Personal injuries are prevalent in Columbus. Learn about personal injuries, their remedies, and how a Columbus OH personal injury lawyer may be able to help protect your interests.
Many Columbus residents suffer personal injuries daily. The sources of these wounds could range from auto accidents to minor slips and falls. Unfortunately, many injury victims don't know who to turn to after such mishaps. That's why it should be great news to learn that if you're an injury victim, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party.
However, filing personal injury claims may be difficult without an accident attorney. Choosing a legal team that has won financial compensation for their clients may help improve your chances of receiving fair compensation. Contact the Columbus personal injury firm of Babin Law today to find out if they may be able to assist you with your legal needs.
What Is a Personal Injury Action in Columbus?
A personal injury suit is a type of civil action that allows injured persons to seek compensation for losses from an accident or other incident. Legally, a personal injury refers to wounds to a person's body, mind, and emotions. It's the direct opposite of damage to real or personal property. Furthermore, a personal injury also extends beyond physical bodily wounds.
A personal injury action usually arises because of the fault party's negligence, recklessness, or maliciousness. However, the most popular types of personal injuries are those caused by negligence. The injured party is usually the plaintiff in a lawsuit. Conversely, the fault party or parties will be the defendant(s).
Common causes of personal injuries include:
- Auto accidents
- Dog Bites
- Truck accidents & commercial vehicle accidents
- Workplace accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Premises liability
- Defective products
- Medical malpractice
- Nursing home abuse
Furthermore, these accidents can cause a wide variety of accident injuries. It could be a minor wound or a devastating injury. Anyone who survives motor vehicle accidents, for instance, in Columbus, should look out for these possible wounds:
- Upper back injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Burns, scrapes, and bruises
- Bone and rib fractures
- Physical and emotional trauma
Unfortunately, in some cases, personal injuries lead to wrongful death. A death in Columbus is "wrongful" when it's caused by the "wrongful act, neglect, or default" of another person. Here, the decedent's estate can file a wrongful death claim. Notably, they can only sue if the accident victim had the right to file a personal injury lawsuit when alive.
Recoverable Damages for Columbus Personal Injury Claims
There are different kinds of damages you may be able to claim in a Columbus personal injury action. Generally, you can receive compensatory and punitive damages. Compensatory damages are further classified into:
Establishing and receiving economic damages is pretty straightforward. This is because they refer to all the financial losses that you sustain through a personal injury accident. Moreover, you often have receipts to prove the losses. Economic damages include:
- Medical Expenses: This covers all your medical treatment costs and the cost of medical equipment.
- Lost Wages: If the accident stopped you from working, you could recover your earnings for that period.
- Loss of Earning Capacity: In cases of disability, the court can grant you compensation for your lost capacity to work for a living.
- Property Damage: Sometimes, personal injury accidents also destroy victims' properties. So, the court can order the fault party to replace them.
This compensation class refers to the non-financial losses you suffer. In these cases, the harm you suffered isn't readily quantifiable with money. So, the courts and insurance companies assign dollar amounts through some calculation methods.
Examples of non-economic damages include:
- Pain and Suffering
- Loss of Consortium
- Emotional Anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Unfortunately, Ohio law caps non-economic damages at $250,000. However, depending on the circumstances of your case, you may still not get up to $250,000. This is because the law also states that your non-financial damages mustn't exceed three times the amount of your economic damages.
By punitive awards, the courts punish the defendant for their action. Therefore, you cannot claim punitive damages in an insurance settlement. In Ohio, you can only receive punitive damages where the defendant's actions or omissions show malice or aggravated or egregious fraud.
Do I Need a Personal Injury Attorney?
It's worth contacting a lawyer after treating your injuries to see if they can assist with your claim. Hiring a personal injury attorney can sometimes help you get more compensation because they know what damages you may be entitled to. However, many injury victims don't think that they need attorneys. Below are three crucial reasons to hire an excellent lawyer.
To Focus on Recovery
Indeed, dealing with accident pains and worrying about legal issues will be too much for anyone. Moreover, legal processes are often technical, requiring focus and experience. So, hiring an attorney to carry this burden can allow you more time to heal.
To Evaluate Your Claim
Many people only know that they've suffered losses because of another's actions. Very rarely do they know the value of their claims. Furthermore, most people find calculating financial losses challenging. This is where a lawyer comes in. Right from the initial consultation, an excellent lawyer can give you a good estimate of the value of your injury lawsuit. They also have the right skills with which they calculate the seemingly difficult non-economic damages too.
To Prove Your Claims
Indeed, the defendant most likely injured you by their carelessness. However, neither the court nor the fault party's insurer will take your word for it. Consequently, you'll have to convince both parties that you deserve the damages you're demanding. Even with all the evidence, a layperson will still find it hard to offset this evidentiary burden. But for any good lawyer, this will be a walkover.
How Do I Pay My Columbus Personal Injury Attorney?
Many Ohio personal injury victims shy away from hiring lawyers for many reasons. For some, they don't think they need attorneys for their claims. However, a significant source of this hesitation is the often prohibitively high cost of legal representation. Indeed, many Americans, especially injured ones, cannot afford legal services.
However, you don't have to worry about how you'll pay your injury lawyer in Columbus. If you're hiring a Columbus personal injury lawyer, you don't have to pay costly retainers up front. This is because injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis.
A contingency fee arrangement (CFA) usually provides that you'll pay your lawyer only if they win your case. Furthermore, a win could be an insurance settlement or a court judgment. Whatever the case, both parties often agree on the lawyer's fee while negotiating the agreement. The CFA, most times, provides that the lawyer will take a percentage of the winnings.
Benefits of a Contingency Fee Agreement
The most crucial merit of legal representation on a contingency basis is that you don't have to spend money you don't have upfront. Furthermore, if you lose the claim, you don't have to pay your lawyer. Finally, it motivates the attorney to fight hard for you because they know that they'll suffer losses if they lose.
How Will a Columbus Personal Injury Lawyer Prove My Case?
Ohio operates a fault-based personal injury legal system. Therefore, the party responsible for any accident injuries may pay compensation to the injury victims. However, there are three key elements to prove liability in a personal injury claim. You'll have to establish these facts whether you go to court or receive insurance settlements.
The elements include:
- The Duty of Care: You have to establish that the fault party owed you a duty of care. This requirement is pretty straightforward. For instance, drivers owe other road users the responsibility to drive carefully not to endanger them. The specific duty of care owed to you will depend on the facts of your case.
- Breach of the Duty of Care: This condition involves showing that the defendant's acts were negligent. For example, such evidence of negligence could be reckless driving.
- Causation and Damages: Finally, you have to show that the fault party caused your injuries. It isn't sufficient that you suffered harm. Your attorney must link your injuries to the defendant's actions. It's at this stage that the personal injury process gets technical.
To get the maximum compensation for your losses, you'll need solid evidence. Your lawyer will have to canvass the accident scene and other data searching for reliable evidence. So, depending on the facts of your case, you can rely on:
- CCTV camera footage
- Police accident reports
- Eyewitness testimony
- Expert witness testimony
- Medical records and certificates
- Receipts and other documentary evidence
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Columbus Personal Injury Claims?
Indeed, you can sue a party for monetary damages for your personal injuries. However, you don't have all the time in the world to institute such action. Instead, Statutes of Limitations dictate specific periods within which you must approach the court. The rationale behind these statutory timeframes is that there must be an end to all litigation.
Various state laws, including Ohio, provide for these time limits. Ohio Code Revised Section 2305.10 grants personal injury litigants a two-year window to sue the fault party. Your time starts to count from the date of the event that caused your injury. Clearly, to maximize this statutory period, you cannot hire a lawyer when the date is almost upon you. Instead, you should speak to a personal injury lawyer immediately after an accident.
The Discovery Rule
Sometimes, people delay filing claims because they didn't know their injury was from an accident. Therefore, the law allows their statutory time to start counting from the discovery date. This exception is called the discovery rule.
Fortunately, this principle applies in Columbus too. However, it's primarily for injuries or diseases due to exposure to toxic substances. The offending substance here could be chemicals, drugs, or medical devices.
Here, your time starts counting when the doctor informs you that the toxic substance caused your injury. Furthermore, the clock could start ticking on the date the law reasonably expects you to know that your wound is related to the exposure.
Exceptions to the Ohio Statute of Limitations
Ohio law also has exceptions to this general rule. These include instances where the plaintiff is:
- Of unsound mind
- A minor
In both cases, the law tolls (pauses) the statutory period until after the "disability." For the minor, it'll be until they attain majority (18 years).
Hire Experienced Attorneys for Your Columbus Personal Injury Claim
Have you suffered a catastrophic injury in Columbus? Do you think it was a minor wound? Whatever the case, it may be beneficial to have an experienced personal injury attorney take a look at your situation. A Columbus personal injury lawyer may increase your chances of recovering compensation from the negligent party.
However, dealing with the insurance industry can be challenging too. This is because an auto insurance company won't be enthusiastic about bearing the losses of the policyholder. Fortunately, you don't have to bother about the difficulty of the claims process because our lawyers have extensive experience with injury claims.
Our attorneys at Babin Law will also give your case personal attention throughout the entire process. So, why not call us today for a free consultation on your case.