Car Accident Lawyer Cleveland Ohio
As a Cleveland, Ohio car accident lawyer, I have represented hundreds and hundreds of personal injury victims throughout the State of Ohio. Since we limit our caseload to catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases, we will handle motor vehicle accidents resulting in death or serious injuries, such as loss of a limb (amputation), quadriplegia, paraplegia, paralysis, traumatic brain injury, fractures, severe neck and back injuries, and other disabling injuries.
One of the first questions that a car crash victim should ask is: do I need a lawyer? In many instances, we advise potential clients that they do not need a lawyer. If your injuries are not severe and you make a rapid and full recovery within several weeks after the accident, there is usually no need to involve a lawyer. In those instances, you can negotiate the claim directly with the insurance company to resolve property damage, outstanding medical expenses and compensation for pain and suffering. A lawyer may also not be necessary if there are serious injuries, but minimal insurance proceeds available. In this situation, the insurance company may readily release all available insurance proceeds without a lawyer’s involvement. In both these instances, you may wind up better off without incurring lawyer fees by handling the matter yourself. However, in most serious injury and wrongful death cases, a lawyer’s assistance will be necessary.
How long do I have to file a lawsuit? In Ohio, when a motor vehicle or motorcycle accident results in injury or death, you have two years from the date of the accident in which to file a lawsuit. If you fail to file a lawsuit within this timeframe, you will be forever barred for seeking compensation for injuries caused in the automobile accident. This rule may vary in other States.
How can a Cleveland, Ohio car accident lawyer help you? Unfortunately, the process of resolving a serious injury case is fraught with legal hassles that require the services of an attorney lawyer to resolve. Not only are you faced with the property damage claim and your own medical treatment, but injury victims may have to file a lawsuit, litigate who was at fault, document and prove injuries through qualified medical experts, evaluate available insurance coverage limits and/or address subrogation liens. Generally, you need a lawyer to handle all of these issues. Let’s address each one.
Typically, liability in motor vehicle accidents is established by the findings of the investigating police officer. The police report will include an interview of all parties involved in the accident, as well as eyewitness accounts, when available. The report will detail the direction of travel, weather conditions, time of day, traffic conditions, the extent of vehicle damage, and whether any occupants were injured. In serious crashes, the police will often take photographs and prepare an accident reconstruction drawing using measurements from the accident scene. Typically, the investigating officer will issue a citation to the party causing the motor vehicle collision. However, in some cases, liability is disputed. A car crash attorney can perform his/her own investigation and hire experts in accident reconstruction and biomechanics, as needed, to prove who was at fault. Sometimes, surveillance video is available. Likewise, many vehicles and semi-tractor trailers contain “black boxes” that can identify pre-crash actions. In other cases, satellite data may be available, particularly where a commercial truck or ride-sharing service, such as Uber or Lyft, is involved.
The lawyer’s other function is to produce proof of injury and damages. This might include obtaining a medical report from a qualified expert detailing the nature and extent of injuries, residual disability, employability, and permanency of any disability. Other experts, such as an economist, a life care planner and/or a vocational rehabilitation expert, may be necessary to capture future economic losses associated with loss of employment or earning capacity, future medical expenses, accommodations needed for disability, and the like.
As your Cleveland, Ohio car accident lawyer, I would also undertake an investigation into all available insurance proceeds. Typically, we look first to the negligent driver’s personal automobile policy to establish the policy limits. However, it must be determined whether the individual has umbrella coverage, or was acting in the course and scope of employment, such that his/her employer’s insurance coverage applies. When the policy limits are inadequate, we look to injured parties’ own automobile policies to determine whether they have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage and, if so, what are the limits. Sometimes, the terms of insurance policies are ambiguous such that their applicability are also the subject of litigation.
Finally, we will assist you with any subrogation interests. “Subrogation” is a right that a health insurer has to recover funds from a settlement or jury verdict that are earmarked for past medical expenses. If these past medical expenses have been paid by private health insurance, Workers Compensation, the VA, Medicare or Medicaid, those entities typically seek recovery of the amounts they have paid. Each of these entities have different rules and procedures for resolving these subrogation liens. Again, a fair resolution of a subrogation lien may result in further litigation. In addition, when a personal injury victim is receiving need-based benefits, such as Medicaid, legal planning may be necessary to preserve the right to these benefits after compensation is recovered through settlement or verdict.
As a Cleveland, Ohio car accident attorney, I can tell you that like with many things in modern life, car crash litigation has gotten progressively more complicated. We have the experience and resources to guide you through this process and obtain full and fair compensation for you. Please contact Mishkind Kulwicki Law Firm if you have any questions or need assistance.