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 police or traffic crash report, the photos of the cars or injuries, 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.