Scott M. Kuboff, Esq.
Northeast Ohio Trial Attorney

Understanding Your Rights

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How Protect Yourself in the Event of a Motor Vehicle Accident

According recent statistics produced by the Ohio State Highway Patrol, there has been over 41,000 accidents investigated in 2015 (just through August 9th).    This is an increase from the 2014 statistics during the same time period.   Despite this high number of accidents, most individuals do not know what to do at the scene of an accident or what information to obtain.  

Here are some simple steps to protect yourself in the event you’re involved in an accident:

  1. Have Proper Insurance and Adequate Coverage.   First, R.C. 4509.101, requires all drivers and/or owners of a vehicle driven within the state to mainatain insruance in an amount equal to $25,000.  However, given the sometimes catastrophic nature of injuries, this state minimum amount may not protect your personal assets in the event you caused an accident.  Moreover, for this same reason, it is equally important to have proper uninsured motorist coverage and underinsured motorist coverage. (UM/UIM).   The UM/UIM policies protect you from drivers who cause you injuries but either (1) have no insurance or (2) do not have enough insurance to cover all of your injuries.    Without UM/UIM coverage, you may be left holding the bag for your injuries.
     
  2. Know What To Do At The Accident SceneIf you are invovled in an accident, here are some simple do's and don'ts:
    1. DO: Assess your injuries and that of the other driver
    2. DO: Contact the police and, if necessary, EMS
    3. DO: Exchange the following information with the other driver: name, address, phone number, driver's license, license plate, car make/model, and insurance information
    4. DO:  Get the names, addresses and home and work phone numbers of all witnesses
    5. DO: Diagram the accident scene, write notes of what happened, and use your phone to take photographs and video
    6. DO NOT: Discuss the a ccident with the other driver, take blame for it, or apologize
       
  3. Know What To Do Afterward.  It is important to seek prompt medical attention; even if you don’t think you have significant injuries.  Often,  injuries are not known for several days after the accident and it is better to get check out than risk further injury.  Moreover, now is the time to contact Scott as he will help collect evidence, interview witnesses, prepare your claim, and explain your rights.

Even if you are an excellent and cautious driver, the risk of being in an accident is present as you cannont control the actions and abilities of every other driver on the road.   Knowing what to do in the event of an accident, as well as having proper insurance and coverage, will minimize your personal exposure and maximize your potential recovery and compensation.  

If you have been injured in an automobile accident, please contact Scott for a no cost, no obligation consultation and case evaluation.

 

UYR: What is the Value of A Personal Injury Case

If you have been injured based upon the negligence of another, several factors must be taken into account before a lawsuit if filed:

  • Is the claim being filed timely?  In most states, including Ohio, statutes of limitation are in place which put time limits on when particular types of claims can be filed.
  • Is the negligent party collectable? In other words, if you are able to prevail at trial, can you reasonable anticipate being able to recover money from the negligent party.   Do they have insurance that will cover the claim or other types of assets that can compensate you for your injuries.     
  • What are your damages?  Given the different types of damages that an injured party may claim, it is sometimes difficult to know in advance how much compensation one can receive.   However, here are some general guidelines to estimate how much you may be able to recover for a personal injury claim:

Courts from around the country, including Ohio, recognize various types of damages in deciding how much money to award, including:

  • Medical expenses.  This category of damages allows you to recover money that was spent on ambulance charges, hospital bills, x-rays, physician visits, medicines (prescription and over-the-counter) and even travel costs to/from health care providers.   You can receive compensation for past (what was spent) and future (what you likely spend) medical expenses.
  • Pain and suffering.  Even with the best treatment and medical care in the world, you may have ongoing pain, stiffness, numbness, discomfort, or soreness which simply cannot be cured.   It is hard to quantify damages that are so subjective, however, it is the duty of the courts to try to place a value on this based upon your unique circumstances.    
  • Disfigurement and loss of function. Many injuries also result in some form of disfigurement (scarring) or even partial or total loss of use of a body part.  You are able to receive compensations based upon such catastrophic injuries.   
  • Income and earnings.   You are able to recover for any money you lost as a result of being out of work as well as any reduced earning capacity in the future.  
  • Loss of enjoyment. After your injury, you may not be able to do the things you once enjoyed: painting, golf, or even missing a planned vacation or other social event.   Compensation can be awarded for this.
  • Loss of consortium. Injuries to a married person can affect the companionship he or she provides. The spouse can recover damages for this.
  •  Property damage. Damages can be awarded to fix or replace personal property damaged in the accident, or to reflect its reduced value.

One way to estimate a recovery is to add up the dollar amounts described above. This provides a first rough estimate of an amount you might recover.  Further analysis may show the estimate should be raised or lowered depending on other factors, including the strength of the evidence, questions concerning liability, extent of the injuries, and whether you were partly at fault for your injuries.  

A favorite tactic of insurance companies and defense lawyers is to discount your damages based upon write-offs that a medical provider extended to your medical insurance carrier.   A lawyer will be able to better explain the impact of insurance write-offs and how it may affect the damages you will be able to receive in your particular case.          

The categories and steps discussed above are guidelines for estimating how much accident victims can recover for their injuries and losses. The damages to be awarded depend on all the ways the injury affects the person involved.  I can help you perform this important estimate in the event you are in an accident.   If you have been injured by the recklessness or negligence of another, please contact Scott for a no cost, no obligation consultation and case evaluation.