Personal Injury FAQ
What is negligence?
Negligence is the failure to use ordinary care. Ordinary care is the care that any reasonably careful person would use under the same or similar circumstances to avoid causing injury.
What is the legal standard in a civil case?
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.
I got hurt at work, and it is my employer’s fault. Can I sue my employer directly?
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 Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) 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.
What is an example of a situation where an employer deliberately intended to cause me harm?
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 and then requires you to work on the unguarded machine.
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?
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 the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
I got hurt at work, and I want to make a claim for compensation. I’m worried that I’ll get fired if I make a claim. Can a lawyer help me?
Yes. There are laws that protect employees from retaliation by employers for filing claims through the BWC.
My medical bills were paid by the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. Do I have to pay the BWC back if I settle my case?
Yes. You will be required to pay the BWC back if you 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, 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.
I live in an apartment or rented house, and I have asked my landlord several times to fix a dangerous problem. What can I do to protect myself?
Landlords have a duty to maintain your premises so that it is safe and habitable (occupied in reasonable comfort). Most landlords do a good job of that, 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.
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?
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.
If I invite someone over to my house, do I have a duty to protect them from injury?
Yes. A host who invites a guest to their 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 to the guest. The host also has a duty to warn the guest of any conditions that he or she might not notice.
My child was seriously injured 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 isn’t enough to cover her medical bills. Can I make a claim against the adult who served the alcohol?
Yes, if it can be proven that the adult knew they were 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 homeowners insurance policy. You should contact a lawyer to discuss your situation.
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?
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.