Your Cleveland Personal Injury Case: The Basics
A "personal injury" is the physical harm you suffer because of another person's negligent or intentionally bad conduct. If someone injured you, and you plan to file a lawsuit, you are a "plaintiff." If someone out there claims that you injured him or her, then you are a "defendant." For example, if you slip on a wet floor in the Tower City Center and hurt yourself, you may want to sue to recover your medical costs. Then, you become that plaintiff. A "cause of action" is a legal claim that a plaintiff can make. It's the basis for a legitimate lawsuit.
Time Limits for a Lawsuit
General Rule: Two Years
The state of Ohio places limits on the time that a plaintiff has to file a lawsuit. These limits are known as "statutes of limitation." Generally, a plaintiff must file a lawsuit within two years of the time that he or she learns of the injury.
Special rules: Time Limits May Vary
Time limits can change depending on who or what caused your injury. For example, if your injury was due to medical malpractice, generally you only have one year to file a claim. But if your injury was caused by a faulty tire that exploded on the Shoreway, you may have roughly ten years. In any personal injury case, it's best to consult an attorney early on so that you can know what statute of limitation deadline applies to your case.
Where To File Your Case
The Cleveland metro-area is made up of multiple counties and cities. It's nearly impossible to generalize here and say exactly which court should receive your claim. Take a look at our page listing courthouses in Greater Cleveland for better idea of where all the courts are located. Our page features links to the courthouses themselves and informational phone numbers.
Finding a Lawyer
Contingent Fee Agreements for Plaintiffs
If you've been injured, you may have medical bills and lost wages that make it difficult for you to hire a lawyer. In Ohio, some lawyers will represent you with a "contingent fee agreement." This means that the lawyer will represent you and only collect his/her fee if you receive a settlement or a judgment in your favor. The amount of the fee or formula for calculating the fee should be set before the lawyer begins working on your case.
Insurance for Defendants
Before you begin looking for a defense attorney, you may want to check with your insurance provider. Insurance polices sometimes cover homeowners and business owners for lawsuits arising from injuries on site. Car insurance policies sometimes cover legal defense in the event that you are sued after a collision.
Check FindLaw for legal services designed for clients with lower incomes. Some individuals will qualify for free or low cost legal services. If you do not qualify, check with the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association for its Lawyer Referral Service. This professional group matches people who are looking for paid legal help with qualified lawyers.
Common Personal Injury Situations
The facts surrounding car accidents can be really complicated, and the injuries can be severe or fatal. Given the high stakes, you may want to consider finding a Cleveland attorney that specializes in auto accidents.
Workplace Accidents and Workers Compensation
You are entitled to workers' compensation benefits if you suffer a work-related injury or become ill with "an occupational disease." You may be eligible for payments for medical care, lost wages, death benefits. In Ohio, you can choose your health care provider as long as the provider is approved by the Bureau of Workers' Compensation ("BWC"). For more information, review BWC Basics for Injured Workers.
Consumer products can sometimes be unsafe, and product liability laws help consumers recover for their injuries. Sometimes a product was made poorly, so some of them leave the factory unfit for the market. Sometimes a product is designed poorly, so all of them leave the factory unfit for the market. In other cases, a potentially dangerous product needs a safety warning. Talk to a products liability attorney or a personal injury attorney if you feel that you have been injured. In Ohio, the statute of limitation for product liability cases can vary, but it is generally in the area of ten years.
Personal injury cases can vary so much, there is no one general process to handle all of them. This is a general overview of things that might be an issue during a personal injury case in Cleveland. For more local information on your case, talk to an attorney in your area.
Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney
Contact a qualified attorney.