In 2016, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that a punitive damages award against dead person allowed
. The deceased person’s estate can be held responsible for punitive damages if a trial court awards such damages against the decedent, cutting into the share of the estate the heirs can receive.
If you do not like the ruling at trial, you may have Ohio appeal rights, which is the right to appeal the trial court’s decision.
Ohio Appeal Rights To Appeal The Magistrate
If the trial or hearing was heard by a magistrate, you have the right to appeal the magistrate. If the magistrate issued an order, you have the right to ask the judge to set the order aside. This must be filed within ten days of the order. Filing this motion does not automatically stop the order from taking effect. If the magistrate issued a decision, you have the right to object to the decision. The objection automatically stops enforcement of the decision. Unfortunately, this includes the parts you may like along with the parts to which you have objections. The objection must be filed within fourteen days of the filing of the magistrate’s decision.
Ohio’s sudden emergency defense to personal injury claims should be considered when pursuing and filing a personal injury case. You can certainly bet that the insurance company and their lawyers will be considering and raising this defense if they believe it can defeat a personal injury claim. A good personal injury lawyer always anticipates the defenses in building a case for the client.
What is the sudden emergency doctrine? The sudden emergency defense consists of:
- The person was confronted by a sudden or unexpected emergency;
- The claimed emergency was not the result of any fault of the person or any circumstance under the person’s control; and
- The person exercised such care as a reasonably cautious person would exercise under the same or similar circumstances.
A good offense in fighting for injured people involves anticipating the defenses that will be raised by the person who caused the injury. What defenses are available in Ohio personal injury cases?
In most personal injury cases, there are four things the injured person must prove: (1) the defendant owed you a duty of care; (2) the defendant breached that duty; (3) the breach of the duty was the proximate cause of your injury; and (4) personal injury, property damage or both. The first defense is simply to show that the injured person failed to prove these things. Careful attention to the details of the accident and how those details compare to the injuries make the difference in getting the recovery that you deserve.
Typically, a personal injury claim is based on negligence. Negligence occurs when someone causes harm by failing to take the degree of care that an ordinarily careful and reasonable person would take under the same or similar circumstances. For example, a reasonable person should watch the road while they are driving. If the driver is texting and driving and fails to see a car stopped in front of him or her, the driver is negligently failing to watch the road. That driver would be liable for any harm the results from the that negligent act.
When personal injury is caused by negligence, there are four things the injured person must prove: (1) the defendant owed you a duty of care; (2) the defendant breached that duty; (3) the breach of the duty was the proximate cause of your injury; and (4) personal injury, property damage or both. Using our example, the driver owed the other drivers on the road the duty of care of complying with Ohio traffic laws. When that driver breached that duty by texting and failing to watch the road, and striking the vehicle in front of the driver, the driver failed to maintain an assured clear distance as required under Ohio law
. The driver’s action is the proximate cause of the damage to the other vehicle and the people inside the other vehicle. The damages may include the monetary amount required to repair or replace the vehicle and to treat the injury from the accident.
If the owner of a vehicle knew at the time he or she allowed the driver to operate a vehicle that the driver was unqualified to operate the vehicle, the owner could be liable for negligent entrustment, also known as wrongful entrustment of motor vehicle. Ohio law
states that the owner of a vehicle shall not allow one to drive their vehicle if they know or have reasonable cause to believe that the person: does not have a valid driver’s license; has a suspended driver’s license; or is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The code lists some more obscure reasons, which can be found here
. When the owner and driver live in the same household and are related to each other, the law assumes that the owner knows that the household member’s driver’s license is invalid.
How are medical bills in personal injury cases used for reimbursement purposes? Medical bills usually have two rates: (1) the full uninsured rate; and (2) the adjusted rate, or the amount of the bill after the bill is adjusted to the rate according to the agreement between the medical provider and the insurance company. Some like to refer to this second amount as the amount of the bill after the medical provider writes off some of the bill. Which figure does the jury get to hear at trial? The Ohio Supreme Court ruled on this issue in 2006, in Robinson v. Bates
. In their decision, the Ohio Supreme Court said that both the amount billed and the amount accepted as full payment could be admitted into evidence. Any difference between the original medical bill and the amount accepted is not a benefit. Because a medical bill is good evidence of the reasonable value of charges for medical services, either version of the bills can be used to demonstrate that value.
In many personal injury cases, there is no question as to whether someone is liable for injuries caused in an accident. When someone hits someone from behind or veers into oncoming traffic and hits another car head-on, we can all agree that these individuals will usually be liable for any resulting injuries.
In slip and fall personal injury cases, liability for the injury is not always so clear. The owner of the premises must be negligent in maintaining the premises. This means there is some defect in the premises. The defect could be a hole in the ground, a slippery surface, or unstable steps. However, negligence alone will not win the case. If the defect was open and obvious, the injured person cannot recover for his or her injury. In some cases, this makes perfect sense. If the owner spots a hole and immediately puts posts and yellow warning tape around the hole, the owner has rendered the defect open and obvious. In many circumstances, the owner would not be liable if someone were to fall into the hole. Because people should be able to see the hole, they should be able to avoid it. What if the owner did this in an unlit portion of a parking lot? If the injured person could not reasonably see the warning, then the defect would no longer be open and obvious.
The 2005 Ohio Tort Reform Law
requires Ohio courts hearing personal injury lawsuits to grant requests for bifurcation of trials when both compensatory and punitive damages are sought. In other words, two trials may be required in some personal injury cases. The constitutionality of the tort reform law was challenged in a case called Havel v. Villa St. Joseph
. Ordinarily, the Ohio Supreme Court gets to make the rules and judges get to decide whether to bifurcate a trial
. The Ohio Tort Reform Law was basically the legislature telling the judicial branch how to run their courtrooms during personal injury trials. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled that the bifurcation requirement created the right to demand a bifurcation. The Ohio Supreme Court noted that the General Assembly intended to reform punitive damages law in Ohio in order to restore balance, fairness, and predictability to the civil justice system. The law was designed to prevent juries from considering evidence of misconduct in determining liability and compensatory damages.
When you are injured, an experienced personal injury attorney can provide you with the aggressive representation to protect your rights. Personal injuries resulting in money damages can be caused in several ways, including automobile accidents, slip and falls, and improperly prepared food.