Sometimes, a person who suffers personal injury in Ohio as a result of the negligence or carelessness of another Ohio resident, business, or governmental agency will choose to pursue his or her case without a lawyer. This is called “pro se” representation. There are many reasons why proceeding pro se is a bad idea, not the least of which is that a layperson is held to the same standards as a trained attorney when they attempt to represent themselves either at trial or in the appellate courts. Whether you’re a lawyer or a layman, you have to know the rules.
Courts have many complex rules of both procedure and evidence which lawyers deal with on a daily basis and there really is no substitute for that experience. Representing yourself is like trying to do surgery on your self. It will hurt and won’t likely produce a successful outcome. You have a right to do so, but it probably isn’t wise.
Facts of the Case
In a case recently decided by the Eighth District Ohio Court of Appeals ( Cuyahoga County), the plaintiff was a woman who claimed she was injured while attempting to board a bus in 2016. According to the plaintiff, the door closed on her as she was trying to get on the bus, causing her injury. The plaintiff tried her claim to a jury which, unfortunately for the plaintiff, ruled in favor of the defendant, the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, holding that the plaintiff had herself acted negligently, causing her injuries. As we will see, she didn’t know the rules regarding jury verdicts and she didn’t know how to properly appeal.
The plaintiff sought a new trial, arguing that the trial court had acted improperly when it failed to return the jury to the courtroom for the reading of the verdict, as required by Rule 48 of the Ohio Rules of Civil Procedure.
The Appeals Court Decision
Under Rule 48 of the Ohio Rules of Civil Procedure, a jury in a civil case is required to render a verdict only upon the agreement of at least three-quarters of the jury members. The rule further requires that the jury return to court after its verdict, where the trial court judge is to ask them them whether the verdict does, in fact, represent the decision of at least the minimum number of jurors. The plaintiff complained on appeal that the trial court had failed to return the jury to the courtroom for the reading of the verdict and that the verdict should therefore be overturned.
Unfortunately for the plaintiff, she did not know how to make the record at the trial court so that she might successfully appeal. Accordingly, the Court of Appeals had almost no choice and upheld the lower court’s ruling, because there was no evidence in the trial court record to support the plaintiff’s claim that the trial court judge had erred. The Transit Authority defendant asserted that the jury’s verdict had been unanimously in its favor and since there was no transcript of the trial court proceedings for the appellate court to review, the Court of Appeals had to presume that the trial was conducted properly and affirmed the trial court’s entry of judgment on the jury’s verdict in favor of the defendant.
Need Legal Advice Concerning a Cleveland Auto Accident?
Despite her allegations of being physically injured by Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority’s bus driver’s negligence, the plaintiff received no monetary compensation. Because she did not fully comply with the procedural requirements in either the appeal or at the trial court (particularly, the filing of a transcript of the trial proceedings ), her appeal was likewise unsuccessful. If you or a family member has been hurt by someone else’s negligence, don’t make the mistake of trying to handle matters on your own. To schedule an appointment with a knowledgeable Cleveland auto accident attorney, call Rubin Guttman & Associates, L.P.A., today at 216-696-4006.
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