Personal injury is part of tort law, which provides for legal remedies for persons who have suffered physical injuries through the wrongful or negligent conduct of others. Personal injury claims result from various types of injuries that may have different laws regarding proof and the evidence allowed regarding liability and damages.
In Ohio and elsewhere, personal injury claims include motor vehicle accidents, medical malpractice, premises liability, product defect, dog bites or animal attacks, and mass torts that may involve class action or multi-district litigation that crosses state lines.
In What Jurisdiction Will I File My Claim?
The amount of your injury claim will determine which Ohio court has jurisdiction, which refers to the power or authority of the court to hear your claim and where you will file your claim. Small claims actions, or where the damages alleged are no more than $3,000, are filed in the small claims division of the municipal court and is heard exclusively by a magistrate. Attorneys are permitted to represent any of the parties, but you are not entitled to a jury trial.
If you are alleging damages of no more than $15,000, you need to file in the municipal or county court where the injury occurred or where the defendant is residing.
Accident claims that exceed $15,000 are filed in the Court of Common Pleas in the county where the accident transpired or where at least one of the defendants lives.
Ohio Statute of Limitations
Every civil lawsuit has a time threshold, or applicable statute of limitations, for filing a claim in the court with proper jurisdiction or for providing adequate administrative notice to certain parties in particular types of claims, such as against the state or its political subdivisions. For most personal injury claims, the statute of limitations is two years from the date when the accident occurred or when the cause of action accrued.
Ohio has a discovery rule provision, whereby you could extend the time for filing an injury claim. This rule provides that an injury cause of action may not accrue until you discover, or should have discovered through reasonable diligence, that an injury occurred.
Medical malpractice claims, however, must be filed within one year of the alleged negligent conduct. You can extend the time to file in this instance by 180 days by serving notice to the responsible medical professional of your intent to file a lawsuit so long as the notice is filed before expiration of the one-year limit.
Minors, or individuals under 18, may have personal injury claims filed on their behalf two years after they turn 18, or one year after their 18th birthday for medical malpractice claims.
Is Ohio a Comparative Fault State?
Ohio has a strict comparative negligence law, whereby you cannot recover compensation if your own percentage of fault is at least 51 percent. Any degree of comparative fault that is less than 50 percent will decrease the amount you may recover from the defendant by your percentage of liability.
What Is the Discovery Process?
Once your case is filed, the discovery phase is initiated. Each party, usually through their respective counsel, may request detailed information from the other by submitting written questions, called interrogatories, and by requesting documents supporting the alleged facts, claims or defenses. Each side may depose the other under oath before a court reporter, or may depose witnesses, to receive direct testimony about the accident, biographical information and damages. Conflicting testimony from the witness or party at a subsequent trial may be used to impeach the credibility of that party or witness.
Defendants may also require an injured plaintiff to undergo a medical examination by a physician of the defendant’s choice.
Consult an Ohio Personal Injury Attorney
Personal injury claims often present complicated issues of liability, evidence and proof of damages. Consulting a personal injury lawyer in Ohio can ensure that your right to adequate compensation in protected.