Frequently Asked Questions For Ohio Personal Injury Claims
If you are looking for answers to basic questions about your Ohio injury claim, this part of the Miraldi & Barrett web site is devoted to providing thorough answers to those questions. Whether you were injured in a car crash, by a defective product, or a vicious dog, these questions are answered here. If the injuries involve the spine, a serious fracture, paralysis or relate to the death of a family member, this section will answer your questions. If you do not find the answers to your questions here, please call us at 1-800-589-3023.
- Page 1
Is my personal injury settlement taxable?
In almost all personal injury cases, the settlement or jury award is not taxable for purposes of federal or state income tax. The tax code says that any amounts recovered for a physical injury are not income. This includes amounts paid for lost wages, medical bills, emotional distress, pain and suffering, attorney fees, and other related harms and losses.
The rationale is that this money is not income, but is the result of a loss. These funds only make the person whole. It is easier to see how this applies in another setting. For example, when the person receives a check for damage to the car involved in an accident, these funds are not income. The same reasoning applies when a person sustains bodily injuries due to someone's negligence.
A different rule applies if the person injured did not sustain any physical injury, but only emotional injuries. In those cases, the settlement or judgment is taxable. These cases include claims for employment discrimination, negligent infliction of emotional distress, or defamation.
If a person recovers punitive damages, punitive damages are taxable. Punitive damages are damages in excess of what is necessary to make a person whole. These damages are designed to punish the defendant and serve as a deterrent to further similar conduct in the future. However, compensatory damages (the actual losses sustained) are not taxable.
What is a deposition?
Once a lawsuit has been filed, the attorneys for both sides can take oral statements from parties and witnesses under oath. Questions must be answered under oath, and are recorded by a court reporter,who then provides a transcript. Depositions may be videotaped, as well.
In court, a deposition might be introduced when a witness is unavailable; to remind a witness of what he or she said previously under oath; or to challenge the credibility of a witness who, in court, contradicts statements made in a deposition.
When attorneys take the deposition of a party, they are gauging if a party will be an effective witness at trial. Is the person believable? Can he or she express herself effectively? Can the witness keep his or her composure when asked difficult questions? All of these things are evaluated when a deposition is taken.
Should I get a second opinion if an attorney thinks I do not have a case?
This is usually a good idea. Some lawyers may not be familiar with the type of case or may not have the time or money to prepare your case for trial. If your case involves substantial losses and is rejected by one lawyer, it is always a good idea to seek a second opinion from another lawyer. We have obtained significant settlements and verdicts for clients whose personal injury cases were originally rejected by other attorneys.
Can my claim be compromised by participating on social networking accounts like FaceBook or MySpace?
If you belong to a public social networking account such as FaceBook, MySpace, YouTube, Twitter, Google Buzz, etc., you should close that account until your case is resolved.
If you cannot do so, please be aware that whatever you write or post, or have written or posted, may fall into the hands of the insurance company defending your claim. Most insurance companies are obtaining this information and usually without your knowledge or permission. If you have such a site, you should immediately verify that all your settings are on PRIVATE (the highest setting possible) and nothing is public. Even at the highest privacy settings, you should not post anything that you would not want to be public. Do not allow anyone to become your "friend" on any of these accounts unless you absolutely know that person.
Insurance companies get access to these accounts and sites and then use that information to claim that the person's injuries were exaggerated or even caused by something other than the incident that is the basis of your claim. Insurance companies have successfully used such information; even posts that were considered innocent, harmless joking between private "Friends," to convince a judge and juries that plaintiffs have been dishonest. Please always be aware that whatever you post can be used against you in litigation.
When I crossed the street, I didn't use the crosswalk and got hit by a car. Who's at fault?
While the driver might be liable for hitting you, you can also be charged with contributory negligence because you failed to take sufficient care and so indirectly contributed to the cause of your injuries.
What all is considered when determining how much I receive?
The settlement amount will include any or all of the following: incurred and future medical expenses, lost wages or lost future earnings, pain and suffering.
I slipped in a store but the injury wasn't serious. Should I still notify the owner?
Any time you have an accident outside your home, you should file an incident or accident report. This documents what took place, which can be useful if the next morning, you awake with bruises or discomfort that weren't immediately apparent.
The other insurance company says its offer is fair and reasonable. Should I take it?
Always keep in mind that the other party's company is working on behalf of its client. While you may be pressured to take the first offer, remember it is in the company's best interests to pay out as little as it can.
When do I need to retain an attorney?
If there is a dispute about who was at fault or if you have suffered any serious injuries or incurred medical or other expenses (such as lost wages), it is advisable that you meet with a personal injury attorney to determine the merits of your case.
What does "case law" mean?
Personal injury law is based not on statutes (such as the penal code) but on previous court decisions. Your attorney might use a pre-existing case law (or "legal precedent") to strengthen your case, meaning he will cite other court decisions similar to yours that are in your favor.
I was injured while on vacation in another state. Where will the claim be filed?
Generally speaking, claims are usually filed in the jurisdiction where the accident occurred or where the parties to the lawsuit are located. However, if the parties live in different states and the amount in controversy exceed $75,000, the case may be filed in the federal trial courts.