Co-Counseling a Personal Injury Case: Tips for Working with Other Attorneys

This article originally appeared in the September/October 2017 issue of Ohio Lawyer, the Ohio State Bar Association’s member magazine.


co-counsel

By William J. Price

A former client is injured in a car accident, holds the other driver accountable and asks for your help. If your firm doesn’t typically handle personal injury claims, you may think there’s nothing you can do for the client. In this scenario, by recommending a co-counsel agreement, attorneys have the opportunity to assist former clients while building relationships with other attorneys and firms.  Continue reading “Co-Counseling a Personal Injury Case: Tips for Working with Other Attorneys”

Navigating the insurance claims process: Tips from a personal injury attorney

By William J. Price

insurance claims processYour car was destroyed in a crash, and now you’re stuck dealing with the other guy’s insurance carrier. A few days after exiting the Emergency Room, you begin receiving medical bills and phone calls demanding payment. To make times worse, you cannot return to work until your doctor signs a paper acknowledging you are physically able to work. You send all of the medical bills to the adjuster asking to have your wages reimbursed. After a few days of no returned phone calls turn into a few weeks, you go from angry to irate.

Continue reading “Navigating the insurance claims process: Tips from a personal injury attorney”

When man’s best friend isn’t so friendly: Tips for avoiding dog bites

You’re jogging down the sidewalk when, out of nowhere, an unfamiliar dog comes charging toward you. Do you run the opposite direction? Scream at the top of your lungs?

In this scenario, following your Avoiding Dog Bitesfirst instinct would probably be the worst decision you could make. Loud noises or sudden movements will further provoke the dog, and your odds of outrunning one are slim.

Being attacked by a dog is a traumatic experience, and can leave victims with serious or even fatal injuries. There’s no surefire way to prevent an attack by an aggressive dog, but there are measures you can take to help deescalate the situation if one approaches you.

Follow these tips for avoiding dog bites on your walks, runs and bike rides.

4 tips for avoiding dog bites:

1. Be prepared

Carry pepper spray or an animal deterrent spray each time you go out for a walk, run or bike ride. A spare article of clothing, umbrella or extendable bite stick could also help distract or hold off the dog if an attack is inevitable.

2. Stand very still

The movements of runners and bikers often serve as a trigger for a dog’s prey drive. As soon as you realize a dog is approaching you, stop where you are and turn slightly away from the animal.

3. Remain calm

An attacking dog instinctively takes advantage of “prey” that appears scared or weak. While you must avoid coming off as a threat, appearing calm and confident shows the dog you are dominant and in control of the situation.

4. Avoid eye contact

Dogs are not generally inclined to attack humans unless they feel threatened, but looking a dog in the eye signals a challenge. Keep the dog in your peripheral vision to help you track its movements without further provoking it.

Ideally the dog will realize you are not a threat and eventually lose interest, giving you a chance to slowly exit the area. If the dog proceeds to attack despite your efforts, do your best to protect your face, throat and chest, and keep your hands balled into fists to protect your fingers.

On the flip side

Be sure you’re doing your part to prevent your dog from becoming aggressive with others. Always supervise your dog when it’s outside or keep it contained in your yard. Watch for holes in your fence or other ways your dog could escape, as was the case when two Cane Corso dogs attacked an Elyria woman earlier this year.

All dog owners, especially those who own dogs considered dangerous or vicious, have a duty to keep their animal confined. Call 1-800-ELK-OHIO or fill out our online contact form for a free consultation if you or a loved one were seriously injured by a dog.

Look Before You Leap: Open and obvious hazards

What you need to know about Open and Obvious Hazards

Slip and fall injuries are common in Ohio, but if a hazard is “open and obvious,” the property owner may not be responsible for your injuries.

open and obvious, personal injury, premises liability
Property owners are generally not liable for injuries caused by open and obvious hazards. Photo Credit: Jonathan Pendleton / CC BY 2.0

Proving negligence in a slip and fall case

To better understand the open and obvious doctrine, let’s start with the basics of negligence. Generally speaking, Ohio property owners are not responsible for injuries to their guests unless they know of a dangerous condition and fail to provide an adequate warning.

To prove negligence in Ohio, an injury victim must prove the following:

Elements of Negligence Definition Example
1. The defendant owed the plaintiff a “duty of care” A legal obligation to prevent harm to visitors Store owners  must keep their store “in a reasonably safe condition” and warn customers of hidden dangers
2.They breached that duty The property owner did (or didn’t do) something they should have An employee failed to put out a caution sign after he mopped the floor
3. The breach caused the injury Their failure to maintain the property or warn you about something dangerous was the reason you got hurt You didn’t notice the danger, slipped on the wet floor and broke your arm

 

Unfortunately, in many instances, even where each element of negligence has been met and a slip and fall accident has caused serious injuries, no legal claim exists. One of the many ways a property owner may defend a premises liability claim is to use the open and obvious defense.

Open and Obvious

In Ohio, courts have repeatedly held that property owners have no duty to people entering their premises regarding dangers that are open and obvious. The basis of this legal concept is that any obviously dangerous hazard serves as its own warning (like an enormous hole in the ground.) Therefore, a property owner may reasonably expect their invitees to notice the danger and do what is needed to protect themselves. As a rule, since open-and-obvious doctrine removes the duty to warn, it acts as a complete bar to any negligence claims.

Related post: Negligence Per Se Lawsuits

Latent Dangers

In addition to owing invitees a duty of ordinary care in maintaining their property, an owner or occupier of property also has a duty to warn an invitee of dangerous hidden conditions. That means if the property owner purposely hides a dangerous condition or fails to warn invited guests of a hidden danger, the owner may be responsible for a victim’s injuries.

But I didn’t see it!

It is important to remember that the dangerous condition itself does not actually have to be seen by the plaintiff to be an open and obvious condition under the law. In a premises liability claim, generally, your conduct is usually immaterial. That means if you got hurt because you were looking at your phone and not paying attention, the property owner is not responsible for your injury. However, even if a condition was open and obvious, the property owner could still be liable if he or she created “attendant circumstances” – unusual situations that distracted you at the time of your fall.

Do I need a lawyer for my slip and fall case?

Premises liability claims can be difficult to prove. If you were hurt in a slip and fall or trip and fall accident, contact an experienced personal injury attorney immediately to review the merits of your case. An attorney can help collect and preserve evidence; negotiate with insurance companies and help recover compensation for injuries, missed work, and non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering.

 

 

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