They say that injuries are a normal part of life, and technically, most of that is true. Even the most careful people in this world are not immune to falls, slips, burns, and scratches. It's also not rare to find yourself in situations where you get hurt because of other people. Other people can elbow you or step on your foot accidentally.
However, the keyword here is "accidentally." Accidents are normal, and usually these encounters end with a small amount of pain and an apology. What's not normal is when you get injured because of someone else, and it could have been avoided entirely. Cases like these may escalate to filing a personal injury settlement, especially if the guilty party refuses to accept responsibility.
If you were ever injured and it was someone else's fault, you may find yourself burdened with unexpected medical bills, and you have to put your life on hold as you recover. In cases like these, you are well within your rights as a victim to seek compensation. You might want to consider hiring an Ohio personal injury attorney and get started with your insurance claim.
Different Types of Personal Injury Settlements in Ohio
Personal injury cases come in all forms and shapes. While the span of personal injury settlements is much broader, we'll be discussing only the most common ones.
Motor Vehicle Collision
Most people file a personal injury claim following an automobile accident. This is the most common type of personal injury insurance settlement case because aside from being a common occurrence, vehicular accidents almost always result in injuries. Most motor vehicle collision injuries require hospitalization, which is why insurance companies are often involved. Law enforcement usually facilitates the exchange of contact information between parties and investigates the scene to find the at-fault driver at the accident scene. This information is often found in the traffic crash report, which can be valuable to your insurance settlement claim.
In Ohio, workers' compensation is mandatory for all employers, even if you only have one employee. This government benefit is put in place because the government acknowledges that accidents and injuries often happen in the workplace, even in industries that don't involve manual labor and physical exertion. In an effort to make workplaces safer for employees everywhere, workers' comp has been put in place to provide financial assistance to workers who were hurt while doing their job.
Do keep in mind that if you are already receiving workers' compensation benefits for your job-related injuries, you cannot file a personal injury claim against your company. Workers' comp, while being beneficial for workers everywhere, also protects employers from personal injury claims. However, you can still file a personal injury claim against the company if the company does not have workers' comp, or if the company is refusing to provide you with these benefits.
Medical providers are bound by law to provide their patients with the best care possible. An injured person can sue the hospital for medical malpractice if they can prove that the hospital did not give them the best possible medical care. Medical malpractice comes in many forms. It could be that the medical providers took too long to give medical attention to a patient who was in critical condition. It could be that the doctor made a critical mistake during surgery because they came in drunk. It could be that a nurse gave the wrong medicine to the patient because they were in a hurry.
Do You Have A Solid Personal Injury Settlement Case?
Personal injury, in all sense of the word, means an injury to your person. However, not all accident injuries become personal injury claims. Contrary to its name, it takes more than just being injured for your compensation claim to take flight.
For example, if you were going down a flight of stairs and you trip and fall because you were busy texting somebody, you can't sue the person who owns the building because it was your fault. However, if you tripped and caused someone else to trip and fall as you tumbled down the stairs, the injured person can file an accident settlement case against you since it was your negligence that caused their injuries.
3 Elements of a Personal Injury Case
For an injury to eventually become a personal injury case, you need three elements: Duty of Care, Breach of Duty of Care, and Injury/Loss.
Duty of Care simply means that you are in a situation where you are responsible for another person. In many cases, this concept is very straightforward. In a hospital, the doctors have a duty of care towards their patients. Employers have a duty of care towards their employees, and so do business owners towards people who are inside their establishment.
In some cases, it's not that straightforward. If you're a person walking down the street, do you really have this "duty of care" to the complete strangers around you? According to the law, you do. Putting aside legalities, it is everyone's responsibility to not cause injury or inflict pain on the people around them, even if provoked.
For your personal injury lawsuit to take flight, you have to prove that there is a breach of duty of care. This means you have to prove that the at-fault driver, through their actions, has caused you harm and breached their responsibility to protect and not cause harm to others.
Lastly, you need proof of injury or loss. Personal injury lawsuits are put into place to protect the victims and provide them with financial compensation so they can spend their recovery period only thinking about their health, instead of worrying about medical treatment costs. If you bumped into somebody and all you got was a bruise, the situation will most likely call for an apology, instead of a personal injury suit.
Comparative Negligence Law
The state of Ohio enacted the Comparative Negligence Law in 1980. Under this law, a person seeking compensation will have their benefits reduced depending on their own percentage of fault. For example, if you got into a motor vehicle accident and you want to sue the other party because they were responsible for the accident. The other party was on their phone at the time of the accident and was too distracted to notice your car. If the scenario was as cut-and-dried as this, then you can receive maximum compensation for your injuries and loss.
However, what if you were driving while drunk prior to the accident? What if you also didn't swerve away because you were drunk and couldn't process what was happening quickly? If that's the case, then your benefits will be reduced because you are also partly responsible.
If the court finds out that your percentage of fault is over 50 percent, your accident claims may get dismissed entirely. Moreover, the other party may even sue you in turn. So before you pursue your lawsuit, make sure that you were not negligent or reckless either. Insurance companies will always try to protect their client, so the other party will most likely try to turn the tables on you if you're not careful.
How Much Can You Get From Your Compensation Settlement?
Once the lawsuit is successful, the injured person will receive compensation for their losses. There are two types of damages awarded to victims: Economic and non-economic. Economic damages are losses that are quantifiable, which means it's easy to attach a monetary value to them. Non-economic damages are losses that cannot be easily quantified.
Examples of economic losses are:
Medical Costs - The at-fault party is obligated to award the accident victim with monetary compensation equal to all present and future medical treatment costs. This includes hospitalization, medication costs, laboratory, therapy, professional fees, and mobility aids.
Lost Wages - The injured party will require hospitalization and therefore, cannot work while they are recovering. They can't earn a living while they are in the hospital, which means their future financial standing. The law awards monetary compensation to victims to offset any lost wages due to the accident.
Property Damage - This is awarded to victims so they can pay for repairs or replacement of any assets damaged or lost because of the accident.
Wrongful Death - In some instances, the accident victim may die on the spot or while receiving treatment. In cases like these, the surviving family members can file a wrongful death suit against the at-fault driver.
Funeral Costs - if the accident victim dies, funeral benefits are awarded to the surviving family members.
Punitive Damages - Punitive damages are awarded in situations where it is proven that the guilty party intentionally wanted to hurt or kill the victim.
Examples of Non-Economic Damages include:
Pain and Suffering - Physical pain is not the only thing that victims go through during and after an accident. The law also takes into account the psychological trauma it can cause. Compensation for pain and suffering is given to victims for the emotional distress and mental anguish they suffered because of the accident.
Loss of Consortium - This compensates the families of accident victims for the loss of familial intimacy or affection as a result of the accident. This can be paid out to wives whose spouses experienced a total behavioral change after the accident, which caused them to become cold and unfeeling towards their spouse.
Loss of Quality of Life - This is usually paid out to victims who sustained permanent injuries after the accident. Permanent injury would refer to permanent brain damage, paralysis, and permanent disability. If the victim is permanently disabled, it is assumed that they will suffer a decline in their quality of life compared to before the accident.
Keep in mind that your compensation will depend on the insurance policy limit of the at-fault driver. Even if your injuries are extensive and you will need long-term treatment, the insurance adjuster can only give you an amount that's allowed within the other party's insurance limit.
Hiring A Personal Injury Lawyer in Ohio
After suffering from an accident, the only thing you should have to think about is recuperating and getting back on your feet. However, the process of obtaining the fair compensation that you deserve is not as easy as it should be. You will be up against insurance companies and other legal teams, especially if the guilty party does not want to admit responsibility. They may try to attack your credibility and paint you as the party responsible for the accident.
This is where having an accident attorney by your side could be beneficial. An accident lawyer should look out for your well-being while your compensation claim is being processed, someone who will fight to get the fair settlement you deserve.