If you’ve been harmed, there’s no question that you deserve to hold the offenders responsible. The best way for you to receive justice is to know your rights, which protect essential parts of your case and can help you and us reach the verdict or settlement you’re owed.
- Make and Keep Records
If your situation involves a motor vehicle crash, regardless of who may be at fault, it is helpful to obtain a copy of the police report, learn the identity of any witnesses and obtain photographs of the scene, vehicles and any visible injuries. Keep copies of the receipts related to expenses and medical care from the incident.
- Know When You Should Sign or Say Anything
You may not want to give an interview or recorded statement without first consulting an attorney, because the statement may be used against you. If you are at fault or have been charged with a traffic violation or other offense, it may be advisable to consult an attorney right away. However, if you have insurance, your policy probably requires you to cooperate with your insurance company and provide a statement to the company. If you fail to cooperate with your insurance company, it may void your coverage.
- Protect Your Insurance Coverage
Your interests and those of the other person’s insurance company are in conflict. Your interests may also be in conflict with your own insurance company. Even if you are not sure who is at fault, you should contact your own insurance company and advise the company of the incident to protect your coverage.
- Know Your Time Limit to File an Insurance Claim
Legal rights, including filing a lawsuit, are subject to time limits. You should ask what time limits apply to your claim. You may need to act immediately to protect your rights.
- Get It in Writing
You may want to request that any offer of settlement be put in writing, including a written explanation of the types of damages they are willing to cover.
- Understand When Legal Assistance Is Appropriate
You may consult with an attorney before you sign any document or release of claims. A release may cut off all future rights against others, obligate you to repay past medical bills or disability benefits or jeopardize future benefits. If your interests conflict with your own insurance company, you always have the right to discuss the matter with an attorney of your choice, which may be at your own expense.
- Find an Attorney
If you need professional advice about a legal problem, but do not know an attorney, you may wish to check with relatives, friends, neighbors, your employer or co-workers who can recommend an attorney. Also, your local bar association may have a lawyer referral service.
- Check a Lawyer’s Qualifications
Before hiring any lawyer, you have the right to know the lawyer’s background, training and experience in dealing with cases similar to yours.
- Ask How Much It Will Cost
In deciding whether to hire a specific lawyer, you should discuss costs. The lawyer’s written fee agreement should reflect:How is the lawyer to be paid? If you already have a settlement offer, how will that affect a contingent fee arrangement?How are the expenses involved in your case, such as telephone calls, deposition costs and fees for expert witnesses, to be paid? Will these costs be advanced by the lawyer or charged to you as they are incurred? Since you may be obligated to pay all expenses even if you lose your case, how will payment be arranged?Who will handle your case? If the case goes to trial, who will be the trial attorney?
This information is not intended as a complete description of your legal rights, but as a checklist of some of the important issues you should consider.
THE SUPREME COURT OF OHIO, WHICH GOVERNS THE CONDUCT OF LAWYERS IN THE STATE OF OHIO, NEITHER PROMOTES NOR PROHIBITS THE DIRECT SOLICITATION OF PERSONAL INJURY VICTIMS. THE COURT DOES REQUIRE THAT, IF SUCH A SOLICITATION IS MADE, IT MUST INCLUDE THE ABOVE DISCLOSURE.