Apr 12th, 2023
Paulozzi Joseph

Car accidents are an unfortunate reality, and navigating the legal process following an accident can be confusing and stressful. As a personal injury attorney in Cleveland, Ohio, Paulozzi LPA has extensive experience with car accident cases, and our guide to the car accident process will help you navigate the events after a car accident in Ohio.

Ohio Car Accidents Lawsuits

In the state of Ohio, car accident claims follow a “fault” system. This means that the person who caused the accident is financially responsible for the damages resulting from the collision. In most cases, this responsibility falls on the at-fault party’s insurance company. 

However, if the responsible party is uninsured or underinsured, or if the damages exceed the limits of their insurance policy, a lawsuit may be necessary to recover the full amount of compensation to which the injured party is entitled.

When Is It Necessary to File a Car Accident Lawsuit

A car accident lawsuit may be necessary under the following circumstances:

  • When the at-fault party’s insurance company disputes their policyholder’s liability or refuses to pay the full amount of compensation owed.
  • When the damages suffered by the injured party exceed the limits of the at-fault party’s insurance policy.
  • When the injured party has sustained severe or long-term injuries, and the insurance company fails to provide adequate compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

How Do You File a Car Accident Lawsuit in Ohio?

The process of filing a car accident lawsuit in Ohio involves several steps, including gathering evidence, filing a complaint, and litigating the case in court. Here’s a step by step guide:

Step 1: Consult with an experienced personal injury attorney.

An experienced attorney can provide invaluable guidance throughout the legal process. They understand Ohio car accident laws, have experience navigating the court system, and can develop effective legal strategies tailored to your case. Additionally, they can help you determine the full extent of your damages and negotiate with insurance companies to secure a fair settlement.

Step 2: Gather evidence and documentation.

Compiling evidence to support your claim is essential to building a strong case. Key pieces of evidence to gather include:

  • Police report: This official document provides details about the accident and can help establish fault.
  • Medical records: Documenting your injuries and treatment is crucial to demonstrate the extent of your damages.
  • Photographs of the accident scene: Photos can help illustrate the severity of the accident, property damage, and any contributing factors.
  • Witness statements: Witnesses can provide valuable testimonies to support your case.
  • Lost wage documentation: If your injuries caused you to miss work, documenting your lost wages is crucial to recovering compensation.

Any other relevant evidence, such as traffic camera footage, dashcam videos, or expert testimony.

Step 3: File the complaint.

Your attorney will draft a complaint that outlines the details of the case, including the parties involved, a description of the accident, the legal basis for the claim, and the damages being sought. The complaint must be filed with the appropriate court and served to the defendant(s) according to Ohio’s procedural rules.

Step 4: Discovery process.

During the discovery process, both parties exchange information and evidence related to the case. This process may involve:

  • Interrogatories: Written questions that each party must answer under oath.
  • Requests for production of documents: Each party may request the other side to provide specific documents or other tangible evidence.
  • Depositions: Oral testimony given under oath by witnesses or parties involved in the case, typically conducted outside of the courtroom.

Step 5: Negotiation and settlement.

Before proceeding to trial, your attorney may attempt to negotiate a fair settlement with the defendant’s insurance company. This process often involves presenting evidence, evaluating the strength of each party’s case, and engaging in back-and-forth negotiations. 

The goal is to reach an agreement that fairly compensates you for your damages without the need for a lengthy and costly trial. If both parties can agree on a settlement amount, the case concludes without going to court.

Step 6: Trial.

If a settlement cannot be reached, the case proceeds to trial. At trial, both sides will present their evidence and arguments to a judge or jury. A typical car accident trial may involve:

  • Opening statements: Both attorneys present an overview of their case.
  • Presentation of evidence: Witnesses may testify, and attorneys can submit documents, photographs, or other relevant evidence.
  • Cross-examination: Each attorney has the opportunity to question the opposing side’s witnesses.
  • Closing arguments: Both attorneys summarize their case and argue why the judge or jury should find in their favor.
  • Jury instructions and deliberation: The judge provides the jury with legal instructions, and the jury deliberates to reach a verdict.
  • Verdict: The jury (or judge in a bench trial) renders a decision on liability and, if applicable, the amount of damages to be awarded.

Keep in mind that trials can be lengthy, unpredictable, and emotionally draining. An experienced attorney will help you navigate the trial process and advocate for your best interests.

Statute of Limitations for Car Accidents Lawsuits in Ohio

The statute of limitations for car accident lawsuits in Ohio is two years from the date of the accident. Missing this deadline may result in the dismissal of your case and the loss of your right to seek compensation. Therefore, it’s crucial to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible after your accident to ensure that you meet all relevant deadlines.

Why It’s Important Your Lawyer Has Experience with Car Accident Lawsuits

Having a lawyer with experience in car accident cases is crucial because they understand the nuances of Ohio law, can effectively navigate the legal system, and have a track record of success in securing fair compensation for their clients.

How Our Legal Team Will Help

At Paulozzi LPA, our dedicated legal team will guide you through every step of the car accident lawsuit process. We will fight tirelessly to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your case and explore your legal options.

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