Victims of car crashes and their loved ones often have numerous questions: Who is going to deal with the insurance company? Who is going to pay the medical bills? How will the car get repaired?
When you are already suffering, the additional stress of dealing with the legal process can be overwhelming. Friedman, Domiano & Smith is here to help. Our auto accident lawyers represent drivers, passengers and pedestrians who have been injured in car crashes throughout Ohio. We also represent victims of collisions with trucks and commercial vehicles.
We have obtained millions on behalf of our clients. Our law firm has been fighting to protect the rights of crash victims for over 45 years.
We always offer a free consultation, and we are not paid until you get a settlement or verdict. There are also no fees while we work on your case. The last thing victims need to be concerned about is whether they can afford legal help.
Give us a call today. We are ready to help. 216-621-0070
How do I Know if I Have a Valid Claim for Compensation?
The licensed Cleveland car accident lawyers at Friedman, Domiano & Smith are ready to answer this question in a free legal consultation.
Insurance companies have an interest in convincing you that you do not have a case. They do not want to pay compensation, even for a legitimate claim. However, our firm is committed to securing full compensation for your injuries. In a free consultation, one of our experienced attorneys can assess your potential options and explain how we may be able to help you.
If you were injured in a crash and need medical treatment, we strongly recommend that you meet with an experienced attorney to discuss the situation. Talking things over with an attorney can help if you have reason to believe the other driver is liable. For instance, if the police report says the other driver received a ticket for failing to yield at a stop sign.
There are various factors we likely need to review:
- How the crash happened
- What you remember about the crash
- Your injuries
- What doctors have told you about your recovery
- Evidence you may have collected at the scene (pictures, statements from witnesses, etc.)
- Damage to your vehicle
- And more
Types of Car Crash Cases
If you were injured in a car crash caused by another’s negligence, we are ready to help you. Our attorneys have extensive experience helping victims of many types of car crashes, including:
- Right-turn accidents
- Multi-car crashes
- Jackknife accidents
- Underride crashes
- Other commercial truck accidents
Most car crashes are caused by some form of driver negligence, such as:
- Fatigued/drowsy driving
- Reckless driving given the weather conditions
- Impaired driving (drunk driving or driving under the influence of drugs)
- Texting and driving or other forms of distracted driving
- Failing to maintain a lane
- Running a red light
- Failing to check a blind spot before changing lanes
- Violating another driver’s right of way
- Failing to stop at a stop sign
- Truck driver negligence
- Trucking company negligence
If you think another driver’s negligence caused your accident, call the Cleveland auto accident attorneys at our firm.
Free consultation and no upfront fees. Call 216-621-0070.
Advantages of Seeking Help From an Attorney
Pursuing compensation for a car crash injury on your own is often a bad idea. There are many steps involved in the legal process and crash victims who go it alone without help from an attorney often recover much less than those represented by attorneys.
At Friedman, Domiano & Smith, we are prepared to manage each step of the legal process on your behalf. That includes:
- Dealing with the insurance company on your behalf
- Investigating the crash
- Negotiating with the insurance company for fair and just compensation
- Preparing to file a lawsuit if a fair settlement cannot be reached
Our attorneys are also available to answer your questions, keep you updated on the status of your claim, and explain what you may be able to do to help strengthen your case.
These are just some of the advantages of working with an attorney on your car crash case. Trying to handle all of this on your own is a lot to ask. We manage car crash cases every day, and we know how to ensure details do not get missed.
What Forms of Compensation May be Available?
One of the biggest concerns for a car accident victim is paying for medical treatment. Car crashes can cause a wide variety of injuries:
- Neck injuries
- Head injuries
- Severe burns
Your injuries may need extensive treatment, and this treatment may go on for weeks, months or even longer. Treating a car crash injury can quickly become expensive. Insurance companies often do not offer enough compensation to cover all the treatment doctors recommend.
If you hire our firm, we are committed to seeking full compensation for your medical care, which may include the cost of:
- Surgical procedures
- CT scans
- Physical therapy
- Durable medical equipment (walker, cane, crutches, manual wheelchair, motorized wheelchair, etc.)
- Prescription medications
- Traveling to and from doctor’s appointments
- And more
Our Cleveland-based vehicle accident lawyers are also committed to pursuing compensation for other economic damages you may have suffered, including:
- Lost wages – Crash victims often miss a significant amount of time at their jobs because of their injuries. If they recover enough to be able to work, they may still miss time because of ongoing appointments with doctors to continue their treatment. Fortunately, you may be able to recover compensation for wages lost because of missing work.
- Lost earning capacity – When a crash causes a permanent injury, the victim may be unable to work in any capacity. Some victims can continue working but in a much more limited capacity – often injury victims must work in a different field because they can no longer do the same type of job they did before. Our attorneys may be able to secure compensation for your lost earning capacity, which can be vital to your financial future.
- Property damage – We know how important it is to have a functioning vehicle. Your insurance claim can also include compensation for damage to your vehicle. This may include the cost to replace your vehicle.
You may also be eligible for non-economic damages like pain and suffering. This refers to the physical pain you feel and the emotional suffering you experience after you get injured.
Other examples of non-economic damages may include lost companionship and lost enjoyment of life. If your injuries affect your ability to enjoy activities you once did, you may be able to claim lost enjoyment of life. Lost companionship refers to how your injuries have damaged your relationship with your spouse.
What if I am Partially to Blame for the Crash?
You can still recover compensation if you are partially at fault for a crash. However, it is important to remember that crash victims often think they are at fault for a crash when that may not be true. Insurance adjusters are also skilled at convincing crash victims they played a role in a crash, even when the other party is fully at fault.
You should only discuss your concerns about partial fault with your attorney, as your conversation with him or her is protected by attorney-client privilege. Our attorneys can give you an accurate assessment of what role you may have played in causing the crash.
If you played a role in a crash, it is important to note that your compensation award is likely to be reduced. For example, say you were five percent to blame for a crash. If your attorney recovers compensation, it will be reduced by your five percent of liability.
We must also note that under Ohio’s comparative negligence law, you cannot be more than 50 percent at fault and still recover compensation. In other words, you cannot be more at fault than the other driver and still recover compensation.
Car Insurance Requirements in Ohio
Like most states, Ohio is a fault or tort state. That means the driver who caused the crash is financially liable for the damages that may result.
Ohio requires drivers to purchase liability insurance to pay for damages from a crash they cause. The minimum required coverage is:
- $25,000 for injury or death of one person
- $50,000 for injury or death of two or more people in a crash
- $25,000 for damaged property
It is important to note many drivers purchase more than the minimum coverage, and minimum coverage is often insufficient to cover a crash victim’s damages. Many drivers do not buy insurance and that is why it is vital to buy uninsured motorist coverage.
What Happens if the Other Driver is Uninsured?
Unfortunately, some drivers break the law and drive without insurance. You could also end up in a crash with a driver who does not have enough coverage to pay for your damages.
If this happens, you may be able to use the uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage in your own insurance policy. While UM/UIM coverage is optional, many drivers choose to purchase it for added peace of mind. For other drivers, this coverage may be a requirement of their auto loan.
If you get into a crash with an uninsured driver, or one who flees the scene and is not located by the police, you may be able to file a claim with your uninsured motorist coverage.
If the other driver has insurance but not enough to cover your damages, you may be able to use your underinsured motorist coverage to pay the rest of your damages.
However, uninsured/underinsured motorist claims are complicated, which is why you should strongly consider getting help from an experienced attorney.
Friedman, Domiano & Smith. We are here to help. Call 216-621-0070.
What is the Deadline for Seeking Compensation?
Most car crash claims get resolved by seeking compensation against the at-fault driver’s insurance company, or the insurance companies of both the at-fault party and the victim.
However, negotiations do not always result in a fair settlement offer. If that happens, the better option may be to file a lawsuit for full compensation of the damages caused by the crash. Since you cannot know if a lawsuit may be necessary at the start of a claim, it is vital to hire an attorney who is prepared for a trial. At our firm, we know some cases end up going to court, and we are always prepared for that possibility.
One reason to be prepared is there is limited time to file a lawsuit to seek compensation. Ohio has a two-year statute of limitations for lawsuits over personal injuries. If you do not file a lawsuit within those two years, the case is likely to be dismissed from court. The two-year clock on a case starts ticking on the date of the accident that gave rise to the claim.
It takes time to prepare a lawsuit and build a case, which is why it is important to hire a lawyer sooner rather than later. Some crash victims begin looking for an attorney at the scene of the crash or while they are in the hospital. If you were in a crash, it is rarely too soon to seek legal help. However, there are times when it may be too late.
At our firm, the initial consultation is free and there is no obligation to hire our firm. That means calling us to discuss what happened and learn how we may be able to help comes with no risk.
Steps to Take Following a Car Crash
Calling an attorney is one of the most important steps to take after suffering an injury in an auto accident. However, there are other steps crash victims can take to help their lawyer build a strong case.
Going to the Hospital
When a car crash causes a severe injury, the victim will likely be transported by ambulance directly to the hospital. If that does not happen, crash victims should get themselves to the hospital right away.
You may think your injuries are minor and will heal fast enough on their own. However, there is no way to know that for sure until a qualified doctor examines you.
Seeking treatment soon after the crash also helps to link your injuries to the incident. If there is a significant gap between the crash and when you sought treatment, it is harder to prove your injuries were the result of the crash. The insurance company is sure to question if your injuries were caused by something besides the accident.
Reporting the Accident
It is best to call the police after a crash to help ensure there is a proper investigation into what happened. The officer at the scene will complete a police report and submit it on your behalf. A police report serves as an official record of what happened. It may also contain the police officer’s thoughts about fault for the accident. If anyone was issued a traffic citation, for example, it will be noted in the report.
After an accident, state law defines when those involved must contact the police. Ohio law requires those involved in a crash to call the police when there is an injury that requires medical care, a death or property damage of more than $1,000.
Be Cautious if You Talk to the Insurance Company
It is often best to refer the insurance company to your attorney. It is often a bad idea for crash victims to talk to the insurance company on their own. Insurance companies know how to manipulate crash victims and mislead them. This can result in crash victims saying things that hurt their claims for compensation.
If you do speak to the insurance company, try to keep the conversation brief. You should only relay the facts about the crash and avoid stating opinions about what happened. If you are unsure about the answer to a question, simply say you do not know.
You do not need to get into specifics about your injuries or how you are feeling. Offhand comments about these subjects could easily be used against you to downplay your injuries.
Gather Evidence at the Scene
When possible, crash victims should try to collect evidence from the scene. This includes pictures of the damaged vehicles, visible injuries, debris, damage to the road, the location of the crash, and other things you think may be relevant to your claim.
Witness statements and contact information can also be useful. If there are witnesses and you can talk to them without putting yourself in danger, their statements may help bolster your claim.
Continue Your Treatment
It is vital for crash victims to continue their recommended treatment, as it shows you are taking your injuries seriously. If you stop treatment, the insurance company will assume your injuries have healed and you no longer need compensation. This can cause the insurance company to offer much less compensation than what you actually need.
Stopping treatment could also allow your injuries to worsen. This could lengthen your recovery time or increase the risk for long-term complications from your injuries.
Call Today to Discuss Your Crash With Our Cleveland Auto Accident Lawyers
We are here to help you pursue full compensation for your damages, at no upfront cost to you. The initial consultation is also free, with no obligation to hire our firm after this meeting is over. That means contacting us comes with no financial risk.
We have been helping crash victims throughout Ohio for decades and have a proven track record of securing compensation. You do not need to go through this challenging time alone. Unlike the insurance company, we are deeply committed to your best interests throughout the legal process.
Experienced attorneys. Proven results. Call today: 216-621-0070