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stop signA typical Cleveland car accident lawsuit involves a motorist’s claim that another driver acted negligently, by, for exmple, running a stop sign, speeding or failing to yield the right of way, causing a crash. Sometimes, however, there are other claims against defendants who were not drivers actually involved in the accident.

For example, a recent appellate case involved a driver’s claims against a city and others whom she claimed  were at fault for an accident that happened when she ran a stop sign that was obscured by foliage.

Facts of the Case

calendarMany people labor under the falsehood that, if liability is clear in an Ohio automobile accident case, it will be easy to reach a fair settlement with the at-fault party’s insurance company. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. It is not unusual for an insurance company to go to great lengths to avoid paying a claim – even when liability is clear.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case appealed to the Court of Appeals of Ohio for the Eighth Appellate District, the plaintiff was a woman who sought compensation for damages arising from an automobile accident. In her small claims court complaint, she stated that the accident happened in 2014 but involved her 2015 model year vehicle. The defendant driver moved for judgment on the pleadings, claiming that the two-year statute of limitations contained in Ohio Revised Code § 2305.10 precluded the plaintiff’s claim. The trial court judge agreed and granted the defendant’s motion.

Thereafter, the plaintiff filed a motion for relief from the judgment on the pleadings in favor of the defendant, asserting that she had inadvertently included the wrong date on her complaint. The defendant objected to the plaintiff’s motion for relief, but the trial court allowed the plaintiff to amend her complaint to allege that the accident occurred in 2015, not 2014 (thus saving her claim from dismissal under the statute of limitations). The defendant appealed. Continue reading

property damageThousands of Ohio car accidents occur every year. While not every crash results in litigation, a significant number do. When this happens, the burden is on the plaintiff to prove that the defendant acted negligently, which means that he or she failed to act in a reasonably prudent manner and that this was the proximate cause of the accident.

Once a trial  court enters a final judgment in favor of the winning party, the other side may appeal the trial court’s ruling. The party appealing the lower court’s decision has the burden of convincing the appellate court that a mistake was made, as a matter of law and that he or she is entitled to relief from the trial court’s judgment, often in the form of a new trial.

Just as there are rules and procedures that must be followed in a trial court, there are multiple requirements that must be met in order to be successful on appeal , some of which have nothing to do with the merits of the case.

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emergency signThere are many dangers on our roadways, any one of which could result in a serious Ohio truck accident in just a few moments’ time. When an injured person can prove that the defendant breached a duty of care owed to him or her and that this was the proximate cause of damages such as medical expenses, lost earnings, and pain and suffering, the injured person may be entitled to monetary compensation.

Sometimes, however, a defendant may have what is called an “affirmative defense” that effectively excuses his or her actions, at least in the eyes of the law. But the party claiming that affirmative defense has the burden of proof, so whether the  defendant is entitled to an affirmative defense is often a very hotly contested issue.

Facts of the Case

ambulanceNot all traffic accidents are caused by obvious wrongdoers, such as drunk drivers or texting teenagers. Sometimes, an Ohio car accident is caused by someone who would otherwise be the “good guy” – like the ambulance driver who allegedly caused the serious crash that gave rise to litigation described in more detail below.

When the allegedly at-fault person is a government employee, special rules may apply. Under the doctrine known as sovereign immunity, the government may only be sued when it has expressly consented to be sued, so it is important to talk to an attorney as soon as possible if you have been hurt in  an accident caused by a government vehicle. This is even more the case when the at fault vehicle is a safety vehicle like an ambulance or police car. In that case, even more restrictive rules may apply.

Facts of the Case

motorcycle riderSeeking fair compensation for injuries suffered in an Ohio motorcycle accident can be both complicated and time-consuming.  Motorcycle and vehicle accident lawsuits usually proceed on a a  negligence theory in which a plaintiff must prove that a defendant ( the responsible party) owed a duty to the plaintiff ( the injured party bringing the lawsuit), that the defendant breached that duty and that as a direct or proximate result of that negligence,  the plaintiff suffered injuries and damages. The plaintiff must show  that there was a link between the plaintiff’s damages and the defendant’s breach of duty in order topursue monetary payment for his or her losses in the accident.

In some cases, the defendant may have an affirmative defense that defeats the plaintiff’s claim, and some defendants – such as governmental entities – may be immune from suit because they are a government entity . This is known as sovereign immunity.

Facts of the Case

Department of TransportationCleveland car accidents can range in complexity from one driver suing another for simple negligence to a much more complicated case involving multiple parties and multiple theories of liability ( reasons why an Ohio driver might be at fault).

For example, if the victim of  an accident was on the job at the time, this might lead to a workers’ compensation claim for the injured driver as well as  a claim against the other driver’s  employer for what is known as  vicarious liability. If there was a chain collision, several drivers may be sued for failing to maintain an adequate lookout, or speeding, for example, and failing to stop in time to avoid the collision. Sometimes,  especially if there is a dispute regarding coverage or if there are multiple insurance companies covering one or more of the vehicles involved in the crash, or a dispute over coverage, the various parties’ insurance carriers may also be brought into the litigation .

Facts of the Case

street crossing

People who are involved in an Ohio car accident sometimes mistakenly think that hiring an attorney as soon as possible after the collision is unnecessary because, after all, “the law is the law,” and any issues that might arise can be handled later just as easily as sooner.

But no two cases are exactly alike and in fact, any car accident case may raise complex insurance or other issues, the analysis of which may determine whether the injured party gets the compensation they deserve.. With this in mind, it is easy to see why retaining an experienced personal injury attorney who can help investigate the cause of an accident, identify potential witnesses, gather important medical records and proof of injury, and deal directly with insurance adjusters who will take them seriously can be very important.

Facts of the Case

In a case recently decided in Cleveland, Ohio by the Eighth Appellate District (Cuyahoga County), the plaintiff was a woman hit by a car in July 2015 while crossing the road. She was seriously injured, incurring over $250,000 in medical bills. At the time of the accident, the woman’s son and his family were living in her home while their new home was being built. They had moved into the plaintiff’s home about five weeks prior to her accident, and they moved out about two months after the accident.

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Unfortunately, car accidents happen for many reasons.  Drivers may be distracted.  Bad weather can make visibility difficult and stopping even harder.  Perhaps the other car ran a red light and struck you.  Another, less frequent cause for car collisions is what Ohio law calls a “sudden medical emergency.”  It’s important to know what is (and is not) a sudden medical emergency (“SME”) because the condition may excuse the driver who suffered one from paying for injuries or damages he or she caused.

Ohio first recognized “sudden medical emergency” as an excuse (or legal defense) for automotive negligence in 1956.  In Lehman v. Haynam, the Ohio Supreme Court described SME as an instance, “where the driver of an automobile is suddenly stricken by a period of unconsciousness which he had no reason to anticipate and which renders it impossible for him to control the car he is driving. . . .”  But does this mean that a driver who fell asleep behind the wheel and hit you is not liable for injuries he/she caused?  No, not at all.  Continue reading