Steps to Filing a Bicycle Related Injury Claim in Ohio
Getting hit by a car while on your bike is a horrifying experience. The accident can result in high medical costs and make you unable to work for a time. If you’ve been injured in a bicycle accident, you have rights and may be entitled to damages to help you make ends meet during your recovery.
Personal Injury Claims in Ohio
Personal Injury (PI) Claims are for those who have suffered injuries from the negligent or wrongful actions of someone else. A bicyclist who is injured by a motorist can certainly be eligible for a personal injury claim if his or her injuries are severe. There are a number of damages you could receive through a personal injury you claim. They include:
- Compensation for any medical care expenses.
- Compensation for any lost wages, whether short term or long term disability.
- Property damages, such as the value of your bicycle
- Pain and suffering compensation based on the length of treatment and recovery and limitations due to injuries.
- Emotional Distress, including PTSD and other traumas.
- Punitive damages, which is payment to the victim as punishment to the offender.
Ohio is one of a handful of states that places limits on non-economic damages. Non-economic damages (aside from punitive) must not exceed $250,000 OR three times the amount of economic damages, whichever is greater. Punitive damages cannot go over twice the amount of economic damages.
Bicycle Laws in Ohio
When filing any personal injury claim, it is important to prove that you were not at fault during the accident. If you were riding your bicycle in a way that is unlawful, you may be found responsible for the accident. Here are some bicycle laws that you must obey while riding in Ohio.
- Bicycles must obey all traffic laws that cars abide, plus an additional “small set” of rules that apply only to bicycles.
- Bicycles should stay on the right half of the road, unless when passing, turning, or when unsafe to do so.
- Hand signals must be used for turns, unless it is unsafe to make a hand signal.
- Between dusk and dawn and at times of low visibility, bicycles must have a white light on the front of the vehicle which is visible from at least 500 feet away, plus a red reflector and/or red light on the back which is visible from 100-600 feet away.
- Bicycles must go fast enough as to not block or impede car traffic while in travel lanes.
- Bicycles are allowed to ride on sidewalks in Ohio.
- Bicycles can’t be driven on a freeway.
In addition to these state laws, many cities in Ohio have helmet laws. Most helmet laws are for minors, but Shaker Heights requires all bicyclists over age 5 to wear a helmet, including passengers. Akron requires everyone under the age of 16 to be riding with a helmet.
Comparative Fault Law in Ohio
Ohio follows a strict comparative negligence law, which means you can’t receive any compensation if you are 51 percent at fault (or more) for the accident. Any degree of comparative fault that is less than 50 percent will decrease the amount you could receive from the defendant by that percentage.
Leon was riding his bicycle and was hit while making a left-hand turn. Leon suffered severe spinal injuries and filed a claim for $10,000 to pay for his medical bills. It was determined that although Leon was allowed to be on the left-hand side of the road because he was turning, he did not make a hand signal to notify motorists that he was about to make a turn. Leon was found 25% responsible for the accident because he failed to signal. He won his claim, but his settlement was reduced by 25% to $7,500 to compensate for his fault.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim in Ohio
In Ohio, you have two years to file a PI claim, but if you discover an injury after your accident, the two years may start at the time of discovery. The court system will likely refuse to hear your case if the statute of limitations has passed.
To start a claim, you must first write a demand letter with your desired settlement that explains the laws the other driver broke and how that caused the accident. You must clearly show that the accident wasn’t your fault. Police and witness statements will be very helpful when demanding a personal injury settlement. You also need to describe, in detail, seriousness of the injuries, length of the recovery, lost income, and the pain and restrictions injuries may cause in daily activities. You should save all hospital bills to justify this section of a demand letter.
If the insurance company denies your claim or counter offers lower than you want, you have the option to take the claim to court. You may then settle in court or the case could go to trial.
In Ohio, there are three different courts you can file in, depending on the settlement you are looking for. For $3,000 or less, your case will be filed in the small claims division of the municipal court. For damages under $15,000, you need to file your claim in the municipality or county where the defendant lives or where the accident happened. For any claims over $15,000 you need to file with the Court of Common Pleas and where at least one defendant lives or where the accident happened.
The Akron Municipal Court is located at 217 South St. in Akron, Ohio. It handles cases in Akron, Fairlawn, Richfield, Springfield, Lakemore, and the parts of Mogadore in Summit County.
The Summit County Court of Common Pleas is located in downtown Akron at 209 S. High St.
Deanna Power is a content contributor for Personal Injury Law. She lives in Boston, MA.This article was not written by an attorney, and the accuracy of the content is not warranted or guaranteed. If you wish to receive legal advice about a specific problem, you should contact a licensed attorney in your area.