Filing a claim with the insurance company after a car accident is an overwhelming process, especially if it is your claim. There are certain elements and time periods regarding the claim that you must take into consideration when filing a lawsuit.
Ohio is a Comparative Fault State
Ohio is a proportional comparative fault at 51% state. This means that if you were more than 51% at fault, you could not file a claim against another driver. It is better explained with an example. For example, if one driver was driving 30 mph in a residential area, while another was trying to cross the road. After the accident, the claims adjuster determines that the first driver was 70% at fault. While the second was at fault for not waiting for the road to be completely clear before crossing, the first driver was determined to be more at fault. The first driver suffered a broken leg from the accident; however, she may not claim her damages because she was more than 51% at fault for the accident. If it is determined that the second driver was 30% at fault, that driver can file a claim against the first driver for injuries and damages.
After you have informed your insurance company of the accident and you have filed a claim, the insurance company will then appoint a claims adjuster to your case. They do not use a unique formula to determine the fault percentage. The claims adjuster will investigate the claim, speak to witnesses as well as both drivers. Providing all the relevant evidence will help the claims adjuster to get a better picture of what had happened.
After the investigation, the claims adjuster will visit you and tell you of their findings. You can negotiate with the claims adjuster regarding the percentage of fault. Having your attorney present will be beneficial. Experienced accident attorneys will have a good idea as to what the percentage should be when all the evidence is considered. It is an experienced attorney’s job to ensure that the lowest percentage is determined.
Car Insurance Claims
After the accident and the filing of the claim, your insurance will appoint a claims adjuster as explained earlier. After the claims adjuster has finished their investigation and file the report, the insurance company will send you a settlement offer.
Remember that the initial offer will be on the low side. It is the claims adjuster’s job to save money for their employer. But it is also important for their statistics to close cases quickly. Take advantage of this, and negotiate with the claims adjuster. It happens that the insurance company will only pay a partial claim or nothing at all.
If you think that you have a good idea what your settlement offer will be, then you can send your insurance company a letter of demand. It is basically a counter offer before they even send you the settlement offer. You can also send this letter after receiving the settlement offer.
When your claim is denied, partially or as a whole, there are usually legitimate reasons for it. It is a good idea to sit with your policy document or contract and read through it to see if their reasons correspond with your policy document.
Filing a Lawsuit in Ohio
In Ohio, there is a statute of limitations regarding the filing of most different lawsuits. For personal injury claims as well as property damage claims there is a two-year period in which you can file. Insurance claims have no time frames that limit you to claiming. But keep in mind that you will need enough time to file a lawsuit if you, after claiming damages from an insurance company.
Before filing a lawsuit, the insurance company will probably go the route of arbitration. This is usually included in your policy document and is seen by the insurance company as the first remedy to solve issues regarding claims. Arbitration expenses are still for your own pocket and can be quite pricey. You have the right to deny going through arbitration and filing a lawsuit straight away.
During arbitration, each party will get their own appraiser to look at the claim and recommend a settlement amount. If the appraisers cannot reach an agreement, then a third-party appraiser is used. This is also known as an independent appraiser, and the cost is shared between two parties. The third-party appraiser will also make a recommendation for a settlement amount. If it is different from the other appraisers, then you must go with it as it is seen as binding.
You can file a claim in the small claims court if you are claiming $3,000 and less. For claims between $3,001 and up to $15,000, you must file your claim in the County Municipal Court. If the claim is over $15,001, then you must file your claim in the Court of Common Pleas.
Do I need an attorney for my car accident in Columbus, Ohio?
Hiring an experienced auto collision attorney is always a good idea. A good car accident attorney will have your best interest at heart and will ensure that you get the settlement to which you are entitled. The best thing to do is to contact an experienced auto collision attorney the moment that you are in a serious car accident or someone has been severely injured or died.
Filing insurance claims is usually a very straight forward process that you will be able to manage on your own. However, the moment you need to negotiate with your claims adjuster or with the insurance company regarding your settlement, it is a good idea to get legal help.
Lawyers like the ones at Chester Law Group know how to handle insurance company, they also know the law and to what you are entitled. Insurance companies are in the business of saving money, and will not pay you one penny more than what they feel you deserve. It is highly unlikely that you will feel you deserve the amount they are prepared to pay. Your lawyer will be the objective voice that you will need in trying times. They will be able to tell you straight up if your claim is worth more or if you must accept the offer on the table. Remember that you are upset and emotional about what has happened and will not necessary be able to look at it objectively. Keep this in mind when you are seeking legal advice, be open to what your lawyer is suggesting even if it is not what you want to hear.