Car accident settlements are as unique as the person who is injured – no two are exactly alike. An accident settlement varies depending on many different factors, from the kind of injuries a person sustains, damages to the vehicle, medical costs, to even the mood of the insurance claims adjuster the day he looks over your paperwork. Most people think that insurance companies are on their side, when the truth is, the insurance companies are usually doing their best not to give you all the money that you’re entitled to. If you’ve been involved in a serious car, motorcycle or truck accident in Ohio that is not your fault, here are a few things you should know before you file a claim with the insurance company:
- Take your time and do research. In every state you have at least a year or more to settle your claim or file a lawsuit. In Ohio the statue of limitations for a personal injury case in a car crash is two years. Minors may have until age 20 to file a claim against the party at fault, but oddly enough may have as little as 2 years to file a claim with their own insurer.
- You should be compensated for the damage to your car, towing fees, and the cost of a rental car while your car is being repaired. Take pictures of the damaged vehicles and any visible injuries. Sometimes the insurance company may even try to say the accident was your fault, even if the police report says differently, so make sure to take down the names and numbers of any witnesses to the accident. They may be needed later to help you prove your claim.
- Besides having your current medical bills and fees paid, you can also be compensated for future medical bills and fees related to your injuries. This is why it is so important to have a qualified doctor or medical professional document their recommendations so as to establish the value of those necessary future treatments.
- You are entitled to claim any lost wages that you may incur because your injuries prevent you from performing your job duties. You can claim lost income from the time of your accident to the time of the settlement or verdict. In addition, you may even demand compensation for the loss of future income if you have evidence that your injury hinders your ability to earn money even after a settlement has been reached.
- Once the insurance claim adjuster has reviewed your claim, he or she will usually make you or your car accident lawyer a settlement offer. The settlement offer will tell you what the insurance company is willing to pay on your claim. Many times the adjuster will try to get you to settle quickly and cheaply before you have had the opportunity to speak to an attorney or sometimes even before you have finished with medical treatment. If you hired a lawyer, there will be negotiations until a settlement amount is mutually agreed upon or it is determined that the auto insurance company will not make a fair offer.
- If a settlement amount is established that you are happy with, the insurance company will ask you to sign a form called a Release and Waiver. You want to make sure that the conditions on the waiver are reasonable, and that you will receive your settlement promptly. As with any legal document, it is important to have an experienced car accident lawyer review it and make certain that you are protected before you sign the form. Once you have signed it, it will be too late to question any of the conditions or wording used. Some releases actually make you pay the auto insurance company lawyer bills if they are sued by any doctor claiming you owe that doctor money for treatment from the car accident.
- It’s advisable and in your best interest to have an experienced Ohio accident attorney on your side so that you don’t have to worry about all the legal mumbo jumbo and tricks an insurance company may use to hurt you financially.
- If you cannot reach a settlement with the auto insurance company that you think is fair, you will have to file suit in court to get results. Since most people don’t know how to do this, you will need the help of an experienced Ohio personal injury lawyer. Unfortunately, as auto insurance companies seek to increase profits by reducing claim payouts to injured victims, more and more cases have to be filed in court to finally force the auto insurance company to pay what is fair. Aggressive Ohio car accident lawyers make auto insurance companies pay what they should have paid in the first place.
This is why picking the right Ohio personal injury lawyer is key. While many factors make up the value of a personal injury claim, in general, if a lawyer never goes to court and fights for his clients, making the insurance company pay court expenses and large jury verdicts, the auto insurance companies know this. In fact, insurance adjusters have told us that they use lawyer information in their settlement calculations. The only real threat to an insurance company is that a jury will award a very large verdict and they will have to pay it. If the auto insurance company knows that a particular Ohio car accident lawyer will never go to court, or files suit but never is willing to go “all the way” to a jury trial, then there is no real threat to that auto insurance company’s precious money, and the addition of that fact into the settlement offer calculation may result in a lower offer. In effect, the auto insurance company is buying your personal injury claim, and aggressive lawyers who make auto insurance companies pay large settlements time after time after time get more money for their clients’ claims, all things being equal, on average.
If you’ve been seriously injured or have lost a loved one in an Ohio truck / car accident, call the Ohio auto accident and wrongful death attorneys / lawyers at Chester Law Group at 800-218-4243 or order your FREE BOOK entitled The Insider’s Guide to Handling Ohio Accident Claims at www.ChesterLaw.com.