Should I hire a lawyer? How much time do I have to file a lawsuit? Is this case even worth the effort? Those are just some of the questions that come to mind if you're considering a personal injury claim.
There are many rumors and stigmas within personal injury law — and many of them are false. Few people understand the process of making a personal injury claim after an accident, or negotiating a settlement for their injuries and medical costs, so contacting an experienced attorney for an initial consultation is one of the first steps to get answers to the questions you have.
In the interest of setting the record straight, let's dispel some of those frequent myths and work through the misconceptions.
Myth: I can handle a case on my own instead of hiring a lawyer
While retaining an attorney isn't necessary to negotiate your claim or even file a lawsuit, it is highly recommended. The legal system is a maze for the lay person to navigate, with deadlines and complex civil rules, and involving legal counsel early will help you avoid any pitfalls in your case you may not be aware of. A lawyer will have a full understanding of the legal situation and rules to guide you through the process, and can investigate right away to preserve evidence and witnesses.
Another challenge to representing yourself is that a lawsuit can be emotionally and mentally taxing, which can make litigating your own case that much more challenging. A skilled attorney will know how to objectively negotiate for fair compensation while handling the back-and-forth of the various deadlines, procedures and filings.
Lastly, and most importantly, you can be sure that the opposing side in any claim or lawsuit will have legal representation, either from an attorney or insurance company, that is very adept at negotiating because they do it professionally. You should have the same professional representation.
Myth: I have plenty of time to file a lawsuit, so I can always do this later
False. Each state and claim have their own statute of limitations — which is essentially a time limit to file a lawsuit. In Ohio, the statute of limitations in personal injury matters is either one or two years, and the time usually begins the moment you were injured.
Trying to file after this timeline has run out will typically mean your case is dismissed and you won't be able to receive any compensation for your injury.
Myth: Personal injury cases are generally frivolous
There's a stigma that people who file personal injury lawsuits are engaging in frivolous action. But the reality is that most personal injury claims come from parties who have suffered injuries because of others' negligence.
A frivolous lawsuit is a claim without any basis for law or fact. The area of the law that relates to personal injury (such as auto accident liability, wrongful death, workplace injuries, or defective product claims) is known as Tort Law — a core class at almost every law school.
If you have questions about a possible claim, contact Lowe Eklund Wakefield Co., LPA, using the form at the bottom of the page, or call us at (216) 781-2600 to speak with an attorney for a no-cost, no-obligation initial consultation.