Frequently Asked Questions About Ohio Personal Injury Cases
Is there a charge if I call you about my case?
No. There is never a charge for an initial telephone conversation with an attorney in our law firm.
Will there be a charge for a meeting to discuss my case?
No. There is never a charge for a meeting to discuss your case, regardless of the amount of time we spend with you.
What if my injuries will not permit me to come to your office?
If you are unable to come to our office because of your injuries, or because of transportation issues, we will visit you in your home, or the hospital, or at another mutually convenient location.
Can you handle my case if I don’t live in Franklin County, or if I live in another state?
Yes. We handle cases all over the State of Ohio. Also, we work with local lawyers to handle cases in other states all over the country.
Should I handle my case myself? How can I know if I really need a lawyer?
That is a good question—one that we are frequently asked. During a telephone consultation, we can usually tell if you need a lawyer. If we believe that the size and complexity of your case are such that you can probably handle it on your own, we will tell you so and steer you in the right direction—at no charge. We only want to be involved in a claim if we can provide real value, such that you will likely be better off in the end than you would be if you did not have good legal advice and counsel.
Is it wise to get a lawyer early, or is it better to wait awhile?
If you need legal assistance, it is ALWAYS better to involve a lawyer early, because serious mistakes can be made that will be difficult to overcome later. Plus, the way our fees are handled, you will pay no more for engaging us early than if you wait, and we can probably get you a better result if we are involved early in the case.
Should I use my health insurance to pay my medical bills, even though I believe someone else is responsible?
The answer is probably yes, but it varies from case to case. In some circumstances, we might advise you to use the medical payments coverage on your own auto insurance policy.
I have been in a motor vehicle collision. Should I notify my own automobile insurance company?
Yes. You always want to notify you own insurance company. You may be entitled to benefits of which you are not aware, either immediately or further down the road.
If I have been in a motor vehicle collision, what benefits might I be entitled to receive from my own automobile insurance company?
Each policy is different and should be reviewed by a professional. But you are probably entitled to “medical payments benefits” to help with your hospital and medical expenses. Sometimes these payments are doubled if you were wearing your seatbelt. There may be a disability benefit. If there is a death involved, there may be a death benefit. And if the other driver does not have enough (or any) insurance, you may be entitled to uninsured or underinsured motorists benefits.
A loved one has been killed in an accident. Who is legally responsible for bringing a legal claim against the responsible party?
The administrator of the decedent’s estate is the only person who may bring a legal claim when someone is killed in an accident. If there is no estate, one must be opened and an administrator appointed.
There has been a serious injury or death, but I am not sure who is at fault. What should I do, and how can you help?
Sometimes fault is not immediately clear, or if it seems clear to you, it may be challenged by others. You may consult with us at no charge. We may have an answer. If we don’t, we may engage experts to help determine who is at fault. If we decide not to take your case, you will owe us nothing.
When there are serious questions about who or what caused an accident, how do you go about sorting it out?
One of our jobs is to figure how what happened and who is responsible. If we believe that your injuries and damages justify it, we may engage experts in various fields to investigate the accident and find a cause.
Are there time limits that apply to injury and death cases?
Yes! There are always time limits. There is no simple answer as to what they are. Time limits vary depending on the type of case, the age of the party who was injured, and the law of the state where the accident occurred. You should always consult a lawyer about the time limits that apply to your claim.
How do you charge for your services?
In most cases we work on a contingent fee. The fee is contingent upon our obtaining financial compensation for you. If we do not obtain compensation for you, there is no fee, regardless of how much time we have spent on your case. The amount of the fee is a percentage of the amount of compensation you receive. Once the percentage is set, it never changes throughout your case.
What happens if my claim is not successful? Do I still owe attorney fees?
No. In the rare instances where a claim is not successful, you will not owe attorney fees.
Is it always better to settle out of court or are there advantages in going to trial?
There is no hard and fast rule. If we can obtain fair compensation for you, it is better to settle out of court, because that is quicker and avoids risk. However, some cases have to go to court in order to obtain fair compensation. But there are no guarantees at trial. There is always a risk.
I occasionally read or hear about big verdicts or settlements. What determines how much a case is worth?
First, you should take what you read or hear about verdicts with a grain of salt. Every case is different. That said, here’s what gives a case value. Strong liability or fault is important. The clearer the fault, the stronger your case will be. Another thing that gives a case value is economic damages—that is lost earnings and medical expenses. But the factor that really drives large verdicts and settlements is future damages—lost earnings, medical expenses and the cost of care over a significant number of years in the future. Finally, there are many other subjective and intangible factors that affect the value of a case. As a general rule, juries award more money to plaintiffs who are sincere and likable. A “skeleton in the closet,” no matter how minor, can reduce the value of your case to some extent.
Can you tell me how much my case is worth?
No. No lawyer or insurance representative can tell you exactly what your claim is worth, especially at the beginning of the case. Even as your case works its way toward conclusion, lawyers can only give you a range based upon experience with juries in similar cases.
How long does an injury or death case usually take?
There is no “typical” timeline. At best, there is a range which depends, in part, on how long medical treatment continues. The simplest case will take between nine months and a year. A complex case can take three years or longer. We work very hard to bring a case to conclusion as early as possible. But there are many unpredictable factors that cannot always be controlled.
Can you guarantee that I will receive a least a certain sum of money at the end of my case?
No. Any other answer would be irresponsible. The best we can do is to keep you well-informed and use our skills and experience to make sure that everything possible is done to maximize the value of your case.
How do I get my car fixed?
Repairs to your car will be paid for by the insurance company for the other driver or by your own insurance company. If fault is not in dispute, the other driver’s insurance company will usually step up and pay for the repairs. If fault is disputed, or if the other driver does not have insurance, you must look to your own insurance company. You probably have a “deducible” on your insurance coverage that pays for repairs. You will need to pay that yourself, and if there is ultimately a recovery from the other driver, your deductible will be included in that settlement.
How are my medical bills going to be paid while I wait for a settlement?
You should generally rely on your own health insurance to pay medical bills pending a settlement. Sometimes we might advise you to us the “medical payments” coverage benefits from your auto insurance to pay some of the bills.
The insurance company for the other driver has asked for a recorded statement. Should I give one?
No—not before you consult a lawyer. Your words may not come out the way you intend, and they can later be twisted around and used against you. There may be times when it is proper to give a statement to the other insurance company, but only with the advice of a lawyer.