternate proofs to eventually settle this claim, but it made it more difficult.

Why should I contact an attorney if I am in an auto accident?

There are a number of reasons why you are better off having an attorney involved if you or your passenger are hurt in a car crash. An experienced car accident attorney can help guide you through the oftentimes complicated legal maze and will guide you in handling medical bills. Lastly, statistics show higher settlements when an attorney is advocating for the injured party. Find more information here.

Will I get more money if I do not contact an attorney and deal directly with the insurance company myself?

Insurance companies would prefer that you not have an attorney because the statistics show that they pay less money if an attorney is not involved. For example, an insurance company may offer you $4,000 to settle your claim and you might think that is sufficient to cover your medical bills and you wouldn't need to pay an attorney fee. However, statistics show that you will do better if you involve an attorney who has expertise in car accidents and personal injury litigation. Almost always I have been able to negotiate a higher settlement amount, and many times I have been able to negotiate with health care providers to take less money for a given treatment bill, again, putting more money back into the client's portion of the settlement. Read more here.

Should I accept my insurance company's settlement offer?

Insurance companies are trying to settle the car accident claim for the least amount of money possible. An experienced car accident attorney deals with these types of claims routinely and not only can recognize the best value of your case, but will advocate on your behalf for the best possible settlement. Read more here.

If I was injured in an auto accident who pays my medical bills?

Navigating the onslaught of medical bills following an injury in a car accident can be overwhelming as well as intimidating. An experienced car accident attorney can guide you as to how to handle these bills and which ones to pay. At times I will contact the medical provider's billing department to avoid having them send particular bills to collections which could hurt my client's credit rating. Sometimes your car accident attorney will also negotiate a lower bill with the medical provider as well. So for all of these reasons it is best to involve an attorney from the get go. Read more here.

If I was injured in an auto accident do I have to go to trial for my case?

Many people say, "I'm not the suing type; I don't want to go to trial!" However, the fact of the matter is that the vast majority of personal injury cases resulting from all types of motor vehicle accidents result in a settlement, usually without needing to file a lawsuit or take the case to trial. Those auto accident injury cases where it becomes necessary to file a lawsuit are almost always settled out of court and do not go to trial.

If I have been injured in an auto accident what should I bring to a meeting with my lawyer?

It is helpful to bring a copy of the auto accident report (if you have it), any photos, any witness statements, medical bills, your insurance information, the liable party's name and insurance information, and a timeline of all medical treatment including physician's name, facility, and what treatment was done. The more information you can bring to the meeting, the better, but obviously it can be gathered after the initial consultation as well. Read more about vehicle accidents here.

How soon do I need to contact an attorney after an auto accident?

It's a good idea to get a personal injury attorney involved early on after an auto accident to help you sort through the legal maze, know how to relate to the insurance company, and to avoid being under the gun with statute of limitation deadlines.

If my auto accident was a year ago do I still have a right to a claim?

According to Ohio Law: "Statute of Limitations for Auto Accidents. In Ohio, the statute of limitations is found in Revised Code Section 2305.10. Under Section 2305.10, any lawsuit based on personal bodily injury, product liability, or damage to personal property must be brought within two years from the date the cause of action accrues. Sep 1, 2017"

If I am still in the process of being treated for injuries sustained in a car accident is it ok to settle?

Insurance companies will often press people to settle quickly following an auto accident. This is a bad idea since often times you do not know the full extent of your medical treatment required. Once you settle the case, you will sign a document releasing the insurance company of any further compensation for injuries stemming from the accident. Therefore, except for rare circumstances, my clients will always complete all medical treatment before settlement. Learn more here.

Should I choose the big firms that handle car accidents over a solo or smaller firm?

Often times the larger firms will hand your injury case over to a new and inexperienced attorney. They may also contract for a larger portion of your settlement for their attorney fee. I will handle your case from beginning to end, treating you as an individual, and using my 30+ years of expertise in personal injury cases to negotiate the highest possible settlement.

Do motorcyclists have to wear helmets in Ohio?

This is a state by state ruling. In Ohio, motorcyclists age 17 and younger are required to wear helmets.

I was hit by a car while crossing the street. What do I do?

If you are hit by a car as a pedestrian you should always go to the Emergency Room for evaluation and any necessary treatment. If your injuries are not severe enough to require transportation by ambulance, it would be best to have another person transport you.

Does a driver have to completely stop if a pedestrian is in the road?

No matter if the pedestrian is doing something illegal or foolish, he or she always has the right of way. If a driver needs to come to a complete stop in order to prevent striking a pedestrian, then, by all means the driver should do so.

Are bicyclists considered pedestrians?

Bicycles, whether motorized or not, are considered vehicles according to Ohio law. Therefore, the bicyclist would be considered a motor vehicle operator and not a pedestrian.

I was hit by a car while riding my bike. What do I do?

The first and most important thing to do is to call 911 and seek medical evaluation and care. If there is someone with you who can help you do these things and also take some photos, that would be of help. Learn more here.

Can auto accident victims still receive compensation if they are partially at fault?

If you were at fault in the crash, you likely would not be able to bring a claim against the other driver. On the other hand, you may well have a claim for your injuries if:
The other party was at fault.
There is a question as to who was at fault.
There is a question whether both parties had some fault.
Read More Here

If I was a passenger hurt in an auto accident, should I contact a lawyer?

Absolutely! You may well have an injury claim . Learn more here: Steps to Take After a Car Accident

If my friend was the driver and I got hurt as a passenger, if I make a claim will my friend's insurance rates go higher?

If you are injured in a motor vehicle accident as a passenger you need to get the medical care you require. The best way to ensure that your treatment is covered is to get an attorney involved. I cannot say for sure whether or not your friend's rates will increase. This depends on the insurance company as well as a number of factors.

If I am rear-ended, is it always the fault of the car that hit me?

While it is certainly true that the vast majority of times it is the rear driver at fault in a rear-end collision, there are some occasions where the lead driver may be at fault. Some of these reasons would include: lead car brake lights are out, lead car pulls out unsafely in front of you, or they change lanes unsafely. Obtaining a witness at the scene of the accident would be very important to help prove these claims.

If I am rear-ended and I collide into the car in front of me, can I be cited?

Many rear-end auto accidents involve multiple cars in a chain reaction scenario and the liability may be complicated or difficult to prove. In general, it is the driver who first strikes the rear end of the vehicle in front of him/her who is at fault. It is possible, however, for multiple drivers to be cited in this type of auto accident and very often the stories of the various drivers are in conflict. Keeping an assured clear distance of the vehicle in front of you is the best way to avoid this type of accident.

What does assured clear distance ahead mean?

This is a legal term which basically states that you are responsible to operate your motor vehicle at a speed and distance from the car in front of you where you can stop before striking it if they were to stop suddenly. This is a very common cause of motor vehicle accidents .

What are the guidelines for keeping enough of an assured clear distance to avoid an accident ?

While there are complicated formulas to calculate this, two simple methods are: the two second rule, and one car length for every 10 mph. The two second rule is simply counting 2 seconds from the time the car in front of you passes a given landmark. You are not to pass the same landmark before the count of two seconds. The other method is to estimate one car length for every 10 mph. So if you are traveling 60 mph it will require approximately 6 car lengths for you to bring your vehicle to a stop without striking the driver in front of you should they stop suddenly.

What are the top causes of motor vehicle accidentsin the US?

The number one cause of motor vehicle accidents in the US is now distracted driving. After that, drunk driving, speeding, reckless driving, hazardous weather conditions , hydroplaning , and nighttime driving are the next causes in respective order.

Personal Injury Frequently Asked Questions

What is personal injury law?

The area of the law commonly referred to as personal injury law is actually called tort law. Tort law allows for an injured person to be compensated for economic and non-economic damages caused by another person's negligence or intentional act.

What are the types of personal injury cases?

While many types of accidents and injuries can lead to a personal injury claim, the most common personal injury cases are: motor vehicle accidents, work-related injuries, slip and fall injuries, dog bites, medical malpractice, libel/slander and other intentional torts.

What is negligence?

Negligence is the failure to use ordinary care.

What is intent?

Intent has to do with the mental state that a person is in when they cause a personal injury.

What is causation?

Causation means that an action or omission on the part of someone causes injury to another person. Typically we speak of causation as proximate or direct causation.

What are injuries?

Injuries are the medical, physical, emotional problems that result from a negligent act or omission that directly and proximately causes that problem.

What are economic damages?

Economic damages are the damages that can be calculated. These include medical bills, lost income and other damages that can be calculated.

What are non-economic damages?

Non-economic damages are damages that have to do with pain and suffering, loss of relationship and other damages that cannot be calculated.

Is there a time limit to making an injury claim?

An injury claim in the State of Ohio must be filed with the relevant Court within 2 years of the date of the incident. In malpractice cases the statute of limitations or the time period in the State of Ohio for bringing a lawsuit is 1 year.

When does that period begin?

There are statutes and case law in Ohio that address that issue.

Do you always have to go to trial with a personal injury claim?

No you do not need to always go to trial with a personal injury claim. In fact, the vast majority of personal injury claims are settled short of going to trial and in many cases short of even filing suit.

How long does it take to settle a personal injury case?

There are many factors that go into how long it takes to settle a personal injury case. One of the primary factors is the nature and extent of the client's injury. Generally it is not wise to settle a personal injury claim until the client has reached his or her pre-accident state of health. The reason for this is that the insurance for the at fault party will not pay towards a settlement unless the injured party signs a release in favor of the at fault party and their insurer. Once that release has been signed the injured party has no further recourse against the party who caused the injury or their insurance company.

Do I have a right to claim lost income due to an injury?

Yes you do have a right to make a claim for lost income due to your injury. However, like all injuries there needs to be sufficient proof that the injury caused the loss of income and that is often done through getting documentation from your client's employer.

Does personal injury include emotional distress?

Yes a personal injury claim can include emotional distress but as with any injury it needs to be proven. One needs to be able to show that the emotional distress is a direct and proximate result of the negligence of the at fault party. This can involve documentation and testimony from a psychologist or psychiatrist or a counselor. Emotional distress could also be shown by the injured party's need for medication.

What is included in a personal injury settlement?

Included in a personal injury settlement is the cost of the medical bills and lost income, as well as the pain and suffering and other miscellaneous injuries.

How can pain and suffering be proven in a personal injury case?

Pain and suffering can be proven in a personal injury case by way of medical records and by the testimony of the injured party as well as his or her medical providers.

When should I contact a personal injury attorney?

You should contact a personal injury attorney when you have reason to believe that your injuries were the direct result of the negligence of the at fault party. This should be done sooner rather than later.

What are the stages of a personal injury claim?

The stages of a personal injury claim include contacting a personal injury attorney, gathering the medical records and bills, the attorney contacting the insurance company involved and the attorney providing the insurance company with a settlement package which includes the traffic crash report, the photos of the cars, the medical records and medical bills and any other documents that are necessary. The attorney usually prepares a lengthy letter to the insurance company detailing the injury and how it occurred and the client's recovery. The letter should also include a settlement demand. If the case cannot be settled short of filing suit the insurance company for the at fault party will contact an attorney to represent the at fault party in the litigation. Once the lawsuit has been filed and the defendant's answer has also been filed, the parties enter a period called the discovery period wherein each side gives written questions and also depositions to determine what the opposing party believes the facts to be. Assuming that the case cannot be settled the case would then go to trial with the testimony of medical or other experts.

Should the first offer of compensation in my personal injury claim be accepted?

No the first offer of compensation should not be accepted. Many times the insurance company will offer some small amount of money immediately after the incident with the hope that the injured party will not contact an attorney and be attracted by the offer of money. Also, in settlement negotiations the attorney for the injured party and the insurance company for the at fault party commonly go back and forth in negotiation with the aim of settling the case. Therefore, it is not wise to accept the first offer of compensation.