Perhaps two to three times per week I will receive a phone call from a prospective client who tells me that he or she “did not want to involve a lawyer” but because a claim representative was rude to them, he or she felt there was no option but to retain a lawyer. This never ceases to amaze me, and I know that I am not the only lawyer who encounters this situation on a regular basis. It is particularly startling to me because the vast majority of people I speak with simply want to be treated fairly following an accident. That is, they generally want their medical bills paid, money for lost wages (if any) and a reasonable sum for pain and suffering. (I usually tell people to bear in mind that insurance companies are not in the business of treating people fairly.)
If a claim representative is rude to you, feel free to call my office for an opinion on your options. Generally speaking, I am able to give prospective clients a solid understanding of their rights and options with a simple phone call.
(Remember, in the state of Ohio one generally has two years from the date of a car accident before he or she must file a lawsuit to pursue a personal injury claim.)
The Claim Representative Told Me “All of My Bills Would Be Taken Care Of”
This is perhaps the biggest trap that many people walk into following an accident. At some point they are told that “all of the bills” will be paid via settlement. If you are advised of this, I would suggest asking the claim representative to put that unqualified statement in writing. Or simply ask, “Ok, what if I need an MRI scan, four epidural steriod injections, three months of physical therapy and surgery? Are you going to promise me all of those bills will be paid through the settlement?” Perpare yourself for some back-tracking on the other end of the phone. (Note: This section concerns interactions with liability and/or underinsured/uninsured motorist carriers. For a discussion regarding medical payments coverage, please see this blog article.)
It is imperative following a motor vehicle crash that one understands exactly what the settlement entails so that all bills are satisfied and a reasonable recovery is procured. In a liability settlement, insurance companies will only pay for reasonable treatment they believe was proximately caused by the crash. Accordingly, many people end up settling with an insurance company only to find out that large medical bills related to the crash remain unpaid.
Andrew Tobergte is a Partner at McKenzie & Snyder LLP and specializes in auto injury claims and workers’ comepensation in the Greater Cincinnati and Dayton Areas. He may be reached at 513-737-5180 ext. 22.
Written by Andrew Tobergte