Willis, Willis & Rizzi Support Akron PorchROKR 2023

Willis, Willis & Rizzi were proud to be a part of PorchROKR 2023, which takes place in the Highland Square neighborhood in Akron, Ohio.

PorchROKR is a unique outdoor musical festival showcasing many different musical talents from around the area. Additionally, there are many artisans and creative vendors offering their creations for sale.

Willis, Willis & Rizzi’s property hosted several musical acts and vendors throughout the weekend, as well as an artistic mural which was painted by volunteers and festival attendees

New Ohio Distracted Driving Law April 2023

As of April 4, 2023, it is illegal in the State of Ohio to use or hold a cell phone in your hand, lap or other parts of the body while driving. If an officer sees a violation, they can pull you over.  Drivers over 18 can make or receive calls via a hands-free device, including: speakerphone, earpiece, wireless headset, electronic watch, or connecting the phone to your vehicle.  In most cases, anything more than a single touch or swipe is against the law.

You can use hands-free technology like Bluetooth as long as you don’t hold the device or manually enter numbers, letters or symbols.  If you have to do that to make a call, you must find a safe location to park your car before making the call.  Drivers can listen to audio streaming apps and use navigational equipment as long as they turn them on before getting on the road or use a single touch/swipe to activate them.

Drivers can hold a phone to their ear during a phone conversation if the call is started and stopped with a single touch/swipe.  Drivers may also hold or use their cell phone when stopped at a traffic light or parked on a roadway or highway during an emergency.  Of course, in an emergency, drivers may call emergency services.

What is off-limits?  Dialing a phone number, sending a text message (unless it is voice to text via a hands-free method), video calls, FaceTime, browsing the internet, or recording or streaming video are just some of the actions that are prohibited.

Remember that drivers under the age of 18 are restricted from using any electronic device in any way while driving, even while sitting at a light or while using hands-free features.  They may however use a navigational device, as long as it is in hands-free or voice activated mode. Teens may not input information into the device while driving.

Officers are currently issuing warnings for violations in an effort to educate the public and allow time to adapt to the new law.  Starting October 5, 2023, law enforcement will begin to issue citations for violations.  The first offense in two years is 2 points assessed to your driver’s license and up to a $150 fine.  The second offense is 3 points and up to a $250 fine. The third offense and beyond is 4 points, up to a $500 fine and a possible 90-day license suspension.

Sweet, Sour, Tart and Off the Charts


With the holidays in full swing, it’s always nice to have a recipe that can be made ahead.  Try this cranberry relish recipe for something different at your next holiday meal.  And be sure to keep reading below to learn how you can get a Willis, Willis & Rizzi t-shirt!

We have t-shirts!

Would you like to have a free Willis, Willis & Rizzi t-shirt? Contact us if you are interested! Do you have an idea for a t-shirt design for our firm? If so, send us your idea – we would love to see it!

The Goal of Full Recovery
     At Willis, Willis & Rizzi Co. LPA we strive to be the complete personal injury firm. This means not only handling the legal aspects of obtaining a monetary recovery for our clients; we help clients navigate the sea of medical treatment so they can gain the best medical recovery as well. This is step one. Big hospitals and medical practices can be difficult to navigate. We have been there before and are happy to help. We also help with the emotional recovery from simply talking with clients to helping them find professional help when needed. Among our attorneys we have state certified training in fire/rescue and emergency medical medicine.  Mark works on a local fire department responding to motor vehicle crashes and other traumatic injury events on a regular basis. We understand what is going on in the moments after.  This is where medical treatment begins. We also have attorneys with training in accident reconstruction. This is helpful if there is some question about who is at fault in the collision. Skid marks, yaw marks, debris fields, traffic light sequencing and engineering, electronic data records (black boxes) in cars all come into play in the collision reconstruction field.  Beyond our enhanced emergency medical knowledge, we have a panel of medical doctors at our disposal for additional in-depth medical knowledge and insight.  We have been in this field for over 75 years combined and know how to help clients get all the treatment they need to make a physical recovery, emotional recovery, and mental recovery so that we can turn to the last leg: a full legal recovery with full compensation.  No other law firm that we are aware of offers this breadth of knowledge and insight.

Have you left us a Google review?
Starting in 2023, we will periodically have promotions for clients who leave a Google review for our firm. Just use this QR code or type Willis, Willis & Rizzi in the Google search bar, and click on the button on the right-hand side of your screen to “Write a Review”.







Does Your Doctor Really Care?

We strive to get you the best possible medical care.

We represent injury victims.  As such, all of our clients have one thing in common: they all have an injury.  So over the years, we have run across many physicians treating our clients.  We have seen clients have great experiences with physicians who truly cared for them and took good care of them and we have had clients whose physicians have been standoffish because they are injured as opposed to having a wellness check or some disease.  Many doctors do not want to get involved in the legal process.  They may have had a bad experience in the legal process or they are scared of the process or just don’t want to take the time to advocate on behalf of a patient.  Whatever the reason, it seems like doctors who do not want to be involved in the legal process are putting their needs ahead of their patient’s needs.

I want to share a story with you.  When a spinal vertebra is crushed and heals, it heals in a now crushed/deformed state.  It does not pop back into its pre-injured dimensions.  I have used this example in trial on multiple occasions.  I take several pop cans and stack them up in front of the jury and you can stack them one on top of the other.  No problem. Then I take one and step down on the corner of it with my foot crushing it a little bit.  I then attempt to stack the pop cans up and they won’t stack back up because one of them is now deformed.  That is the equivalent of what happens in your spine when you have a crushed vertebra (often referred to by physicians as a compressed vertebra).  You now have a deformed vertebra that is responsible for holding up vertebrae above it.  That stacked-can imagery resonates with a jury.  It is accurate and most spine surgeons view a compression fracture of the vertebra as a permanent defect which has life-long, lasting implications.

We had a client who sustained a spinal compression fracture in a vertebra.  This was the result of a car crash.  She happened to work for a local orthopedic doctor and had for years.  So naturally she went to see her employer about her spine injury.  Ultimately we asked the orthopedic surgeon to answer a few questions regarding her injury and treatment and sent over a letter making the request.  The letter came back to our office, via fax, with three words handwritten on it: “stupid stupid stupid”.  After much trouble, I was finally able to speak to the doctor directly who said her employee’s injury was no big deal and thought we were making a mountain out of a mole hill and there was really no reason to be bringing any type of an injury claim.  We believe differently.  We have tried and handled many crushed vertebral injury claims.

Our client was pretty upset with her orthopedic doctor/employer whom she had known for years who was either afraid or didn’t want to spend the time to help her out on the medical front.  That story is common in our world.  I interact with doctors on almost a daily basis and I get it. They have a lot of stresses in their life brought on by dealing with health insurance companies, hospitals and patients.  It is not an easy job, but I think some of them have lost their way when they fail to take on their patients’ needs before their own.  I sent our client to another spine surgeon in town who is not afraid to advocate on behalf of patients and he wrote us a report addressing all the lifelong implications that she will incur as a result of this permanent defect in her spine caused by the collision. The responsible insurance company paid us their policy limits and our client found a new physician to care for her ongoing issues.

The best time to build a relationship with your physician is not necessarily when you need them, but before you need them.  I encourage you to get to know your physician so that if the need arises they will hopefully have a personal connection to you and feel compelled to help you and advocate on your behalf on the medical front if the need arises.

I think we distinguish ourselves from the mass marketers that do personal injury work as we take time to help clients get the best possible medical treatment – the treatment they deserve.  We do not handle thousands and thousands of claims at one time where they go through the office like a fast food assembly line. We treat each case based on the needs of the client, like a fine restaurant takes pride in preparing each meal individually. Lawyers all charge the same basic percentage so why settle for the assembly line process when you can have personal care tailored to your needs – just like you deserve on the medical front.

What Is Enough Insurance?


The time to figure it out is now – not when you need it.

It is a tough conversation when someone is badly injured or killed and there is very little insurance to cover the mountain of medical bills, the lost earnings, the shattered dreams and the other life altering events that are coming down the road.  In the State of Ohio, $25,000 per person in liability coverage is all that is required by law to be legal to drive. Is that enough coverage for you if you are seriously hurt by another driver?

Concealed carry firearms and permits are a hot topic. I have heard people state that the reason they carry a firearm is not because they expect trouble but that they don’t expect help if there is trouble. So, they are protecting themselves. I ask though, what is more likely, getting into a serious collision or getting into a situation where you would actually pull a gun to defend yourself? I believe the odds are more likely that you are in a collision and need good insurance coverage as opposed to getting into a situation that compels you to pull a gun.

The bottom line is, if you are not insuring yourself for an amount that you believe you are worth, why are you expecting others to do that for you?  If you don’t expect help in a gun fight, why do you expect help in a collision?  Why are you not protecting yourself in this situation?

As an example, we will discuss a recent conversation I had with a client who was hit head on by a lady who went left of center. He was badly hurt. He spent 2 months in a hospital, was finally released home but needs a lot of physical therapy still. He can barely walk with a walker and can’t lift one arm. He is not going back to work and will be applying for social security disability.  His medical bills to date are over $500,000.  The lady who caused the collision has $300,000 in liability coverage. That puts her in a very high category. You could watch the next hundred cars go by and would be hard pressed to find someone with more liability coverage.  Still, it is not enough in this situation.

Her insurer is willing to pay the entire $300,000 limits BUT in exchange they want a full release of the lady who caused the collision.  My client exclaimed that $300,000 was not enough. I asked how much coverage he had to see if there would be any additional coverage available through his insurer. He only had $50,000 in coverage. In Ohio, his insurer gets a credit of the at fault driver coverage, (in this case $300,000) toward their coverage so since $300,000 is more than $50,000 my client’s insurer is not obligated to pay anything.

So, my client is not too happy about the situation. We could file a lawsuit and in a few years get a trial and win a verdict that is turned into a judgment and then try to collect from the lady who caused the collision who by this point would have filed bankruptcy. So, there is very little point in spending more money and time to pursue a judgment that will take years and garner no real results.

If my client had underinsured motorist coverage for say $1,000,000.00 then he would have up to $700,000 available from his insurer. A one million dollar umbrella that provides uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is not as expensive as you might think. It is worth asking your insurance agent about this coverage.

But make sure it includes uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage.

Article by Mark Willis, Attorney

Ohio Governor’s Race

I am tired of seeing all the attack ads on TV. I evaluate the race for Governor based upon something that the TV ads never talk about: the Governor’s job duties. Our Governor is responsible for appointing the Director of the Department of Insurance. While banking is controlled federally through the Federal Reserve, insurance is controlled by each state’s Department of Insurance. For an insurance company to sell insurance in a state, the company must be licensed with the Department of Insurance. Any policy an insurance company wants to sell must be approved by the Department of Insurance. In prior newsletters, we have talked about the erosion of coverage in the average person’s insurance policy. All of those eroded policies have been approved by the Department   of Insurance. Who the Governor will appoint as the Director of Ohio’s Department of Insurance is a big deal from where I sit, dealing with insurance on a daily basis. Insurance companies donate huge amounts of money to campaigns in order to have a say in choosing the Governor’s appointee. I would like to see the Governor choose a Director who cares about the citizens of Ohio as opposed to an appointee who is nothing but an insurance industry insider. 

Another important function of the Governor is to appoint a replacement for any state judgeship opening. This includes openings in Municipal Courts, Common Pleas Courts, Courts of Appeals, and the Ohio Supreme Court. These positions probably number in the thousands, and are filled solely by appointment of the Governor. Many judges get their start this way. In the past, governors assembled a commission to find and vet qualified candidates to fill the vacant judgeships. More and more often, however, governors simply hand out judgeships as political patronage; as a reward for supporting the governor’s campaign. My understanding is that, as Governor, Richard Cordray would go back to appointing judges based upon merit and ability, and not based upon how much they have done for the party.

It is interesting that both candidates for Governor have served as Attorney General in the State of Ohio. If the Attorney General’s Office was    a private law firm, it would be the largest law firm in the state, by far. The AG’s office is tasked with many duties and functions; one of which is protecting consumers. Under Richard Cordray, the Consumer Protection Bureau of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office was robust. Under Mike DeWine, it has been anemic.   

I found it interesting that as the Attorney General who is charged with overseeing the legal landscape of the State of Ohio, Mike DeWine recently stated in an interview that we will “make Ohio the best place in the Midwest to start and run a business” and that we will “limit regulation that kills job creation.” In essence, Mike DeWine has stated that it is his intent to protect Ohio businesses and not protect Ohio’s individual citizens. Second, the “regulations” that he wishes to limit have already been manipulated as much as possible in order to support big business. That was all accomplished over the last few decades under the guise of “tort reform” with the intent of turning Ohio into a Utopia for big business and causing big business to set up shop in Ohio in droves. The ultimate intent has not come to fruition. There is nothing further to do through regulations to make Ohio more big business friendly short of eliminating the right to sue big business in the State of Ohio. Interestingly, the State of North Carolina, which has enjoyed much economic success over the last few decades, has been expanding regulations that protect people at the expense of big business, including the insurance industry.

At the end of the day, I have to support Richard Cordray as the candidate for the next Governor of Ohio because I believe that he will appoint a Director of Insurance who will be more concerned with the rights of Ohio’s citizens and less concerned with the political pull to be pleasing to the insurance industry’s big business lobbyists.

I believe Cordray will appoint judges using a process to find good judicial candidates as opposed to simply passing out political patronage. Finally, from an ideological standpoint, I believe Cordray cares more about individuals than he does about big business. I am certainly not against business; our law firm is a business. Ultimately, though, I don’t believe that business should take precedence over individual rights. Business doesn’t bleed, humans do.

Judges Spotlight

Our office recently tried a case in Judge Lanzinger’s court in the Summit County Court of Common Pleas. Judge Lanzinger is a relatively new judge and is running for re-election. I give her credit for taking a week out of her time as well as her staff’s time to try our case. She was concerned about the facts, she was concerned about what happened, she did her homework, and she put effort, time and thought into the process. These are all things you would expect a judge to do. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always happen that way. Some judges don’t put forth that energy. We support her in her re-election campaign and wish we had more judges that were as concerned about individuals as Judge Lanzinger.

Insurance—They giveth with one hand and taketh away with the other

The process to resolve a personal injury claim has only grown longer and more complicated and much of that has to do with subrogation and reimbursement.

Although the legal concepts of subrogation and reimbursement are not new, their application in the personal injury field is relatively new. Subrogation means “The substitution of one person in place of another with reference to a lawful claim.” Recently, health insurers and auto insurers have added subrogation rights into their contracts such that they have the right to stand in an injured person’s stead for a claim. For example, health insurers pay medical bills that are related to injuries a person received in a collision. Technically, the health insurer then has the right to bring a lawsuit or make a claim directly against the responsible party to be paid for the claim. In essence, they substitute themselves in place of the injured party in the legal claim. While their policy gives them this subrogation right, rarely do they use it. The reason is that they do not want to incur any expense for prosecuting the claim; they merely want to be reimbursed. So additionally, they have liberally sprinkled reimbursement rights in their contracts.

Reimbursement is exactly what it sounds like.  Insurers claim the right to be paid back from their insured, any monies that are recovered for things the health insurer paid. In a typical injury case where an injured party receives medical care from hospitals, doctors, etc. the bills are submitted to the health insurer who pays them, the health insurer then seeks reimbursement for those bills.  The injured party has the right to bring a claim against the responsible party.  So it now becomes the injured party’s job to go out and collect money on behalf of the health or auto insurer if they paid bills, for example, under the auto policy’s medical payment coverage.

At first blush that may sound reasonable. The problem is, as consumers, you have paid for these coverages and then the coverages are watered down.  In essence subscribers are punished for purchasing the coverage. I’ll discuss further how insureds are punished for buying insurance later in this letter.

Folks who have health insurance should be entitled to the coverage purchased. If someone falls down the steps at home and requires medical attention, health insurers would have to pay those bills.  No one would bring a legal claim because it was the individual’s fault that he or she fell down the steps.  The insurance company would just have to pay the bills. However if someone else may be responsible, the insurance company wants to be paid back. Do injured parties get a refund in premium dollars for coverage if monies are recovered?  No.

If a subscriber did not use health coverage in a particular month and asks the health insurer to be reimbursed for the premiums paid that month; will they comply? Certainly not!  Why should insurers be reimbursed for the very activity they are paid to do?  

The insurance industry will tell you that having these rights allows them to control costs and keep their premiums down. Over the last decade or so as the insurance industry invoked reimbursement and subrogation rights, premiums have not gone down, they haven’t even held steady; they’ve only gone up.  I would argue that subrogation and reimbursement rights have done nothing to curb the cost of insurance. But let’s say the insurance industry is correct that these rights help them control costs. Consider the following scenario: A routine rear-end auto collision occurs where someone is transported by an ambulance to the hospital for some bumps and bruises and then follows up with a primary care doctor, receives some physical therapy and is then released from medical care. A reasonable person might understand why insurance companies make reimbursement claims. The medical bills total $10,000.00, the health insurance through negotiated rates with the medical providers, pays $6,000.00 to cover the $10,000.00 in bills and the company wants their $6,000.00 back.

Under current law they can be entitled to the $6,000 back. If the case settles and the company is not paid back, the repercussions could be that the health insurer bring suit against their insured to collect their money or suspend or cancel coverage.

Consider a more complex case: one in which there is an argument about who’s at fault in the collision or possibly an argument about the medical treatment received whether it can be related to the collision or to some pre-existing medical condition.

Think about the following scene: two people collide in an intersection, there are no witnesses and both claim they had the green light and the other person had the red light. According to the reimbursement/subrogation claims explained earlier, the health insurance company will want all of their money back from their insured. But the other driver’s auto insurer will not pay because they argue it is not their insured’s fault. That fact won’t stop the health insurer from seeking reimbursement.

Another potential scenario: consider that a person has knee surgery a week before a collision and that follow up care and physical therapy are already scheduled except the collision aggravates the knee and prolongs recovery. The health insurance company will claim every dollar spent for post-collision treatment even though treatment was scheduled as a result of the knee surgery. How much should they get? They want it all. Their subrogation and reimbursement rights allow them to get the first dollar and every dollar until their claim is paid. Another scenario to help sway you: a collision victim incurs serious injuries resulting in $100,000.00 in medical bills but the person who caused the accident only has $50,000.00 in coverage. The injured victim could not work for six months and ends up with plates and screws to repair a broken bone and has some permanent injuries. The health insurance company will claim the entire $50,000.00 that the victim is entitled to collect from the responsible person. The injured person would get nothing for pain, suffering, lost wages or permanent injury.

Changing the facts a little: the victim has a $100,000.00 auto policy that includes under insured motorists coverage and the person who causes the collision has a $50,000.00 policy. The victims sustain injuries costing $100,000.00 in medical bills.  The responsible auto insurance company will pay their $50,000.00, and the victim’s insurance coverage would cover another $50,000.00 available from their own auto policy (this brings up another discussion about why only $50,000.00 is available — that would be because in Ohio consumers who purchased $100,000.00 are forced to set off any amount of coverage that the responsible person has. Many states do not allow that set-off… if consumers pay for $100,000 in coverage they get $100,000 in coverage in addition to whatever else the other party has.) Now the victim’s health insurance company wants the $50,000.00 collected from the responsible person and they want the $50,000.00 in under insured motorist coverage. Again, the injured person gets nothing.

Stop and think about that situation, both health coverage and under insured motorist coverage were purchased in good faith. The victim will derive no benefit from either of those purchases because one pays the other. That is the ultimate rip off in insurance coverage, the consumer pays for both coverages and one is used to pay off the other.

Some states have come along and outlawed this subrogation and reimbursement nonsense. The reality is at the end of the day, we see no benefits to the insurance companies over this subrogation and reimbursement process. The insurance companies have platoons of employees that spend an inordinate amount of time tracking who owes whom money. Today State Farm may pay to reimburse Allstate and tomorrow Allstate will pay to reimburse State Farm. At the end of the day they’re both spending a lot of money figuring how much each one should be paying each other. They worry about that a lot. At the conclusion of every case one of the last hurdles we go through with insurance companies is verifying with each individual insurance company the exact amount of money each claimed so that each one can make sure the other got paid. They spend more energy, time and concern making sure that they pay each other than they do paying the injured human person whose life was affected by the carelessness of one of their insureds.

The last state that I know of to legislate out this subrogation and reimbursement nonsense was North Carolina and I applaud them for doing so. 

Consumers should receive the coverage for which they pay. People who have the wherewithal and the foresight to pay for health coverage, automobile coverage or medical payment coverage or any coverages chosen ought to get the benefit of those.

The processes that Ohio insurance companies have created are ultimately enforced by the Ohio Supreme Court (made up of 7 statewide elected Justices) and are drafted by the Ohio Legislation made up of 99 state representatives and 33 senators. The governor signs legislation into law. As we head into an election season consider the amount of money spent on these elected positions for the state senate, state legislature, governorship and Ohio Supreme Court then think about where the millions and millions of dollars originate.  Special interests (like the insurance industry) are to thank.