Accidents are devastating and can result in injuries and financial burdens. They happen everyday and are a common occurrence in Ohio. Using statistics from the Ohio Department of Public Safety, 322 people were injured or killed every day in traffic accidents in 2007.
Most people look to their insurance company to help ease some of the burden, but for many this does not occur. Instead most settle for less than just compensation. Seeking the assistance of a lawyer, such as our Ohio personal injury attorneys, can help deal with the unfamiliar consequences of being in an accident. Here are ten tips to help avoid insurance company traps and receive fair compensation for your injury.
- Seek treatment immediately. Returning to health should be your top priority. Once you go to the doctor, follow his or her orders to the end so you can make the best recovery possible. An insurance adjuster will base a settlement offer to you based on the medical care you’ve received because it provides a way to measure your injuries and resulting pain. Getting treatment demonstrates to the insurance company that you’re not faking your injury and that you’re taking the process seriously.
- Don’t rush to settle your claim quickly. Adjusters try to settle claims quickly by offering a few thousand dollars right after the accident. This may seem good until you realize the severity of your injuries, and your medical bills take up most the money. Hold off with the settlement and try to work out a payment option with your healthcare provider. Working with an attorney you may be able to receive a “letter of protection” that allows you to continue treatment with the bill being paid at the end of the case.
Here are more tips from our Ohio personal injury lawyers on how to best maximize your recovery from your accident.
3. Don’t underestimate the insurance adjusters who contact you. Insurance adjusters handle claims for a living and are judged based on how much money they save for the company. They are not bad people, but rather good employees. Only you and your attorney are looking out for your best interests.
4. Don’t provide a statement to the adjuster. If an adjustor contacts you, don’t make statements about the accident, your physical condition, and whether you are seeking treatment. You can settle any claims dealing with the damage to your vehicle, but injury statements can wait until you are ready. You may not know the full extent of your injuries at that time. A lawyer can stop the adjustor from having any further contact with you.
5. Don’t sign any medical authorization forms at the request of an insurance company. Insurance companies often try to get accident victims to sign and return authorization forms that allow them to obtain your medical records, not just from the accident but all your medical history. They may use this information to use previous health issues to explain your current conditions. Your attorney will ask you to sign a medical authorization form that allows only your information related to the accident to be sent and used for your case. This protects you from having personal information revealed.
6. Start a file to document everything connected to your case. Keep every bill, police report, and document connected to your claim. The insurance company has a right to see evidence of medical bills for which you are seeking reimbursement, and if you reach a settlement, you may have to pay your provider for any portion of the bills they have paid. As well, keep track of any lost wages and have a doctor’s note stating you cannot work. Have your employer create a documentation about your rate of pay and how much money you have lost due to your inability to work.
Here are the final tips to ensuring the best possible recovery from your accident.
7. Honesty is the best policy. Nothing will kill your claim faster than being caught in a lie. Be honest with all parties including the insurance company, doctor and your lawyer. Your credibility is crucial in resolving your case.
8. Don’t hide information from your lawyer. Your lawyer can only help you if he or she has the complete picture. If there is something awkward or embarrassing to be dealt with, he or she will handle it. Don’t put your lawyer in a bad situation by hiding something.
9. Don’t exaggerate the impact of your injury. Insurance companies may hire private investigators, have someone engage you in conversation or may videotape you in your everyday routine to determine if you are faking the extent of your injuries. Don’t play games when it comes to dealing with your injury case.
10. Hire an attorney who devotes his practice to personal injury cases. Numerous studies have shown that you’re far more likely to end up with more money in the end with the assistance of a lawyer than going it alone. Lawyers who deal with personal injury cases are skilled at handling adjustors and insurance companies because they do it everyday. Hiring a lawyer lessens the amount of hassles you’ll face, and will almost certainly net more money.