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Personal Injury FAQ

Personal Injury / Personal Injury FAQs

Q.: I was injured in an automobile accident caused by another person. Do I need an attorney?

A.: If you have been seriously injured, you will probably want to retain an attorney. If your injury was not serious, you may wish to try to resolve the case on your own, although even in such a case, you may wish to consult with an attorney before agreeing to any settlement. When attempting to resolve a case on your own, you should collect all of your medical bills and obtain a statement regarding the amount of any lost wages. It is important for you to know that once you sign a release, it is very unlikely that you will be able to claim additional injuries at a later time. Also, if you sign a medical release, you may be allowing an insurance company access to medical records that are not related to your accident. You may also risk having that information shared with other insurance companies for use on other occasions.

Q.: If I decide I need an attorney to handle my personal injury lawsuit, what factors should I consider in choosing someone to represent me?

A.: Because your case is so important, you should take extra care in your selection of an attorney. Do not necessarily rely on the attorney with the best ad on television or in the telephone book. Instead, talk to people you know and trust and get a list of attorneys with good reputations. Ask an attorney of your choice if he/she is comfortable handling a personal injury claim. If the attorney says he/she is not adequately experienced, ask for a referral to an attorney who is experienced in personal injury cases. Remember, the attorney you select works for you, so it is important you feel comfortable with the attorney you hire. Some attorneys have sought out and achieved certification as civil trial specialists by taking a qualifying test and by submitting their experience to others in the legal field; however, not all experienced attorneys have sought out this certification

Q.: How do I pay an attorney for representing me in a civil action, such as a personal injury lawsuit?

A.: Before you retain any attorney, you should discuss the various payment options available between you and the attorney. In a civil case, your attorney can be paid by the hour, by a fixed fee for the service, or by a contingent fee.

When paying on an hourly rate basis, you and your attorney agree upon a per hour rate. The attorney then records the hours spent and bills you for all of the time he/she spent on your case. When paying on a fixed fee basis, you and your attorney agree upon the fee for each service he/she is going to provide to you.

When paying your attorney on a “contingent fee” basis, you pay a percentage of the amount recovered in the lawsuit if you are successful. You should negotiate the percentage of the recovery with your attorney. If there is no recovery, the attorney generally will not be paid a fee, although Ohio attorneys usually pass on certain litigation expenses even with a contingent fee contract. In many circumstances, a contingent fee arrangement may be the most desirable and affordable method for you. You should not feel forced, however, to pay a percentage of your expected recovery if you feel some other method of payment may be more desirable. Any contingent fee, according to Ohio law, must be in writing.

Regardless of the specific payment method you choose, you should request that your attorney provide you with a written copy of your fee arrangement. Also, you should discuss with your attorney how costs and expenses are going to be paid during the representation.

Q.: If I have insurance and I am sued for causing a personal injury to another person, how do I get an attorney?

A.: Any time you receive notice of a lawsuit, you should immediately notify all of your insurance carriers and/or insurance agents. You should also provide your insurance company or agent with a copy of the lawsuit papers and notice you received. Because your insurance company may be responsible for paying all or part of any judgment against you, your insurance policy almost always provide you with a defense to the other person’s claims and lawsuit. Generally, if the policy provides for a defense, the insurance company will appoint an attorney to represent you at no cost to you.