After any kind of slip and fall on someone else's property in Ohio, it makes sense to explore your options for getting compensation for your losses, especially if it's fairly clear that the property owner's negligence led to the accident.
Whether you decide to file an insurance claim, or take the matter to court via a personal injury lawsuit, a number of Ohio laws and legal rules will almost certainly affect your case. Two of the most important of these are the statute of limitations deadline for filing a slip and fall lawsuit, and "shared fault" rules that can affect your right to recover compensation if you bear some amount of responsibility for the accident. Read on for the details.
A statute of limitations is a law that puts a time limit on your right to have a lawsuit heard in the state's civil court system. Try to file your slip and fall lawsuit after the deadline has passed, and the property owner will surely bring that fact to the court’s attention, and the court will almost certainly dismiss your case. (Note: In some rare situations the statute of limitations clock may pause or "toll," giving you more time to get your case started. Talk to an attorney for the details on these exceptions in Ohio.)
In Ohio, the statute of limitations that will affect most slip and fall cases is the same as the larger one that applies to most personal injury claims. Specifically, Ohio Revised Code section 2305.10 says "an action for bodily injury or injuring personal property shall be brought within two years after the cause of action accrues" (emphasis added).
In plain English, if you think a property owner is responsible for your injuries and other losses stemming from a slip and fall incident, you must get any lawsuit filed against that person (or business) within two years, and the "clock" starts running on the date the slip and fall occurred.
The same two-year deadline applies if your personal property was damaged in the slip and fall -- let’s say you were wearing an expensive watch, and it broke when you landed on it, for example -- and you want to file a lawsuit asking that it be repaired or replaced.
Whether it’s an injury lawsuit or one based on property damage, a slip and case will almost certainly hinge on whether the property owner’s negligence was the cause of your accident. A number of considerations come into play in making this kind of determination. Learn more about proving fault for a slip and fall.
Even if you're confident that your injury claim will settle, you want to leave yourself plenty of time to file a slip and fall lawsuit. Having the option of going to court will give you more leverage during settlement talks.
If you’re thinking about making a claim for injury after a slip and fall, be prepared to hear the other side argue that you bear some amount of responsibility for what happened. If this argument is successful, any settlement or court award you receive could be lower than it might have been, and it might even be wiped out completely.
If your Ohio slip and fall case makes it to court, the state's "modified comparative negligence rule" will be used to determine how much you can recover from the property owner if the jury finds that you were somehow negligent in connection with the accident. Any damages award you receive will be reduced according to the percentage of your fault. And if your share of blame is 51 percent or more in Ohio, you’ll be barred from recovering anything at all from other potentially liable parties.
So, let’s say the jury finds that you are 25 percent responsible for your slip and fall, since witnesses said you seemed to be engrossed in something on your phone at the time you fell. The jury also finds that your damages (including your medical bills, lost income, and "pain and suffering") total $20,000. That will leave the property owner on the hook for $15,000 (the original $20,000 minus $5,000, which represents your 25-percent share of fault).
Even if your Ohio slip and fall case doesn't make it to trial -- even if a lawsuit isn’t actually filed -- the state's comparative negligence rule will still play a role. That's because the property owner's insurance company (and/or their attorney) is concerned with what might happen if your case does wind up in court, even if you're just in settlement discussions very early on. You can expect any slip and fall settlement offer to reflect the other side's view of the part you played in causing or contributing to your injuries. That's just one more reason why it’s so important to make a strong case that details the property owner’s liability.
So, what kind of arguments can you expect to hear from the property owner? The possibilities are endless, but some common allegations include:
Learn more about comparative negligence in slip and fall cases.