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Personal Injury Lawsuit Primer

Have you or a family member been injured in an accident caused be someone else who was acting irresponsibly? One of your options might be securing comprehensive legal guidance from a personal injury attorney. You might be wondering what are the basics of the personal injury lawsuit process and what are some typical types of personal injury claims?

How Do I File a Personal Injury Claim?

  1. Determine grounds to file a Personal Injury Claim: Usually, if you have been injured because of another person’s negligence or fault, you have grounds for a claim, possibly a lawsuit. It is very important to know that if you accept any type of settlement and sign a release from the insurance company, you waive your right to collect any additional compensation even if your medical condition changes.
  2. Gather evidence: In order to file a Personal Injury claim, you need proof. Make sure you collect as much evidence relating to your accident as possible. Types of evidence you can easily collect include a police report (if one was filed), photographs of the accident scene, your vehicle and the other party’s vehicle. Gather photographs of your injuries, and any additional relevant documents proving that your injuries sustained in your accident led to lost wages. You should even ask to take a photograph of the other party’s driver’s license and insurance cards.
  3. Contact Personal Injury Attorney: The earlier you contact a personal injury lawyer, the better. Every state has a statute of limitations specifically for personal injury lawsuits. In Ohio, an injured person has 2 years and Michigan, 3 years from the date of the injury to go to court to settle or file a lawsuit. Contact Attorney Charles V. Contrada at 419-841-4400 to set up a consultation to discuss your case.
  4. Review your case with your Attorney: Once you select your personal injury attorney, you will need to review your case and share all injury related evidence and documents you have collected. Disclose all information relating to your case to your attorney. Do not present misleading information to make your claim look stronger for example not disclosing a prior accident or injuries. At Contrada & Associates, honesty with our attorneys is the key to getting the best outcome possible.
  5. Consider the option of settlement: In a settlement, both sides meet to settle the claim without going to court. If you decide to try and reach a settlement agreement, it is a good idea to go through this process with your personal injury attorney, so they are able to examine the settlement and negotiate with the other party to ensure the best result for you. Quite frankly, most people have no idea what their case is worth and they don’t believe the insurance company will be fair.
  6. Filing A Lawsuit: If you and your personal injury attorney agree that your case is strong enough, or if your pre-lawsuit settlement negotiations do not end up being sufficient, you may then decide to file a lawsuit. If you choose this option, your attorney will file the lawsuit on your behalf. It is extremely difficult but not impossible to file a lawsuit on your own. Your outcome may not be as favorable as if you were working with an attorney on your behalf.

How Long Will My Personal Injury Lawsuit Take?

There is no definite answer to the length of time that a personal injury lawsuit takes to settle. The time is determined by multiple factors, including the client, the nature of the injuries and the ongoing treatment, and the amount of money that the case is worth.

What is an Independent Medical Examination?

In very limited circumstances, if you are involved in an accident, the insurance company or the defense lawyer may request that you undergo an “independent medical examination.”  Needless to say, there is nothing independent about these examinations and, in many ways, they are a total mockery of the doctor/patient relationship.

The insurance companies want you examined by their doctor to evaluate the extent of your injuries and oftentimes to determine what injury was caused by the crash, as opposed to a pre-existing condition that the victim had before the automobile accident.

Can Social Media Harm My Personal Injury Case?

Social media channels have integrated themselves into the daily lives of most individuals. Everyone loves to share status updates, photos, and videos about what is going on in their life. Sometimes, sharing updates about a car accident can result in consequences in the future. Here is what you can do to protect yourself and your personal injury claim on social media.

Information that is shared on a public social media account can cause complications. Insurance adjusters, lawyers, and others will search profiles on social media scrutinizing any information they can find that will hurt your claim such as conflicting statements as well as additional evidence.

What are the Most Typical Types of Personal Injury Cases?

There are many types of personal injury cases. For example, let’s look at four scenarios: school bus accidents, winter driving accidents, low speed vehicle accidents and icy sidewalk accidents.

School Bus Accidents

Speed limits in school zones are reduced to 15-25 mph, and with good reason. More children are hit by vehicles in or near school zones than any other location. Watch for children that may dart out in the road without looking. When you slow down, it forces other drivers behind you to slow down making it a safer place for children as they might not see the obstacles you do.

When driving in school zones especially near high schools, be aware that there will be many more drivers on the road who are newly licensed and inexperienced drivers. New drivers, before they become more comfortable on the road can drive overly tentative or make unexpected maneuvers. Be patient and give them extra room.

Winter Driving Accidents

It’s no secret that driving in the winter can become treacherous in Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan. Ice and snow can make for slippery roads and poor visibility which in turn cause more accidents than in the summer months. Typical types of winter driving accidents include sliding through intersections, poor visibility and rear-end collisions. Adjust your defensive driving style to help avoid them.

Low Speed Vehicle Accidents

Summer is here and there is a good possibility that you will see a Low Speed Vehicle (LSV) driving around your neighborhood. LSV’s are small electric vehicles, similar to golf carts that are street legal.

To drive legally, your LSV must pass an inspection, be registered and titled by the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles and insured. You must also have a valid driver’s license. An LSV can only go up to 25 mph and is only allowed on roads or highways that have a 35 mph posted speed limit with the exception of crossing a street with a higher posted speed limit.

Icy Sidewalk Accidents

If you were to trip on an icy sidewalk, that does not mean that you have a legitimate slip-and-fall personal injury claim. Ohio slip-and-fall law can seem somewhat confusing because in order for there to be a premises liability claim, there must have been negligence or fault on behalf of the business owner.

Just because someone slips and falls on the property of another person or business, it doesn’t mean that the individual or entity is responsible. A slip-and-fall case must involve some sort of hazard that the owner of the property was aware of. 

What Are My Legal Options if I Suffer a Personal Injury?

The best course of action to take to be sure that your personal injury claim will be handled properly is to contact a personal injury attorney. Having an attorney guide you through the legal process will ensure that you are taking the appropriate steps toward a settlement and are not jeopardizing your claim.

To speak to one of the Toledo personal injury attorneys at Contrada & Associates, call 419.841.4400. When calling our office, you will be able to review your case with an attorney and learn what your legal options are.

Written by

Attorney Charlie Contrada has been practicing law since 1979, focusing his career on personal injury, car accident, and mesothelioma cases. Over the years, Charlie has helped thousands of clients throughout Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan to receive the settlements that they deserve.