Personal injury claims do not punish tortfeasors (negligent actors). Instead, they simply force them to accept responsibility for the mistakes they make. If Jim unintentionally hits his neighbor’s mailbox as he backs out of the driveway, Jim should accept responsibility and pay compensation. Likewise, if Jim unintentionally hits his neighbor as he backs out of the driveway, Jim should accept responsibility and pay compensation.
Most of us would agree with this basic principle. In fact, most tortfeasors agree with it as well. But insurance companies, and their high-powered lawyers, quickly get involved in these cases. Despite the messages in TV commercials, insurance companies care little about people. But they care a lot about profits, and they often do whatever it takes to protect them.
At Kruger & Hodges, our Batavia, OH, personal injury lawyers match the dedication of insurance company lawyers. But instead of profits, we are dedicated to the legal and financial rights of injury victims. Like the lawyers on the other side, we work tirelessly to uphold those rights. And like you, we do not settle for anything less than the best possible result under the circumstances. This result always includes maximum compensation for your serious injuries.
Kinds of Personal Injury Cases
As outlined below, some lawyers dabble in personal injury. They accept a few cases, mostly for friends and family, if these cases are slam-dunk wins. But a good Batavia, OH, personal injury lawyer handles a wide array of personal injury matters, such as:
Car Crashes: Many inexperienced lawyers believe these cases are simple. A hit B, so B pays A compensation. However, these claims are very complex. For example, Ohio is a comparative negligence state. So, even if A had the light, B might not be legally responsible for damages. Lawyers who get caught flat-footed in these cases often settle these matters for pennies on the dollar.
Slip and Falls: Most Ohio property owners have a duty of care to ensure that their property is reasonably safe. If they know about or should know about, a fall or other injury hazard and do not promptly address that hazard, they could be liable for compensation. These same basic principles apply in other premises liability claims, like dog bites and swimming pool drownings.
Nursing Home Injuries: Falls are a serious problem at nursing homes. Most facilities are so crowded and understaffed that fall hazards, like wet spots and construction areas, are everywhere. Nursing home injuries often include medication errors as well. Employees often distribute the wrong pills to the wrong residents. Other unintentional nursing home injuries include malnutrition and bedsores.
A good Batavia, OH, personal injury lawyer works hard to build a strong case and settle these matters out of court. This approach avoids a risky, expensive, and emotional trial that no one really wants.
Lawyers use evidence to build their cases brick by brick. Witness statements might be the most powerful evidence in any personal injury claim. Something almost mystical happens in a courtroom when disinterested witnesses simply tell jurors what they heard and saw.
This powerful evidence is not always immediately available. Car crashes are a good example. For various reasons, many people do not linger at accident scenes and wait to give official statements to police officers. So, at the outset, key puzzle pieces might be missing.
A Batavia, OH, personal injury lawyer, often in partnership with a private investigator, locates additional witnesses and convinces them to share their stories. These small details make a big difference.
Finding the Right Batavia, OH, Personal Injury Lawyer
Finding a lawyer is not a problem. Ohio has one of the largest numbers of attorneys per capita of any state in the nation. One is probably across the street. But insurance companies are so determined to sell your claim short, and personal injury cases are so complex that only the best lawyer will do. As you search for the right attorney, look for:
Experience: Personal injury claims are difficult to build and even more difficult to successfully resolve. Your attorney must know things about the law they don’t teach in school. More importantly, your lawyer must know how to make the law work for you.
Accessibility: Many lawyers assign consultations to less-experienced associates or non-lawyer paralegals. These lawyers usually assign most of the work to these individuals as well. Other lawyers only have one office location or are otherwise physically inaccessible.
Dedication: We mentioned dedication above. Dedication might be the most important quality to look for in a Batavia, OH, personal injury lawyer. Passion fuels purpose. Undedicated lawyers often look for quick settlements and easy ways out.
At Kruger & Hodges, we check all these boxes. Our professional team has decades of combined experience, mostly in personal injury and related areas. We have several fully-staffed offices in Ohio. Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, we always put clients first.
The right lawyer knows how to build a claim from the ground up. The right lawyer also knows how to defend this claim in court. This combination, and only this combination, ensures maximum compensation for your serious injuries. One element will not do.
Comparative fault, in one form or another, is the most common insurance company defense in personal injury claims. This legal doctrine basically transfers blame from the tortfeasor to the victim.
For example, in a car crash claim, an insurance company lawyer might argue that the victim’s excessive speed, as opposed to the tortfeasor’s alcohol impairment, substantially caused a wreck. Or, in a dog bite claim, the insurance company might argue that the victim ignored a “Beware of Dog” sign.
This doctrine is a two-step defense. First, a lawyer must convince a judge that the defense legally applies. First, let’s look at the speeding example. If the victim was traveling 35mph in a 30mph zone, the victim’s excessive speed probably did not substantially contribute to the wreck. Likewise, if the victim was too young to read a warning sign or understand what the words meant, the comparative defense does not apply.
So, a personal injury lawyer can block the comparative fault defense before the jury has a chance to consider it.
If the judge allows the defense, the jury must divide responsibility on a percentage basis, such as 50-50 or 80-20. Ohio is a modified comparative fault state with a 51% bar. So, if the victim is no more than 49% at fault, the tortfeasor is responsible for a proportionate share of damages.
Resolving Your Personal Injury Claim
A successful personal injury settlement does not come quickly, at least in most cases. The attorney and client must dig in and expect a long fight.
That being said, the struggle is not always a long one. If key issues in the case, such as liability and damages, are clear, the insurance company must make a reasonable settlement offer within thirty days, at least in most cases.
We discussed liability issues above. Establishing negligence by building a vase and refuting defenses is only part of the puzzle.
Damages usually mean the injuries the victim sustained and the amount of money necessary to compensate the victim for those injuries. This compensation must do more than pay out-of-pocket expenses, such as medical bills. Compensation must restore victims to the place they occupied before the injury. So, personal injury compensation must include money for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment in life, and other noneconomic losses.
Insurance company lawyers often rely on “experts” who testify that the victim’s medical bills were not medically necessary. These experts also testify that the victim’s injuries are exaggerated. This testimony is particularly effective if the victim did not immediately see a doctor.
These arguments are common. As a result, insurance companies drag their feet, and a Batavia, OH, personal injury lawyer must jumpstart settlement negotiations.
Filing a suit usually accomplishes this goal. The insurance company knows the victim is serious and is not quitting. As a result, the insurance company usually gets serious as well.
Discovery aids the settlement negotiation process. During this court-supervised information exchange process, both sides have a legal duty to put all their cards face up on the table. Since both sides become fully familiar with all the claims and defenses in the case, many claims settle at this point. But insurance companies are stubborn, so many other claims do not settle until mediation.
A third-party mediator, who is usually an unaffiliated Batavia, OH, personal injury lawyer, supervises a full-day or half-day negotiation session. Both sides give brief opening arguments. Then, they retire to separate rooms. This setup drains the emotion from the proceeding. As the hours pass, the mediator conveys settlement offers and counter-offers back and forth between the two sides.
When a mediator presents an offer, a party has a duty to negotiate in good faith. “I’ll see you in court” is not a good-faith response. Instead, each party must make compromises if that is what it takes to reach an agreement.
Because of the well-thought-out mediation process and also because the trial date is coming up quickly, mediation is about 90 percent successful in Ohio.
Rely on a Hard-Hitting Clermont County Lawyer
Injury victims are entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Batavia, contact Kruger & Hodges, Attorneys at Law, by going online or calling 513-894-3333. Virtual, home, and hospital visits are available.