Copyright © 2023 Charles E. Boyk Law Offices, LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduced with Permission.
Despite the best efforts of the most experienced drivers, accidents still happen. And when they do, victims of wrecks may wonder if they have legal recourse against negligent parties. Thankfully, the law allows for people to take a stand against irresponsible parties in court. For the victim of the Toledo car wreck, legal recourse against a negligent driver and negotiations with a workers’ compensation provider were necessary. However, after the initial consultation of the Toledo rear-end accident, it was determined that settling outside of court may not be the best course of action for the client.
After numerous surgeries and lifestyle changes that followed, it was determined that a civil case was the only way for this client to obtain fair compensation. If you feel as though you might be in a similar situation, retaining the services of an attorney familiar with car wrecks could be the first step in taking action against negligent drivers.
The victim of the rear-end collision contacted an attorney’s office approximately a week after the accident. They met with another attorney in the office and thought it was just a small auto-accident case. Two weeks after the situation, attorneys realized that the victim was having substantial problems and was probably going to need surgery.
The case was referred to another attorney in the same office because the case was going to involve not only a personal injury claim, but a workers’ compensation claim as well. To get any treatment allowed in the claim, it had to be approved through the administrative hearing by the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. The doctors could not do exactly what the attorneys wanted until the lawyers went to hearing and won hearings to get the treatment allowed and approved in the administrative environment.
During the first meeting with the client, attorneys explained to the client how the Ohio Worker’s Compensation system works, including what papers would be filed, what the team would have to prove with the administrative hearing, and how treatment would not go as fast as a typical situation. The doctors could do whatever they think is appropriate.
In a Workers’ Comp. situation, the paperwork has to be filed with the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. The employer could fight the treatment or consent to the treatment. In this case, the employer fought some of the treatment. Any time there is a fight over the treatment, the case has to go to an administrative hearing, whether or not there is an administrative hearing officer, which sometimes delays the appropriate treatment up to a couple of months.
In this case, the client would suffer from a lot of pain because the doctors could not immediately do what they thought what was proper. They would have to fight to get the requested treatment allowed in the claim.
After the first meeting, documents were filed. The client previously signed representation and medical authorizations. In the personal injury case, the client signed additional contracts to represent them and authorizations for their workers’ compensation claim. All of those were filed with the Industrial Commission of the State of Ohio so attorneys could start the process to get the requested treatment.
At the first meeting, the client discussed how the doctor wanted to preform the initial discectomy. The team had to try to have the doctor fill out the correct paperwork and file it with the Bureau for Workers’ Compensation in the Industrial Commission so they could get the first surgery.
The paperwork requested from the client to ease the process of their legal pursuit in Toledo included signing numerous and different medical authorizations for every medical provider in Toledo and each medical network. There is the Mercy network, the ProMedica network, the UTMC network, and the Saint Luke’s network. They all have their own specific authorizations to obtain medical billing and medical records.
The signed paperwork allowed the team to have access to the victim’s workers’ compensation claim, to be listed as representative, to receive all the hearing notices and paperwork, and to file motions to allow additional conditions and compensation in their claim.
In this case, attorneys sent a representation letter the next day to the trucking company that employed the person responsible for the accident to make them aware of the client’s claim. That was done immediately after signing the case. Two weeks later, when meeting with the client, attorneys filed all the paperwork and provided that to both the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation and the representatives of the client’s employer at Perrysburg Township.
Attorneys did request paperwork and documents from the opposing party at this time. From the employer, the team requested any prior medical records that they had in the industrial worker’s compensation claim. For the sake of building a more favorable case, attorneys also requested a copy of the union contract between the employer and the police. The other reason for that request was because the client was going to be off work for an extended period of time and the team needed to see what the client’s legal rights were and if and how long they would keep that job open. From the trucking company, the team requested the policy limits of the insurance policy and a copy of the insurance contract to see how much insurance coverage was available. The last request included photos of the property damage and estimates of the damages to both vehicles, which were the truck and the sedan of the victim. Fortunately, the team received all of the documentation.
Attorneys had considered the timeframe for filing a civil court case in Toledo in the client’s case. In this case, the decision was not to file the lawsuit right away. Initially, it was thought that there was a possibility to settle the case out of court after the first surgery. As the case became much more complicated with three surgeries, a serious psychological condition, and the possibility or likelihood that the client would never return to work, the team realized that the case was becoming much more complicated and that they could not get full value without filing the lawsuit. Based on that, about nine months into the case the team filed the lawsuit to maximize the recovery for the client.
The statute of limitations for cases such as the client’s case in Toledo would be two years from the date of the accident. This case would be considered a car accident negligence case under Ohio Law for an adult. In this case, it was about nine months before the decision was made to pursue legal action in court.
It is important to be cognizant of these from a strategic perspective. For example, if attorneys filed the case after the two-year statute of limitations, they would be giving up their right to file a lawsuit. The client would be able to recover nothing in the case. The lawsuit has to be filed before the two-year deadline expires.
Sometimes if a person files a case too soon, the person would subsequently not have all of the desired medical records by the time the case would be set for trial. In Lucas County and Toledo, Ohio, if a person files a lawsuit they are typically going to receive a trial date about a year after the filing of the lawsuit. In this case, after nine months the Toledo team knew that the client was still treating but felt within a year after the filing of the lawsuit they would be in an excellent position to evaluate the full value of the case.
What influenced their decision was how the case became much more complicated because of all the different surgeries and because of the inevitable and substantial lost wages. There was also going to be substantial future lost wages and the ability to work in the future. In this case, the team had to compare what the victim would have made as a police officer over the next 30 years. The client was also in the military reserves, so they had to consider what the victim would be able to make in the military reserves both money-wise, benefit-wise, and pension-wise. That type of evidence would require an economist and a life care planner to substantiate in court. The team knew that an insurance company was going to want to get him examined by their doctor and see how good of a witness the economist was before paying a substantial amount of money.
In this case, the type of civil case the team decided to pursue in Toledo was a claim of negligence against the driver. Lawyers filed a claim of respondent’s superior, which means that the owner of the company is liable for the actions of their employees within the scope of employment. The team filed that against the employer trucking company. Additionally, the team also filed claims of loss of consortium and loss of services on behalf of the client’s wife and three children.
The paperwork or specific documents filed on the client’s behalf to initiate this lawsuit were filed in a complaint, which is another name for a lawsuit. The team also filed a request for interrogatories, which would be questions under oath that the employee and the employer defendants would have to answer in the case.
The specific causes of action alleged in the client’s claim were negligence against the employee driver or respondeat superior, meaning the employer is responsible for the actions of their employees. Other actions were negligent supervision, negligent hiring of the employee against the employer, and loss of consortium, meaning loss of services on behalf of the client’s spouse and his three children.
The only enforceable legal agreement that existed during the incident that impacted the client’s case was a union contract that the client and their union had with this employer. The union contract required mandatory workers’ compensation for the client. That would pay medical bills and a large portion of lost wages. It would give the client rights as far as a permanent partial disability, which would include pain and suffering under the union contract and under Ohio Worker’s Compensation law. It also would include a subrogation clause, which means that whatever benefits were paid by the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation on behalf of the client would have to be paid back or at least negotiate a settlement. Also, under the union contract, the client had a right to keep their job for a long period of time.
One of the issues that later developed was the employer consistently wanted the client to resign as an employee because the employer was in a situation in which they could not hire an additional police officer until the client resigned. Attorneys were able to use that as bargaining leverage after the personal injury case resolved to reach a severance agreement with the employer because they were stuck and unable to hire a replacement unless they voluntarily resigned.
The team calculated the potential damages owed to the client at the point in time it became clear based on the prognosis, their neurosurgeon, their pain doctor, and their psychologist that they were never going to be able to return to work in the military reserves and as a police officer. The factors the team considered in calculating these damages were the client’s economic earning potential vocationally as a police officer and in the military. The calculation was based on the client’s limitations, educational background, and what could be earned with permanent restrictions placed by their neurosurgeon, orthopedic surgeon, and clinical psychologist.
For the client of the Toledo car wreck case, life was changed invariably when a negligent driver struck them on the road. Life is unpredictable, and sometimes is even unfair. However, when the client elected to retain the services of an attorney, the client was able to preserve their future to the extent they could. The client had lost much: his career and time spent recovering. After an initial consultation of the Toledo rear-end accident, the client elected to pursue a legal claim in court offered a more favorable form of recovery for them.
If you feel as though another driver was responsible of your injuries, you need to connect with an attorney who could review your case. If it is determined that you have legal precedence, an attorney familiar with car wreck cases could bring your claim to court or settle outside of court depending on your wishes. Reach out to an attorney today.