Frequently Asked Questions About Ohio Car Accidents
If you've been hurt in a car accident, you probably have many questions. The legal team at the Smith Law Office has helped thousands of victims in Columbus and throughout Central Ohio move forward. Here are some of the most common questions we're often asked after car crashes:
- What should I do right after a car accident?
- Do I really need to see a doctor after a car crash? I feel fine.
- Do I need to talk to the insurance company?
- Should I accept a financial offer from the insurance company?
- How much is my car accident claim worth?
- How can I get my medical bills paid?
- Do I need an attorney?
These questions and answers should give you a general idea of what to do after your crash. However, every accident is unique. If you've been hurt in an accident, you should speak with an experienced attorney right away. Call 614-874-1056 for a free consultation.
First, remain at the scene - unless you have to leave to seek emergency medical attention. Leaving the scene of a car accident with injuries is a felony in Ohio.
- Call the police and emergency services, and assist if you are trained and able to do so. You need to make sure the scene is safe before taking any other action.
- Use your smartphone or camera to take pictures of the accident scene, including skid marks, property damage and any visible injuries.
- Exchange insurance information with the other driver and get contact information for the parties involved, including the investigating officer and any witnesses.
- Call your insurance company promptly to report the accident, but again, keep your comments brief. Stick to the facts of what happened and let them know they can call your attorney with any further questions.
- Finally, contact us as soon as possible. Getting an attorney on your side is the best option to protect your legal rights and get full compensation for your injuries.
Absolutely. It's quite common for car accidents to cause injuries with delayed onset symptoms, such as brain injuries and damage to internal organs. Seeing a doctor right away is the best option for your health. Be sure to tell the doctor that you were involved in a car accident, and comply with all of his or her instructions.
Seeing a doctor right away also protects your rights if you later need to file a claim. Document every medical appointment and all associated costs, including co-pays, medications and mileage to and from the doctor's office.
You do need to notify your own insurance company that you were involved in an accident in a timely manner. Otherwise, they may deny your claim. After that initial call, though, you have no obligation to talk to the insurance company - and you shouldn't talk to an insurance company representing another driver at all.
Instead, retain our law firm to handle negotiations with the insurance, and then tell the insurance company that they can direct all questions to your attorney. That way, we can protect your legal rights while you focus on your recovery.
Always be suspicious of a financial offer from the insurance company. Offering "low-ball" settlements to try to close out a claim before the full cost of the accident becomes known is standard practice in the insurance industry. Once you've taken their offer, you likely won't be able to pursue further compensation - and there's very little an attorney can do at that stage. That's why we strongly recommend that you meet with us to review any settlement offer before you accept the insurance company's money.
That depends on the circumstances of your accident and the extent of your injuries. In general, after a car accident causing injury, you may be entitled to damages (financial compensation) for all of the following costs:
- Medical bills and other treatment costs for the injuries you sustained in an accident.
- Lost wages and lost future earnings if you were or are unable to work due to your injuries.
- Property damage to your vehicle or other possessions, including repair costs and compensation for the diminished value of your car.
- Replacement services such as yard work, housekeeping and childcare while you are recovering from your injury and unable to perform those tasks yourself.
- Non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, loss of consortium and loss of quality of life. These are costs that are not attached to a specific dollar amount but are still real losses you have sustained due to the crash.
Note that in most cases, the damages you recover from an injury claim are tax-exempt. The government views these funds as making you whole again rather than taxable income. Remember that you are entitled to full compensation even if you have other means of paying some of your expenses, such as health insurance or paid sick time at work.
Ultimately, the liability insurance for the driver who caused your accident should pay your medical bills. However, your medical providers will want to be paid right away, and the auto insurance company likely won't pay out until you have completed your medical treatment. In the meantime, you have a few options:
- Med Pay or PIP Coverage: This is an optional type of coverage on your own auto insurance policy that will pay your medical bills on a no-fault basis.
- Health Insurance: If you have health insurance through your employer or another source, this is also an option. Health insurance companies are often reluctant to pay for injuries sustained in a car accident, but their job is to cover your medical bills regardless of how you were hurt.
- Attorney's lien: If you don't have applicable insurance coverage, we may be able to get your medical bills paid on an attorney's lien basis. This is an agreement between your lawyer and your medical providers to provide treatment at no up-front cost. They will be paid later, after a settlement or verdict in your favor is recovered.
You may think you can handle insurance companies alone, but we strongly encourage you to at least speak to an attorney. Remember, insurance companies have legal representation, and you should, too. Studies have shown that victims who even meet with an attorney recover substantially more than those who do not - and people who actually retain an attorney recover several times as much.
We know you may be worried about whether you can afford an attorney. That's why we help injury victims on a contingency fee basis. Our law firm will advance all costs related to moving your case forward, and if you don't recover any money, you don't owe us a cent. That means you have nothing to lose and potentially much to gain.