What You Need to Know About Ohio’s Personal Injury Laws
Ohio residents and visitors injured either in an automobile accident or a slip-and-fall, need to be aware of state laws governing personal injury cases. Because navigating legal issues may be complicated for laypersons, contacting an established and reputable personal injury law firm should always be your first priority. Here are a few facts you should be aware of when it comes to Ohio’s personal injury laws.
What Are Your Rights if Not at Fault in an Automobile Accident?
Unlike some states, Ohio is an at-fault automobile insurance state. This means the person who was deemed to have caused the accident is liable for all damages and losses. If you were not at fault, and injured as a result of the accident, you will need to choose one of the following options:
- File a claim under your existing insurance policy.
- File a claim against the at-fault person’s insurance policy.
- Secure the services of a personal injury attorney to pursue a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault person.
Be aware that by filing an insurance claim in Ohio you are limiting the amount of compensation you are entitled to receive, as follows:
- $25,000 for the injury or death of one person.
- $50,000, in total, for all injuries or deaths resulting from the accident.
- $25,000 for property damage.
Types of Injuries Eligible for Compensatory Damages
Ohio laws governing the types of damages available to injured parties are designed to compensate them for losses they incurred from the accident. These are divided into two distinct categories:
- Economic damages.
- Noneconomic damages.
Included in this category are damages that caused economic harm to the injured parties, such as medical expenses, damage to vehicles and lost wages from business or place of employment.
This category is meant to cover losses from pain and suffering.
In addition, punitive damages may be awarded to the injured parties if it is determined the injuries were the result of deliberate or reckless acts. This financial punishment of the person or persons responsible for the accident is meant as an incentive to prevent them from committing a similar offense in the future.
Are There Limits to Compensatory Damages?
Ohio statutes provide for capping the amount of damages available as compensation for the injured parties in a court case. For economic damages there is no prescribed limit to the compensation available to injured parties. For noneconomic damages the capped amount of available compensation is the greater of $250,000 or three times the amount of economic damages awarded. An exception to this cap occurs if the injury was catastrophic in nature, such as loss of limb, permanent deformity or an injury that prevents them from caring for themselves or sustaining life on their own. Finally, punitive damages are capped so that they do not exceed twice the amount of other compensatory damages.
Do Personal Injury Laws Cover Both Auto Accidents and Slip-and-Fall Injuries?
Yes. Ohio group’s lawsuits for automobile accidents and slip-and-fall accidents into the same accident and injury legal practice. Also included in this grouping are lawsuits involving medical malpractice, product liability and worker’s compensation cases.
What Are My Rights if Injured on Another’s Property?
In Ohio it matters not whether you are on someone else’s business, home or any other type of property — you are entitled to expect that you will be safe. Even if there are possible safety hazards on the property you are in the right to expect you will receive warnings of such from the property owner. This may even include a dog that is known to be aggressive.
Under these circumstances and assumptions, if you are injured — whether it be by hidden or known dangers — the property owner may be held liable for compensatory damages for your medical expenses. The filing of a premises liability claim may allow for other losses to be covered as well.
This area of personal injury law is concerned with injuries sustained on another’s property due to hazardous conditions. If the property owner was aware of the potential hazard, and failed to fix it or warn you of it, they may be considered liable. While a list of defects to property that might result in someone being injured from them is exhaustive, here are some of the most common:
- Lighting that may obscure a potential hazard.
- Pavement with cracks and/or holes that may cause others to slip and fall.
- Steps and handrails that are broken or in disrepair that can lead to falls.
- Puddles or spills that might cause someone to slip and fall.
Compensation Available From Premises Liability Lawsuits
If you are injured and decide to obtain the services of an attorney who then files a premises liability claim, you may receive compensation for expenses related to your injury for the following:
- Medical expenses.
- Lost wages.
- Mental anguish.
- Pain and suffering.
There are, however, exceptions to premises liability claims under Ohio statutes. If the hazard is obvious, something anyone would be expected to avoid, it can be used in defense of the property owner. A prime example would be an icy sidewalk outside a residence or place of business. If you are injured while participating in recreational uses with permission by a property owner, and they have not charged you a fee for this participation, the owner may not be found liable should you become injured during recreational activities. If you yourself are the cause of the hazard, such as creating the spill that caused your own fall and subsequent injury while on another’s property, the property owner may have a good case for not being held liable.
Importance of Obtaining a Good Personal Injury Attorney
No matter what the incident or injury, the importance in contacting a personal injury attorney to represent your interest cannot be overstated. With 19 offices throughout Ohio, including Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo and Youngstown, the firm of Amourgis & Associates should be your first call. Their reputation as the state’s premier personal injury law firm ensures that your case will be handled expeditiously and professionally with a goal that you receive the maximum compensation for which you are entitled. Don’t delay — contact Amourgis & Associates, today, for a free consultation.