If you are one of the thousands of Ohio residents involved in vehicle collisions each year, you may be left wondering, what comes next? Filing a car accident claim is the next step. If the driver of the other vehicle involved in the accident was insured by Nationwide, you will likely receive a phone call from a Nationwide insurance agent very shortly after the crash. Before you say anything to that agent, there are some things that you should know, like how critical it is to consult with Nationwide car accident claim lawyers. Not everything is as it seems when it comes to negotiations of car insurance claim settlements. It is important to remember that Nationwide is not on your side. That motto applies to their clients and corporate officers. Nationwide would go out of business if they tried to give the maximum settlement to everyone who filed a claim. Instead their goal is to settle each claim for as little a cost to them as possible. It is critical to remember when talking to agents that profit is their ultimate goal.
Tips for Interacting With Nationwide Insurance Agents After an Accident
The biggest tip for speaking to insurance claims adjusters is to have experienced Nationwide car accident claim lawyers do it for you. If you retain an attorney, they can take over negotiations with your assigned insurance agent, ensuring that you are not being taken advantage of. Your attorney will advocate for you and ensure that your rights are protected, your interests are represented, and that your damages are being fairly valued in the settlement you are offered. However, should you choose to charter this territory alone, here are some tips:
Don’t let them record your call. An insurance claims adjuster may ask you at the beginning of your phone call if you mind for them to record it. Many people feel that they have to answer yes, or worry that being perceived as impolite could have a negative impact on their claim. However, the fact of the matter is that this recording is only created in the hopes that it will have a negative impact on your claim. Anything said on a recording, even in response to small talk, can be taken out of context and used to negate your coverage or mitigate your claim. It is within your rights to deny being recorded. If you are in a state that does not require permission to record and instead simply notifies you of the recording, you can request to complete all correspondence via email and submit your statement in writing. If you do this, it is important to have an attorney review your statement before submitting it.
Do not consent to the release of medical records. Insurance claims adjusters will often request that you sign a release for medical records. They will make the request like it is totally standard practice, and many people sign it feeling like it is just another part of the process and they do not have a choice. However, you are not required to sign this waiver. You may believe that this release only gives them access to recent and relevant medical records about the crash, but it usually gives them complete access to your last five years of medical records. Their only goal in obtaining this information is to reduce the amount of compensation that you are entitled to by finding another potential cause of the injuries.
Watch out for leading questions. We have said it before and we will say it again. Nationwide is not on your side. Insurance claims adjusters are not above using tricks to get you to admit fault. For instance, a claims agent may ask you something like, “And you said in the police report that you were going 65…is that right?” If you are not actively listening, you may just agree yes without realizing that it was a 55 mph zone and that is the speed you were traveling. That makes it easy for them to trick you into falsely admitting fault, and it can be especially harmful to your case if it was recorded.
Small talk is a trap. Try to stick to the facts while talking to insurance claims agents. Small talk may seem normal and cordial, but this is not a normal interaction. They are busy people and their employer certainly does not pay them to make idle conversation, so if they are making small talk with you, you can bet there is a point to it, and that it does not benefit you.
What Can I Do if Nationwide Insurance Offers Me an Unfair Settlement?
After you or your attorney have provided all relevant information to the Nationwide agent, they will get back to you with a settlement offer. This offer is based on a number of factors including your total medical expenses, the cost of comparable medical treatment in the area, the severity and permanence of your injury, and whether you have an attorney attached to your claim. When you receive your settlement offer you can choose to either accept or reject it. You should consult with an attorney before making this decision. If you choose to accept it you will receive payment and the claim and your ability to take further legal action with regard to the matter will come to a close.
If you choose not to accept the offer you have a couple of different directions that you can go in. One option is to appeal the settlement offer to the insurance claims supervisor. The supervisor will then review your claim and make you a settlement offer. The offer they make may be the same as your initial offer or they may increase it. Again, you can choose to accept or appeal this offer. This time if you appeal the offer it will be via a written complaint to the Ohio Department of Insurance. The Department will then issue a finding on whether the settlement offer that you received from the insurance company was fair.
As an alternative to this administrative course of action, you also have the option to file a lawsuit and go straight to court if you do not think the settlement offer that you receive is fair. You will file a personal injury claim in the county in which you live or where the accident occured. There may be additional venues that are appropriate based on the circumstances. After you file your claim you will receive a notice to appear in court. However, it is very likely that before you have to appear, and certainly before you go to trial, that your claim will be settled. It costs insurance companies a lot of money to litigate in court, so it is almost always more cost effective to simply pay out a larger settlement and avoid court. This means that a lot of times filing a lawsuit is actually the fastest and most cost effective option. If you want results fast, filing a personal injury claim is a good way to go.
What is Required for a Personal Injury Claim in Ohio?
If you are unsure whether you have standing to bring a personal injury claim after being involved in a car accident, we can provide you with the information you need to make a more informed assessment. Of course, the best way to get accurate feedback on your claim is to schedule a consultation with Nationwide car accident claim lawyers who can review the specific facts and circumstances of your case and make an informed decision with regard to the likelihood of success and legal strategy.
There are basic elements required to bring a personal injury claim. For starters, you must have suffered a physical injury that required medical attention and resulted in physical damage. For instance, if you were in a car accident and had some bruising afterwards, but you did not seek medical attention or miss any work, you would likely not have standing to bring a claim due to insufficient damages, even though the crash did technically cause you harm. Financial harm can be established through any kind of medical expenses related to the harm as well as lost wages if you had to take time off work due to your injury. Another element required to bring a successful personal injury claim is that the other driver must have been negligent in causing the accident. Additionally, their negligence must have been the direct cause of your harm. We will discuss the concept of negligence more thoroughly below.
Establishing Negligence in Ohio Car Accident Cases
Negligence is an important determination when it comes to personal injury claims. The other party must have been negligent in causing your harm in order for them to be liable for your injuries.
Sometimes negligence is immediately apparent, such as in the case of negligence per se. In negligence per se cases, negligence is presumed, and the presumption is very hard to overcome. Negligence per se is found when a driver was in violation of the law. For instance, in cases of speeding, driving under the influence, driving impaired, and erratic driving, negligence per se would apply. In negligence per se cases you do not have the burden of proving negligence and causation because they are presumed. Instead, you only have to prove that you were harmed.
In some cases, negligence is harder to nail down, but experienced personal injury attorneys are trained to investigate car accidents and determine all possible causes of negligence to bolster your claim. In general, the liable party is the negligent party. It is also true that generally car accidents do not happen in the absence of negligence, so if you are not sure what the negligence was, you just are not looking hard enough. Luckily, that is where a personal injury attorney can be most helpful.
Comparative Negligence Laws in Ohio
If you are unsure whether the other party is entirely at fault, do not let that stop you from seeking legal consultation. Ohio utilizes comparative negligence laws. Comparative negligence requires to consider the actions of both parties (or all parties involved if multiple) in order to determine how much fault each party (or all parties involved) contributed to causing the accident. It is fairly rare that one party is found entirely at fault. Rather, it is common for some percentage of liability to be assigned to each party. Even in cases where a driver hit a pedestrian, the pedestrian may be assigned a percentage of fault for wearing headphones or walking with their back to traffic. This may seem unfair, but the good news is that it is not a bar to recovery.
Comparative negligence laws allow a party who is partially liable to recover an award less their amount of fault. To explain this concept better, if a party is found 20% at fault for causing an accident and recovers $10,000 in damages, they will receive $8,000 of that amount ($10,000 – 20% of $10,000). This rule applies unless you are the party who is primarily responsible for causing the accident. In that case, the court considers it unfair to pursue compensation for your harm when you were the main cause of it. There are of course diminishing returns, so the higher your assignment of fault the less beneficial it generally is to go to court. It is true though that assignments of fault are not set in stone. They can be challenged and argued in both negotiations and court.
Our Nationwide Car Accident Claim Lawyers Can Help
If you have been in a car accident in Ohio and are feeling overwhelmed or unsure of how to proceed, the experienced car accident and Nationwide car accident claim lawyers at the Law Firm of Kruger & Hodges are ready to help. We will fight to make sure you get the best possible settlement in your case, so that you can leave this accident in the past and move forward with your life. Contact the Law Firm of Kruger & Hodges today to schedule a consultation.