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.

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.

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.

What is the Maximum Amount of Compensation in Ohio if Injured in a Motor Vehicle Accident?

Maximum amount of compensation available in Ohio

The maximum amount of compensation available after a motor vehicle accident varies considerably in Ohio, depending on the nature of the claim.

First, the court will calculate the Economic Damages caused by the accident. That will usually include medical bills, damage to property and vehicles, lost wages and rehabilitation costs. There is no set limit to the maximum amount of compensation awarded to the injured parties for Economic Damages.

Non-economic damages, on the other hand, are capped by Ohio law. Non-economic damages are defined as “pain and suffering, loss of society, consortium, companionship, care, assistance, attention, protection, advice, guidance, counsel, instruction, training, or education, disfigurement, mental anguish, and any other intangible loss.

Unlike medical bills or vehicle repair bills which have a fixed number that must be repaid, non-economic damages can be hard to monetarily value. So, Ohio statutes cap non-economic damages to $250,000 or three times your economic damages, which is subject to a maximum of $350,000 per person and $500,000 per accident.

This cap is removed, however, in Ohio Revised Code §2315.18(B)(3), for catastrophic cases where the injured party suffers from permanent and substantial physical deformity, loss of use of a limb, loss of a bodily organ system or permanent physical functional injury that permanently prevents the injured person from being able to independently care for themselves and perform life-sustaining activities. There is no limit to how much can be awarded in such cases.

No matter what kind of car accident you were in, or how badly you were injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, it is vital that you get an experienced and aggressive car accident attorneys, Cowan & Hilgeman on your side. We will work tirelessly to get you the maximum amount of compensation available for your specific economic and non-economic injuries. Call (937) 222-2030 today to schedule your FREE consultation.

What happens in Ohio if the other driver did not have auto insurance?

What happens in Ohio if the other driver did not have auto insurance?

We all dread getting into an accident, but with so many uninsured drivers on the road, a bad situation can get so much worse if you get into an accident and the other driver did not have auto insurance. In 2015, it was estimated that 12.4% of all Ohio drivers were uninsured. Thanks to recent improvements in law enforcement detection and strict penalties, that number has fallen from an average of 16% in the early ’90’s.

Ohio does not require uninsured motorist coverage as part of the State minimum insurance coverage, so many people are left footing the bill for medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages after getting into an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver.

If you have Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage

If you do have Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist coverage, your insurance company will pay your claims and then recover those costs from the at-fault driver. It is important to have experienced and aggressive representation during this negotiation, as with any settlement with an insurance company, to ensure that you are properly compensated for your injuries, property damage, lost wages, etc.

If you DO NOT have Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage

If you do not have Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage, however, things get more difficult to handle. The at-fault driver is still liable for any and all injuries caused by their negligence, regardless of their insurance status. The personal injury attorneys at Cowan & Hilgeman have successfully recovered compensation from uninsured and underinsured motorists countless times, and we will guide you through the process of filing a personal injury suit.

We will work tirelessly to get you reasonable compensation to cover:
Medical bills
Your pain and suffering
Lost wages
Disfigurement
Consortium
Property Damage

If you retain Cowan & Hilgeman as your legal representation, the uninsured driver will have to pay for an attorney to defend them in the lawsuit Cowan & Hilgeman will file on your behalf. If the at-fault driver does not defend themselves against our lawsuit, the court will grant a default judgement in our favor. The uninsured driver will probably lose their license, which they can work to re-earn after entering a payment plan or pay off the balance of their debt.

If the uninsured driver chooses not to work towards repaying the costs of repairing the other driver’s car, medical bills, etc., the judgement holder can ask the court to garnish the defendant’s wages or bank account until the judgement is paid. If the judgement is too large to reasonably be repaid via wage garnishment, the court can force the sale of the at-fault party’s personal assets.

If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of having been in a car accident and the other driver did not have auto insurance, do not hesitate to call the experienced and aggressive car accident attorneys at Cowan & Hilgeman Law. Call (937) 222-2030 to schedule your free consultation.

Who is Liable for a Dog Bite in Ohio

Who is liable for a dog bite in Ohio?

Who is Liable for a Dog Bite?

Ohio law holds dog owners strictly liable for a dog bite, providing the injury occurred under certain conditions:

  • The injured person was not committing (or trying to commit) a crime
  • The injured person was not trespassing
  • The injured person did not tease, torment, or abuse the dog in order to provoke it.

To make a successful claim against the owner, handler and/or keeper of a dog, one does not have to prove that the dog has a prior history of aggression. In other words, the dog could be the sweetest thing on earth with a kind, responsible owner, and this could be its first and only act of aggression – It does not matter. The owner may still be held liable for its bite.

Negligence

Further damages may be awarded if the owner knew about the dog’s propensity to bite or act aggressively, yet the dog was allowed opportunity to attack anyway. Fault can be proven in the following ways:

Breed and Size of Animal: Generally, the larger the animal, the greater the chance that the animal can cause injury. The species and breed of an animal may also be relevant if you can prove that, as a general rule, that breed is more likely to cause serious damage due to physiology (such as a pit bull or Rottweiler, both of which are bred for higher bite force).

Purpose for Which the Animal is Kept: If an animal is kept for protection and is trained to attack unknown people, it can be inferred that its owner knew or should have known it might attack someone.

Frequent Snapping and Biting: A history of aggressive behavior can be used to demonstrate that the owner had knowledge of the animal’s vicious tendencies.

Complaints Brought to Owner’s Attention: If people previously complained to the owner and the owner did nothing or didn’t do enough to prevent future attacks (such as higher fencing and training), this can be used as evidence that the owner knew the animal could be dangerous.

Fighting with Other Animals: Even if an animal had not attacked a human before, if it had fought with other animals, this may be useful in proving its vicious nature.

Frequent Confinement of the Animal: If the owner keeps the animal locked in a cage, on a tight leash or chain, this may indicate the owner’s awareness that the animal might be dangerous.

Occasional Muzzling of the Animal: If an owner muzzles an animal on walks or at times when people are near the animal, this can be proof that the owner is aware of the animal’s dangerous nature.

Warning Sign on Owner’s Premises: If an animal owner puts up warning signs (such as “Beware of Dog”), an injured person can use this fact to establish the owner’s knowledge of the animal’s viciousness.

Statements by Owner as to Animal’s Character: Any statements made by the animal’s owner concerning past bites, fights, or aggressive behavior are relevant to the owner’s knowledge regarding the likelihood of future attacks.

Owner’s Warnings to Strangers About Animal: Verbal warnings to others potentially show that an owner is worried that the animal might cause harm to others.

The owner may be found liable for battery if they ordered the dog to attack someone without just cause, such as for self-protection or to foil a crime in progress. Criminal charges may also arise from an unprovoked, ordered attack that results in grievous bodily injury or death.

How Long Do I Have to File a Lawsuit Following a Dog Bite?

In Ohio, you have two years from the date of the bite to file a lawsuit against the dog’s owner, handler and/or keeper.

If you or a loved one has been bitten by a dog in Ohio, do not hesitate to call the experienced dog bite attorneys at Cowan & Hilgeman Law. Call (937) 222-2030 to schedule your FREE consultation.