Ohio is not a no-fault state for car accidents, meaning that you cannot recover compensation until you establish the at-fault’s responsibility for the crash.
In other words, if another party was at fault, you must prove this by collecting enough evidence to persuade their insurance company to pay a fair settlement.
Determining Who Caused Your Car Accident
Car accidents can happen for many different reasons:
- Another driver disobeys the rules of the road and hits your car.
- An auto part manufacturer allowed a faulty product to go to market and did not promptly recall the product after learning of the danger.
- A mechanic failed to identify and fix a problem with your (or another driver’s) car, which contributed to the accident.
Each of these examples has different liable parties. In some accident cases, you might have more than one liable party. To recover compensation in Ohio, you must know who caused your accident and be able to prove it with sufficient evidence.
Proving Someone Else was At Fault
All involved insurance companies will want to see evidence of the liable party’s guilt. A car accident lawyer can help you collect evidence such as:
- Photos and video: Did a traffic cam capture the accident? Did you take photos of the accident scene? Such material can help prove your case.
- Witness statements: If anyone saw your accident, your lawyer could find them and ask them to testify about what happened.
- Expert statements: An impartial, qualified expert can speak to various aspects of your case, such as the accident’s cause or the effects of your injuries.
- Accident reports: The officer who responded to your accident should have written and filed a report containing information about every aspect of the crash.
- Medical records: If you went to a doctor or an emergency room after the accident, this visit would appear in your medical history. You can then use this record to prove that the accident caused physical or psychological harm.
Not every type of evidence is available or relevant in every case. Your attorney can determine which evidence to pursue based on your testimony. This task may be easier if you start your case soon after your accident. However, if you wait too long, you risk evidence being lost or memories fading.
Getting Compensation from the Insurance Company
The liable party’s insurance company often wants to minimize payment. It knows it only must pay if its insured is found legally liable, so it may try to argue that:
- Your actions contributed to the crash or made your injuries worse (e.g., you did not wear your seatbelt), so you deserve less compensation. This argument is based on contributory negligence laws found in Ohio Revised Code Section 2315.33.
- You missed a deadline for filing your claim or lawsuit, or you did not file correctly.
- Your injuries are not as bad as you claim, so it should not have to pay as much in damages.
- Your injuries were due to a pre-existing condition.
Legal representation can deal with the insurance company for you. An attorney can protect you by taking care of all paperwork on time and collecting evidence to try to rebut whatever allegations the insurer brings against you.
A Car Accident Lawyer Can Help
If you must sue for compensation, you generally must do so within two years of the accident date, according to Ohio Revised Code Section 2305.10. You will lose your right to compensation if you miss this deadline.
The key to receiving compensation is to prove that the liable party’s negligence caused both the accident and your injuries. Your lawyer can do this by:
- Investigating the accident and collecting the necessary evidence
- Meeting with the insurance company to present this evidence and negotiate a fair settlement
- Refuting the insurance company’s attempts to blame you for the accident or exonerate its insured
- Preparing all necessary paperwork, including the settlement agreement
- Preparing your case for court, if the insurance company refuses to offer a reasonable settlement that meets your needs
- Representing you in court by questioning witnesses, delivering oral arguments, and submitting trial exhibits
- Answering all your questions about your rights and options and providing updates about the progress of your case
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Get Help with Your Car Accident Case
Ohio is not a no-fault state, so it may take longer to get compensation for car accidents. The Fitch Law Firm LLC wants to help you with the process and help alleviate the stress associated with filing a claim. To get started today, call our main office at (614) 545-3930. We would be happy to provide a free consultation.