Personal Injury FAQ
I slipped and fell at my friend's house and I hurt myself pretty badly. My friend gave me the name of her insurance company, but the insurance company won't pay my bills. I don't want to sue my friend—what can I do?
My child was seriously injured while riding as a passenger in her friend's car. She and her friend were both served alcohol by an adult prior to the collision. I received money from the driver's insurance company, but it is not enough to cover her medical bills. Can I make a claim against the adult who served the alcohol?
My mother is in a wheelchair and I relied on a medical van (ambulette) to transport her to the hospital. The driver did not secure her wheelchair properly and she fell out of the chair and onto the floor. Can we hold the driver responsible for her injuries?
Personal Injury Questions & Answers
Q. What is negligence?
A. Negligence is a failure to use ordinary care. Ordinary care means that each person is required to use the care that any reasonably careful person would use under the same or similar circumstances to avoid causing injury.
A. In a civil case, a lawyer must prove the injured person's claim by a "preponderance of the evidence." This means that the lawyer has to prove that the injured person has the greater weight of evidence.
A. Possibly. You should contact a lawyer to discuss the specific facts and talk about your rights. In Ohio, employees are covered by workers' compensation if the employer pays into the program. The Bureau of Workers' Compensation is available to pay your medical bills and provide you some compensation if you are hurt at work. Generally, an employee cannot sue the employer for injuries that happen at work. However, there is an exception to this general rule if your employer deliberately intends to hurt you. These cases are called "workplace intentional torts." A lawyer can explain the law to you and determine if you have a case.
Q. What is an example of a situation where an employer deliberately intended to cause me harm?
A. This is a complicated question because every situation should be examined individually. If you think you might have a claim, you should contact a lawyer as soon as possible. An example of a legitimate case would be if an employer removes the safety guards from a machine to speed up production, then requires you to work on the unguarded machine.
Q. I got hurt while I was working but it is not my employer's fault. Can I make a claim against the person or company that caused my injury?
A. Yes. In Ohio, you can make a claim against a third party (someone who is not your employer or employed by your employer) if they were negligent and caused you harm. You should take it to a lawyer right away because these situations are usually complicated. Your lawyer will investigate to determine the identities of the people or companies at fault. Many times, your lawyer can find information through police reports or governmental agencies like OSHA.
Q. I got hurt at work and I want to make a claim for compensation. I worried that I'll get fired if I make a claim. Can a lawyer help me?
A. Yes. There are laws that protect employees from retaliation by the employer for filing a claim through the Bureau of Workers' Compensation.
Q. My medical bills were paid by the Bureau of Workers' Compensation. Do I have to pay the BWC back if I settle my case?
A. Yes. You will be required to pay the BWC back if your receive compensation for your injuries from a third party. When you pursue a claim against a person or entity, the BWC has what is called a right of "subrogation," or reimbursement. The BWC will expect to be paid back for past payment of medical bills and, in certain cases, for expected future payment of medical bills. However, the amount of this reimbursement may be negotiable. An attorney can handle these negotiations for you and also make sure that the right to any future benefits is also protected.
Q. I live in an apartment or rented house and I have asked my landlord several times time fix a dangerous problem. What can I do to protect myself?
A. Landlords have a duty to maintain your premises so it is safe and habitable (occupied in reasonable comfort.) Most landlords do a good job, but some don't fulfill their legal duty. If you are worried about a dangerous condition, it is important to document the problem and notify the landlord. A good way to do this is by sending a polite letter by certified mail that explains the problem in detail. Request that the landlord fix the problem. You might want to enclose pictures. You must document the fact that you told the landlord about the problem. Doing it verbally isn't sufficient. If this doesn't work, many cities have Housing Courts that can help.
Q. I slipped and fell at my apartment or rented home and I got hurt. I complained to my landlord, but he won't pay my bills. Can a lawyer help me?
A. Yes. A landlord has a duty to maintain your home so it is a safe place to live. However, you must be able to prove the landlord had notice of the problem. If you got hurt and your landlord won't pay your bills, a lawyer can help get you reasonable compensation to make up for your loss. You should call a lawyer and explain your situation. Some of the common caused for injuries in apartments or rented homes are slip and falls on broken or rotted steps, trips and falls over cracks or defects in the ground, or injuries due improperly maintained ceilings, floors or banisters.
Q. I slipped and fell in my apartment or rented home and I am looking for a lawyer to help me. What kind of information will the lawyer need to decide it I have a case?
A. The first thing you should do is document the defect that caused your injury—either by photographs or video. Store your photos in a safe place where you can find them easily because these pictures will be very important. Your lawyer will need to prove that the defect is something that your landlord knew about and had the opportunity to fix before your injury. Make copies of any letters you sent to your landlord informing him of the defect. If you did not complain in writing, make a list of all the times you verbally complained to your landlord, the date and time of the complaint and the identity of any witnesses who were present when you made your complaint. You should also be able to tell your lawyer how your landlord responded to the complaints and if any other people got hurt in the same way that you did. If you know the names of any of these people, make a list of their names, addresses and telephone numbers. Your lawyer will also need to look at a copy of your lease agreement and any documents that you completed on the condition of the apartment or rented home when you moved in.
Q. I slipped and fell on ice and now I have some bad injuries. Can a lawyer help me?
A. Possibly. It depends on the situation, so you should talk to a lawyer. In Ohio, the courts have ruled that people need to be aware of bad weather and act cautiously in the ice and snow. You will not be able to bring a claim against a landlord for what the courts call "natural accumulations of snow and ice." But, you may be able to make a recovery if you slip and fall due to an "unnatural accumulation of snow and ice." An example is if a landlord pours water on the ground where people walk, and the water froze. Another example is if gutter is leaking or directed across a sidewalk allowing the water to freeze on the pavement.
Q. I was shopping in a store and a large product fell on my head. I had to go to the hospital because I have a concussion. I would like my medical bills paid, can a lawyer help?
A. Yes, if it can be proven that the store or one of its employees was negligent. An example of negligence in this situation would be if store employees were stocking shelves improperly. However, it will be very important for the lawyer to know exactly what type and weight of product caused your injury. If you are able to do so, take photographs of the item that caused your injury and note the exact location of the product. Get the names of witnesses. If the store asks you to fill out an incident report, get the name of the manager on duty and ask for a copy of the incident report.
Q. I slipped and fell on something slippery while I was shopping in a store. I broke my leg and now have a lot of medical bills. Do I have a case?
A. Yes, if the lawyer can prove that the store was negligent and that store employees knew or should have known about the slippery substance before your fall. Proving that the store knew about the condition prior to your injury is vital. If someone says they told someone about it, get that person's name and contact information. It is very important for the lawyer know exactly what caused you to fall and where, and it's helpful if you have a photo. Your lawyer will need to know the names of any witnesses, including store employees if you are able to get them. Often, a store supervisor or manager will ask you to complete an incident report. If so, ask for a copy.
Q. I slipped and fell in a store and got hurt. The insurance company is telling me they do not have to pay my bills because the condition that made me fall is "open and obvious." What does this mean?
A. "Open and obvious" is a defense that landowners use in Ohio courts to protect themselves from liability. Ohio law states that if a condition is readily visible, the landlord owes no duty of care to people who are lawfully (not trespassing) on their premises. The law says the landowner can reasonably expect that people in their place of business will be able to see dangerous conditions and take measures to protect themselves. However, you should consult a lawyer because these cases can be complicated.
Q. If I invite someone over to my house do I have a duty to project them from injury?
A. Yes. A host who invites a guest to his house owes that person a duty to exercise ordinary care (care that a reasonable person in the same or similar situation would take) not to cause injury the guest. The host also has a duty to warn the guest of any conditions that he or she might not notice.
Q. I slipped and fell at my friend's house and I hurt myself pretty badly. My friend gave me the name of her insurance company, but the insurance company won't pay my bills. I don't want to sue my friend—what can I do?
A. These situations can be awkward, especially if the injury is severe. A lawyer can help you decide whether or not to pursue a case. Many cases can be settled before a lawsuit needs to be filed. If your friend has insurance, any compensation you receive (within the policy limits) will come from the insurance policy and not from your friend's pocket. If your case cannot be settled without filing a lawsuit, your lawyer can explain the litigation process to you and help you make the best decision for you.
Q. My child was seriously injured while riding as a passenger in her friend's car. She and her friend were both served alcohol by an adult prior to the collision. I received money from the driver's insurance company, but it is not enough to cover her medical bills. Can I make a claim against the adult who served the alcohol?
A. Yes, if it can be proven that the adult knew he was serving alcohol to minors. Ohio law makes it illegal to serve alcohol to minors. It is also illegal to allow a minor to drink alcohol in your house or on your premises. These situations may be covered under a homeowner's insurance policy. You should contact a lawyer to discuss your situation.
Q. My husband was injured by a drunk driver. The police told me that the driver was drinking heavily at a bar before the accident. Is it possible to make a claim against the bar?
A. Yes. There are laws in Ohio that can hold the bar financially responsible for continuing to supply alcohol to a person who is obviously intoxicated. Bar and restaurant employees should be trained to know when to stop serving a customer. A lawyer experienced in this area of the law will investigate your situation and help you find all possible ways for you to obtain compensation.
Q. My mother is in a wheelchair and I relied on a medical van (ambulette) to transport her to the hospital. The driver did not secure her wheelchair properly and she fell out of the chair and onto the floor. Can we hold the driver responsible for her injuries?
A. Yes. Ambulette drivers should be trained on how to properly secure a wheelchair to the van. Ambulette drivers also have a duty to follow all traffic laws. An experienced attorney will know how to investigate the circumstances and determine if the ambulette company was following Ohio law.
Q. My son was bit by a dog. Can I hold the owner responsible for his injuries?
A. Yes. In Ohio, the owner or keeper of a dog is strictly liable for injury caused by the dog. There is an exception to this law if the injured person was trespassing, abusing or provoking the dog at the time of the bite.
Q. My child was bit by a golden retriever. Can I hold the owner responsible even though it wasn't a dangerous breed of dog?
A. Yes. Any breed of dog can be dangerous if the owner is not responsible and does not take care to train his dog and keep it properly restrained.