In most cases, one of the first questions an Ohio car accident attorney has to answer from a potential client is: how much is my case worth? For accident victims, this is extremely important, because they are already struggling to pay medical care bills.
Thus, they are anxious to know if they can at least get back these expenses, as well as the wages they lost while they had to stay in the hospital. And the answer is that a car accident claim will definitely include all eligible economic damages.
But the actual value of the claim is influenced by many other factors. On a positive note, injured persons have the right to seek non-economic damages for pain and suffering. Depending on the extent of the injuries and their impact on the victim’s life, this amount can reach the level of tens of thousands of dollars.
On a negative note, sometimes accident victims make several mistakes that end up reducing the value of their car accident claims. For any Ohio car accident attorney, this is an unfortunate situation, one which we try to avoid. For this reason, we will show you ways in which you can avoid these mistakes in order to maximize the value of your car accident claim.
Understanding the Impact of Ohio’s Contributory Fault Principle on Your Claim
All the at-fault US states apply various principles in determining who has the right to file an insurance claim. While some states are extremely strict and do not allow a person to seek compensation even if they are just 1% at fault, Ohio applies a more lax rule. The contributory fault principle applicable in our state says that an accident victim can file a claim if they are less than 50% at fault than the other party.
However, the principle also states that the total actual damages will be reduced by the person’s percentage of fault. Although this is a principle applicable in a personal injury lawsuit, insurance companies know of it and apply it, too.
In fact, they will try to increase a claimant’s percentage of fault as much as possible in order to reduce the amount they have to pay in damages.
How to Protect Your Rights and Maximize Your Car Accident Claim Value
In light of this information, an Ohio car accident attorney knows that the best course of action after any traffic accident is the following:
1. Report the Accident to the Police
In Ohio, drivers are obliged by law to report any traffic accident to the police if it resulted in:
- Bodily injury or death and/or
- $1,000 or more in property damage.
The deadline for reporting the crash is 48 hours after the incident and failure to do so is a minor misdemeanor according to Ohio Revised Code 4509.74 (B).
If you want to increase your chances of getting the maximum compensation you deserve, you should report the crash immediately and wait for the police to arrive and conduct the investigation. The information included in the accident report will be extremely useful for your lawyer to prove your case.
2. Seek Medical Attention Immediately
The sudden shock of a collision makes many people become numb to pain. The body releases adrenaline, which acts as a damper on pain receptors. This is why many car accident victims believe that they were lucky and got away without any injuries.
In reality, they may have suffered severe injuries to the back, neck, head or internal organs. As the effects of adrenaline wear off, pain sets in. However, it may take several hours or even several days until the onset of the symptoms.
The problem is that when you finally see a doctor or go to the emergency room, sufficient time has passed to make an insurance adjuster doubt your claim. They will definitely state that you don’t have any conclusive proof that you suffered the injuries in the car accident. An experienced Ohio car accident attorney may be able to win a settlement for you, but it may not be the maximum compensation you deserve.
3. Do Not Attempt a Private Settlement with the Driver
In some cases, the other driver may offer you an amount of money and try to persuade you not to report the accident. This will definitely hurt your car accident claim a lot. You will have little to no proof of how the accident happened when you realize that the money you got is not enough to cover even the initial emergency treatment you needed.
Also, failure to report the accident makes you guilty in the eyes of the law (see above). And this is something an insurance adjuster will hold against you, leaving your Ohio car accident attorney with no arguments.
4. Do Not Negotiate Directly with an Insurance Adjuster
As explained above, an insurance adjuster will always try to reduce the value of your car accident claim – if they cannot deny it altogether. Unwittingly, you may give them the weapons they need to fight against you. Any statement you make in a conversation with the adjuster can and will be used against you.
Saying sorry, trying to conjecture how the accident may have happened, stating that you may have been a little at fault – all these are things you may say without realizing, especially if you are still in shock and pain.
This is why you should never even accept to discuss your case with an adjuster, even if they claim to be there to help you close the claim as quickly as possible. All negotiations should be left to an experienced Ohio car accident attorney.
5. Do Not Post Updates on the Social Media
Finally, a lot of accident victims hurt their cases by posting photos, videos, and updates on social media. They say things like “getting better now” or “ready to go back home”. These updates don’t necessarily mean that you did not suffer severe injuries or that you don’t have a long way ahead until you are fully healed. But this is exactly how an insurance adjuster will interpret them.
Yes, insurance companies can find your social media profiles and access your posts. And they have the legal right to use them as evidence against you even in court. The best policy if you want to maximize the value of your car accident claim is to stay away from social media until the case is resolved.
Leave Negotiations to an Experienced Ohio Car Accident Law Firm
After a car accident, you have to focus on getting better. A positive mindset is just as important as proper medical care. So, leave all the technicalities relating to your car accident claim to our experienced lawyers.
You will get a free case review with a skilled Ohio car accident attorney. If your case has merits, you can focus on your recovery, while we negotiate with the insurance company. Do not wait too long after your car crash – schedule your initial consultation with us as soon as possible by calling 844-853-7373 or contacting us online!