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Frequently Asked Questions

The lawyers at Andrews & Pontius, LLC understand that each client’s case—whether it is a domestic matter, a business issue, a personal injury, or a criminal event—is unique.  We give personal attention to every client’s concerns, and we encourage you to contact us for a consultation.  Here are some of the questions we frequently hear from people seeking legal advice.

Medical malpractice

Personal injury

Criminal defense

Probate

Family law


Experienced and personal legal services throughout Northeast Ohio

For skillful and personalized assistance on a wide range of legal matters in Ashtabula, Lake, Trumbull, Geauga, Mahoning, and Cuyahoga counties, call the lawyers of Andrews & Pontius, LLC at 440-998-6835 or contact us online.


Medical malpractice

Is there a time limit within which I must file a claim for medical malpractice?
Yes.  Under Ohio law, an individual generally has one year from the date that the alleged medical negligence occurred or one year from the date that the individual knew or should have known that medical malpractice occurred within which to file their claim against that individual and/or entity.  If you believe you or a loved one has experienced medical malpractice or medical negligence, you should contact our firm immediately to schedule a free consultation.

Does this time limit also apply when the injured individual is a minor?

Yes, it does, but with an exception.  The one-year statute of limitations for a medical malpractice or medical negligence claim when the injured party is a minor is extended and will not begin to run until the minor turns 18 years of age.  If you believe your child has been injured as a result of medical malpractice or medical negligence, please contact Andrews & Pontius, LLC to schedule a free consultation. 

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What is involved in having my potential claim for medical malpractice or medical negligence reviewed at Andrews & Pontius, LLC?
After we have had our initial consultation, a copy of your medical records will be obtained and reviewed by our independent medical consultant to determine if there is a viable medical malpractice or medical negligence claim to assert on your behalf.  After that review is completed, an appointment will be scheduled for you to meet with the attorney(s) and the independent medical consultant to discuss whether there is a viable claim and how you should proceed going forward in that matter.

How much will pursuing a medical malpractice or medical negligence claim cost me?
Generally, Andrews & Pontius, LLC handles these types of claims on a contingency fee basis.  A contingency fee means that the attorneys at Andrews & Pontius, LLC who would handle your claim(s) will not charge you anything unless they are able to obtain a recovery on your behalf.  If compensation on your behalf is achieved, whether through settlement or trial, then the agreed upon fee will be deducted from that amount of money received from the wrongdoer(s), in addition to the costs that Andrews & Pontius, LLC incurred in pursuing the claim on your behalf.

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Personal injury

Is there a time limit within which I must file a claim for personal injury?
Yes.  All claims in Ohio, regardless of the type, are subject to a statute of limitations. Each claim has its own applicable statute of limitations.  Auto accidents, for example, have a two-year statute of limitations.  A statute of limitations is a time frame by which the particular claim must be filed in court in order to pursue the claim.   If an individual fails to file or assert his or her claim by the end of that applicable time frame, then that individual will be forever barred from pursuing that claim. If you believe that you or a loved one has suffered a personal injury, whether due to an automobile accident, a slip and fall on a third party’s property, an assault, or in any other manner, it is important that you contact Andrews & Pontius, LLC immediately in order to schedule a consultation to have your potential claim reviewed and if viable, to protect your right to pursue that claim.

If I am involved in an automobile accident and shortly thereafter I am contacted by an insurance adjuster, should I agree to settle my claims at that time?

No.   If you are involved in an automobile accident and the other driver’s insurance adjuster contacts you to discuss settling your claims, you should contact Andrews & Pontius, LLC for a consultation before agreeing to accept whatever has been offered at that time.  An insurance company’s goal is to settle any claims it must cover for as little money as possible.  As such, the insurance company’s adjuster may try to get you to settle your claims before you have had a chance to discuss your claim with an attorney and allow him or her to investigate and value your claim.  If you are involved in an automobile accident, you are entitled to be fully compensated by the wrongdoer.  If you are faced with this situation, contact Andrews & Pontius, LLC immediately for a consultation.

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Should I provide a written or oral statement to the other drivers insurance carrier or sign paperwork for the insurance company to obtain my medical records?
No.  You should not provide any type of statement, whether written or oral, to the insurance company for the other driver. Additionally, you should not sign any authorization forms allowing the insurance company access to your medical records.  The goal of an insurance company is to minimize the amount of money it will have to pay for any injuries that you sustained in the automobile accident.  An insurance company will use whatever information it obtains from you or your records against you.   It is important that you have an attorney representing your interests, just as the other driver has his insurance company representing his interests.  You do not want the insurance company getting access to this type of information before you have retained an attorney on your behalf, because your ability to be fully compensated for your injuries may be compromised otherwise.  If you find yourself in such a situation, you should contact Andrews & Pontius, LLC to protect your rights.

How much will pursuing a personal injury claim cost me?
Generally, Andrews & Pontius, LLC handles these types of claims on a contingency fee basis.  A contingency fee means that the attorneys at Andrews & Pontius, LLC who would handle your claim(s) will not charge you anything unless they are able to obtain a recovery on your behalf.  If compensation on your behalf is achieved, whether through settlement or trial, then the agreed upon fee will be deducted from that amount of money received from the wrongdoer(s), in addition to the costs that Andrews & Pontius, LLC incurred in pursuing the claim on your behalf.   The balance of that amount will then be paid to you less any outstanding liens or subrogation interests that must be satisfied pursuant to law.

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Criminal defense

Should I provide a written or oral statement to law enforcement when I am the subject of an investigation and/or being placed under arrest?
No. Any statements that you provide, whether they are oral or written, may be used against you.   Often, an individual believes that by providing a statement to law enforcement, he or she will receive some consideration for that statement and not be charged with any crime.  Sometimes, the officer may indicate to you that he or she will go easier on you if you do, or make some other similar type comments.  Unfortunately, the officer generally is not the individual who will ultimately decide whether charges should or should not be brought against you.  That role is usually performed by the local prosecuting attorney or solicitor.  A statement incriminating you in a crime makes it very difficult to defend the case in the event the matter proceeds to trial.

If a law enforcement officer does not read me my Miranda rights, will the charge be dismissed?
No. When you are placed under arrest, an officer is suppose to read you your Miranda rights, which basically advise you that you do not have to say anything, that you are entitled to an attorney, but that anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.   However, a violation of an individual’s Miranda rights generally comes into play only when the individual has provided a written or oral statement.  If no statement has been given, then the violation of Miranda rights will most likely have no consequences.  However, if you gave a statement, whether oral or written, and you were the subject of a custodial interrogation, then a motion must be filed with the court to bar the prosecutor and/or solicitor from being able to use that statement at trial.

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Probate

Do I need a Last Will and Testament?
Everyone should have a properly executed and up-to-date Last Will and Testament. While the amount of probate administration can be significantly reduced and/or eliminated with joint and survivorship property, transfer on death conveyances, payable on death designations, trust agreements, and lifetime gifts, significant time and expense for probate administration can be avoided with a Last Will and Testament which clearly states the decedent’s wishes.

Will I be able to avoid probate administration if I create a trust?
Maybe.  Although a trust agreement is one way to avoid probate administration, a trust agreement may not be necessary for most individuals.  Through the use of simple estate planning techniques such as joint and survivorship property (especially for husband and wife), transfer on death and/or payable on death designations, or gifts made during an individual’s life, transfers of wealth to next of kin can be effectively accomplished in most cases without the need of a trust agreement.

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Family law

If I am unable to pay child support for any given time period, is my ex-spouse or ex-significant other allowed to interrupt my visitation rights?
No. Although you are obligated to pay child support as ordered, in the event you are unable to make a child support payment, for whatever reason, your ex-spouse or ex-significant other is not allowed to interrupt your visitation rights with your child(ren). However, if you are unable to make your child support payments as ordered and/or if you are experiencing an interruption with your visitation rights, it is important that you contact Andrews & Pontius, LLC for a consultation to discuss protecting your parental rights and what steps may need to be taken in order to address your inability to pay child support.

How is child support determined in a divorce or child support case?
The State of Ohio has adopted child support guidelines.  The guidelines use tables that indicate a support amount for different ranges of income, similar to tax tables.  Child support is based on an income shares model, which is based on the income of both parents.  Typically, the parent without the child the majority of the time will pay support, but if both parents share time with the child equally, the parent with the greater income usually pays support.  The support may be reduced based upon the amount of time the payor spends with the child.  The court can impute income in a situation where a parent is intentionally not working or is working at less than he or she is capable.  Imputed income is the income the court determines the parent is capable of earning rather than his/her actual earnings.  Medical expenses and day care expenses are usually considered in the child support calculation.

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