What Should I do if Injured in a Store?

injured in a store

It’s a typical Tuesday. You are out grocery shopping at your favorite chain store, looking at your list, and thinking of the million or so items you want to tackle on your to-do list this evening. You come around the corner of an aisle, slip in a puddle and find yourself bewildered on the floor. You are hurting, and aren’t totally sure what is causing the pain. It’s hard to think clearly.  What do you do next, if you are injured in a store?

Regardless of the type of injury you face, there are certain steps you can take to help ensure your welfare in the moment, and later on down the line. Depending on your particular circumstances, you may be entitled to compensation for your injury.

The first thing you should focus on if injured is your safety – do you need immediate medical attention?

Have you hit your head? No matter what else you have facing you, making sure you are safe and well should be your top priority. Be careful moving around if you are in pain, as it may make your injuries worse. Ask for help from other patrons or store staff, and call 911 if you need it. 

Once you have established what you need to do medically, try to puzzle out what happened, and obtain any evidence available.

Look around to see if the premises is safe, if you see any obvious hazards (like a wet floor) and check to see if there are any signs or warnings about these hazards. Take photos of the area where the incident happened. Premises liability lawsuits are usually contingent upon proving that the business was aware of a hazard and didn’t take proper steps to convey this warning to patrons, so if you can show evidence of this, it can truly make your case. The right evidence can help prove negligence.

If there was anyone present at the time of your accident, ask for their contact info as a witness.

If it comes to a court case between you and the store, having a third party that is impartial can be a huge aid in your favor. 

One of the most important steps in this process is filing a report with the store. If you have not been approached by an employee at this point, then find one, preferably a store manager. Do your best to simply state the facts of the indecent, and withhold from responding emotionally, or speculating on why it occurred. Remember, the store wants to avoid being responsible at all costs, and will use any errant thought spoken aloud against you if they can. Whatever you do, DO NOT sign any paperwork at the store. Many managers or corporate departments will try to get you to sign a liability waiver after you have been injured in a store, and this can negate your case if you do sign.

The next step is to seek medical treatment if you haven’y already.

The most important reason to do this is to make sure you are truly well, even if you feel okay. Sometimes, back, neck, and joint injuries  may not show symptoms for some time, and it is always safer to have a medical professional give you the all clear.

Beyond making sure that you are well, it is important to have a medical report if you have sustained injuries. For example, if your injury causes you to miss work, the store is responsible for paying your lost wages – if you can prove that your injuries made you miss work, rather than it seeming like a spontaneous vacation. This report can be a solid asset in your case.

The last step can also be the simplest – with all of the above steps covered, it may be time to consult with a personal injury attorney.

Being injured in a store can be awfully distressing, and if you choose to take it to court to seek compensation, overwhelming too. Depending on the size of the store, they likely have a firm on hand who is well versed on doing everything they can to clear the store of any liability – and push your claim off into obscurity. Representing yourself in these matters may cost you much more than a headache – it could cost you the compensation you deserve.

Here at Cowan & Hilgeman, we have the experience, resources, and dedication necessary to work your case. We believe that you have suffered enough, and will do everything in our power to settle your claim to satisfaction. You don’t have to handle this alone.  Call us for a free consultation today at (937) 222-2030.

Ohio Swimming Pool Laws

Ohio swimming pool laws

Summer is upon us in all of its temperate glory and it has many people seeking out a tried and true way to cool off – by a nice swim in the pool.  This long held American tradition is almost an ideal image for most: beautiful blue water, a few floats or lounge chairs, and maybe even a drink or two to help enjoy the overall relation.  On a scorching hot Saturday afternoon this summer, chances are high that a few neighbors  will suggest gathering at your beautiful  in-ground pool for shenanigans, and maybe some BBQ to boot. It all sounds like good clean fun, right? Of course! But as a homeowner or business owner in Ohio (or just as someone who enjoys a few laps at the public pools) it is important to be aware of the consequences of what can go wrong during a pool day.

According to the CDC, ten people die every day from unintentional drowning. Of these ten, two are still kids, usually aged 14 or less. 

For our youngest and most vulnerable offspring, kids aged 1-4, accidental drowning becomes the number one cause of unintentional injury – and most of these children were being cared for by their parents, at home, and were left unsupervised for 5 minutes or less.  What is even more concerning is that for every child that drowns, five more are hospitalized and require further care than the initial emergency room visit, and 50% of all drowning victims will suffer long term health consequences. Some all too common pool related injuries include Traumatic Brain Injury (insert link to previous article here), pneumonia, disembowelment, and even evisceration. These particular injuries typically lead to chronic care treatment that is necessary ( and expensive)  for the rest of the victim’s life. 

There are many factors that can reduce the risk of injury while enjoying the pool – mainly, proper supervision. The U.S. Lifesaving Association reported that lifeguards “prevented more than 564,000 water-related injuries” on average in recent years. However, most homeowners will not have a lifeguard on duty (and may not even have an adult trained in CPR present) and not all public pools will have a lifeguard either.  You can also ensure that you have pool safe toys, a deck built with non-slip materials,  and avoid owning a diving board.  You can make sure the pool is covered when not in use, and child safe gates ( at least 4’ tall with self-closing latches that open outward)  and locks prevent unsupervised entry into the pool area. 

Yet even with these preventative measures in place, you may still be liable in the event of injury at your pool.

In the state of Ohio, homeowners can also be held liable under the attractive nuisance law for injuries to a child trespassing on your property. Read more about Ohio private swimming pool laws here.

Here’s what you should know:

Stay Safe; Stay Aware – Know Ohio swimming pool laws.

  • Supervise children at all times.
  • If a child goes missing while in your care, always check the pool first.
  • Keep proper safety equipment, such as a grab pole and a telephone, in case emergency services are needed.
  • Keep children away from skimmer openings, drains and other places they could get trapped.
  • Learn CPR for both children and adults

There are Ohio swimming pool laws and federal laws to protect your rights if you or a loved one have suffered an injury related to a swimming pool, hot tub, or spa.  Don’t just assume that your homeowner’s insurance will cover a pool related injury – talk to your coverage provider and see what is actually covered, or if your plan includes an umbrella policy within it.  If you or a loved one have been injured in a public or private pool, you may very well be entitled to compensation.  Call us today for a free, no obligation consultation on your case – (937) 222-2030.

Is an Ohio personal injury lawsuit expensive?

One of the first questions many people have is: Is an Ohio personal injury lawsuit expensive? How much will this cost me? Can I afford it?

Dealing with a personal injury lawsuit is a tumultuous and potentially difficult time in one’s life. Not only are you dealing with all of the difficulties entailed in being injured and recovering, but you have the additional stress of potentially missing work, finding a lawyer to work with, and filing a suit.  One of the main worries those injured face is the cost of the lawsuit.

Many people do not understand that depending on your individual circumstances, the lawsuit can become costly very quickly. There are many factors that determine the price you will face when you file, but here are some rough guidelines to help you get a ballpark of the typical cost of an Ohio personal injury lawsuit.

To begin with, feel free to shop around for your attorney. Most will offer free consultations or case evaluations and can give you a better idea of a quote when you are actually in front of them giving the details of your claim.  Next, ask them about contingency fees. 

In layman’s terms, a contingency fee is the fee an attorney collects if, and only if, the client has money recovered for them (usually by a settlement or even a jury verdict) by the firm representing them.  This practice can help to let you focus on recovering rather than worrying over the cost of your suit. 

In the circumstance that the lawyer doesn’t recover any compensation, then the claimant may not pay for anything, except court filing fees or similar costs. Contingency fees are usually based on a percentage that equals about a third of the money recovered in the suit – which is only taken out after the money is awarded.  If your lawyer chooses to use contingency fees, you will sit down with them and write out the rate and terms in a contract.

Under Ohio law, these contracts must follow the guidelines set by the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct. The Court Statistics Project states that the average cost of an auto accident lawsuit averages $40,000 and that a simple slip and fall lawsuit can be up to $50,000.  In many cases, big insurance companies or individuals will attempt to drag out litigation in hopes that the victims will give up, or accept a smaller settlement that they may be entitled to. 

Beyond the costs of litigation, one must also be aware of the time frames involved in the type of suit you are filing for. In other words: how long do you have to file your suit. In Ohio, these are your guidelines for typical claims:

  • Personal Injury: Two years from the date of injury
  • Medical Malpractice: One year, the “clock” starts to run at the time the injury is discovered, or when the doctor/patient relationship for the treated condition ends.
  • Product Liability: Within  two years after “cause of action” accrues.
  • Wrongful Death: Two years from the time of the victim’s death or from the date it was discovered that negligence was involved in the death.

Since these time frames are relatively short,  if you plan on filing a personal injury suit it is  paramount that you begin your research as soon as possible. In most cases, victims will have better chances of filing a suit and settling it in a timely manner with a personal injury attorney on their side. 

At our firm we believe that everyone has a right to proper representation  with the clients best interest at heart.  We care about our neighbors in Ohio, and do everything in our power to make sure they are compensated fairly.  We strive to ensure our clients can focus on what matters most – getting back to feeling well- as opposed to staying up at night, worrying over their case. We hope that this information has helped answer any questions you might have about if an Ohio personal injury lawsuit is expensive. If you have any questions about your potential claim, call us today at (937) 222-2030 to schedule your free consultation.

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.