Personal Injury FAQs
Turn to the Rinehardt Law Firm of Mansfield, OH. Here are some frequent questions from our clients.
When someone is at fault for causing injury to you, your claims are paid under the insurance policy of the person at fault. Depending on the case, this could be the car insurance policy or the homeowner’s insurance policy. If a business caused your injury, then the business general commercial liability policy and possibly the business umbrella policy will pay your claim.
If you have an extended warranty on your vehicle, you must contact the dealership to make sure that you are refunded the unused portion of the premium you paid for it.
The majority of cases we handle are settled without having to go to court. Settlements occur when an insurance company realizes that it will lose in court and must offer a sum large enough to provide a fair recovery to the victim. Sometimes the insurance company refuses to make any offer or refuses to make a fair offer. When this happens, we are lucky to have access to the courts. Having to face a jury is what keeps the insurance companies in line.
Every driver on the road in Ohio is supposed to have insurance. Unfortunately, some of the most dangerous drivers on the road break the law and drive without any insurance. Some of the most careless drivers on the road have only the very minimum insurance coverage. If you are a victim of a driver with no insurance, look at your own policy to see if you have uninsured or underinsured coverage. Uninsured motorist coverage will pay for any damages that you suffer if you are hit by a driver that does not have insurance or only has a minimal amount of coverage. Your insurance company is not permitted to raise your rates if the at-fault driver does not have enough insurance and you have to make a claim under your policy.
If your vehicle can be repaired for less than its fair market value, the insurance company must pay the costs of repair. If the cost to repair your vehicle exceeds its fair market value, problems frequently arise when you and the insurance company disagree on what the fair market value is. If you are facing this situation, consider the following options:
- Ask your own automobile insurance company to have their claims adjuster estimate your vehicle’s fair market value (if you have collision coverage).
- Try working a “collateral exchange.” Your wrecked vehicle was the collateral on the loan to the finance company. The finance company shouldn’t care whether it has your vehicle as collateral or another of equal value.
- Try buying another vehicle and financing the $3,000 balance owed into the purchase price, allowing you to pay over time, while enjoying your new vehicle. For this to work, you will have to deal with the same dealership that sold you the original vehicle.
- If you had made any recent repairs to your vehicle, you should provide copies of the receipts to the claims adjuster. Your recent repair costs can help you to show that your vehicle had a value greater than the “average” vehicle of that make and model.
- Did you purchase Credit Life Insurance or Credit Disability Insurance with your vehicle? If so, you are entitled to a rebate of that portion of the premium that was “unearned.”
- If have an extended warranty on your vehicle, you must contact the dealership to make sure that you are refunded the unused portion of the premium you paid for it.
If your vehicle is repairable, but the cost of repairs is more than 25% of the value of your vehicle, and your vehicle is less than five years old, you may be entitled to depreciation from the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
If your vehicle is repairable, the insurance company is obligated to provide you with a similar rental vehicle during the time reasonably necessary for repairs to be made. If your vehicle is totaled, the insurance company must provide you with a rental vehicle for a reasonable time to allow you to replace your vehicle.
This is coverage, offered by some insurance companies, that pays any “gap” between your loan payoff and the value of your vehicle if your vehicle is totaled. If you don’t have it now, and you have financed your vehicle for three to five years, you might want to purchase this coverage.
Not everyone who is in an accident needs a lawyer. If your medical bills are less than $1,000, and your injuries have completely healed within thirty days or so then you can probably handle your case on your own. If you are going to handle it on your own you should contact the insurance company for the at fault driver, get the name and phone number of the adjuster. You can then call the adjuster and discuss your claim. In your discussion of your claim with the adjuster you are entitled to have the insurance company pay you to make up for your losses, including your pain and suffering.
Get as much evidence as possible. It is very important to document the evidence as early as possible.
- Photograph the accident scene.
- Measure the length of any skid marks or gouge marks in the roadway.
- Photograph the interiors and exteriors of all vehicles involved in the accident. [Note: If you believe the injuries to you or your passengers were caused by a defect in your vehicle, such as the failure of an air bag to deploy or the collapse of your seat back, it is crucial that your vehicle not even be repaired or destroyed, until an automotive design expert has inspected it.]
- Get the name, address and phone number of anyone who witnessed the accident or who arrived at the scene shortly after.
- Check all road signs and markings at the accident scene to ensure that they meet Traffic Code Standards.
In addition to proving someone else was at fault, you need to document evidence of the injuries sustained by you and your passengers. To document damages you should:
- Photograph all areas of visible injury as soon as possible and take additional photographs during the recovery process to show the stages of recovery.
- See your doctor as soon as possible after the accident and describe every area where you are experiencing pain or having other problems.
- Keep receipts for all of your out-of-pocket expenses resulting from the accident.
- Track all the time your family or friends spent helping you, so that they can be reimbursed at the successful conclusion of your claim.
Remember, the insurance company employs the claims adjusters. They are professionals. It’s the insurance adjuster’s job to pay as little as possible in order to pad the insurance company’s profits. You are not on a level playing field. You have no idea of what a fair settlement would be, giving the adjuster an unfair advantage. The insurance company will want to record your statement by coming to your house or recording your phone call. The insurance adjuster wants to record your statement not to help you but to be able to use your words against you later. We recommend that you not give any statements until you have met with an attorney who can inform you of your legal rights.