• Ohio

    (513) 351-5997
  • Kentucky

  • Google Hangout | Facetime | Skype
    Upon Request
Inner Banner
Working Hard for the Working Class

We devote all our resources to getting the best possible result. Contact us today to start your FREE case evaluation.

Meeting with an Attorney during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Posted on Friday, March 13th, 2020 at 4:46 pm    

While many businesses are closed during this time, law firms have been allowed to remain open alongside grocery stores, gas stations, and medical facilities. This is a recognition that many lawsuits are extremely important and cannot be paused even during an emergency like the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

There have been many disruptions in Greater Cincinnati area due to concerns surrounding the Coronavirus outbreak, including school closings. During this time it is wise to take precautions such as social distancing. Lawrence & Associates understands that you therefore may not want to meet face-to-face with other people, especially in an office environment.

Ohio’s Governor DeWine recently issued a stay at home order for all Ohio residents. You can find some frequently asked questions about that stay at home order here. Similarly, Kentucky’s Governor Beshear has ordered all non-essential retail businesses to close and a stay at home order in Kentucky may be coming soon.

Your case is important and work must continue

Here is the status of the various court and administrative law systems in which we represent our clients, and how Lawrence & Associates is working to make sure your case continues moving forward even during the Coronavirus pandemic.

  • Personal Injury – all state and federal courts are closed, so we cannot get hearings on important motions.  However, routine motions are still being decided by judges without a hearing and our lawyers are pushing those motions forward to keep cases moving.  While most depositions and mediations have been cancelled due to social distancing, many adjusters are still working remotely and we are pushing those adjusters to consider settlements without depositions or mediations.  Our attorneys are finding creative ways to get our clients’ testimony to the adjusters or defense attorneys even while clients stay home.  And, finally, while many independent medical examiners have closed their offices until May, we have found a few that remain open and are scheduling these appointments for clients who want them.
  • Workers’ Compensation – all workers’ compensation hearings have been cancelled.  Lawrence & Associates is working with the Administrative Law Judges and Hearing Officers to hold telephonic hearings whenever possible.  We have also had a lot of success reaching adjusters for Kentucky workers compensation cases and for Ohio cases with privately insured employers.  These cases are still reaching a resolution more frequently than most other practice areas.
  • Bankruptcy – while all hearings in federal court have been cancelled, we are still able to file bankruptcies.  When you file your bankruptcy, you get the automatic stay that stops creditors from calling your or filing lawsuits against you.  While foreclosures have been cancelled for the time being, repossessions continue and we are seeing an uptick in unemployment related bankruptcies.  Lawrence & Associates’ attorneys are meeting with these clients by video or phone for all meetings, and getting bankruptcies filed very quickly as a result.
  • Social Security – all hearings are being cancelled by Administrative Law Judges (even those that are already done by video).  However, we are able to make all the required filings by doing telephone appointments and uploading documents to the social security administration electronically.  Since social security claims have a long wait time for a hearing, we do not think most cases’ timelines will be severely impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic.

Tech-savvy Cincinnati lawyers

If you have an ongoing personal injury, workers’ compensation, bankruptcy, or social security case, you need to know that there is no reason for the case to stop completely in its tracks just because of Coronavirus.  Lawrence & Associates was already set up to use video chatting services like Google Duo (which is really, really easy to use from a smartphone!) to meet with clients or handle meetings with other attorneys remotely.  Other services we use include Google Hangouts, Skype, and Zoom.  We also already had infrastructure in place to allow our staff to work from home, so the switch to social distancing and “stay in place” orders has been relatively painless.

Our firm is paperless and uses 21st century, state of the art, technology to make sure cases are handled efficiently and effectively no matter the circumstances.  On top of that, Lawrence & Associates is financially sound.  Even if a severe economic downturn follows the Coronavirus pandemic, we will be able to keep all of our staff to your case is not interrupted.  If you are with a firm that is not able to keep up communication with you – or to make your case move forward – due to Coronavirus, you should look around and see if there might be a better home for your case.

How will you know if your law firm is set up to handle your case during the Coronavirus epidemic and any economic downturn that follows?

First, talk to your attorney about their videoconferencing abilities.  Even if you aren’t familiar with videoconferencing, your law firm should be able to walk you through setting one up.  The longer people are “staying in place”, the more likely it will be that we will need to start conducing depositions and mediations remotely so our cases can get resolved.  Second, ask your lawyer if he or she is paperless.  Papers can carry Coronavirus and cause delays when a law firm’s staff works remotely.  Paperless firms can easily and quickly get documents signed by email and get those documents filed with courts where they can do some good.  Third, ask your attorney about their phone system.  It isn’t the first thing you think of, but an old fashioned phone system doesn’t work if people can’t go into the office.  A modern phone system ought to be able to seamlessly forward your call to your attorney or paralegal even if they are required to stay at home.

If your law firm cannot answer these questions or thinks they aren’t important, now is the time to switch firms.  Your legal matter could be delayed for months or years if your attorney cannot adapt to changing times, and that is unforgivable when so many Americans are facing job losses, illness, and an uncertain future.  You do not have to pay extra money to switch law firms – generally the attorney that walk away from is paid through our fee, meaning that we get paid less based on the amount of work the other attorney did before we received the case.  In that way, both law firms get paid for what they did without charging the client any additional money.  With so much of our lives in flux and no idea what is coming next, now is the time to have a top notch legal team behind you.  If you feel like your case was shoved into a cookie cutter system with thousands of other cases, or if you feel like your attorney is stuck in the 1980s, you should know it doesn’t have to be that way.

To get in touch with a tech-savvy Cincinnati law firm, call Lawrence & Associates at (513) 351-5997 or contact us online.

Limited Scope Representation: Can You Ethically Provide Better Service at Affordable Cost?

Posted on Wednesday, December 12th, 2018 at 8:32 am    

agreementAuthored by Justin Lawrence and Chris Rose

Limited scope representation is a relatively new and somewhat controversial idea in the legal profession. Some attorneys are hesitant to provide limited scope representation because they are concerned about the ethical ramifications of entering into an agreement that limits their representation of a client and leaves the untrained client to perform some (or even most) of the duties traditionally reserved for attorneys. Generally, the influx of limited representation has developed due to the growing costs of legal services many people cannot afford. Proponents of limited scope representation believe clients are better off with the limited representation they can afford, as opposed to attempting to face their legal hurdles entirely by themselves.

As limited representation becomes more common, attorneys turn to their state bar associations in search of guidance on how to enact this model of legal services.The Kentucky Bar Association has not issued specific guidance on limited scope of representation of unsophisticated clients in areas such as family law or defense of collection activities. Kentucky’s SCR 3.130(1.2)(c) does specifically allow that, “A lawyer may limit the scope of the representation if the limitation is reasonable under the circumstances and the client gives informed consent.” However, paragraphs six and seven of the Supreme Court’s 2009 commentary paint only the broadest outlines of what might be considered a reasonable limitation. For example, paragraph six states that when representing an insured, one’s representation of the insured may be limited to the issue of coverage, leaving the insured to determine appropriate damages on its own.

However, may a Kentucky attorney contract only to draft an Answer and conduct initial discovery, but no more? An ethics opinion from 1991, E-343, does give authority to draft only initial pleadings, so long as the attorney does not give the appearance that the claimant is entirely unrepresented, stating, “The overriding consideration should be the recognition and satisfaction of the legal needs of indigent persons. Artificial barriers should not be set up in the name of legal ethics.” In other words, drafting an answer is only ethical so long as the reservations in KBA Opinion E-343 are followed, but if discovery is also drafted, the attorney has entered an ethically gray area.

Bearing that in mind, may a Kentucky attorney agree to pursue a divorce by agreement, but cease representation if property settlement is disputed? And if a Kentucky attorney contracts only to represent in pre-trial litigation but not in trial, is withdrawing on the eve of trial unethical? Both the rule and commentary fail to provide the detail necessary to answer these questions.

The neighboring bar associations in Tennessee and Indiana have yet to address this issue and do not have information on the issue available on their websites. However, other states in the region, specifically Ohio and Missouri, have addressed the issue to provide guidance to their attorneys on how to competently serve their clients through limited representation, while protecting themselves from potential ethical hurdles that this model of legal representation may present.

Ohio Dipped Its Toe in the Limited Scope Representation Waters…

An article posted on the Ohio Bar Association’s website addresses the issue of limited scope representation, starting with the issue of ethics.When an attorney considers expanding his or her practice to include a new area or new service, one of the first concerns is how to ethically provide this service. Like Kentucky, the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct do allow limited scope representation, pursuant to Prof. Conduct R. 1.2(c).This rule is an adoption of the Model Rules for Professional Conduct and a similar version of this rule appears in the rules governing attorney conduct in most states. Ohio’s rule allows limited representation of new and existing clients provided the limitation is reasonable and communicated to the client, preferably in writing (although written consent is not required).

According to Ohio Judge, Jeffrey Hooper, more than 50 percent of the cases in his court included an unrepresented party. Judge Hooper says it could be a “win/win” if more attorneys adopt the limited scope representation model because that allows clients to receive representation they can afford and attorneys may receive fees for providing this representation. No one is placed in a worse situation by the enactment of limited representation, according to Judge Cooper, if it is done correctly.

Ohio, which has a non-mandatory state bar association, adopted a piecemeal approach to incorporating limited scope representation. For example, the Sixth District Court of Appeals in Toledo has an official program for involving limited scope representation at the appellate mediation stage, while the First District in Cincinnati has not taken up limited scope representation at either the appellate court or bar association level. However, the Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA) adopted ABA findings that unbundling the following legal services can be permissible—and even desirable—if the client’s informed consent is obtained:

  • Advising on court procedures and courtroom behavior
  • Coaching on strategy or role playing
  • Collaborative lawyering
  • Conducting legal research
  • Reviewing documents
  • Drafting documents, contracts and agreements
  • Drafting pleadings, briefs, declarations or orders
  • Ghostwriting
  • Making limited appearances
  • Negotiating
  • Coaching for or participating in online, telephone or in person dispute resolution
  • Organizing discovery materials
  • Preparing exhibits
  • Providing legal guidance or options
  • Assisting with service
  • Appearing at a hearing
  • Negotiating on a client’s behalf.

The Ohio State Bar Association’s recommendation list gives much clearer boundaries for what a la carte offerings may be ethically made, which is a boon for both attorneys and judges encountering limited scope representation for the first time. If you want to know more—a lot more—about the ABA’s findings that were adopted by the OSBA, their 149-page Handbook on Limited Scope Legal Assistance on limited scope representation is available online.

… And Missouri Dove Right In

Of Kentucky’s neighbors, Missouri seems to be at the forefront of enabling its attorneys to provide limited representation, while also providing the guidance to enable them to do it competently and ethically. First, Missouri’s Rule 4-1.2(c) requires agreements to limit representation to be in writing and signed by the client, a brighter line rule than those of Ohio and Kentucky. The Supreme Court of Missouri and the Missouri Bar Association established a commission in 2002 to examine pro se litigation in the state. That committee released a report on limited scope representation that can be of great guidance to Missouri attorneys in implementing limited representation. This report addresses many issues Missouri attorneys face when providing limited scope representation and even provides an example of a limited representation contract for attorneys to use when unbundling their legal services. These are the most affirmative steps taken by a state Supreme Court and bar association to provide its attorneys with the information and resources they need to provide competent limited representation to clients who need it the most.

The Missouri Bar Association also provided guidance to attorneys to aid the determination of when limited scope representation is practical and ethical. The Missouri Bar Association advised that attorneys who deal in limited scope representation provide potential clients with questionnaires that will assess that individual’s ability to represent himself or herself to the degree the limited scope representation requires. Further, it set guidelines for the endpoint of limited scope representation, with specific requirements for how an attorney is to withdraw.

Finally, Missouri’s Rule of Civil Procedure 55.03 has a more detailed, more explicit list of activities expressly allowed under the rules, giving lawyers more guidance on whether a specific scope of limited representation is permissible. Attorneys in Missouri are expressly permitted: a) to draft documents to be filed in court without signing said documents; b) to appear and withdraw from representation at points of litigation expressly set forth in the contract, without fear of being held over into a trial without hope of payment from the client, and; c) to rely upon the self-represented party’s representation of the facts when drawing up legal documents or performing legal research. Missouri’s Rule 55 serves as a helpful list of dos and don’ts that give clear, logical guidance to attorneys seeking to engage in limited scope representation. We could find no other neighboring state with a better system in place.

The legal market, like any other, has an invisible hand. As market pressures such as rising tuition and the rising cost of litigation force attorney’s fees higher, new solutions emerge that resolve disparities between the cost of supplying legal services and the ability to pay by litigants demanding those services. Limited scope representation is the most relevant, prevalent and inevitable of those solutions. It is here to stay. Until the Kentucky Supreme Court modifies SCR 3.130(1.2)(c), or until appellate court rulings interpret how it is applied to the kind of limited scope representation described above, practitioners interested in providing such services should adhere to the ABA Handbook. Since SCR 3.130(1.2) (c) is modeled from the ABA rules of professional conduct), and review the specific programs created in Ohio and Missouri to see if they can adopt similar practices in their local Kentucky courts. By doing so, you should be able to help more people, stay ethically sound and grow your law practice.

Do You Need An Attorney for a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Ohio or Kentucky?

Posted on Wednesday, December 5th, 2018 at 8:23 am    

The following post is part of our Law Student Blog Writing Project, and is authored by Joe Trammell, a 2020 Juris Doctorate Candidate at The Ohio State University Michael E. Moritz College of Law.

Attorneys have learned in law school to be honest, even if it may seem to put them at a disadvantage. It is always better to be truthful, and if there is a good case it won’t matter that some of the law or facts are not favorable.

So here is the concession: you do not have to hire a workers’ compensation attorney to receive workers’ compensation. You are legally allowed to file for it on your own.

agreementThat may seem like a strange way to start a blog post for a law firm that does workers’ compensation, but do not worry. The rest of the article will detail why in many cases you should hire a workers’ compensation attorney.

There is a reason why there are many law firms that deal with this area. Laws are complicated, and workers’ compensation laws are a great example of that. Attorneys go through three years of law school (if they go full-time and do not do a dual-degree program) learning how to interpret them. At Ohio State’s law school, it is one of the first things taught to new students, and the process never stops. Add to it the need to interpret the exact meanings of parts of laws through reading cases decided by courts, and it is a very complicated process.

This is also why criminal trials guarantee a right to counsel. The landmark Supreme Court case, Gideon v. Wainwright, decided this. Mr. Gideon was not given representation in a burglary case, and faced a prosecutor who was in the courtroom for a living. Mr. Gideon lost his case, but after he won his Supreme Court appeal, he was retried—this time with representation—and was acquitted. Nothing had changed in Mr. Gideon’s case. He just had someone that knew how to take the facts and ask the right questions.

Unfortunately, the government does not provide counsel for workers’ compensation. But the point to sharing this is to illustrate how difficult it can be for people to understand the law and advocate for their rights when they have not been trained. That is not an indication of anyone’s intelligence or abilities; it just means that law is a specialized field and requires specialized training, the same way a doctor or pharmacist needs specialized training.

When you receive representation for your claims, you gain the benefit of that attorney’s education and experience not only practicing law, but practicing that specific kind of law. This may be pretty new to you, but the attorney is used to it. He or she knows what the laws say, what strategies to implement and what arguments to make, how to provide proof for your case, how to file the necessary paperwork, and how to answer the questions that will be asked. This relieves the burden on you and puts it on the shoulders of someone who does this for a career.

How Can An Attorney Help Me Win an Ohio or Kentucky Workers’ Compensation Claim?

One complexity in workers’ compensation laws is the list of exempted employees. Both Ohio and Kentucky cover most employees. But both exempt agriculture workers, domestic workers, and anyone who voluntarily rejects workers’ compensation coverage. Kentucky exempts nonprofit workers who make their living through the nonprofit, while Ohio exempts volunteer nonprofit officers.

Another is the statute of limitations. Statutes of limitation prevent claims from being filed after a certain length of time has passed. In Kentucky, an employee has two years from the date of the injury to file for workers compensation (or, if the employer initially paid voluntarily and then stopped, two years from the last payment). In Ohio, it is only one year. But, if you were not keeping up on the law, you might think it is two years. The statute of limitations was changed to one year in 2017 after decades of being two. But, to further complicate, this change only applies to injuries and death from injuries. The statute of limitations for occupational diseases and death from occupational diseases remains two years.

Ohio also has something known as “subrogation,” which allows the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation to recover from the injured person being compensated if the injured person has recovered twice. An example of this would be if the person receives workers’ compensation and then sues the person responsible (which could not be his or her employer) and receives money from the lawsuit as well. The Bureau of Workers’ Compensation would be able to recover some of the money from the lawsuit. Kentucky has similar provisions, although subrogation is calculated very differently in the two states.

Kentucky has a specific law that allows coal miners suffering from Black Lung (which this author’s great-grandfather died from) to recover extra, although this law continues to fluctuate.

These examples demonstrate a portion of the complexities of workers’ compensation laws. There are many deadlines and forms to keep track of, and the laws continue to change. With the state elections taking place this year, the possibility remains strong that more changes are coming. It is possible for you to track this yourself, but attorneys have more experience dealing with these claims and better resources available to research and help with the case.

There are some situations in which an attorney is especially needed. One, representation is more needed when the employer does not cooperate. Perhaps the employer denies the claim, refuses to fully compensate you, or you are retaliated against. It can also help to have an attorney if there is something else complicating your claim, such as if you are receiving other government benefits or have a preexisting condition, or if your injury is serious and affects your work. It is also advisable to have an attorney with you when you have a workers’ compensation hearing.

If you are in this unfortunate situation or find yourself in it in the future, keep this in mind. You can go it alone, but it might be a more effective claim with some assistance from workers’ compensation attorneys.

Do you need help with a Workers’ Compensation claim? Call Lawrence & Associates and let one of our experienced attorneys help. We’re Working Hard for the Working Class, and we want to help you!

Case Study: Back Injuries, Depression and Permanent Disability

Posted on Monday, October 29th, 2018 at 2:55 pm    

The following post is part of our Law Student Blog Writing Project, and is authored by Joe Trammell, a 2020 Juris Doctorate Candidate at The Ohio State University Michael E. Moritz College of Law.

Case Study: How Back Injuries and Depression Lead to Permanent Total Disability (PTD) or Permanent Partial Disability (PPD), But Not Both

When the Ohio Workers’ Compensation laws were written, one would have to think people like Sherry L. Redwine were who lawmakers had in mind. What is, or rather was, unknown was how far the benefits to someone in her situation would extend.

Ms. Redwine was injured while working for Ohio Presbyterian Retirement Services, Inc. in 2003. The life-changing damage she was left with included, according to State ex rel. Ohio Presbyterian Retirement Servs., Inc. v. Indus. Comm. (Ohio Presbyterian), “lumbosacral strain, radiculopathy right lower extremity, aggravation of pre-existing degenerative disc disease, depression, and ruptured disc at L4-5 with free disc fragment.” Her psychological injuries were enough to qualify her for what is known as “permanent-total disability” under § (section) 4123.58 of the Ohio Revised Code.

To qualify for this permanent-total disability, Ms. Redwine’s injuries had to be serious enough to prevent her from doing any sustained work, and that she will never make a full recovery. This does not legally prevent someone from doing any work, but the work can only be every once in a while, and not for a long period of time. No sustained wages can be earned. If an individual is able to do sustained work, the State believes she does not need permanent-total disability.

There is another option known as “permanent-partial disability,” located in Ohio Revised Code § 4123.57(A). In this case, a disability has to restrict one’s ability to work but not totally prevent it.

In Ms. Redwine’s case, she actually fit both categories. She had a psychological condition in the aftermath of her injuries that earned her permanent-total disability, and she began receiving disability payments in 2010. Three years later, she applied for permanent-partial disability for her physical injuries and was awarded it as well.

This was the dispute in Ohio Presbyterian. Ohio Presbyterian Retirement Services went to court arguing that Ms. Redwine could not receive both permanent-total and permanent-partial disability. They had good reason to do so, because employers are the ones responsible for workers’ compensation payments. They believed the language in the Ohio Revised Code does not allow for concurrent workers’ compensation. Ms. Redwine argued that since the two disability awards were for different things, she was eligible for both. This, of course, would affect how much she was paid.

In deciding the case, the Ohio Supreme Court had to take into account an Ohio Revised Code statute that says the workers’ compensation statute is to be interpreted as favoring the worker. This put Ohio Presbyterian Retirement Services at an immediate disadvantage. However, the Ohio Supreme Court mentioned a previous case that says courts cannot entirely “rewrite the statute,” or in other words stretch its meaning past what makes sense just to favor the worker.

What seems to be the crucial factor in the Ohio Supreme Court’s decision was a case they decided 90 years ago. Industrial Commission v. Kamrath, as the court explained in Ohio Presbyterian, says that “an injured employee has a right to recover workers’ compensation benefits only as specifically allowed by statute.” The court looked to the fact that there are other types of workers’ compensation that can be earned concurrently, and since they are mentioned specifically, the fact that permanent-total and permanent-partial are not mentioned specifically as being able to be earned concurrently means that they cannot be given out concurrently. This is a common way of interpreting laws known as expressio unius est exclusio alterius.

The significance of this ruling by the Ohio Supreme Court is that people who have multiple permanent injuries cannot receive multiple payments. The permanent-total disability payment is two-thirds of the injured worker’s average weekly earnings before the injury. Permanent-partial disability also awards two-thirds, but only up to 200 weeks. The percentage of the disability is the percentage of those weeks that are given. So someone with a 50 percent disability will get two-thirds of her average weekly earnings for 100 weeks. Ms. Redwine only gets the first calculation.

No doubt for Ms. Redwine and others like her it is a difficult and unfortunate situation; it would frustrate if not downright anger a person left in that position. However, this ruling is for the best. The argument might be made that concurrent payments would make up for the payment only being two-thirds of the worker’s average weekly earnings. There are several problems with this.

First, this is not the way to fix that sort of problem. If there is an issue with the payments, they should be fixed in the law, not through the commission handing out multiple awards and the courts consenting to it. That is the responsibility of the legislature.

Second, this would be too narrow in its solution. Not everyone qualifies for concurrent payments as they were given in the case of Ms. Redwine. Someone who does not have multiple types of injuries could not get both payments. Again, it should be the legislature that changes the law.

Third, there is not necessarily a problem with the system as is. The two-thirds payment does not include the other benefits, which include medical payments, rehabilitation, and funeral expenses. It also does not include other forms of government payments.

However, all those costs would never have happened had it not been for the injury. It might be a better system to award the full amount or even more if the employer was at fault. The system is not a perfect one. But the Ohio Supreme Court had it right in deferring to the legislature. The discussion to change these laws may be a needed one, but the courtroom was not the venue for it.

Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits in Kentucky and Ohio

Posted on Wednesday, October 17th, 2018 at 8:35 am    

The following post is part of our Law Student Blog Writing Project, and is authored by Dayna Wilson, a law clerk at Lawrence and Associates, who is pursuing her Juris Doctorate at Chase College of Law.

girlA loved one suffering a death on the job can be painful and extremely traumatizing. Determining which benefits a family is entitled to can be a rigorous and complex process. This process can be can be made significantly easier if you have an experienced workers’ compensation attorney who can thoroughly explain and guide your through the procedures.

Lawrence & Associates will strive to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve after a fatal death of a loved one. In Kentucky and Ohio there are slightly different benefits that loved ones may recover. This blog is designed to provide you with a better understanding of workers’ compensation death benefits.

Who Can Recover Death Benefits in Kentucky?

Losing an income earner can be financially difficult for a family. When the death of a loved one would not have occurred but for an on the job injury, the deceased’s surviving family members may be entitled to benefits under the Workers’ Compensation System. First, the people who are eligible to recover benefits in Kentucky include: a surviving spouse, minor children of the deceased worker, mentally disabled adult children of the deceased worker, and the parent of the deceased worker, if he or she had no spouse and no children.

Under Kentucky law, there are two possible statutes that can apply when determining your ability to recover your deceased family member’s income benefits. First, Kentucky Revised Statute 342.750 tells us the amount of compensation a widow and widower may receive when an injured worker dies because of the workplace injury:

(a) If there is a widow or widower and no children of the deceased, the widow or widower may receive 50 percent of the average weekly wage of the deceased

(b)  To the widow or widower, if there is a child or children living with the widow or widower, 45 percent of the average weekly wage of the deceased, or 40 percent, if such child is not or such children are not living with a widow or widower, and in addition, 15 percent for each child. When there are more than two children involved, benefits shall be divided among the children.

According to Kentucky Guidebook to Worker’s Compensation, if an employee dies as a result of a work- related injury, a lump sum payment will be made to the deceased employee’s estate. If an employee’s death occurs within four years from the date of injury, as a direct result of the injury, a lump sum payment to the estate will be made from which burial expense are to be paid. The surviving spouse and certain defendants are also entitled to income benefits. Currently, Kentucky’s death benefit is $83,336.22. This amount is paid into the deceased worker’s estate.

The next statute that may apply to your situation is Kentucky Revised Statute 342.730 (3) when an employee, who has sustained disability dies from causes other than the injury but is otherwise still able to recover benefits.

(a) To a widow or widower, if there is no child under the age of 18 or incapable of self-support, benefits at 50% of the rate specified in the award; or

(b) If there are both a widow or widower and such a child or children to the widow or widower 45% of the benefits specified in the award. If a child is not living with a widow or widower then 40% of the benefits specified in the awards.

(c) If there is no widow or widower but such a child or children, then to then the children are entitled to 50 % of the benefits specified in the award.

As you can see, this process can be quite complex and complicated. Therefore, it is in your best interest to contact an experienced Workers’ Compensation attorney to assist you with your rights to recovery.

How do you become Eligible for Survivor Benefits in Ohio?

Similar to Kentucky, Ohio has strict rules set up to pay workers’ compensation benefits to the family of a fatally injured worker. If you are a surviving spouse, minor child of the deceased worker, or mentally disabled adult child of the deceased worker. In Ohio there are three types of benefits available to the family. The family may be eligible for a lump sum, payment of medical bills before death, and a benefit to dependents that is paid on a weekly or bi-weekly basis from the date of the worker’s death onward. Workers’ Compensation will pay 100% of your medical bills directly to the provider.

Unfortunately, Pursuant to Ohio Revised Code 4123.66 an individual may not recover more than $5,500 for funeral expenses. This statute puts many families in an unfortunate situation because it will often times provide inadequate relief for the suffering family. I am sure you can imagine; this number seems completely unreasonable for the amount of pain and suffering incurred by the deceased family.

Again, like Kentucky, if you are wanting to recover damages such as pain and suffering, loss of guidance or loss of consortium you would have to file a civil lawsuit. A spouse will receive death benefits until he or she dies or remarries. Upon remarriage, the spouse will receive a lump sum of two years’ worth of benefits.

If you are a dependent of the deceased worker, under ORC 4123.59, as long as you are a spouse or child, both can receive two-thirds of the “average weekly wage” the worker had before he or she died. A child is able to collect this benefit until the child turns eighteen. If a child is still in school, benefits will continue until the child turns 25 or unless the child is incapable of having a job for other reasons. For other family members, the Bureau decides how long benefits continue.

What are the Time Limits for a Death Claim?

Dependents must file a claim for death benefits with the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation within one year of the worker’s death. In Kentucky, for the death benefits provided by the Kentucky Workers’ Compensation Act, the time limitations period is two years, and begins to run from the time of death.

Why Choose Lawrence & Associates for Workers’ Compensation?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2016 there were 164 fatal occupational injuries. Falls, slips, or trips was the third-most frequent work event with 29 fatalities, unchanged from the prior year. When a worker passes away from a work-related injury a worker’s surviving family is eligible for benefits. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney will help you receive your deserving benefits. Here at Lawrence & Associates we will handle your workers’ compensation claims and make this difficult process a little easier for you and your family. We’re Working Hard for the Working Class, and we want to help you!

Cincinnati Area Insurance Companies Try to Choose Your Social Security Disability Attorney for You – Is This Good or Bad?

Posted on Friday, August 31st, 2018 at 3:52 pm    

The following post is part of our Law Student Blog Writing Project, and is authored by Dayna Wilson, a law clerk at Lawrence and Associates, who is pursuing her Juris Doctorate at Chase College of Law.

If you suffer from an illness or injury that leaves you unable to work for an extended period of time, and you have long-term disability (LTD) insurance, there are some circumstances where your LTD coverage may affect the process of applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. The LTD contract that you signed most likely contains a provision that requires you to apply for SSDI benefits while you receive your LTD benefits. Because this LTD contract requires you to apply for SSDI benefits, your LTD carrier will probably refer your case to a SSDI advocate firm or attorney whom they work closely with. This referral may be confusing to you because the LTD carrier may not clearly explain why they are making this referral. Because this process is not thoroughly explained, you might unsure how to move forward with this unfamiliar advocate group or attorney.

During this difficult time in your life it is important to keep in mind your ultimate goal – to be covered and protected – and to relay that goal to the LTD carrier’s advocate group or attorney who you have been referred to. This blog will explain your options for your SSDI case when you have LTD benefits, as well as, what you should do if your LTD carrier refers you to an advocate group or attorney so that you can ensure your goals are being met.

What You Should Do If Your Long-Term Disability Insurance Company Refers You to an SSDI Advocate Group or Attorney?

If your LTD carrier refers you to its own advocate group or attorney, keep in mind that you are not required to retain this specific advocate group or attorney. You are allowed to hire any representative that you want to assist with your SSDI case. All Social Security representatives charge the same type of fee for their representation. The LTD referral is no cheaper than any other attorney in your area.

Sometimes the LTD carrier will tell you that the group or attorney that they are sending you to does not cost you anything up front, keep in mind that this is also the case with a local attorney of your choice. All representatives charge the exact same rates under Social Security’s rules. The only difference between an attorney of your choice and your LTD carrier’s attorney is that the LTD’s attorney may send your LTD carrier a cut of their fee as part of their referral arrangement.

Your Long Term Disability carrier’s ultimate goal when referring your SSDI claim to this advocate group or attorney is to get you approved for SSDI as soon as possible. This is most likely also your goal. Your LTD carrier wants you to be approved for SSDI because, if you are approved for SSDI then your LTD benefits will terminate. This is the case whether or not you use the advocate group or attorney that the LTD carrier suggests.

Do You Prefer a Greater Cincinnati Area Law Firm, Where You Can Meet Your Attorney Face to Face?

The advocator group or attorney that your LTD carrier refers you to will most likely be a large national group or firm. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but there are things to be considered. Chances are with a large national group or firm you will never meet your attorney/ representative until the day of the hearing. This can make for an impersonal process, which can make you feel like just another name on a list and can potentially result in the representative or attorney leaving out essential information in your case. Meeting with your attorney/representative prior to your hearing is important so that your attorney/representative can fully prepare themselves, and you, for what to expect during the hearing. A local attorney/representative is more likely to go over your file and prepare you for the questions the judge will ask you at least a few days prior to the day of your hearing. This more personal experience can help you feel confident and prepared going into the hearing.

Searching for the Right Social Security Attorney.

Remember, you have the right to choose your own attorney. Do not feel like you have to use the attorney or representative that the LTD carrier suggests. The Social Security Disability application process can be overwhelming. You should find a disability attorney who you like and trust. No matter who you decide to retain, be sure to communicate your ultimate goals and interests to your attorney. Retain an individual who makes you feel confident and comfortable with their legal representation. A good Social Security Disability attorney will ensure that you have a fair hearing. It is important that you choose an attorney who is familiar with the Social Security laws so they can offer you the best chance at getting your claim approved. It is important that you do not sign any forms or contracts that your long-term disability carrier sends you regarding the SSDI process until you have researched the firm and you are confident that they are the right fit for you. If you decide not to use the representative that the LTD carrier suggests, and instead hire someone else, be sure to inform your long-term disability carrier in writing that you have retained an different attorney and provide the LTD carrier with your attorney’s name and contact information.

Make Sure You Ask The Right Questions

questionFinding an attorney willing to take your Social Security should not be very difficult. However, finding a qualified disability attorney can be a tough process. Whether you use the representative that the LTD carrier suggests or someone of your own choosing, you should ask the right questions to determine whether the attorney truly has your best interests in mind. The first question you should ask is how accessible the attorney will be. Some social security attorneys handle large volume of cases, because of this, an attorney may not be able to provide adequate individual attention to your case. This should be one topic of your conversation. If your attorney understands your concerns and needs in the beginning, future misunderstandings can be prevented. Next, make sure the attorney has experience in the field of Social Security. This will ensure the attorney understands the nature of the Social Security Disability claim process. Finally, make sure you and your attorney get along. You want to trust your attorney and you want to make sure they have your intentions and goals in mind. The process will run much more smoothly if you hire a representative who will work hard for you, no matter if they are part of a national or local organization.

If you feel like a local firm is a better fit for your needs, Lawrence & Associates may be able to help you obtain the benefits that are owed to you by the Social Security Administration. We are strong advocates who focus on individual attention and stand up for your right to recover the benefits you’ve worked hard for. The Social Security Disability process can be exhausting, but with us you will have a personal experience with a local attorney for the same rate as a national organization recommended by your LTD carrier. We’re Working Hard for the Working Class, and we want to help you!

Can a Lawsuit Settlement or Award Be Taxed By The Federal, Ohio, or Kentucky Governments?

Posted on Friday, August 24th, 2018 at 10:42 am    

The following post is part of our Law Student Blog Writing Project, and is authored by Jennifer Tressler, who is pursuing her Juris Doctorate at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.

You have been injured. You have no idea how you are going to pay for your medical bills. You are not able to work right now because of your injuries, so your family has lost your income and is struggling financially. It is such an overwhelming time that you file a lawsuit, and—great news—you win a settlement large enough to cover all of your medical bills and allow you to provide for your family until you are able to get back to work.

dollarHowever, now you have new worries. You have won this large amount of money—but will the money from your injury settlement be taxed and taken away from you? Does this money constitute income in the eyes of the IRS? The answers to these questions are dependent upon the facts and circumstances of your specific case.

Generally, though, the IRS will not interfere with the allocation of funds provided that they are consistent with the substance of the claims in your settlement. Different types of claims are treated differently by the IRS, however, and how you should deal with the settlement money from these different types of claims will be briefly outlined here. If your settlement included multiple claims, the amounts pertaining to each claim will be treated accordingly with the rules for that individual amount. This means that if you receive $50,000 for personal physical injury and $50,000 for emotional distress, $50,000 will be regarded under the rules for personal physical injury or physical sickness and $50,000 will be regarded under the rules for emotional distress or mental anguish.

Personal Injury and Emotional Distress Lawsuits

If your settlement is for personal physical injuries or physical sickness and you did not take an itemized deduction for medical expenses related to the injury or sickness in the past, the full amount is non-taxable. You should not include this money in your income reporting. You must, however, include any portion of the settlement that is for medical expenses that you deducted in the past that resulted in a tax benefit. If part of the proceeds is for medical expenses you paid over more than one year, it must be allocated on a “pro rata” basis, or in proportion to the amounts paid each year. Talking to an experienced lawyer at Lawrence & Associates can help you figure out how to calculate the amount to report and fill out the correct forms.

If your settlement is for emotional distress or mental anguish originating from a personal physical injury or physical sickness, it is treated in the same way as a settlement for personal physical injury or physical sickness, which is listed above. If the emotional distress or mental anguish settlement you receive does not originate from personal physical injury or physical sickness from the accident, it must be included in your income reporting. This amount reported is reduced by the amount paid for medical expenses attributable to emotional distress or mental anguish not previously reported and by previously deducted medical expenses for emotional distress or mental anguish that did not provide any tax benefit. A lawyer can help you attach a statement showing these deductions to your return and fill out the necessary forms to document this.

Employment or Property Damage Lawsuits

If you receive your settlement in an employment-related lawsuit, the portion of your proceeds that are for lost wages is taxable and subject to the social security wage base, as well as the social security and Medicare tax rates in effect for the year the settlement is paid. They are subject to employment tax withholding, and a lawyer can help you report these in the appropriate places on your returns. If you run your own business and your settlement is for lost profits for your own trade or business, those proceeds are considered net earnings subject to self-employment tax and must be reported. A lawyer can help you navigate this more complex reporting and help you select the correct IRS forms.

If your settlement is for loss in value of property and is less than the adjusted basis of your property, it is not taxable and generally does not need to be reported on your tax return, although you must still reduce your basis in the property by the amount on the settlement. If your property settlement exceeds your basis in the property, the excess is considered income. A lawyer can help you determine if this applies to you and, if so, how much excess you must report. In addition, any interest on any settlement is generally taxable and needs to be reported.

The Different Treatment for Compensatory and Punitive Damages

Most of the money awarded to you in your settlement is considered compensatory damages, meaning that the money is intended to pay you back for your injuries. Compensatory damages compensate the injured party for their direct suffering (i.e. medical bills, lost wages, resulting health problems, etc.), and you had to prove that you suffered some type of monetary loss, how much the loss was, and that the other party was the cause of this loss. In contrast, punitive damages are intended to punish the wrongdoer, as well as serve as a warning or lesson to the rest of society. They exceed simple compensation. Punitive damages are only available in cases where the defendant is considered reckless or negligent. For example, in a car accident, punitive damages could be available if the defendant was driving drunk at the time of the crash. Punitive damages are always taxable and must be reported as income, even if they were received in a personal physical injury claim. Some settlements containing punitive damages require the recipient to make estimated tax payments on said settlement. A lawyer can help you determine if this applies to you, and if so, how much your estimated tax payments should be.

If you have questions about how your settlement will be taxed, please call Lawrence & Associates today for a free consultation at (859) 371.5997. We’re Working Hard for the Working Class, and we want to help you!

Cincinnati Area Tips and Tricks for Dealing with Insurance Companies After A Car Accident

Posted on Thursday, August 16th, 2018 at 4:07 pm    

The following post is part of our Law Student Blog Writing Project, and is authored by Dayna Wilson, a law clerk at Lawrence and Associates, who is pursuing her Juris Doctorate at Chase College of Law.

Getting into an accident is frightening. You may feel alone and unsure how to proceed after such a terrifying event. Who should you talk to? What should you say? Who is on your side? All these questions may be scattered in your head as you question who you should turn to. The first call you might get is from an insurance adjuster who wants to question you about your accident. At this point, you need an experienced attorney who can help you handle communications with the insurance adjuster to protect your rights. Insurance adjusters for liability insurance policies get annual training on the best ways to interrogate people in car accidents to avoid or minimize damages payable under the policy. Don’t be one of their statistics!

Should You Talk To Your Insurance Company After an Accident?

crashThe goal of your insurance company is to make the other driver’s insurance pay for damages to the vehicle. Although your insurance company is on your side, they are not paid or trained to pursue your claim against the at-fault driver the same way an attorney will. Your retained attorney will work on your behalf with your insurance company and the other driver’s insurance company to maximize your settlement. This is why it is important after an accident to contact an attorney so your rights can remain protected.

In addition, your insurance company has an obligation to pay for related medical bills after a car accident. These payments are called PIP payments in Kentucky, and Med Pay payments in Ohio. However, the adjuster often lives outside the Cincinnati area, and therefore doesn’t have the expertise to help you choose a doctor from the confusing army of medical professionals in the Tri-State area. In a similar vein, many primary care physicians are part of hospital networks that are pressured to refer within the hospital’s network, rather than to the doctor best equipped to treat your injury. One benefit of retaining an attorney early on is that an experienced personal injury attorney knows every doctor in the area, and has seen the outcome of their treatment on hundreds of patients. We know who to refer you to, and take pride in referring to the best medical professional for your condition!

Can An Insurance Adjuster Trick You Into Saying Something To Hurt Your Case?

When you are injured in an automobile accident, one of the first things that will happen is an insurance adjuster will contact you about the car accident. The adjuster may begin with some simple or innocent questions. Although the questions may seem innocent, the adjuster’s motives are not in your favor. Adjusters questions often include:

“Have you been involved in a previous car accident or other accident?”
“Are you the registered owner of the vehicle?”
“Was the weather a factor in the accident?”
“What happened?”
“Were you using a cell phone or any other electronic devices?”

The purpose of an insurance adjuster is to investigate and evaluate insurance claims. Adjusters decide whether an insurance company must pay and if so, how much. They conduct interviews, inspect property, and review police reports. The goal of the adjuster is to obtain valuable information to use during the claims process. While the information may seem reasonable, often any data collected is used against you to lower the value of your claim.

There are good reasons to limit your phone conversations with insurance adjusters when an adjuster calls you after an accident. Many adjusters will call frequently in an attempt to get you to settle quickly. In this case, if your injuries are minimal or nonexistent, it is permissible to talk to the other driver’s insurance company. The police report may place liability on the other driver. If this has occurred, communication with the other side may speed the claims process along.

Often, insurance adjusters will ask the victim to make a recorded statement. Remember an important rule: you should not provide an insurance company a recorded statement concerning the motor vehicle accident without having an attorney present. Simply put, the other side’s insurance company is not on your side, no matter how friendly or approachable they may seem. You can be completely honest about everything. However, later at trial, the insurance company may attempt to use any inconsistent statements between the recorded statement and the testimony at trial against you. Often, such inconsistent statements occur because your memory will fade between the recorded statement and trial, or because you won’t have known an important fact at the time of the recorded statement that you later learn before trial. Despite such reasonable explanations, the lawyer representing the insurance company many attempt to use this contradiction to make the jury question your credibility so that the jury will find for the defendant and not the victim. Having adequate representation will help prevent you from accidentally saying the wrong thing, or speaking about facts that haven’t been adequately investigated.

In addition to attempting to extract information to use against the victim and to get a recorded statement, the insurance company may also try to get the victim to sign a medical release form. These medical release forms allow an adjuster to get all of your medical records from every provider you have ever had. That is an enormous invasion of your privacy, and unjustified by any provision of Kentucky or Ohio law! It is important to keep the goal of an adjuster in the back of your head. They are there to reduce or eliminate your claim and protect their profits. If you provide recorded statements or sign medical releases prior to consulting with an attorney, there is a high chance that your claim will be significantly decreased.

How Can I Protect Myself If an Adjuster Wants to Take My Recorded Statement?

Individuals who have been injured in an automotive accident cases may choose to consult with personal injury lawyer. If you are seriously injured in an accident you should consult an attorney. An attorney can also help you if your own insurance company denies payment of your PIP or Med Pay benefits. Here at Lawrence & Associates we can handle the process of communicating with insurance companies so that you will not make a mistake that will negatively impact your case. We will handle the proper negotiations with the insurance company in order to pursue just compensation. If there’s even a small chance you could have significant injuries or damages, or the question of who caused the accident is in dispute, it’s probably smart to not speak with the other driver’s insurance company without legal representation.

Call our attorneys today for a free, confidential consultation if you need help. We’re Working Hard for the Working Class, and we want to help you!

Have You Been in a Car Accident?

Posted on Wednesday, August 8th, 2018 at 8:31 am    

The following post is part of our Law Student Blog Writing Project, and is authored by Jennifer Tressler, who is pursuing her Juris Doctorate at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.

Learn How Damages Are Calculated in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky Car and Truck Wreck Claims

Imagine for a moment that you are Maria. Maria was driving through an intersection when her car was struck by another vehicle. Maria suffered several severe injuries that required a significant amount of medical treatment. However, Maria’s insurance company would only cover a portion of her medical treatment costs.

Maria was at a loss for what to do, when someone told her to talk to a reputable personal injury law firm that might be able to help her. She was hesitant, thinking that filing a law suit might make create additional problems for her during what was already a very stressful and expensive time, but by choosing Lawrence & Associates, she realized she would not have to pay up front for her personal injury case! Her Lawrence & Associates personal injury attorney explained to her that her personal injury case would operate on a contingency fee, meaning that she would not have to pay any attorney’s fees or case expenses unless she won her case. Although Maria still had plenty of questions, her personal injury attorney was happy to answer them. The most important question for her, and maybe for you if you find yourself in a similar situation, was how much money she could expect to receive and when she would receive it.

How does a Greater Cincinnati area lawyer calculate or estimate how much money I get from my personal injury claim?

accountingThe first thing for you and your personal injury attorney to consider (because you are a large part of the settlement process!) is what a reasonable sum of money for you to give up your legal claim looks like. This varies from person to person, from situation to situation, depending on circumstances. Most insurance companies use mathematical formulas to calculate the amount of money they are willing to let go in the settlement, and your personal injury attorney will look at this formulaic process on the other side during the negotiations process. This is true regardless of what type of personal injury case you are bringing forward. This formula does not actually determine how much compensation someone receives, however. It is more of a tool that insurance adjusters use to begin the process of determining how much a claim is worth. Other factors must be considered before a final determination about compensation is made.

Once the settlement formula is applied, the insurance company will look at other legal and practical issues that affect your case. Some of these issues could include whether there is any shared fault for the accident, how organized and calm your demeanor is in relation to the claims and settlement process, whether the other side is credible or sympathetic, and any witnesses that may bolster your case. Because there are so many factors that go into how much your case will settle for, it is dangerous for attorneys to promise a high dollar settlement amount to their clients. Attorneys are held to very stringent ethical standards, especially regarding the handling of money and the representation of clients. Do not be afraid to check out your potential attorney on the state bar association’s website where the attorney is located to see if there are any ethical complaints or malpractice suits filed against them.

What is the damages formula and how does it work?

It is important to have a damages formula because, while it is usually fairly simple to add up money spent and money lost, there is not a precise way to put a dollar amount onto pain and suffering and missed or lost opportunities. The latter is what the damages formula calculates. The person found liable for an accident must pay the victim for medical care and its related expenses, missed work and other lost income, pain and other physical suffering, permanent physical disability or disfigurement, loss of family, social, and educational experiences, and emotional damages resulting from any of these losses.

To begin the original offer, an insurance adjuster will add up the total medical expenses relating to the injury, which are referred to as “medical special damages” or “specials.” To figure out how much to pay for emotional damages, permanent disability, and pain and suffering, which together are referred to as “general damages,” the insurance adjuster typically multiplies the amount of special damages times one-and-a-half to three times for relatively minor injuries and up to five times for especially painful, serious, or long-lasting injuries. Any lost income is then added to this number. This is usually the number where settlement negotiations with your personal injury attorney begin.

Two important things to remember about the damages formula are that, first of all, the figure arrived at is only the starting point for negotiations toward a final settlement amount. Other important factors about your accident and your injuries come into play as well. Secondly, because the starting formula can have a multiplier anywhere from one-and-a-half to five, or possibly even higher, considerably different numbers can be produced depending on where your case falls on the multiplier scale. Factors that influence where your case falls on the multiplier scale can include how painful your injury is, how invasive and long-lasting your medical treatment was, how obvious your medical evidence is, how long your recovery period is, and how serious and visible the permanent effects of your injury are.

Sometimes, your target settlement needs to be adjusted for your own fault. Kentucky is a pure comparative negligence state, meaning that the dollar amount of your award is reduced by your percentage of fault with no limits. Ohio is a modified comparative negligence state, meaning that your award is reduced by your percentage of your fault, and if your own fault is greater than fifty percent, you cannot win any damages, so the settlement value of your case is much less than your actual damages.

The last factor an insurance company looks at is whether you have retained a competent attorney. Injured people who have not retained counsel are often looked at as “not serious” about pushing the value of their claim, or unable to successfully push the value of their claim once litigation becomes necessary. This theory often bears true, because unrepresented injury car accident victims don’t know how to file and pursue a lawsuit in court. This means those unrepresented people are stuck with whatever the insurance company decides the value of the case ought to be, not what the injured person or a jury of his or her peers decides the value of the case ought to be. This is the reason that getting counsel as early as possible is important.

If you are overwhelmed by your personal injury accident, contact Lawrence & Associates today. We can help you navigate through settling with your insurance company to get you the award you deserve! Call today for a free consultation at (859)371.5997. We’re Working Hard for the Working Class, and we want to help you!

Underinsured and Uninsured Motorist Coverage and Why It is Important

Posted on Thursday, August 2nd, 2018 at 1:41 pm    

The following post is part of our Law Student Blog Writing Project, and is authored by Madelyn Stampley, a law clerk at Lawrence and Associates, who is pursuing her Juris Doctorate at NKU Chase College of Law.

UIM and UM Coverage: An Introduction

crashSadly, in today’s economy, a lot of Kentucky and Ohio residents are only able to afford car insurance with minimum coverage, or worse they are unable to afford car insurance at all. When one of these underinsured or uninsured drivers are at-fault for a motor vehicle accident that caused you injuries, underinsured (UIM) and uninsured (UM) motorist coverage allows you to fully recover. Securing an attorney for your UM or UIM claim is crucial to just compensation for your harm and damages.

Can I Still Get Compensation from a Motor Vehicle Accident if the Other Party in the Accident Does Not Have Insurance?

Both Kentucky and Ohio law allow you to get compensation from a motor vehicle accident if the other party in the accident does not have insurance. Uninsured motorist coverage provides protection when you are in a motor vehicle accident and the responsible party does not have auto insurance and this cannot cover repairing your car or covering your medical bills and lost wages. UM is important because it is the only way to know your damages are covered in an accident with an uninsured motorist. An uninsured motorist is more likely than not uninsured due to not having the funds to afford auto insurance. If they do not have the funds to afford insurance, they most likely do not have enough money to cover expensive medical bills, lost wages, and your automobile repairs.

Why Is It Okay to File an Uninsured Motorist Claim?

An uninsured motorist claim can help ensure your medical expenses (medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering) are paid for when you are in a motor vehicle accident with an at fault driver that does not have auto insurance. It is not only okay, but it is recommended to have uninsured/underinsured coverage. In some states uninsured motorist coverage is mandatory, although in Ohio and Kentucky it is only optional. Uninsured motorist coverage also covers you if you are the victim of a hit-and-run accident.

What is Underinsured Motorist Coverage and How Can It Protect Me?

Underinsured Motorist Coverage, or UIM, provides you protection when you are in a motor vehicle accident and the at-fault driver does not have enough auto insurance coverage to fully cover repairing your cap or covering your medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages.

For example, let’s say you are a Kentucky resident in a motor vehicle accident that accrues $200,000 worth of damages. The at-fault driver has insurance, but it only covers $100,000 of the damages. In this case you can make an underinsured motorist claim against your own insurance policy. If you had $150,000 in underinsured driver coverage, you would settle with the negligent driver for $100,000, and would settle with your insurer for an additional $100,000. Your auto insurance policy is required to cover all the damages you have that exceed the amount covered by the at-fault driver’s policy, up to the limit of the UIM coverage reflected on your auto insurance declarations page.

In contrast, in Ohio your available UIM coverage is based on the difference your UIM limits and the underinsured driver’s liability limits. For example, if the underinsured at-fault driver has $25,000 in liability limits, and you have $100,000 in UIM limits, you would be able to collect up to $75,000 from your own UIM policy ($100,000 – $25,000 = $75,000). This is because Ohio law allows a UIM policy to be offset by the at-fault driver’s liability coverage, instead of requiring that UIM coverage stacks on top of the liability coverage as it does in Kentucky.

How Do I File an Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Claim?

If you are in a motor vehicle accident, it is important to start taking the proper steps immediately to make sure your claim goes your way. Generally, you will know if the at-fault driver is uninsured once the police are called to the scene after the accident. On the other hand, knowing if the at-fault driver is underinsured tends to be more difficult and time-consuming. It can take a while, sometimes several months, to determine the amount of money needed to cover the damages due to the motor vehicle accident. Once this amount is calculated, the at-fault driver’s insurance will cover as much as their policy allows. After the insurance limits are reached, you should contact your insurance company or attorney to file an underinsured motorist claim.

The key to filing either of these claims is acting swiftly to make sure claim runs smoothly due to a lot of car insurance policies having limits on how many days you have to report the claim. Once you have filed your claim, there will be pretrial investigation, disclosure of medical records, and settlement discussions. Generally, the insurance company and your attorney will discuss and negotiate the best possible settlement for you.

The Importance of Securing an Attorney for your UM/UIM Claim

Due to financial struggles, a lot of Kentucky and Ohio residents decide to purchase auto insurance policies with minimum coverage. A shocking amount of people also decide to forego auto insurance completely. To ensure your insurance covers your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and vehicle damages during a motor vehicle accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, it is important to have UM or UIM coverage. If you find yourself post-car accident unsure how to make sure all your damages are covered, securing an attorney is the best way to proceed. Having an attorney during this process will ensure that you will have the best possible result and have your damages covered. If you decide to not obtain uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, you are driving at the mercy of everyone on the road who does not have insurance or is underinsured. While it may be more expensive, you should view it as a stress taken off your shoulder knowing that you have enough insurance coverage to cover medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and car repairs.

If you have been in a Car Accident in any state, or if you have any other questions about Underinsured or Uninsured Motorist coverage, please call our Fort Mitchell, Kentucky office at 859-371-5997 or our West Chester, Ohio office at 513-351-5997. We successfully resolve hundreds of cases every year for people who are in your shoes. We’re Working Hard for the Working Class, and we want to help you!

Super Lawyers
Top 100
Million Dollar Advocates Forum

Ready to get started? Contact us today!