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Can You Rely Solely on your Car’s Blind Spot Monitor? Not So Fast

05-08-19    

by Melanie Fahey

Along Interstate 71 northbound just last month, a lighted highway sign announced that the number of Ohio motorcycle traffic deaths last year was 141. It is common knowledge that lots of collisions resulting in injury and/or death to motorcyclists are related to an automobile driver’s failure to see or notice the motorcycle. That is why the “Look Out for Motorcycles” campaign is so important. But surely the introduction of newer, more sophisticated technology is making that problem ancient history, right?

Not necessarily.

blind-spotWhile it is true that many newer model vehicles come equipped with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) such as blind-spot monitoring and alerts on side mirrors that could help a driver to see a motorcycle approaching, automobile drivers and motorcyclists alike may not realize the limitations of such systems. Blind spot monitoring technology uses sonar, lidar, or cameras to detect vehicles that are alongside or behind the driver’s automobile, even if that approaching vehicle may not appear in a side-view mirror. If an approaching or obstructing vehicle is detected, a warning light, a buzzer, or sometimes even a steering-wheel vibration is activated, depending on the make and model of the car. While these features improve the chances that a driver will avoid a collision, they are not perfect.

A recent study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that 80% of drivers did not know the limitations of the technology or incorrectly believed that the technology could reliably detect cyclists. In reality, many blind-spot detection systems do not reliably detect cyclists. Even more alarming, 25% of drivers using blind-spot detection systems rely solely on these systems instead of performing visual checks for approaching traffic.

Automobile drivers with blind-spot monitoring technology must continue to perform visual checks to ensure the safety of the motorcycle riders who share the roadways. And motorcyclists must continue to be on guard by not lingering in a car’s blind spot and by preparing to drive defensively if a driver makes an improper lane change because of failure to spot the motorcycle.

Advances in technology create tools that can certainly improve safety for all motorists, but only when everyone understands these tools and how to use them properly.


Can I Fire my Lawyer?

03-20-19    

The rules that apply to Ohio lawyers say that a client can terminate their lawyer at any time. The lawyer must provide the client with the file and cooperate with the client’s new lawyer. The client will remain responsible to pay the lawyer for the work that has been done to the point the lawyer is fired.

Rule 1.16 of the Ohio Code of Professional Responsibility provides as follows:

(a) Subject to divisions (c), (d), and (e) of this rule, a lawyer shall not represent a client or, where representation has commenced, shall withdraw from the representation of a client if any of the following applies:

(3) the lawyer is discharged.

Rule 1.16 goes on to say that once the lawyers is fired, the lawyer must do the following:

(d) As part of the termination of representation, a lawyer shall take steps, to the extent reasonably practicable, to protect a client’s interest. The steps include giving due notice to the client, allowing reasonable time for employment of other counsel, delivering to the client all papers and property to which the client is entitled, and complying with applicable laws and rules. Client papers and property shall be promptly delivered to the client. “Client papers and property” may include correspondence, pleadings, deposition transcripts, exhibits, physical evidence, expert reports, and other items reasonably necessary to the client’s representation.

Also see Rule 1.16 of ABA model rules.


I Just Got Hit by a Car—What Should I Do?

03-18-19    

by John Rinehardt

Safety First

Don’t panic. Try to stay calm and evaluate your surroundings. If your air bags have deployed, the air inside your car will be cloudy with powder from the air bags. Many people think the airbag powder is smoke and then rush to get out of the car fearing their car is on fire. You should only get out of your car when it is safe to do so. As soon as you can, put on your four-way flashers to warn other drivers.

If your car has come to rest in a high traffic area and you are physically able, consider getting out of your car and getting safely to the berm or median while you wait for the police to get there.

Call the Police

Call 911 to alert the police. You should call even if you think someone else may have already called. Stay on the phone with the 911 operator until the police are sure they know your location. You should call even if the other driver suggests just exchanging insurance information instead of calling the police. Sometimes it takes the police a long time to get there and you might be tempted to leave—don’t, because having a police report is going to be important to prove what happened and make sure that you are treated fairly when you submit an insurance claim for your car and your injuries.

Tell the Other Driver not to Leave

assessing damaage after car accidentEven though you may not think you are hurt, you should tell the other driver that you have called the police and that they should stay until the police arrive. If the other driver starts to take off, try to take a quick photo on your phone of the license plate. Ohio law requires the driver of a vehicle involved in an accident to stop and remain at the scene to provide his or her information to the police and the other driver. See Ohio Revised Code Section 4549.02.

When the police get there, make sure the officer takes down your account of what happened and give the officer the names of any witnesses who you have talked to.

Ask anyone who stops to check on you to give you their names and phone numbers so that you can contact them if the other driver makes up a story about what happened. Many times, the driver at fault will apologize at the scene only to later tell his or her insurance company and the police a made-up version of what happened. Use your phone to take a bunch of pictures—of your car, the other driver’s car, and the scene of the crash. Your pictures may end up being important evidence. Remember no one at the scene is looking out for your interests except for you.

Get Medical Help

Even if you only feel shook up, you should get medical treatment at the emergency room or urgent care as soon as possible. After an accident, you are going to have a lot of adrenaline pumping, which may mask injuries. Lots of times you think you are okay, only to have serious pain later. You may have broken bones, an injury to a disc in your back or neck, a torn rotator cuff or tear of the labrum of the hip. Many of these serious injuries start off with relatively little pain. People with serious injuries often start out thinking it’s just a bruise or a minor strain.

After the emergency room or urgent care, if your pain gets worse, you must see your family doctor or go back to the emergency room because a more serious injury may have been missed at your first visit.

Contact the Other Driver’s Insurance Company

You can get the other driver’s insurance information from that police officer at the scene or from the accident report once it is completed. You should then call the other driver’s insurance company to set up your claim. When setting up the claim, only give basic information—your name, where it happened, where your car is now located—so that their adjuster can evaluate the damage.

The insurance company may try to record you while they ask you questions about what happened or what your injuries are. Do not give a recorded statement to the insurance company. The insurance company is going try to get you to say something so it can put all or part of the blame for the accident on you. You shouldn’t let the insurance company record anything until you have spoken to a lawyer. The insurance company will pester you with calls and emails and even threaten not to pay your claim. Don’t cave in to these hardball tactics. The insurance company is just trying to increase its profits by trying to invent a reason not to pay your claim.

Get Legal Advice

The insurance company has lots of money and resources. When it is you against the insurance company it is not a fair fight. Contact a lawyer even if you are not sure it is necessary. An attorney specializing in accident cases will be able to stand up to the insurance company and look out for your best interests. A lawyer can make sure that you get paid for everything you are entitled to—things the insurance company won’t tell you about.


Rinehardt Law Firm’s 2nd Annual ThanksGIVEaway

10-17-18    

Roasted Turkey

Thanksgiving is a time to gather around the table, share a special meal, and give thanks. To those families in our community who are facing adversity or hardship, Rinehardt Law Firm wants to lend a helping hand. We are excited to announce our second annual ThanksGIVEaway-putting turkeys on tables.

The Rinehardt Law Firm‘s ThanksGIVEaway will be held Saturday, November 17, 2017 from 10:00 a.m. until noon at our Mansfield offices located at 2404 Park Ave. W.  Like last year, we will be giving away a turkey and all the fixings for a great Thanksgiving dinner to 150 families.

We were so humbled by the gratitude expressed by the community at last year’s event, says Attorney John Rinehardt. We are very much looking forward to doing our part again this year to help put turkeys on tables during the holiday season.

We are reaching out for assistance in getting out the word of our ThanksGIVEaway. If you or someone you know needs help this Thanksgiving, please go to the home page of our website www.rinehardtlawfirm.com Scroll down to “know a family in need?” and click on “sign up here”. You don’t need to give us details; just the name and contact information of the person who needs a little extra help this holiday season!

If you would like more information about the event or would like to join us in our effort, please contact Hillary Rinehardt at hillary@lawfirm2020.com or 419-LAW-2020. You can also visit www.rinehardtlawfirm.com and send us a message on our contact us page.


Rinehardt Law Firm Achieves Highest Medical Malpractice Verdict In The State Of Ohio For 2017

09-14-18    

stethoscope

John Rinehardt and Melanie Fahey of Rinehardt Law Firm achieved Franklin County Ohio’s largest jury verdict of 2017.

The verdict was the largest medical malpractice verdict statewide and the fifth largest jury verdict of any kind statewide for the year.

As reported in Columbus Business First online magazine, the medical malpractice jury verdict of $5.2 million in favor of the Estate of David Robinson from American Health Network was among the largest in all of Central Ohio along with a car crash verdict and a chemical contamination verdict.

The case involved a Physician Assistant who failed to perform the proper diagnostic tests when a 35-year-old man presented with complaints of blood in his stool. The failure resulted in an 8-month delay in diagnosis of rectal cancer. Once discovered, the disease had metastasized and the husband and father of three young children died less than a year later.

The Physician Assistant denied liability and denied that any failure on his part to diagnose the cancer was a cause of the man’s death.

“When we show up (at the doctor’s office), we expect that the steps that are necessary are going to be followed. When that doesn’t happen… it’s going to have dire consequences,” Rinehardt said. “The evidence showed the steps to determine the likely source of complaints and symptoms were not followed. He lost his chance to beat a cancer that if caught early is very survivable.”

After a seven-day jury trial in Franklin County, a unanimous eight-person jury found that the Physician Assistant’s treatment fell below the standard of care and that his negligence was a cause of the man’s ultimate death. The jury included $5.2 million to make up for the harms and losses caused. The verdict included medical expenses, lost income, mental anguish and loss of society for his wife and family.

Rinehardt described the jury as “thoughtful and deliberate.” All eight jurors had a college education and four had graduate degrees.

“He had a long life ahead of him had he been diagnosed,” Rinehardt said. “He was instrumental in the family business, had a lot to offer his family and community. The jury was very attuned to the evidence.”

Rinehardt Law Firm represents individuals and families throughout the state of Ohio. The experienced team of lawyers and their staff are dedicated to looking out for the best interests of their clients. With offices in Mansfield and Columbus, the firm offers small town values with big city results.

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We’re here to help you and your family get back on track after an accident. Reach out to us today for a free case evaluation.