One For The Good Guys

Our Bike Law practice involves cases throughout Ohio… I don’t know if Ohio has 4 or 5 or more corners, but we travel to ALL corners of Ohio…

I picked up this cutting board recently and I realized that I’ve been to courts in MANY of the cities listed… I have handled cases in Courts from Cincinnati to Cleveland, Bellefontaine to Marietta, Toledo to Ironton, Columbus, Marysville, Clyde, Sidney, Georgetown, Newark, Zanesville, Kenton, Bowling Green, Springfield, Jackson, Gallipolis, Portsmouth, Hillsboro, Mansfield, Canton, Brecksville, Oberlin, Lima, Findlay…

and now… Tiffin.

Today’s case invovled a 3.5 hour drive up to beautiful downtown Tiffin, Ohio, county seat of Seneca County in northwest Ohio. I had to go to Probate Court today to open up a new matter.

In Ohio EVERY proposed settlement involving a child under the age of 18 has to be approved by the Probate Court in the County where the child lives kinder hörspieleen. You have to open a case, file an “application” to have the Court approve the settlement, file things showing what happened and why you’re recommending settlement, provide the proposed distribution of funds, get all the right people to “sign off” on various items and then return for a final hearing, with the parents and child, so the Court can confirm that what you’ve told the Court is true… THEN you have to do what the Court ordered you to do – write checks to the right folks, gather up the receipts and the file a Report of Distribution telling the Court that you have completed the tasks you were ordered to complete by the Court…

This cumbersome process protects the Child so that the money set aside is actually there when the Child grows up. Unfortunately, there have been cases in which parents were left in charge of funds set aside for the child and those funds were squandered. There are 88 counties in Ohio – 88 Probate Courts – and 88 ways of doing this… However, this process also protects the lawyer from claims later that the case never should have been settled, or was settled too quickly so the lawyer could make a quick buck. The lawyer has to provide justification to the Court as to Why the proposed settlement is the best thing for the child.

In today’s case, a child was injured while on a nice early evening bike ride with Mom herunterladen. They were riding on a small, out of the way, very rural Seneca County road near their home towards the end of a last gorgeous day before school started when Mom heard a car approach from behind. She had her child move over and they were single file when the car slammed into Mom from behind… Mom was hit hard, and slid up the hood and into the windshield… The driver was so… preoccupied… that he hit Mom with the LEFT front end of the car and Mom smashed into the DRIVER’S side of the windshield before sliding off.

The driver also ran the car into the back of the child, sending the child into the dirt & berm off the right side of the road… Thankfully, the child was not hurt as bad as mom avery zweckform mac for free.

The driver then … kept going… leaving Mom & child on the side of the road, bleeding and battered. A neighbor saw what happened and called police. They had a general description of the vehicle.

The driver turned at the next road…and then drove the car into a cornfield and left it. He reported it as stolen… the car was found and he was called to the scene… OSHP wasn’t really buying what he was selling… but he stuck to the “I didn’t do it – someone stole the car” story…

Police started digging and found security video showing the driver at a local bar shortly before the crash… there had been a “Split the Pot” and when he didn’t win he drove off in the car… there were beer cans in the car and he’d had a few in the bar…

The fellow eventually came back to OSHP & admitted that, yes, he was the driver, he had committed the hit/run, he had ditched the car, and he had lied to police about the theft … he denied being intoxicated but… hey… come on man…

Maybe he thought they would go easy on him if he fessed up with the source type protocol failed? I don’t know…

He was charged with Aggravated Vehicular Assault, a 3rd degree felony, along with leaving the scene and making a false report about the stolen car. Because of his actions in leaving the scene and not meeting up with police until hours or days later there was no alcohol testing done.

He eventually entered a guilty plea… The judge gave him 3 years in prison, which is where he sits today until 2023.

We sued the motorist and brought in the family’s uninsured/underinsured motorist carrier skatspiele for pc for free. Turns out the fellow had some auto coverage, but not enough.

There was an argument that the driver’s coverage did not apply because his “assault” is considered an “intentional” crime of violence in Ohio, and insurers usually argue that an “intentional act” is not covered by insurance.

You cannot insure against damage arising out of your crimes… If you get mad at someone and intentionally, maliciously, purposefully punch them in the face then you are liable for the damages. Your liability insurance will NOT cover you if the victim sues you for money damages.

But …

If you are telling a story to a group in a bar after a few drinks, and you swing your arm around wildly and accidentally smash in your buddy’s nose… same injuries, same claim for damages… except your Homeowner’s Insurance WILL probably cover the damages in that situation because your actions were not intentional- you did not INTEND to smash your buddy’s nose…

Here, the defendant admitted… entered a Guilty plea … to Aggravated Vehicular Assault. We had recently successfully defeated the “no coverage for criminal acts” argument in a different case – a much stronger one – in a different small county. There, the defendant was driving and got angry at a pair of cyclists. He passed too close, cussed them out and then stopped and got out when one rider “flipped him off.” The motorist came at Rider 1 and then turned and body-slammed Rider 2 into the truck, causing significant injuries. In THAT case the motorist had significant homeowner’s insurance coverage. The insurer filed a “declaratory judgment” lawsuit, asking the Court to “declare” that the coverage did not apply due to the “intentional acts” language. Given that this motorist plead Guilty to body slamming the plaintiff, it was a tougher case. However, the Court sided with us, holding that while the act was “intentional” it was at least arguable that the motorist did not intend the consequences… and kept the insurer in the case. We settled that case successfully.

I think our victory in the earlier case [which I passed along to opposing counsel] helped the carrier decide it wasn’t going to raise this argument in this case. The limits were far less, and they agreed to settle within the limits instead of spending two years fighting a probable losing battle.

Thankfully here the child’s injuries were not catastrophic. We were able to settle Mom’s claim first & then we developed a tentative settlement approach with the insurers to resolve the child’s claim as well… pending Probate Court approval…

Hence… my 3.5 hour drive to Tiffin to start the Probate process today to get the child’s settlement approved…

We are going to do a “Structured Settlement” with the child. This allows the funds to be used to buy an annuity that will pay significantly more when the child is older… The other option in Ohio is to simply give the child a big check when she/he turns 18. That didn’t seem like a good plan. The Structured settlement allows the money to sit with the insurer longer and be paid out over time, following a plan developed by Mom & Dad and approved by the Court. It gives Mom & Dad some piece of mind. It also takes more documentation at the Probate Court level.

So today I gladly made the long drive up to beautiful downtown Tiffin to get the final signatures from the parents, walk through the rain to the Courthouse and get the paperwork filed with the Court to initiate the final settlement process.

Tiffin is an old Ohio town. Seneca County was formed in 1820. I saw a building with an 1821 date on it! Like MANY small Ohio counties I’ve been in, the courthouse sits at the major crossroads in the center of town on a big plot of land [usually on “Court Street”]. The Seneca County courthouse has definitely been spruced up..

In fact…

Today they have a very nice Bicycle scupture/rack right out front that made a nice stopping place on the way in… even a few downtown raindrops didn’t impact the day…

Printed from: https://www.ohiobikelawyer.com/uncategorized/2021/09/one-for-the-good-guys/ .
© 2021.

Leave a Comment