Ohio Traffic Fatalities On the Rise

Even with many people staying home much of last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there were 113 more traffic fatalities in Ohio in 2020 than in 2019, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol’s OSHP Crash Dashboard. Even more troubling — 2021 is on track to significantly surpass 2020 fatality statistics. As of August 22, 2021, there have been 812 traffic fatalities reported in Ohio, an increase of 83 fatalities from the same time period in 2020.

The Dayton Daily News reported earlier this year that there has also been an increase in speeding citations issued, including “a large increase in the amount of violations for motorists exceeding 100 mph.”

Traffic Fatalities Increased Nationwide During Pandemic

Ohio isn’t alone in seeing a spike in traffic fatalities. The statistics match a nationwide trend. According to a June report, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s early estimates show that an estimated 38,680 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes—the largest projected number of fatalities since 2007. Last year during the pandemic lockdowns, drivers more frequently engaged in risky behavior behind the wheel, such as speeding, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and speeding.

Negligent Driving Causes Preventable Accidents

As personal injury lawyers, it is extremely frustrating to see an increase in fatalities caused by the most reckless and careless types of driving. These preventable and devastating losses will affect families for decades and lifetimes to come. For individuals that are injured, the physical, emotional, and financial effects are far-reaching.

If you or someone you love has been harmed due to the reckless driving of someone else, you have legal rights to seek compensation. Whether you were injured in a car accident, motorcycle accident, pedestrian accident, or trucking accident, an experienced lawyer can help you navigate your personal injury claim and obtain the money and justice you deserve.

Our Compassionate Personal Injury Lawyers Are Ready to Help After an Accident

At GBM Law, our attorneys have dedicated their careers to helping victims of serious injury and wrongful death obtain justice. The money we’ve recovered for our clients has allowed them to get the best medical care available, and not suffer financially after enduring the physical and emotional pain of an accident.

We represent our clients in a compassionate manner while aggressively fighting for the full and fair compensation they deserve. Our lawyers are not afraid of taking on complex or challenging cases — or cases that other attorneys may have turned away. If you have questions about a potential case and would like to speak with an attorney, call us at 614-698-1782. If we represent you, we are only paid if we recover money for you.

2022 Ohio Supreme Court Election Could Mean Tort Reform Changes

Sixteen years ago, in 2005, Ohio became subject to tort reform, which limited monetary damages on certain types of civil lawsuits. When a jury decides a civil suit, such as a personal injury case or a sexual abuse case, they may award damages to the victim. In 2005, Ohio Legislators imposed limits on what Ohio Courts could award for non-economic damages (compensation for what is commonly referred to as “pain and suffering”) — even if a jury believes more should be paid.

In the 1970s, many states enacted tort reform after medical malpractice insurers suddenly stopped renewing policies for physicians. The damage caps that many other states enacted became law when Senate Bill 80 was signed into law by Governor Bob Taft on January 6, 2005.

At the time, advocates for the tort reform claimed SB80 balanced the interests of plaintiffs and defendants. While SB80 did offer some protection for victims of catastrophic injuries, it left other victims vulnerable and without protection. For example, when a jury awarded $20 million to Amanda Brandt, who suffered horrific sexual abuse as an 11-year-old, the Cleveland-based 8th Ohio District Court of Appeals ruled the damages should be reduced to $250,000.

Under Ohio Revised Code §2315.18, victims can recover the greater amount of (a) $250,000 or (b) three times economic (calculable) damages, which is subject to a maximum of $350,000 per person and/or $500,000 per accident. When the victim suffers a catastrophic loss or a permanent physical injury that prevents them from caring for themselves, these caps on damages will not apply. Unfortunately, what constitutes a permanent injury can vary from one courtroom to another.

With next year’s election, the political control of the Ohio Supreme Court is on the line. Three of its seven judge seats will be on the ballot, including the chief justiceship and the seats held by Justices Patrick DeWine and Patrick Fischer. Justice Kennedy will be running for Chief Justice. All three candidates, Kennedy, DeWine, and Fischer, voted against hearing Amanda Brandt’s damages appeal. Changes in the court seats could open the door to changes in tort reform.

As personal injury lawyers, we have seen firsthand that emotional injuries affect people’s lives just as much as physical injuries. The only entities that benefit from tort reform limits are the mega corporations and large institutions that look the other way and fail to protect the most vulnerable. As we look to the future, we will continue to encourage our fellow Ohioans to not vote for those that deny access to justice for children and families and individuals who have been harmed. We hope you will join us in fighting for justice for victims like Amanda Brandt.

Britney Spears, #FreeBritney, and Why the Conservatorship is a Big Deal

As attorneys, it’s always interesting when the media closely follows a legal matter. With social media, armchair reporters have taken active roles in amplifying narratives and reporting backstories behind legal filings. The court proceedings involving Britney Spears are particularly unique, because Spears is at the center of a case where she is not accused of doing anything wrong.

Unless you’ve been away from every social media and news source in the country, chances are you have seen, heard, or read about the #FreeBritney movement and the conservatorship controversy surrounding Britney Spears. The online campaign to #FreeBritney was started way back in 2009 after a fan believed Spears was being unfairly controlled by the court-ordered conservatorship, which at the time was just a year old. The #FreeBritney gained momentum in 2019 and 2020, and most recently after her June 23, 2021, statement to the court.

To briefly recap, Britney Spears’s conservatorship was granted by the court in 2008 after a series of personal struggles, incidents, and hospitalizations. As a major celebrity, Spears’s actions were closely scrutinized by the press, including run-ins with paparazzi, a series of traffic offenses, and visits to rehab facilities. In January 2007, over the course of a difficult few days, Spears lost her aunt to cancer, went to Eric Clapton’s drug rehabilitation center in Antigua for less than a day, and famously shaved her head at a Los Angeles hair salon.

Spears’s situation escalated in January 2008, when she refused to give custody of her sons to her ex-husband’s representatives. Police came to her home and she was hospitalized. In an emergency hearing, her visitation rights to her children were suspended, and her ex-husband was given sole physical and legal custody of her sons. She was committed to UCLA Medical Center and put on a 5150 involuntary psychiatric hold. The court placed her under a conservatorship led by her father, Jamie Spears, and attorney Andrew Wallet.

Spears is not the first celebrity to be under a conservatorship. Nickelodeon star Amanda Bynes has been under a conservatorship since 2013. Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys, singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell, DJ Casey Kasem, and famous Hollywood actor Mickey Rooney were all at one point under a conservatorship. Mickey Rooney’s assets were permanently handed over to a conservator in 2011, and his arrangement was reportedly so controlling he wasn’t even allowed to buy food or carry identification. However, Rooney was 90 years old when he was placed under conservatorship, a stark difference from Britney Spears.

According to an article published in AARP in October 2018, an estimated 1.3 million adults are under guardianship in this country, perhaps 85 percent of them over 65. While conservatorships are common enough, it is rare to see someone in their 20’s or 30’s under a conservatorship, while continuing to successfully make substantial income. In the last 13 years of her conservatorship, Britney Spears released albums, judged The X Factor and brought in an estimated $137.7 million performing in Las Vegas from 2013 to 2017. News outlets even presented the narrative that Spears was thriving under the “unusual” conservatorship. In 2016, the NY Times reported, “The business of being Britney Spears is booming. And the pop star can seek a change in her conservatorship status — if she chooses to make a move.”

On June 23, 2021, Spears finally spoke to the court, asking to end her conservatorship, saying “I just want my life back. The conservatorship should end. I truly believe this conservatorship is abusive.” Although she had never spoken on it publicly before, Spears has opposed the conservatorship privately for years. In her statement to the judge, Spears alleged she was medicated with lithium and prohibited from removing a birth control device which would allow her to possibly have more children.

As attorneys, we know that what is reported in the news is often not the full story. In conservatorship and guardianship cases, a lot of evidence is withheld from the public. Despite the amount of news coverage and media interest, we only get small snippets of a complicated situation, as many of the statements, confidential records, and testimony are not made public. We do not know the specific reasons why Spears’s conservatorship has lasted this long.

While Spears’s request to the court on June 23 was amplified by her loyal fans who have steadfastly supported her, they only know part of the story as well. The lack of knowledge and perceived secrecy has led to rumors and conspiracy theories about Britney’s life.

Ultimately, we have no way of knowing if Spears needs the conservatorship. Her statements to the court are concerning, of course, but the public is not privy to ANY of the medical records and/or testimony regarding the rationales for the conservatorship. However, with any guardianship or conservatorship situation, there is a concern about potential conflicts of interest. According to Forbes, Britney Spears has paid her father Jamie Spears $16,000 a month as a salary for managing her estate. It is impossible to argue that he has not financially benefited from his role.

Despite her comments to the judge in court, as of July 1, 2021, Spears has not yet filed a petition to end her conservatorship. Although she did request to have her father removed as conservator, the judge did not take her June 23 statement into account when evaluating her request to have her father removed, because she had not filed a formal petition to end the conservatorship. It remains to be seen what will happen next. We will be following the outcome of this case and hope for the best possible outcome for Britney.

Zantac Case Filing Deadline Fast Approaching — File Your Claim Today

GBM Law is still accepting cases for individuals who have taken Zantac and have been diagnosed with cancer, including but not limited to esophageal, kidney, pancreatic, lung, prostate, stomach, liver, colon, ovarian, and bladder cancer. The major concern with the drugs is the potential carcinogen N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), which forms in the body at high levels after taking ranitidine. Although scientists do not know the exact odds of getting cancer after taking the popular heartburn medicine, it is impossible to rule out the drug’s cancer causing potential.

Although Zantac has been removed from the market for over a year, people are still being diagnosed with cancer. Many of the individuals who have been diagnosed with cancer after taking ranitidine did not have a family history of cancer, or any genetic predisposition. Because the link between Zantac and cancer is new, oncologists may have simply linked a cancer to an environmental cause. If you took Zantac and were diagnosed with cancer, do not self-reject a potential claim without speaking to a lawyer.

Your time to file a Zantac claim is extremely limited. GBM Law is able to accept cases through August 31, 2021. Because it takes time to gather documentation and file a claim, anyone who believes they might have a case should not delay and should contact us as soon as possible. You may be entitled to substantial compensation for your medical care expenses, lost earnings, and pain and suffering, or the wrongful death of a family member due to cancer. Our lawyers can help you pursue the maximum compensation you deserve.

For more information and answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Zantac claims, visit our Ohio Zantac Lawyer resource page. If you’d like to speak with a lawyer about your potential Zantac case, call us at 614-810-8806. Your consultation is free and if we represent you, there are no fees unless we recover money for you.

How to Choose a Personal Injury Lawyer

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a car accident, it is important that you hire the best personal injury attorney to protect your rights.

Choosing the wrong personal injury lawyer can result in you our your loved one being under-compensated, which will result in medical bills being unpaid, lost wages not being recovered, and an uncertain future.

Hiring the right personal injury lawyer will result in full compensation, which gives you and your loved ones as secure and certain of a future as one can get under extremely difficult circumstances.

But how do you choose the right personal injury lawyer for your injury case?

GBM Partners

There are several options to choose from:

  • Consider calling local judges for a referral to a respected personal injury lawyer.
  • Seek a referral from friends or family who have worked with a personal injury lawyer in the past.
  • Research whether a personal injury lawyer has received Google Reviews from clients. Read as many of the reviews as possible to determine whether the reviews seem genuine and demonstrate that the lawyer is experienced, successful and well-liked by their clients.
  • Visit attorney referral websites, such as SuperLawyers.com, FindLaw.com, and AVVO.com, to see whether a personal injury lawyer is well-respected in the legal community and successful.
  • Visit the lawyer or law firm’s website and review the attorney’s biography to see if the attorney is experienced and well-qualified. You may even want to go as far as to cross-reference the claims made by the attorney in his or her biography.

Most importantly, call a lawyer to talk through your situation.

Quality lawyers know that people will have many questions after being in an accident and are happy to guide you to making the best decision for you. If you are unable to speak to a lawyer when you call for information, you should find out how accessible the lawyer will be to you if you are their client.

At GBM Law, potential clients are connected to a lawyer, not a case manager, right away. If one is not available, your information is taken down and sent to the next available attorney to get back to you as quickly as possible.

The most important decision you will make after you or a loved one is harmed due to the recklessness of another is selecting the right personal injury lawyer to protect your rights.

Do your research now to avoid disappointment later. Call GBM Law at 614-222-4444.

Reevaluating the Consequences of Damage Caps for Rape and Sexual Assault Survivors in Ohio

Fifteen years ago, the Ohio legislature enacted a law placing a cap on what a jury could determine that a wrongdoer should have to pay to their victim. Since the enactment of that legislation, any time a jury decides the wrongdoer owes the victim more than $250,000 ($350,000 in certain scenarios) in noneconomic damages, the verdict will be reduced by the judge, as required by this law. While there are a few very narrow exceptions to this cap, the majority of civil cases have been significantly impacted by the vise grip that the Ohio legislature has placed on the jury system.

The fairness of this law has been heavily debated, but perhaps even more so when it has been applied to victims of rape and sexual assault.

Back in 2008, Jessica Simpkins was raped twice by her pastor when she was 15 years old. Adding insult to injury, Simpkins found out that her church knew that this pastor had been implicated in two prior incidents with teenage girls but continued to employ him despite his predatory conduct.

Simpkins filed a civil suit against the pastor as wells the church, for allowing this predator to stay in contact with church youth, ultimately exposing her to her rapist. In his criminal case, the pastor, Brian Williams, pled guilty and was sentenced to 8 years in prison. In the civil suit, a jury determined Simpkins was owed $3.6 million in damages.

However, as a result of the damage cap enacted by the Ohio legislature, Simpkins’s verdict was reduced. Simpkins’s lawyers challenged the constitutionality of a law that infringes on a person’s right to a trial by jury as well as whether or not a single cap should be applied to the multiple rapes she endured.

Ohio Supreme Court Justice Judy French authored the opinion for the court, holding that not only did these caps apply to victims of rape, but also held that Simpkins was not entitled to compensation for each act of rape she endured; she was limited to one recovery, regardless of the number of times she was assaulted.

In January 2020, a jury determined that a woman who was repeatedly raped when she was 11 years old should be paid $20 million dollars. As in the Simpkins case, the court reduced the verdict according to the statutory damage cap.

State Rep. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) recently appeared on NPR to discuss the damage cap bill he worked on and defended the legislation and the goal of limiting the financial accountability of companies, organizations (including churches), and universities that negligently and/or knowingly hired and supervised criminals, saying “the deep pocket” did not commit the sexual assault and was only liable on the theory of negligence.

The case raises an important question about public policy: Is capping damages the right thing to do? Or is a jury, after weighing the testimony and evidence, in a better position to determine what the victim is owed? Secondly, what message does this practice send to abusers or the organizations that knowingly turn a blind eye to the abuser’s behavior?

Many are concerned that affording these defendants civil protection is counterproductive to promoting the change that the civil justice system is designed to affect. Not only does this practice protect wrongdoers, it further victimizes the abused when they are told that they are not entitled to what a jury has valued their trauma to be worth.

Two state legislators recently reintroduced a bill that would remove the caps on damages from cases involving rape and sexual assault. This same bill was introduced during the last legislative session, but leadership in the Ohio House of Representatives refused to give the bill any hearings. Interested individuals should contact their legislators to find out their position on this bill.

Voters will also have a chance to weigh in with their thoughts this November. Justice French, who wrote the decision in Simpkins’s case, is up for re-election to the Ohio Supreme Court. Her challenger, Judge Jennifer Brunner, who is currently sitting on the Tenth District Court of Appeals, has questioned why an abuser could be charged criminally for each rape offense but is only subject to one civil damage amount.

There is no doubt that damages caps, a form of tort reform, have become a political issue. Chambers of commerce and businesses lobby that they need the certainty afforded by jurisdictions that limit their liability for their wrongdoing. Those opposed to damage caps believe that businesses can limit their financial exposure by simply doing the right thing and not enable abusers and rapists an opportunity to offend. Furthermore, when innocent mistakes are made, businesses already have purchased insurance policies to indemnify them for these types of losses.  

If someone you love was abused at work or by a trusted teacher, coach, or leader, would you want to protect the company or organization that employed them, especially if they had knowledge of other victims, and did nothing to stop the abuse? As advocates for victims and as members of the Ohio community, we believe we can do better for victims and need to rethink the consequences of damage caps and how they are applied.

Clark County Crash results in $300,000 Settlement

A Greene County couple suffered significant injuries when a driver made an illegal u-turn in the middle of a two lane road, causing a serious collision. GBM Law and Sydney McLafferty worked over the course of several years to obtain various settlements with the liability insurance company and under-insured motorist insurance company.

Union County Drunk Driver pays $240,000

A Union County woman on her way home from a night of drinking went left of center and struck a young father on his way to work in the early morning hours. In addition to the one year jail sentence she faced for her criminal charges, her insurance company paid $240,000 to settle the injury claims of Sydney McLafferty’s client. This settlement paid for the medical bills and lost earnings as the injured victim missed several months from work.

Slumlord held responsible for carbon monoxide death of tenant.

A disabled man living in a rental property was exposed to high levels of carbon monoxide. He ultimately succumbed to his injuries six months later. His family retained GBM Law to get answers.

GBM Law’s Sydney McLafferty hired a heating and plumbing specialist to inspect the rental property within days of the carbon monoxide leak. The inspection showed that despite hazard warnings, the furnace had been turned back on by maintenance staff. A dislodged vent filled the rental property with high levels of carbon monoxide. At times feeling like David versus Goliath, GBM Law litigated countless motions filed by the nine (9) lawyers representing the opposing parties. The defendants knew GBM would take the case to trial and ultimately agreed to settle for a combined settlement of $765,000 just before the trial date.

$1,075,000 settlement for mother and small children struck in cross-walk.

While a mother was crossing East Broad Street with her 6 day old infant, her 2 year old toddler and her 6 year old son, a motorist turning left struck the family of 4 while they lawfully crossed the street in the crosswalk and with the walk sign illuminated.

GBM Law and Sydney McLafferty worked quickly and diligently with the medical providers to obtain the necessary documentation to overcome Ohio’s statutory cap on damages. While there is never an amount of money that will make these lifelong injuries fair, GBM Law was able to make sure that any medical care needed now or in the future will be available to these young victims of a driver who was clearly distracted.