In theory, the process of filing a car accident claim is simple. Of course, reality does not always reflect this simplicity. If fault for the accident is in question or if your injuries cost more than the other driver’s insurance will cover, you should meet with a personal injury lawyer to discuss the correct way to file a car accident claim in Ohio to maximize your recovery.
How do I file a claim?
Filing a claim is easy. All you need to do is call the other driver’s insurer and report the accident. Make sure you have the following documents handy.
- The other driver’s name/policy number
- Police report
- Pictures from the accident
- Information about any injuries
Once you report it, the company will take over the claim and start an investigation.
How can I prove the other driver was liable for the accident?
When you file a third-party insurance claim, you will need to have evidence that the other party was at-fault in the accident. In most cases, the police report and/or witness statements collected by the police are enough to prove where the liability lies.
When there is little question about fault and injuries are not serious, claim settlements are usually quick and easy in Ohio. The insurance company will ask for a copy of the police report, your medical records and other documents, review these records, and offer a settlement.
If the other driver denies responsibility and the investigation does not show clear fault, the insurance claims adjuster will launch a more in-depth investigation. If this occurs, you may want to contact a car accident attorney to ensure you do not jeopardize your chances of fair compensation. It is not a good idea to agree to give a statement about the accident to the other driver’s insurance company without advice from an Ohio car accident lawyer.
The outcome of this investigation is critical. Under Ohio law, your percentage of fault affects how much compensation you can recover. For example, the investigation finds you 20 percent at fault for the accident, you will only be able to recover 80 percent of the damages.
How do I prove damages?
Some damages are easy to prove. You can calculate economic damages, medical treatment, lost wages, etc, using receipts, bills, and other documents.
It is much harder to calculate the cost of other damages, such as noneconomic damages. These may include physical pain stemming from injuries, as well as mental and emotional pain such as depression, stress, anxiety, and loss of quality of life.
Ohio law does not offer guidelines for determining these totals, but does outline maximum amounts. In most cases, pain and suffering compensation cannot exceed $250,000, or three times the award for economic damages up to $350,000.
When will I receive a settlement offer?
Once the insurer determines liability and calculates the damages, it will contact you with a settlement amount. It is up to you to determine if this compensation meets your needs. If not, you or your lawyer can work with the insurance company to negotiate a fair settlement. This is often effective in getting the money you need, because neither you nor the insurance company is interested in going to trial.
Is a lawsuit necessary?
If they refuse to offer a fair settlement, deny your claim, or refuse to offer a settlement at all, it may be necessary to file a lawsuit against the insurance company. Ohio law gives you two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit for compensation. Often, simply filing the suit prompts the insurance company to offer a settlement.
How can David Bressman help?
At Bressman Law, we can help you negotiate a fair settlement. If the damages offered do not cover your costs, we can also represent you in court and advocate for fair compensation. If you were involved in a car accident in Ohio and are now struggling with an insurance company to get the compensation you deserve, contact us today at 877-538-1116 to schedule an appointment at one of our three Ohio offices.