Knowing when you can take legal action for a personal injury requires understanding who can file an insurance claim or civil lawsuit and who can be named as being responsible for causing the personal injury. You must also be able to identify the reason the personal injury occurred and name all the harms suffered.

Answering those four questions clearly and in a way that an insurance company or judge will recognize as valid can be difficult. Consulting with a knowledgeable and empathetic Columbus, Ohio, personal injury lawyer before submitting any claims forms or court papers is always a good idea.

To help you get started on understanding whether you have grounds for taking legal action for a personal injury, the attorneys with Agee Clymer Mitchell and Portman share the following annotated lists of who can take action, who can be named as liable, why personal injuries happen, and what counts as a personal injury.

Who can file a personal injury claim or lawsuit?

  • Adult Victims—Generally, any Ohio resident over the age of 18 can bring a legal action on his or her own behalf. Doing so makes the person a petitioner or plaintiff. It also gives him or her the right to name lawyers to represent their interests and protect their rights.
  • Parents or Guardians of Injured Children—Adults who have legal custody of children who suffer harm can take legal action on the minors’ behalf. Technically, the child remains the petitioner or plaintiff, but the parent or guardian works with insurance companies, lawyers, and court officers.
  • Legal Agents of Disabled Adults—When an Ohio resident over the age of 18 cannot act or speak for themselves due to illness or disability, another responsible adult can handle their legal affairs. The legal guardian does not need to be a family member but must consistently act in the sick or incapacitated person’s best interest. Failing to do one’s best for a disabled adult can subject a legal agent to criminal and civil penalties.
  • Executors of Estates—When a person dies from harm caused by another, the family member or legal agent handling the victim’s estate can bring legal actions on behalf of the dead person.

Who can be named as being responsible for causing a personal injury?

  • Individuals—Anyone whose negligence or recklessness results in harm to another person can be named as the liable party in an insurance claim or as the defendant in a civil lawsuit.
  • Companies—Corporations really are people for the purposes of legal actions arising from personal injuries. A petitioner or plaintiff can name one or more companies as liable for paying insurance claims or responding to a lawsuit.

What can cause a personal injury?

What follows is just a partial list of reasons why personal injuries occur. If you feel someone else or a company has harmed you in a way that is not discussed here, you should speak with a personal injury lawyer.

  • Birth Injuries—Poor and negligent care from a doctor, nurse, or pharmacist during pregnancy, delivery, or the immediate postnatal period can leave a child with lifelong physical, mental, or developmental disabilities and disfigurements.
  • Crashes—Any driver of a car, truck, motorcycle, bus, boat, or personal watercraft can potentially be held liable for injuring or killing someone in a crash. When the at-fault driver is behind the wheel of a truck or other commercial vehicle, the company that employs the driver could also have liability.
  • Defective Products—All companies that make and sell products have legal duties to make sure the items will not harm users.
  • Intentional Torts—“Tort” is the legal term for “harm.” When a person intentionally hurts someone else in any way, he or she can be held liable for inflicting an injury or causing a death.
  • Medical Malpractice—All health care providers have a legal duty to protect patients from harm. A short list of examples of medical malpractice includes surgical errors, dispensing the wrong drug, administering an overdose, and misdiagnosing cancer. Note that “standard of care” means the majority of similarly trained health care providers would not commit the same negligent or reckless act in the same circumstances.
  • Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect—When staff mistreat or fail to meet the needs of patients and residents, they can be held liable. Nursing home companies and managers can also be held liable for inadequate training and oversight, negligent hiring, and insufficient staffing.
  • Premises Liability/Slip and Fall—People who suffer injuries at businesses or at other people’s homes can have grounds for premises liability actions. Such cases are commonly called “slip and fall” because the classic example is slipping on a wet floor and breaking a bone.

What do insurance companies and courts recognize as a personal injury?

This is also a partial listing, and most of the injuries require little explication

  • Amputation—Any loss of a body part, including an eye or earlobe, can lead to a personal injury legal action.
  • Burns—Hot surfaces, flames, and chemicals can cause actionable personal injuries.
  • Concussions and Traumatic Brain Injuries—There really is no such thing as mild brain injury. Memory problems, loss of coordination, dizziness, and headaches can last for months or years after any blow to the head.
  • Disability—This covers any loss of physical or mental function, ranging from a limp to blindness and coma.
  • Disfigurement—Scars and other visible reminders of wounds can be compensable as personal injuries.
  • Emotional Distress
  • Illness—Food poisoning, exposures to dangerous chemicals, and infections inflicted by unsanitary conditions can give rise to personal insurance claims and lawsuits.
  • Physical Trauma—A broad category like disability, the term “physical trauma” covers cut and bruises, broken bones, and organ damage.
  • Wrongful Deaths—Any act of negligence or recklessness that leads to a loss of life creates legal liability for settling insurance claims or paying court awards.

To discuss a possible legal action for a personal injury, contact the Columbus, OH, offices of Agee Clymer Mitchell and Portman by calling (800) 678-3318 or fill out this web form. The initial consultation will cost you nothing.