Generally speaking, the statute of limitations for Ohio vehicle accidents (and many other types of personal injury accidents in Ohio) is two years. Put simply, if you do not start your case within two years of the accident date, you lose the right to seek compensation for that accident.
What Is a Statute of Limitations?
A statute of limitations is any law that gives the victims of accidents or crimes a specific amount of time to take legal action against the at-fault party. The statute that governs vehicle accidents in Ohio is Ohio Revised Code Section 2305.10.
Starting from the date of your accident, as soon as two years have passed, the statute of limitations expires, and you can no longer file a lawsuit (there are some exceptions). This could mean sacrificing your ability to seek reimbursement for:
- Past and projected medical costs
- Repair expenses
- Loss of wages or job benefits
- Loss of earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Reduced quality of life
- Temporary or permanent disability
- Disfiguring scar tissue
What If the Car Accident was Fatal?
If you lost a spouse, child, or parent in a car accident, you have the right to seek compensation for:
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of financial support
- Funeral costs and other end-of-life expenses
- Personal injury damages that your loved one would have qualified to receive if they survived
The statute of limitations for wrongful death lawsuits in Ohio is Ohio Revised Code Section 2125.02, which provides the same amount of time as the statute for personal injury cases – two years. In this case, however, the “counting down” starts from the date that your loved one passed away, not the date of the accident.
What Other Factors May Affect My Case?
Vehicle accident lawsuits can get very complicated, depending on:
- Who the liable party is: Suing an individual is different from suing a city or municipality.
- If you are suing more than one party: For example, if you were hit by a city bus driver, you may be able to sue both the driver and the city.
- The nature and quality of evidence: The sooner you start, the more likely you will have access to witnesses, accident reports, and other important evidence. Losing this access could weaken your case.
- If the liable party’s insurance company is willing to negotiate: Your lawyer may have an easier time getting a fair settlement from a cooperative insurer. If the insurer is resistant, you may have to wait for a settlement or even take the case to court.
- If a jury decides that you are partly responsible: Per Ohio Revised Code Section 2315.33, you may be able to still recover compensation if a jury decides that you contributed to your own injuries. However, the amount you receive will be less than if you prove you are without fault.
If your case ends up being very complex or if the insurance company refuses to negotiate, it can take longer to receive compensation. This is another good reason to start the process as soon as possible – to ensure that you get the money you deserve sooner rather than later.
How Can a Lawyer Help Me?
The first thing a law firm will do is make sure that you still have time to file a lawsuit. If your case falls within the statute of limitations, they can help you schedule an appointment with a vehicle accident attorney to discuss your situation in more detail.
A lawyer can handle all necessary legal tasks in a timely and efficient manner, including:
- Identifying all the parties who contributed to your accident
- Notifying the liable party (or parties) and their insurer’s representatives about your claim
- Calculating how much money you can ask for, based on insurance limits and the nature and extent of your injuries
- Speaking with all relevant parties on your behalf
- Negotiating with the insurer’s representatives and preparing the subsequent settlement demand
- Scheduling court dates and filing other necessary paperwork
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The Fitch Law Firm LLC can help you file your lawsuit before the Ohio statute of limitations runs out. Get in touch with our main office today by calling (614) 545-3930. Our team is always standing by and ready to help the victims of Ohio vehicle accidents learn more about their legal rights and obligations.