A car accident can change your life in an instant. No matter the cause, if you’re involved in a car accident in Columbus, you could find yourself suffering serious injuries and facing tens of thousands of dollars in repair and medical bills. Luckily, the car accident lawyers at Colombo Law are here to help you recover the compensation you deserve after a car accident in Columbus.
What Does a Car Accident Lawyer Do?
As car accident lawyers, our job is to guide you through your car accident claim. We have years of experience helping victims get the compensation they deserve after they have been wronged by a negligent driver.
Our personal injury attorneys in Columbus will take the burden of this difficult time off of your shoulders and fight to help you recover compensation for your expenses, medical bills, and emotional suffering. It’s our goal to make this process as simple and stress-free for you as possible, so you can focus on what is most important – your health.
While it is possible to settle without a car accident lawyer, it can be very difficult. You will have to handle everything yourself, from paying court fees to gathering evidence to making your argument before a judge. When you hire a car accident attorney at Colombo Law, you can trust that we will handle your case properly, from the smallest detail to the largest. Our auto accident lawyers will handle all aspects of your case including:
- Gathering police reports
- Collecting medical records and bills
- Obtaining items like CCTV footage and phone call recordings
- Talking to insurance adjusters
- Gathering witnesses
- Obtaining expert witness to testify in your favor
- Checking for automobile defects or recalls that may have caused your accident
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Car Accident Claims in Ohio?
Section 2305.10(A) of the Ohio Revised Code (O.R.C.) sets the statute of limitations for personal injury claims in Ohio. By law, an action for personal injury or property damage must be brought no more than two (2) years after the injury occurs. As such, you have 2 years after a crash in which you suffered injury or property damage to bring a car accident claim.
Wrongful death claims are also subject to a statute of limitations. O.R.C. Section 2125.02(D)(1) states that “a civil action for wrongful death shall be commenced within two years after the decedent’s death.” So, if your loved one was killed in a car accident, you and your family have 2 years to take legal action.
Two years might seem like plenty of time to assert your legal rights. Any delay, however, can result in the loss of crucial evidence, making it more difficult to recover the full compensation you deserve. It is important to seek legal guidance as soon as possible after any car accident in Ohio that results in personal injury or wrongful death.
Are There Caps on Damages in Ohio Car Accident Claims?
Recoverable damages in an Ohio car accident claim are classified as follows:
- Economic damages (i.e., the costs and financial losses you sustain as a result of the car accident)
- Non-economic damages (i.e., pain and suffering)
- Punitive damages (i.e., damages whose purpose is to penalize a defendant for “malice or aggravated or egregious fraud” (O.R.C. Section 2315.21(C)(1)))
Damages caps place a limit on the amount and type of compensation a plaintiff can recover. O.R.C. Section 2315.18(B)(1) states there “shall not be any limitations on the amount of compensatory damages” that represent the plaintiff’s economic loss. However, O.R.C. 2315.18(B)(2) does limit damages for non-economic loss.
Non-economic damages are limited to whichever is greater of the following:
- A total of $250,000
- An “amount that is equal to three times the economic loss”
In addition, non-economic damages cannot exceed $350,000 if there is one plaintiff or $500,000 if there are multiple plaintiffs. These caps are lifted, though, if the plaintiff can prove:
- “permanent and substantial physical deformity, loss of use of a limb, or loss of a bodily organ system”
- “permanent physical functional injury that permanently prevents the injured person from being able to independently care for self and perform life-sustaining activities.”
A Columbus car accident lawyer can collect evidence on your behalf and consult medical experts to determine if your injuries from the crash meet one or both of these thresholds. If the evidence supports your claim for a permanent injury, our attorneys will fight for the maximum compensation you deserve.
Finally, O.R.C. 2315.21(D)(2)(b) states that punitive damages are capped at two times the amount of compensatory damages. Additionally, punitive damages are capped at $350,000.00 if the defendant is a “small employer” or individual.
What Is Fault in a Car Accident in Ohio?
Fault is the legal term for the person or entity that caused the car accident. Many different parties can be held at fault and liable for damages in a car accident claim, including:
- The driver of another vehicle
- The employer of a commercial driver (commonly at issue in truck accident claims)
- The manufacturer of a defective vehicle and/or defective parts
- A municipality or other government agency that fails to design and/or maintain the road
It is also important to consider the impact that partial fault can have on a plaintiff’s car accident claim. O.R.C. Section 2315.33 is the Ohio contributory negligence statute.
The contributory negligence statute states that a plaintiff can recover damages from one or more defendants if the fault attributable to that plaintiff is “not greater than the combined tortious conduct [i.e., negligence or wrongdoing ] of all other persons from whom the plaintiff seeks recovery.” In other words, recovery is not barred if the plaintiff’s apportionment of fault (wrongdoing in a given factual scenario) is less than 51%.
If the plaintiff is found to be partially at fault for the accident, damages will be reduced by “an amount that is proportionately equal to the percentage of tortious conduct of the plaintiff.”
Effectively, this means that if the plaintiff is 20% at fault and the defendants are jointly 80% at fault for causing a crash, the plaintiff can recover for 80% of the value of the claim. Inversely, if the jury finds that the plaintiff is 51% at fault for the crash and the defendant’s apportionment of fault is 49%, then the plaintiff can recover nothing.
Top Reasons to Hire a Car Accident Lawyer
You Might Get More Money
As Columbus car accident lawyers, it’s our job to do everything we can to get our clients the largest possible financial recovery.
While there are many reasons our clients turn to us after a car accident — and while there’s a lot we may be able to do for you — we understand that your top concern is how you’re going to pay for the cost of the crash.
Hiring a car accident lawyer in Columbus, OH might make you more likely to recover a larger amount of money. In fact, studies have shown that personal injury victims tend to recover greater amounts of compensation when represented by a lawyer.
For starters, your attorney might know of legal damages that you aren’t aware of but which are nevertheless available to you. Indeed, we have often found that our clients are entitled to more money than they initially realize.
Additionally, an experienced attorney can navigate negotiations adeptly, pursuing effective strategies and putting your best foot forward at every turn. Skillful negotiation may lead to a larger financial recovery than you would have gotten otherwise.
Doing It On Your Own Is a Pain
Handling a legal claim by yourself can be emotionally taxing, time-consuming, and even frightening.
In addition to the back-and-forth with the insurance company and/or the defendant(s), you might also find yourself fighting off creditors and bill collectors. There are court clerks and deadlines to be mindful of too.
Your lawyer can do all that work for you.
Hiring a Car Accident Lawyer Can Help You Avoid Mistakes
Mistakes are easy to make. That’s especially true if you’re attempting to navigate the complex legal system for the very first time. Small errors can prove costly.
Making a mistake might mean you recover less money than you deserve. Some mistakes can even keep you from recovering at all.
Indeed, it is even possible to get yourself in legal trouble by making a careless or untrue statement in an official court filing or in front of a judge.
Hiring an attorney is choosing to let an experienced professional protect you.
Legal Procedures (and Timelines) Are More Complex Than You Might Realize
While you are certainly allowed to handle your legal claim yourself, doing so puts you at a disadvantage.
The law is complex. Its procedural requirements can be labrinth. Statutes of limitations and other filing deadlines can be challenging too. Merely calculating a court due date can be much more complicated than it seems.
If you wait too long to file your claim, for example, you can permanently lose your right to seek financial justice for your accident. Don’t risk making those kinds of mistakes.
Insurance Companies Tend to Negotiate Differently When an Attorney’s Involved
In a perfect world, insurance companies would take your claims seriously, and they’d treat you with the respect you deserve.
Reality, however, is different. In the real world, insurance companies assess claims in light of their relative litigation risks. If they believe a trial and/or adverse judgment is likely, they typically become much more interested in negotiating a claim fairly.
At Colombo Law, we pride ourselves on being a law firm that insurance companies take seriously. We make it clear that we mean business and are prepared to battle aggressively to get our clients the robust justice they deserve.
Hire a Car Accident Lawyer in Columbus, OH to Fight a Claim Denial
Too often, insurance companies take a “deny first, defend later” approach to incoming auto accident claims.
If your claim has been denied unfairly, you may have grounds for legal recourse. Indeed, you might even have a case against the insurance company itself for handling your claim in bad faith (in violation of state and/or federal law). An experienced Columbus auto accidents lawyer can help you assess your options and fight back against an unfair claim denial.
Deep Knowledge, Experience, and Trial Experience
There is simply no substitute for experience. When you hire a personal injury lawyer at Colombo Law, you put years of hands-on insight in your corner.
From the initial investigation or a demand letter to in-depth negotiations and/or formal trial, we have the substantive knowledge and legal command you expect from your legal team.
By Hiring a Lawyer, You Shift the Financial Risk to Someone Else
At Colombo Law, we:
- Offer no-cost, no-obligation case consultations to auto accident victims in Ohio
- Do not charge auto accident clients a fee for our services unless and until we get them money
- Limit our fee to a percentage of your overall recovery
- Advance the costs of investigation and litigation in most cases
- Take the risk (if we aren’t successful with your claim, you don’t have to pay a thing)
In other words, when you call our office, you have nothing to lose. We take the risk so you don’t have to. And because we only get paid if we succeed, you can rest assured that we have an incentive for your success.
The Insurance Company Has a Lawyer. Shouldn’t You?
Don’t make the mistake of taking on an insurance company (or any other corporation) by yourself. They have extensive financial resources and an army of lawyers by their side. Shouldn’t you have an experienced legal professional representing your interests?
Hiring a car accident lawyer in Columbus, OH can help you level the playing field.
Top Reasons Car Accidents Happen in Columbus?
Each car accident is different, and yet, seemingly all of them can be traced back to one or more of the same common causes. The main reasons that car accidents happen in Columbus include but are not limited to:
Driving Under the Influence in Ohio
Everyone is aware of how dangerous, and illegal drunk driving is. Even so, drunk driving accidents still occur across the state of Ohio and in Columbus regularly. According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, in 2016, there were a total of 4,269 OVI arrests in District 6 (Columbus) alone. Under Ohio law, if you are hurt in an accident involving an intoxicated driver, you are entitled to seek damages from them through a car accident claim. The injury attorneys at Colombo Law are experienced in litigating complex car accident cases in Columbus and will do all they can to see that you obtain compensation for your damages.
Speeding Continues to be a Problem
Despite all of the signs and laws that denounce the practice of speeding, it is still a daily occurrence in Columbus. In fact, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, in 2016, there were 357,052 speeding citations issued. Even more astonishing, there was a five year total of 1,865,888 speeding tickets issued in Ohio. Accidents caused by speeding can lead to serious injuries and death. It can also be extremely dangerous in situations where the weather is inclement. Rain, sleet, and snow can all pose serious threats to vehicles traveling over the speed limit.
Reckless Driving Numbers Are on The Rise
Tailgating, weaving in and out of lanes, cutting off other vehicles, and road rage are all examples of reckless driving that could lead to serious car accidents. In 2016, there were over 27,000 aggressive driving citations handed out by the Ohio State Highway Patrol. It is important that you get the help of our car accident lawyers after being involved in an accident with a reckless driver. Together, we can send a clear message that reckless driving in Ohio will not be tolerated.
Distracted Driving Statistics
In the new age of technology, distracted driving has become a major cause of car accidents in Ohio, as well as the rest of the United States. Texting and driving isn’t the only form of distraction that could cause a car accident, however. Actions such as applying makeup, tuning the radio, eating, and back seat distractions are also elements that could lead to accidents. Distracted driving accidents are very common in Ohio as the Dayton Daily News reported that in 2016, nearly 14,000 accidents were caused by a distracted driver.
Drowsy Driving Is More of a Problem Than You May Think
Each year, over 100,000 motor vehicle accidents happen due to people driving tired. What most don’t know about drowsy driving is that it has been found to be just as dangerous as drunk driving. In fact, someone who has been awake for 18 hours or more experiences the same impairment levels as a person who has a BAC of .05. Drivers who fall asleep at the wheel often lose complete control of their vehicles and cause catastrophic accidents. Believe it or not, according to NBC4i in Columbus, AAA reports that drowsy driving is a factor in 10 percent of car accidents. If you have been involved in a car accident involving a driver who fell asleep at the wheel, contact us.
Common Injuries in Car Accidents
Even car accidents that seem minor at first can end up causing someone tremendous pain and anguish. Additionally, serious car accidents often cause life-altering injuries to their victims. As car accident lawyers, we see countless people suffer from injuries in car accidents. Some people we have helped make a full recovery and others are left with lifelong disabilities. Some of the most common injuries we see include:
Traumatic Brain Injuries
Car accidents are one of the major causes of traumatic brain injuries. Nearly 18 percent of TBIs that occur in the United States are caused by motor vehicle accidents. Car accidents often throw their victims around with great force that the human body is not meant to endure. During the process of an accident, a victim can hit their head on windows and other places inside and outside of the vehicle. However, even in accidents in which people do not hit their head, the brain can still experience trauma when it collides with the skull. This is also known as a contra-coup injury. People who experience a traumatic brain injury can be left with swelling, bleeding, concussions, skull fractures, and other permanent injuries. Often, victims of brain injuries experience symptoms for months, and in serious cases, for the rest of their lives.
Spinal Cord Injuries
The spinal cord is essential for bodily function, and when it is injured, a person could be left partially or permanently paralyzed. Spinal cord injuries are one of the most expensive car accident injuries to treat because they require surgeries, assistive devices, and continuous rehabilitation. If you or someone close to you has sustained a serious spinal cord injury as a result of a car accident, contact us so we can discuss providing legal representation.
Broken bones are extremely common in car accidents. They can range from somewhat minor to severe. When bones fracture and break the skin, they will often require surgical intervention and titanium rods and screws to heal. A person who experiences a serious bone break will need to miss time from work, pay expensive medical bills and attend rehabilitation to heal their injuries.
Facial injuries can occur in car accidents when the face makes forceful contact with the steering wheel, airbag, windshield, dashboard, and broken glass. While minor facial injuries could include bruises and scrapes, more serious injuries like fractures, lacerations, dental injuries and broken jaws can also occur.
Other physical and mental injuries that occur in car accidents include:
- Internal injuries
How Many People in Ohio Have Died in Car Accidents?
The Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) reported 1,223 fatal crashes in 2021. Although the OSHP has not yet released an official fatality count, 2021 may be the deadliest year on Ohio roads in recent memory.
From 2016 to 2020, the OSHP reported a yearly average of 1,153 fatalities in approximately 1,068 deadly crashes. The rate of fatal accidents for 2021 is significantly higher than the average, which likely means a higher death rate for the year.
If you have lost a loved one in a car accident, the attorneys at Colombo Law can bring a wrongful death claim on behalf of your family. Contact us in Columbus today for a free case review.
Compensation for Car Accident Injuries
Ohio is an at-fault insurance state, which means the person who causes the accident is responsible for any and all expenses that arise after the accident. If you were the victim of an accident caused by someone else, the at-fault party’s insurance company is responsible for paying your compensation.
To start the process of receiving payment, you will have to file a claim directly with the at-fault party’s insurer. If your expenses are greater than the limits of the at-fault party’s insurance coverage, the individual or party that caused the accident becomes responsible for paying you. You may also have your own insurance coverage that will supplement an underinsured at-fault driver and may even provide you with compensation if you are hit by an uninsured driver. Call Colombo Law to make sure that you are aware of all sources of compensation.
You can file a claim and seek compensation privately but, without a car accident lawyer, it is unlikely you will get the compensation you deserve. The insurance company will do everything they can to entice you to settle for much less than you’re entitled. Importantly, if the at-fault driver does not have enough insurance coverage, you may jeopardize additional coverage to which you would otherwise be entitled if you settle with the at-fault party. Seeking compensation from an individual is extremely difficult without the help of an attorney.
When you’re in a car accident, you can incur a number of expenses. Not only can these be challenging to handle from an emotional standpoint, but they can also cause tremendous financial difficulties. If you’ve been a victim of a car accident in Columbus, you could get compensation for the following:
- Physical injuries
- Medical bills/equipment
- Lost income
- Lost earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional anguish
- Property damage
- Loss of companionship
- Wrongful death
Steps to Take After a Car Accident in Columbus
The first few moments after a car crash can be scary. It can be hard to stay calm and focused after your accident, but it is important that you try your best to do so. To take care of yourself and give your case the best chance of success, keep the following in mind after your car accident:
- Call 9-1-1 to request emergency assistance. The Columbus Police Department or the Ohio State Patrol will likely respond to your accident.
- Check yourself and others for injuries.
- If it is safe to do so, move vehicles and debris out of the road.
- Exchange insurance information with any drivers, pedestrians, or cyclists involved.
- Take notes on how and where the car accident occurred.
- Take photos of damages and injuries.
- Notify your insurance company about the accident.
- Get in touch with an Ohio car accident lawyer.
Even though you’re likely to be upset after your accident, it’s important to remember to keep your opinions about who caused the accident to yourself. After you speak with the police and give them the details of your accident, your next step should be to speak to the car accident attorneys at Colombo Law. Remember that discussing the incident with the other parties involved or insurance adjusters is never recommended and can negatively affect the outcome of your case.
Colombo Law Has Your Back After a Car Accident in Columbus
If you were involved in a car accident in Columbus, We suggest you speak to a personal injury attorney right away. The injury lawyers at Colombo Law have years of experience helping accident victims throughout the Greater Columbus, Ohio Area.
By working with a car accident attorney, you give yourself the best chance of maximizing your settlement. The car accident lawyers at Colombo Law work on a contingency fee basis, meaning if we don’t win your case, you don’t owe us a thing. Contact us today.
Our lawyers are experienced, aggressive and compassionate. We will fight for your rights and do the best we can to see you made whole again. If you’d like to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to find out what your case could be worth, contact us or give us a call at 614-362-7000.