Cleveland Car Accident Attorneys
Helping Victims Navigate the Claims and Legal Process in Cuyahoga County
Sadly, many car accidents are caused by drivers who act recklessly or negligently, meaning that several collisions could have been prevented. Fortunately, personal injury law allows victims of accidents caused by others to take legal action. Pursuing a claim or lawsuit is a way to hold the at-fault party financially responsible for the harm they caused. That means if you or a loved one was injured in a car crash, you may have legal recourse and can seek monetary recovery for accident-related expenses and losses.
The laws concerning your rights after a traffic collision can be difficult to interpret, especially if you don't have a legal background and when you are recovering from your injuries. At HMW Law, we understand the challenges you might face when trying to pursue a claim, which is why we can provide the representation you need to navigate your case. Our Cleveland car accident lawyers have over 75 years of combined experience and a thorough understanding of the processes you must go through to resolve your case. With 24/7 availability and a commitment to communicate effectively with our clients, we will be responsive and ready to help when you need us.
On This Page
- Common Causes
- Common Injuries
- What to Do After an Accident
- Typical Steps of a Claim
- Recoverable Damages
- Statute of Limitations
- Frequently Asked Questions
Many factors are at play when you're traveling on the road. As such, several things can go wrong, which can result in a crash. The causes of car accidents vary widely and can arise from driver error, product defects, and environmental conditions, among others.
The most common causes of car accidents include:
- Distracted driving: This is when motorists are not paying attention to the road. Their hands may be off the wheel, their eyes off the highway, or their mind off the task at hand. Distracted driving behaviors include but are not limited to eating, fiddling with the radio, and looking at passengers while talking to them. One of the most dangerous forms of distracted driving is texting while driving, as it requires the driver to disengage fully from operating their vehicle. Recently, it has become one of the leading causes of auto accidents.
- Drunk driving: Although state law prohibits getting behind the wheel while intoxicated, some people still engage in this dangerous behavior. When they do, they endanger the lives of others, as they are unable to operate their cars safely.
- Speeding: When a person speeds down the highway, their ability to react to unexpected hazards and safely control their vehicle is severely hampered. One wrong, wrong move while speeding can result in an accident that severely alters another person's life.
- Reckless driving: When people are on the road, they're expected to adhere to traffic laws. That means they must obey speed limits, traffic control devices, and road signs, among other things. If they violate a law or drive aggressively, they have breached their duty of care and may be liable for damages resulting from accidents they caused.
- Mechanical defects: Some accidents may be caused by the failure of car parts. For instance, a tire can blow out and cause a driver to lose control of their vehicle. If the mechanical failure was the result of a defective design or a manufacturing error, the company may be held responsible for the crash.
Most people driving on the roads will be involved in a car accident at least once during their lifetime. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, around 43,000 people die a year in vehicle accidents, and another 2.9 million sustain injuries. This damage, depending on the severity, will need to be treated by a medical professional.
The following injuries are the most commonly sustained in car accidents:
Head injury was one of the biggest reasons airbags were installed in all vehicles manufactured after 1998 and seatbelt use became mandatory in most states. Studies show airbags reduce the risk of death in a head-on collision by 30% and head injury was lowest among people who used airbags and seatbelts. Without these two precautions, people sustained skull fractures and brain injury. While brain injury might sometimes be mild, individuals who do suffer from such damage can experience memory problems, depression, and cognitive difficulties for 6 months or longer after the accident occurred.
Even small collisions to the back of your car can jerk your head forward in an injury called whiplash. The damage from whiplash may go away in 24 hours, but other people can experience the following symptoms for a few days after the injury:
- Neck pain/stiffness
- Pain between the shoulder blades
- Lower back pain
- Pain/numbness in arm and/or hand
- Difficulty recollecting information
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sleeping problems
In more dangerous accidents, however, people can experience debilitating injury as a result of spinal damage. Severe whiplash is called a flexion distraction fracture and could require surgery. In some cases, complications from this injury led to scoliosis, a flat back, or the development of spinal cysts (which can result in chronic pain, respiratory failure, or death). Other spinal injuries include soft tissue bruising/tearing, herniated discs, compression fractures, transverse process fractures, and dislocation fractures.
While seatbelts can protect you from severe brain damage, it may also cause trauma to the chest area. Depending on how severe the car accident was, the impact from an accident may cause a seatbelt to bruise or even fracture ribs and sternum. Likewise, the straps across the abdomen and chest could cause internal trauma, such as damage to the intestines, liver, spleen, lungs, or trachea. Internal bleeding is extremely dangerous and must be treated as soon as possible by a medical professional.
Damage to limbs may not seem as severe as injury to the head or internal organs, but it can lead to extended stays in the hospital, surgery, and physical therapy. It shouldn’t be overlooked that car accidents are occasionally extremely grisly. In addition to broken bones, fractures, lacerations, and bruising, car accidents can cause amputations in cases where the limb is so badly damaged it can’t be rescued.
Car accidents can be extremely traumatic, both physically and mentally. Although most people come out of car accidents no more psychologically unsound than they were before, studies have found some people develop posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), major depression, or anxiety disorders. About 9% of people involved in car accidents develop PTSD. Those who seek mental-health treatment show higher numbers—between 14% and 100% of auto accident survivors have PTSD. In that percentage group, 3%–53% of survivors also have a mood disorder. In another study of survivors seeking treatment, 27% had an anxiety disorder, and 15% had a phobia of driving in addition to the PTSD. Development of a driving phobia can be debilitating in any city requiring the use of a vehicle to get to and from work.
You might need strong evidence to back your injury claim after a crash, especially if the other driver is intent on denying any wrongdoing. To get useful evidence, you should take a few steps in the moments and hours following the accident.
Let our team know if you were able to do the following after the car accident:
- Call 911 to get emergency responders to the scene. The accident reports that they create can be used as evidence later.
- Record contact and insurance information from all involved parties. You will need to know who to file against for your claim to be valid.
- Take photographs and videos of the scene. Statements can be refuted by the defense but images are difficult to challenge.
- Go to the doctor as soon as possible, even if you feel fine. A checkup will legitimize your injuries by making a note on your medical record.
Our Cleveland car accident lawyers are here to guide you through every step of the accident claim process. We can act on your behalf for everything, too, so you don’t need to stress about anything.
The typical steps of a car accident claim in Cleveland will include:
- Verifying insurance policies to see what to file against and if the claim is worth pursuing.
- Investigating the accident to determine liability.
- Calculating the damages owed to you, including future damages.
- Sending a demand letter to give the defendant a chance to pay damages without further incident.
- Allowing you to reach your maximum medical improvement (MMI) if not already reached.
- Entering negotiations to try to get a claim settlement sooner than later.
- Taking your case to litigation if no settlement is possible.
What damages are owed to you after a car accident? It depends on the losses and injuries that you have experienced because of the crash. We can work carefully to calculate the damages owed to you, so you don’t worry about leaving even a dollar unclaimed.
Damages in your car accident claim could include:
- Past and future medical treatment costs
- Lost wages and future income loss
- Vehicle replacement and property damage
- Pain, suffering, and disability complications
Ohio uses a two-year statute of limitations for most car accident claims. It begins on the date of the crash. If it expires and no injury claim is not filed yet, then no claim will be accepted by the court after.
Keep in mind that an injury claim is not the same as an auto insurance claim. You will likely need to file an auto insurance claim soon after the crash.
Call Today for Help with Your Case
If you were involved in a traffic collision, speak with our Cleveland car accident attorneys today. We can investigate your case, identify the cause and responsible party, and help you file a personal injury claim. At HMW Law, we can fight for you every step of the way, protecting your rights and seeking just compensation for the harm you suffered.
Can I file a claim if I caused the accident?
You can’t make a recovery against another driver if you were more than 50% liable for the car accident. If your liability remains at or below 50%, though, then you can pursue a claim for unpaid damages. In other words, you can be partially but not mostly at fault for a crash and still get the chance to file a claim.
Should I accept a settlement from the auto insurance company?
Don’t accept a settlement from the other driver’s auto insurance company without first letting a car accident lawyer review it. You could be handed a settlement offer that is intentionally low. Once you sign an offer, it’s sealed. You can’t un-sign or refute the amount after.
Does it matter if I said “sorry” after the crash?
Saying “sorry” or issuing another form of apology after a car accident is friendly, but it might also jeopardize your injury claim later. Insurance companies like to misconstrue apologies as an admission of guilt, which they will use to try to pin liability on you.
- Decades of Combined Experience
- A Team-Oriented Approach
- Available 24/7 for Our Clients
- Unmatched Work Ethic & Passion for Winning