I Got into a Bus Accident. Now What?

bus accident dayton

Since the local government owns RTA busses in Dayton, Ohio, special rules apply when they get into an accident. Governments in the United States have special protections against lawsuits called Sovereign Immunity. You can still file an injury claim or bus accident lawsuit against a government-owned bus line, if specific rules are followed. It helps to have an experienced bus accident attorney on your side.

Injury claims against the government are made under the rules of the Tort Claims Act for federal agencies. Many states and municipalities have adopted their own version of the Tort Claims Act to handle injury claims by private citizens.

Filing an injury claim under the Tort Claims Act is different from filing one against a private person or company. Claims against government agencies have special forms to complete and firm deadlines. If your forms are late or incorrect, you may lose your right to compensation.

You will have to file a “notice of claim.”

Use the exact claim form required by the agency responsible for the bus accident. Most claim forms must include:

  • Your name and address
  • A description of when, where and how the bus accident happened
  • A description of your damages, such as your medical costs, lost wages, broken glasses, etc.
  • A statement of your intent to seek compensation for injuries and property damage caused by the agency’s employee, for example, the bus driver.

Be sure to submit the notice on time, and to the right place. Keep a copy for your records.

Keep an Eye on the Statute of Limitations

In Ohio, you have two years from the date of the accident in which to file a claim. The clock starts running immediately, no matter how badly you were injured. If you miss the two year window, your claim will be thrown out. For more information on the Statute of Limitations in Ohio, please go to this article.

Bus Accidents and Common Carrier Laws

Any individual or business licensed to transport passengers for a fee is known as a common carrier. State and federal laws closely regulate most common carriers. The law holds carriers to a very high standard for the safety of their passengers, called a duty of care. Common Carriers must do everything reasonably within their power to avoid injuries to their passengers.

Common carriers’ duties of care include:

  • Making entryways and exits safe for passengers (good lighting, no obstructions, etc.)
  • Providing security where necessary to ensure the health and safety of passengers
  • Hiring qualified bus drivers
  • Maintaining bus engines, motors, and other machinery
  • Monitoring and correcting bus design flaws

When a bus company or agency violates their duty of care, they’ve become negligent, meaning they did something wrong or failed to do what they’re supposed to do to keep passengers safe.

Examples of negligence that cause bus accidents include:

  • Bus drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Bus drivers who aren’t qualified or properly trained
  • Drivers working without enough sleep
  • Poorly maintained buses and equipment
  • Improperly loaded or overloaded buses

Proving Bus Accident Negligence

To win your bus accident lawsuit, you have to prove the carrier’s negligence was the cause of your injuries. Because common carriers have a higher duty of care to passengers, you won’t need as much evidence to prove your case as you would in other injury claims. But you should still collect as much evidence as you can.

Evidence to support your case will include:

  • Photographs taken at the time of your injury and several days after
  • Witness statements
  • Incident or police reports
  • Weather reports
  • Your written recollections about the accident and your injuries

In addition to evidence of fault for the accident, you’ll need to collect evidence of your injuries, such as:

  • Your medical bills and records
  • Receipts for out-of-pocket expenses
  • Proof of your lost wages

Filing a personal injury claim is never easy or straightforward. When you’re going up against the Government – at any level, local, state or federal – it is important to have an experienced personal injury attorney on your side. The personal injury attorneys at Cowan & Hilgeman Law have successfully fought countless personal injury suits – including plenty of claims that other law firms routinely reject. Call (937) 222-2030 to schedule your FREE consultation with an experienced Bus Accident attorney.

Keeping Your Elderly Relatives Safe During the COVID-19 Outbreak

COVID-19 nursing home

At Cowan & Hilgeman, we try to write articles that are timeless: Questions and answers that will make as much sense in 5 or 10 years’ time as they do today. The present novel Coronavirus outbreak, however, has created a pressing situation that needs to be addressed immediately: How to keep your elderly relatives safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cowan & Hilgeman has developed an excellent reputation in Montgomery County and the Miami Valley for fighting abuse, neglect, negligence and wrongful death in nursing homes. We have written extensively about how to spot potential mistreatment of your elderly loved one while in a nursing home or residential care facility, and what to do if your elderly family member develops a pressure ulcer (otherwise known as a bed sore) while in care.

But what happens when you are unable to visit, monitor and advocate for your elderly family member?

On March 11th 2020, The Ohio Department of Health and the Ohio Department of Veterans Services issued an order limiting the number of nursing home/assisted living visitors to one person per resident per day. Exceptions can be made for end-of-life cases. The order will require that these facilities screen all individuals at every point of entry, including employees, vendors, family members, etc. Each individual will be screened for signs of illness and must submit to a temperature reading to gain entrance. All facilities will be required to keep a log of all who are admitted access.

To reduce the spread of COVID-19, we should all practice ‘social isolation’. This can be especially difficult for those with a parent or relative in residential care. Our elders rely on regular visits for love and support, but also so we can look out for their best interests. If we become sick ourselves, we will not be able to visit them at all, leaving them without an advocate.

Staff shortages in nursing homes and assisted living can be deadly

Aside from dealing with the illness itself, understaffed nursing homes can be incredibly dangerous for residents. Abuse and neglect become a bigger problem as the resident to staff member ratio increases out of control. Neglect and abuse on the part of the nursing home staff can cause psychological problems, physical illnesses and even death among the nursing home residents. Under-staffing of a nursing facility may add to psychological problems and physical illnesses among the staff members as they experience increased stress.

Physically dependent residents suffer the most. Bed-bound patients must be turned and moved regularly to prevent bed sores and muscle atrophy. Incontinence pads and diapers must be changed regularly to prevent infections. Residents who need help getting to the bathroom can instead be left to sit for too long in their own waste, leading to skin and genitourinary infections. Patients who need assistance with grooming, self-care and changing can be left to fend for themselves while more demanding residents dominate the attention of staff, which can lead to depression and physical degradation. If left to their own devices for too long, some residents try to do things unassisted, which can lead to falls and concussions.

Nurses who are understaffed may have problems feeding and giving medications to all of the residents on a routine schedule. This can lead to malnutrition, deficiencies in nutrition and other complications caused by not getting their medications on schedule. Dehydration can be especially dangerous in the elderly.

What you can do to help

1 – Visit as often as you can, as long as you are healthy

It will keep your loved one happier, healthier and safer. You will be able to nip problems in the bud before they become much larger problems that can have much more serious consequences. You can also help to care for your family member to lighten the load on nursing staff.

2 – If you cannot visit, call every day

Ask your relative if they are being properly looked after, if they are being fed, groomed, changed and assisted properly. Ask them if their needs are being met and if they are happy. If the answer to any of your questions is ‘no’, contact the Staff Nurse or management immediately.

3 – Document everything

If your loved one tells you that something is wrong, or if you even suspect that they are being poorly treated or neglected, document everything. What happened, the date and time, who was involved, who you spoke with to address the issue and what their response was. Hopefully, no further action will need to be taken. But if you ever need to take legal action against a nursing home, a well-documented paper trail showing their continued failure to address problems can help enormously.

4 – If you see something obviously dangerous, report it immediately

If nursing home residents are being obviously neglected, report it immediately. The State will take steps to rectify the situation, before it escalates any further. To report patient abuse or neglect to the Ohio Attorney General, click here. To file a complaint to the Ohio Department of Health, call 1-800-342-0553.

Extraordinary circumstances – such as a worldwide pandemic – do not excuse neglect or mistreatment.

It is the duty of nursing home owners to ensure that their clinics are properly staffed at all times.
It is the duty of nursing home management to ensure that their staff are properly trained and able to meet the needs of their residents.
Extraordinary circumstances – such as a worldwide pandemic – do nothing to absolve them of this responsibility. It is understandable that care facilities are occasionally understaffed, but owners and management must make every reasonable effort to boost staff to resident ratios to a safe level. If they fail to meet their most basic obligations, they may be found legally liable for any injuries or deaths that occur as a result of their poor management.

If you see or hear of neglect, negligence or abuse in a nursing home or assisted living facility during the COVID-19 pandemic, do not accept that as an excuse. Neglect, negligence or abuse happen because of poor management. Any explanation other than that is an unacceptable.

Call (937) 222-2030 today to schedule a FREE video / Skype / Facetime consultation with one of Dayton’s top rated personal injury lawyers handling nursing home abuse, neglect and wrongful death cases.

What is a Contingency Fee?

What is a contingency fee?

A client pays a contingency fee to a lawyer only if the attorney wins their case. Instead of paying your lawyer an upfront retainer, he or she takes a percentage of dollars recovered over the course of your case. His or her earnings are “contingent” upon the amount of compensation you receive.

In other words: If you don’t win, you don’t pay.

In a contingent fee arrangement, the lawyer agrees to accept a fixed percentage of the recovery, which is the amount finally paid to the client. If you win the case, the lawyer’s fee comes out of the money awarded to you. If you lose, neither you nor the lawyer will get any money, but you will not be required to pay your attorney for the work done on the case.

On the other hand, win or lose, you probably will have to pay court filing fees, the costs related to deposing witnesses, copy fees for medical records and similar charges. Your attorney may be able to cover these costs for you, if you are unable to pay for them yourself.

Before entering into a contingent fee agreement, your attorney should provide you with a disclosure statement and fee agreement which detail the specifics of the contingent fee, the manner in which other litigation costs will be handled and alternative fee arrangements which are available.

When a loved one dies, is forced to take time off work to heal or is made destitute by mounting medical bills, finding thousands of dollars to retain an attorney is often impossible. A contingency fee agreement may be the only practical means by which an individual or a family can afford to obtain the services of a competent lawyer. Don’t miss out on your opportunity to recover just and fair compensation for your injury or the wrongful death of your loved one, simply because you think you can not afford a good attorney.

At Cowan & Hilgeman Law, you are a name, not a number. We work with many kinds of clients from all economic backgrounds, on both retainer and contingency fees. We routinely accept – and WIN – cases that other law firms reject and have recovered millions in compensation for our clients. Call (937) 222-2030 today to schedule your FREE consultation with our personal injury attorneys.

How is a Wrongful Death Settlement Divided in Ohio?

Wrongful death is such a painful subject. It seems like such an oxymoron. After all, who doesn’t feel as if the death of a loved one is wrong in some way, shape, or form? All of the people tied to that special person feel a loss at their passing, but in the eyes of the law the emotional toll is just one part of the overall picture when a settlement is involved.

Grief can make these legal waters difficult to navigate, and with that in mind, this article is intended to help you understand the basic procedures surrounding a wrongful death, and what you might expect in the division of a wrongful death settlement.

The first step is understanding what constitutes a wrongful death. 

According to the legal encyclopedia nolo.com, wrongful death is treated as if it was a ”personal injury claim in which the injured person is no longer available to file his or her own case in court.¨ 

Ohio state code section 2125.01 defines a wrongful death as ¨When the death of a person is caused by wrongful act, neglect, or default which would have entitled the party injured to maintain an action and recover damages if death had not ensued.¨ 

Most cases of wrongful death are filed because of an accident that resulted in a death (like a car accident or in the form of medical malpractice) but it can also range out to include acts of violence or extreme negligence. If you feel that your loved one’s death falls into these categories outlining wrongful death and you wish to file a claim, or are just unsure of what you can do next, you should contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible to review your case.

In the state of Ohio most claims typically face a statute of limitations of two years.

If you wait until two years after the death, even if it does meet the criteria above, the case will almost certainly be dismissed by the courts, with very few exceptions. Even if you are uncertain about the eligibility of your suit, it is best to consult an expert to guide you through this complicated process.

Once you have followed through with the claim and a judgement has been awarded or a settlement has been reached, the next step is to divide that amount among the survivors of the deceased.

Ohio law tries to divide this as fairly as possible, determined by the degree of ¨damages suffered¨ by the beneficiaries. In most cases this is considered chiefly the domain of the spouse of the deceased, any children they had, and their parents.

If someone outside of this group feels they are entitled to compensation, they can make a claim, but they will have to do much more to prove what they have suffered. Regardless of who files, the court will divide the settlement based on inheritance laws which focus on the degree of relationship to the deceased, who was most dependent financially on the deceased, or who had a greater loss from the death.

For example, If a husband dies, his parents have suffered the loss of his company and any care he provided to them even in the form of house and yard work – and this is covered under the state law. However, his wife and any children they may have conceived has lost not only this, but has lost a vital part of the home’s support system. Emotionally and financially, this is considered a greater loss than the loss felt by his parents. Ergo, the wife and children would receive a larger portion of the judgment than his surviving parents.

Usually siblings of the deceased are not included in this party, but can file a claim as stated above. In some cases, the surviving family comes to an agreement on how the settlement should be divided – and this can be a huge benefit –  and the courts will agree to honor this arrangement. However, if an agreement cannot be reached, the judge will do as they see fit given the circumstances of the case.

If some of the recipients are minors or under the age of twenty-five it is not uncommon for the courts to place the benefit into a trust to either be left untouched until the minor comes of age, or granted use by a designated trustee for particular circumstances (like college tuition, or routine and emergency medical expenses). This is also a preference the family can request of the courts. 

Dealing with a wrongful death can be one of the most difficult and heart wrenching experiences you may face.  You have already lost someone near and dear to you; however, that does not mean you are without support. You don’t have to face this confusing time of grief alone, so call an experienced, compassionate wrongful death attorney for help today. They will help to guide you through this trying time and receive the fair compensation you deserve.

How Much Time do I Have to File a Nursing Home Personal Injury Claim in the State of Ohio?

Nursing Home Negligence

From the moment you or someone you love is injured in a nursing home, the clock starts running on how long you have to file a claim. In Ohio, the Statute of Limitations for a nursing home negligence or injury claim is generally 2 years. If you fail to file suit within that time frame, the defendant (the person you’re trying to sue) will almost certainly file a “motion to dismiss”, and the Court will reject your case on statutory grounds.

Even if you or your loved one was horribly injured due to nursing home negligence or neglect, and they were clearly in the wrong; after two years, they can no longer be held responsible through a personal injury claim.

With a few exceptions:

  • In cases where the victim was ‘of unsound mind’, the time limit in which their next of kin can file a personal injury claim is lifted. Common diagnoses such as Alzheimer’s and dementia could extend the statute of limitations beyond two years. An experienced personal injury attorney will be able to tell you whether the statute of limitations applies in your case.
  • If the defendant “departs from the state” or absconds, or conceals” him or herself within the state of Ohio, the time limit in which to file a personal injury claim does not start again until the person can be located. In other words, if the defendant skips town for a couple of years to avoid taking responsibility for their actions, you have 2 years from the date of their return in which to file a lawsuit.
  • If your Ohio nursing home negligence or injury claim stems from injuries caused by a defective product, a special filing timeline may apply to your case, especially if consumer fraud or a product warranty is involved.

Putting a family member into a nursing home can be extremely difficult. You are trusting strangers with the care, health and happiness of your loved one, which makes it especially upsetting if they are injured or even killed by negligence or neglect.

After a nursing home negligence or neglect injury, it is extremely important to get an experienced, aggressive attorney fighting in your corner. Due to the advanced age and frailty of most nursing home residents, care facilities will often try to explain away or pass off their responsibility as just a natural consequence of being old and frail. “These things just happen sometimes”, they will say. If you suspect negligence or abuse may have contributed to the injury or death of your loved on while in the care of a nursing home, call the experienced nursing home negligence attorneys at Cowan & Hilgeman.

At Cowan & Hilgeman, we have successfully handled countless nursing home negligence cases, including cases that other law firms have rejected. To schedule your FREE consultation with our Dayton Personal Injury Attorney, call (937) 222-2030.

Can I Fire my Ohio Personal Injury Lawyer?

Fire my lawyer?

At Cowan & Hilgeman, we routinely hear from people who have been treated poorly by other firms. We treat every potential client as someone who deserves care, attention, compassion and frequent communication. If your Ohio personal injury lawyer does not make you feel as though your case is important to them, or if they aren’t devoting enough time and resources to helping you – or worse, they are acting unethically – you are perfectly within your rights to fire them.

Before acting rashly, however, you should consider the following:

1 – Where your case stands with the court

If your case is currently pending with the Court, you may have to receive permission from the Court before you can fire your Ohio personal injury lawyer. If your case is NOT currently pending with the Court, you may terminate your relationship with your attorney at any time.

2 – Firing your attorney can be costly

You must still pay your attorney for the work they did up to the point of termination, even if you feel it was substandard. You will also have to retain another attorney, which can be expensive. At Cowan & Hilgeman, you will not pay a penny unless we win your case, so this is less of a concern if you work with us.

3 – Have you tried to talk to your attorney?

Sometimes, attorneys take on a few too many clients, which can leave some feeling less than well-cared for. Talk to your attorney about your concerns. If they care at all about their clients, they will apologize and try to fix their mistakes. If they brush off your concerns or try to persuade you that this is just how these things go, consider speaking to an attorney who will take you seriously. There is an ebb and flow to all cases – times when it feels as though nothing is happening. It is important to speak with your lawyer to determine whether your working relationship has truly deteriorated to the point where it cannot be saved.

4 – Terminate your relationship properly.

If you do decide to fire your lawyer, you should send him or her a certified letter stating plainly that you are terminating your relationship and that the attorney should cease working on your case. Request your files back or ask that they are sent to your new lawyer; you are entitled to the work product you and your lawyer have created up to the point your relationship is terminated. Be professional and courteous. You do not need to explain your reasons for firing your Ohio personal injury lawyer. Ask for an itemized bill listing all pending fees and expenses. If yours is a contingency case, your new attorney will pay your old attorney from any money that you ultimately recover.

The process of changing attorneys can be stressful, but ultimately important if you feel that your needs are not being adequately met. Before taking any action, you should always speak with an impartial attorney who will advise you on the best course of action. Call Cowan & Hilgeman at (937) 222-2030 for a free consultation.

How Much Time do I Have to File a Truck Accident Injury Claim in Ohio?

Truck accident

From the moment you are injured in a truck accident, the clock starts running on how long you have to file a claim. In Ohio, the Statute of Limitations for a motorcycle accident claim is generally 2 years. If you fail to file suit within that time frame, the defendant (the person you’re trying to sue) will almost certainly file a “motion to dismiss”, and the Court will reject your case on statutory grounds.

Even if you are horribly injured by a person who was clearly in the wrong; after two years, they can no longer be held responsible through a truck accident claim.

With a few exceptions:

  • In cases where the victim was under 18 years old or ‘of unsound mind’, the time limit in which they can file a motorcycle accident claim is lifted. The two year time limit starts again, however, once the injured party reaches 18 years old, or is deemed to be sane and responsible.
  • If the defendant “departs from the state” or absconds, or conceals” him or herself within the state of Ohio, the time limit in which to file a motorcycle accident claim does not start again until the person can be located. In other words, if the defendant skips town for a couple of years to avoid taking responsibility for their actions, you have 2 years from the date of their return in which to file a lawsuit.
  • If your Ohio truck accident claim stems from injuries caused by a defective product, a special filing timeline may apply to your case, especially if consumer fraud or a product warranty is involved.

Truck accidents are usually very serious. Due to the massive size and weight of an average truck, accidents can be life-changing. If the victim was lucky enough to survive someone else’s mistake on the road, the injuries, pain, loss of livelihood, potential surgeries and rehabilitation can have ripple-effects throughout their entire life.

After a commercial trucking accident, it is extremely important to get an experienced, aggressive attorney fighting in your corner. Truck Insurance companies will try to persuade you to settle for a much lower amount than your case is worth – 100% of the time. Their responsibility is to share holders, not to make sure that you receive the medical care and support you need.

At Cowan & Hilgeman, we have successfully handled countless truck accident claims, including cases that other law firms have rejected. To schedule your FREE consultation with our Dayton Personal Injury Attorney, call (937) 222-2030.

Fatalities on Ohio roads increase in 2019

Ohio car fatalities

In an article dated January 17, 2020, the Daily Court Reporter stated that Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced recently that fatalities on Ohio’s roads this year have increased over 2018, making 2019 one of the deadliest years on Ohio roads during this decade.

There have been a total of 1,119 fatalities on Ohio roads this year to date, as compared to 1,068 traffic deaths during the entire year of 2018. Overall, traffic fatalities have increased in five of the past six years.

“Distracted driving involving smartphones in, without a doubt, a major contributing factor to this increase in traffic fatalities, which is why I’ve asked the Ohio State Highway Patrol to increase enforcement of distracted driving violations over the holidays,” said Governor DeWine. “As we launch into one of the busiest travel times of the year, the way we drive will impact how many people are home for the holidays and how many people ring in the new year.”

According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, more than 91,000 distracted driving crashes occurred in Ohio from 2013 to today resulting in more that 47,000 injuries. A total of 305 people were killed in distracted driving crashes during the same period.

Because drivers don’t aways admit to distracted driving, the actual number of distracted driving crashes, injuries, and deaths are believed to be significantly higher.

“I’m challenging everyone to put your smartphones away while you drive over the holidays and to make it your New Year’s resolution to drive without distraction every day going forward,” said Governor DeWine. “If you have a passenger, ask them to read or write texts for you, or if you are the passenger, speak up if you see your driver reaching for the phone.”

Parents are also encouraged to take time to talk with their young drivers about driving distractions. Between 2013 and 2018, Ohioans age 16-20 had the highest number of distracted driving crashes, followed by drivers between ages of 21-23.

Ohio law bans the use of any electronic wireless communication devices for drivers under 18. Texting while driving is illegal for all drivers but is a secondary offense for drivers 18 and above.

In addition to smartphone distractions, distracted driving includes any non-driving activity with the potential to distract a person from the primary task of driving and increase the risk of crashing. Distractions can be visual, taking eyes off of the road; manual, taking hands off of the wheel; or cognitive, taking the mind off of driving. Texting while driving is an example that results in all three types of distraction.

If you have lost someone in a car accident, the Ohio Wrongful Death Lawyers at Cowan & Hilgeman offer free case evaluations and only get paid an attorney fee if we win your case. You do not pay an attorney fee if we do not win your case. If you have questions regarding a potential wrongful death lawsuit, call the Ohio Wrongful Death Lawyers at Cowan & Hilgeman to speak with an attorney and schedule a free case evaluation.

How Much Time do I Have to File a Motorcycle Accident Claim in Ohio?

motorcycle accident claim

From the moment you are injured in a motorcycle accident, the clock starts running on how long you have to file a claim. In Ohio, the Statute of Limitations for a motorcycle accident claim is generally 2 years. If you fail to file suit within that time frame, the defendant (the person you’re trying to sue) will almost certainly file a “motion to dismiss”, and the Court will reject your case on statutory grounds.

Even if you are horribly injured by a person who was clearly in the wrong; after two years, they can no longer be held responsible through a motorcycle accident claim.

With a few exceptions:

  • In cases where the victim was under 18 years old or ‘of unsound mind’, the time limit in which they can file a motorcycle accident claim is lifted. The two year time limit starts again, however, once the injured party reaches 18 years old, or is deemed to be sane and responsible.
  • If the defendant “departs from the state” or absconds, or conceals” him or herself within the state of Ohio, the time limit in which to file a motorcycle accident claim does not start again until the person can be located. In other words, if the defendant skips town for a couple of years to avoid taking responsibility for their actions, you have 2 years from the date of their return in which to file a lawsuit.
  • If your Ohio motorcycle accident claim stems from injuries caused by a defective product, a special filing timeline may apply to your case, especially if consumer fraud or a product warranty is involved.

Motorcycle accidents are usually very serious. Due to the lack of protection around a motorcycle rider, accidents can be life-changing. If the victim was lucky enough to survive someone else’s mistake on the road, the injuries, pain, loss of livelihood, potential surgeries and rehabilitation can have ripple-effects throughout their entire life.

After a motorcycle accident, it is extremely important to get an experienced, aggressive attorney fighting in your corner. Auto Insurance companies will try to persuade you to settle for a much lower amount than your case is worth – 100% of the time. Their responsibility is to share holders, not to make sure that you receive the medical care and support you need.

At Cowan & Hilgeman, we have successfully handled countless motorcycle accident claims, including cases that other law firms have rejected. To schedule your FREE consultation with our Dayton Personal Injury Attorney, call (937) 222-2030.

What Does “Open and Obvious” Mean in an Ohio Personal Injury Claim?

Open and obvious

It is the responsibility of every landlord, tenant and property manager to ensure that their premises are free from hazardous conditions that may cause injury. When an injury does occur, however, a commonly used defense is that the hazard was blatant and unavoidable – open and obvious to all.

In other words, anyone who was paying attention would have been able to see an obvious danger in plain sight and taken steps to avoid it.

This argument takes blame away from the property owner and places it squarely on the injured victim, even if the property owner was clearly negligent.

To prove negligence in an Ohio Slip and Fall Case, the following conditions must be met:

  • The owner owed a ‘duty of care’ to the plaintiff – The legal obligation to prevent harm to their visitors and patrons.
  • They breached that duty – such as, forgetting to put out ‘wet floor’ signs after mopping.
  • An injury occurred as a direct result of that breach – for example, someone slipped on the wet floor.

Unfortunately, even when each element of negligence has been met, a legal case against the property owner may not exist because of the Open and Obvious defense.

Some examples of hazards that have been deemed by the courts to be open and obvious – and therefore not actionable – are:

  • Planters that are six feet in diameter
  • A sidewalk curb
  • A ladder on the selling floor of a store
  • Uneven concrete where there were no obstructions to the person’s view
  • Brick border around a tree
  • Raised joints where asphalt met concrete in a parking lot
  • Disassembled store shelving in an area that was clearly being redesigned.

Defendants in these cases have successfully argued that they are not responsible for injuries that occurred due to lack of proper care and attention, or the plaintiff underestimating the danger presented by a hazard.

How is the “Open and Obvious” Rule Treated in Ohio?

There are numerous ways that the open and obvious rule can be used as a defense for property owners, but it doesn’t always end in their favor. To get a better understanding of how it works, here is an actual example from Ohio courts:

In a case in which the plaintiff tripped over some exposed computer cables and fell, no obstacles were blocking her view of the cables and no previous incidents involving similar circumstances ever occurred. When you consider the facts, it is clearly apparent that the cables presented an obvious hazard for tripping.

Nonetheless, the court found that, although the cables qualified as an “open and obvious” condition and discharged the duty to warn, it did not discharge the property owner’s duty to maintain the property in a reasonably safe condition. In conclusion, the plaintiff still had a valid claim even though the danger was glaringly obvious.

Determining whether the open and obvious rule will apply to your case is a question that only an experienced premises liability attorney can answer. Premises liability law is often complicated and hiring a lawyer who is familiar with it is always in your best interest.

To find out whether your Ohio premises liability claim has merit, or whether an ‘Open and Obvious‘ defense can successfully be used by the defendant, call to schedule a free consultation with our Personal Injury attorney. Cowan & Hilgeman frequently takes cases that other law firms reject. Call (937) 222-2030 today.