Multiple injuries not covered by 16 year old at-fault driver's insurance?

by Rick
(Milford, Ohio)

I live in the State of OHIO and I'm 58 years old at present and was 55 at the time of this accident. I have no Traffic issues for over 30 years and no accidents for over 38 years.

The accident: A 16 year old teenager made a left turn from a side street on to the state route I was traveling on. I hit him going 40 mph and both cars were totaled. The young man received a concussion, went to the hospital and was released, and was back in school a few days later.

My Injuries: Hospitalized for 3 days, had a broken sternum, extreme slap tear to my right shoulder, damaged disk in lower neck, nerve damage to my left arm, left hip injury and other minor issues. After two shoulder surgeries, 4 plus months healing from the sternum, then the surgery on the shoulder, then 2 plus years of physical therapy, my retail jewelry store was shut down for almost a year.

Medical bills were over $90,000, cashing in most of my financial resources over the last 3 years, and after 3 lawyers the insurance only offered me $65,000. The present lawyer tells me the young man had a policy of $250,000. I have lost way more than that amount just in selling off my gold, silver and other invested items just to keep my life together.

I have over $30,000 in personal loans that I have to pay back to people that helped me during this time. My credit for the business has fallen to an all time low and my doctors tell me I'm 30% to 35% disabled. When I asked the present lawyer about suing the parents for the additional losses that the insurance company is not paying for (or over their limits) I'm told the parents are NOT responsible. Please explain to me WHY?

Mind you I have had three lawyers, we are headed into mediation next week and I was also told if we can't come to an agreement we will go to trial by jury and that will cost me an additional $20,000. I will have to repay that back no matter how the trial goes. If we win, the lawyers will get 33% of that $20,000 I have to pay back, that just does not seem right to me.

They get 33% of the total which is normal, but I don't feel they should get any part of the $20,000. Then if the settlement is over the amount of insured's limits how do I get that from the responsible parties? Can they file bankruptcy on those funds? I don't understand. I'm the victim here and my whole life is upside down.

I was understanding that in the State of Ohio, the person at fault has the responsibility to put my life back to where it was before the accident or as close as possible. Help me understand so I can go on with my life no matter how this plays out. Thank You.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Multiple injuries not covered by 16 year old at-fault driver's insurance?":

Rick (Milford, Ohio):

The trauma you sustained as a result of the accident is very unfortunate. However, it is our policy here at not to interfere with the attorney-client relationship. To do so would be wholly inappropriate.

Generally speaking, the amount of legal fees to be paid to a personal injury attorney is based on the fee agreement contract signed by the client and the attorney at the time the client retained the attorney's services.

Be sure to closely review your fee agreement. If you have any questions or don't understand some of the legal terms, ask your attorney.

While the amount of legal fees may seem inordinately high to you, there may be a legitimate reason for that. It is possible your present attorney is obligated to pay liens owed to your former attorneys. If your previous two attorneys worked on your case, it is likely you will owe them for their legal services, whether you dismissed them or not.

Personal injury attorneys who work on clients’ cases have a right to be paid for their services. When a client hires and fires two attorneys, and then retains a third attorney, an argument could be made the fault lies with the client and not with the attorneys.

Whatever you do, think twice before considering dismissing your present attorney. Doing so may only result in an additional line on your settlement, whatever it may ultimately be.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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