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In Ohio, all drivers must carry auto insurance to cover damages if they injure others in crashes.
Some drivers may also purchase Medical Payments (Med Pay) coverage to help pay for their medical bills and/or Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) coverage to cover their bills if the driver who hit them is uninsured or doesn't have enough insurance.
Because insurance is such a significant factor after crashes when it comes to getting compensation, victims inevitably have to communicate with the other drivers' insurers, their own insurers, or both. Unfortunately, talking to insurance companies after accidents and injuries can be tricky, as saying the wrong thing can make it more difficult to get fair compensation.
If you were recently injured in a crash, here's how to handle conversations with any involved insurance companies.
Whether or not you have Med Pay or UM/UIM coverage, and regardless of whether you were at fault, you must immediately report all crashes to your own auto insurer. Depending on your insurer, you may have only 48 hours or less to report an accident.
When speaking to your insurer to report the crash, report only what happened, including when and where the collision occurred, how many other vehicles were involved, and whether you or a loved one were injured. However, don't add additional and unnecessary information, and don't speculate on who was at fault. Keep the phone call short and strictly fact-based.
As a comparative negligence state, Ohio allows injured drivers to get compensation after crashes even if they were at fault. However, you must be less than 51% at fault to be eligible for compensation.
But because fault must be proven, especially if it's not assigned at the crash scene, you should never admit fault to an insurance company for two reasons:
Car accident injuries often take time to become fully apparent. That's because adrenaline often masks the severity of injuries. It's not uncommon for the actual pain and disability from injuries to not show up until several days after crashes.
Because of that, it's essential to never discuss the specifics of your injuries with ether your insurer or the other driver's insurer until a doctor has officially diagnosed you. Suppose you tell the insurance company immediately after your crash that your only injury is to your ribs, for example. In that case, you may find it challenging to get compensation for other injuries, such as a neck injury, that become apparent days later.
When insurers know they’re likely on the hook for big payouts, they often try to avoid the problem by offering victims quick settlements. And while quick settlements may be convenient for victims who need money right away, they’re rarely enough to cover all of their damages, including medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
In addition, some insurance adjusters misrepresent these quick settlements and make victims think they can always ask for more money later if they need it. However, settlement offers are considered one-and-done. If you accept one, you can't sue the at-fault driver or ask for more money later.
Hiring a lawyer after a crash is important for two reasons.
After hiring a lawyer, the insurance companies are required to communicate with your lawyer, not you. And because your lawyer knows all their tricks and tactics, you won't have to worry about making mistakes that can jeopardize your claim. Instead, you can focus on getting better.
At Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy, we've battled insurance companies for decades. We know that almost everything they do is intended to save them money and protect their profits, often at the cost of innocent people—including their own policyholders.
Even the most innocent-seeming phone calls are often designed to trick victims into making incriminating statements that they can use to pay them less money than they're owed—or deny them compensation altogether.
Don't go it alone after a crash, and don't let a greedy insurance company force you to pay out of pocket for a crash that wasn't your fault. Contact our Ohio auto accident attorneys now for a free consultation.
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