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How Do Ohio Car Accident Attorneys Deal With Insurance Companies?

Post By Corey Heit

How does an Ohio car accident attorney deal with insurance companies?

Constantly.

As much as that sounds like a joke, it’s true. Insurance claims adjustor and lawyers for insurance companies either question everything or ignore message. In both situations, the job of the attorney who represents an injured crash victim is to take and make phone calls, send and respond to emails, and gather and present medical records and other evidence to support a claim for compensation.

Doing those things frees up the crash victim to concentrate on healing and resuming their normal life instead of fielding calls and doing paperwork. The car accident attorney also knows and applies the law on their client’s behalf. No matter what TV ads claim, only the lawyer hired by the crash victim will be the only one on the injured person’s side.

Protecting the Client’s Rights and Interests

After a car accident, the at-fault driver’s insurance company often calls the injured victim. What may seem like a humanitarian gesture is usually a tactic to pressure the victim into not filing a claim, accepting a quick and low settlement, or providing a recorded statement. Sometimes, the insurance company representative will try to do all three things.

Hiring a car accident attorney allows the crash victim to direct all calls and emails to their legal advocate. Their attorney can then ensure that the insurance company does not have a chance to harass and wear down the client.

Having a personal injury attorney deal directly with the insurance company also protects the client from doing things that may jeopardize their case. For instance, agreeing to sign a form that grants access to “all medical records” can make it easier for the insurer to argue that medical treatments were needed for a preexisting condition rather than for an injury suffered in the car accident.

Similarly, a recorded statement can be used as evidence by the insurance company. Even though the victim may learn new facts, a recorded statement provided within hours or days after a car crash will be treated as the only “true” version of events by the insurer.

Determining a Fair Settlement Amount

Insurance companies start with fixed number for most settlement offers. That number is zero.

When a policyholder’s liability cannot be denied, as when overwhelming evidence for drunk driving exists, an insurer will open with a low number and stick with it despite what facts come to light.

A car accident attorney, on the other hand, will work with the injured victim and their doctors to determine past and future medical expenses. The victim’s lawyer will also hire experts to calculate lost wages and the loss of future earnings. The attorney will than take that information, add a factor for pain and suffering, and calculate a fair settlement amount.

Negotiating or Suing the Insurance Company

Negotiations over what an insurance company should and will pay to settle a claim may not start for many months after a car accident. The unfortunate reality is that it usually takes a long time to know the full physical and financial tolls of a crash.

The back and forth between the injured victim’s attorney and the insurance company can take several more months. Throughout the process, the attorney will keep the client informed and leave the decision over whether to accept a settlement offer up to their client.

It becomes time to sue the insurance company when negotiations fail to produce a result that satisfies the client. Even when a lawsuit is filed, the case can still be settled or resolved by an alternate process like mediation or arbitration. Mediation is an in-person negotiation session where both parties come in with an amount they consider fair and try to reach a mutually agreeable settlement.

Arbitration is somewhat similar to a court hearing, but it usually last just one day and no jury is present. Limited evidence is presented to an arbitrator, who reaches a binding decision for one side or the other.

Corey Heit of Westerville-based Heit Law is available to advise and represent victims of car accidents in and around Columbus, Ohio. You can request a free consultation online or call him at (614) 898-5300.

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