Q: WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I HAVE BEEN INJURED IN A CAR ACCIDENT?
A: Your safety, and safety of others around you, is the top priority. Contact emergency services immediately. Due to adrenaline and shock, your injuries may be more severe than you realize, and it is better to err on the side of caution. If you are offered emergency medical services, do not turn them away. Do not admit fault. Instead, focus on making sure that everyone is receiving proper medical attention. Even if you feel you don’t need an EMS, you may follow up after the accident and go to the emergency room or urgent care to be checked out. Sometimes injuries do not appear until a few days later, so if you feel poorly, don’t hesitate to seek the help you need to make sure you are o.k. It is also always good to see your own family doctor after the collision to be checked out and document any problems. Your family doctor is most familiar with your medical history, and they can make necessary referrals, such as physical therapy, x-rays, or an appropriate specialist.
Q: SHOULD I TAKE PHOTOS AFTER AN AUTO ACCIDENT?
A: Yes. If you can do so safely, it is a good idea. Even when law enforcement officers take photos, it is a good idea to take some pictures yourself. Don’t just take a picture of the other vehicle’s license plate, take a picture of the vehicle identification number (VIN). This number is typically located on the corner of the driver’s side dashboard and can be seen through the windshield.
Q: IF I’VE BEEN IN AN ACCIDENT, SHOULD I WRITE DOWN POTENTIAL WITNESS NAMES AND NUMBERS, OR WILL THE POLICE DOCUMENT THAT INFORMATION?
A: If you are able, then collect the contact information (full name, address, phone number) of any witnesses. By the time law enforcement arrive, potential witnesses may have already left the scene. Also, law enforcement officers may be too busy to collect the information of witnesses, and later it may not be possible to locate the witnesses.
Q: WHAT HAPPENS IF I DIDN’T GET ANY PHOTOS OR INFORMATION AT THE SCENE OF A CAR ACCIDENT?
A: It is important to gather evidence and information as soon as possible after a crash. The more time that goes by, the more difficult it will be to locate potential witnesses and preserve evidence before it is destroyed. Contacting eyewitnesses and recovering evidence are reasons why it is important to contact an attorney immediately after a serious crash. At Arthur Law Firm, we understand the importance of acting quickly, and in the event that you did not get the information at the scene, we utilize private investigators to contact witnesses, determine if there is video of the crash, to take photographs, and document the scene as much as possible after the fact.
Q: SHOULD I HIRE AN ATTORNEY AFTER A CAR ACCIDENT?
A: Yes, Arthur Law Firm has over 50 years of experience handling personal injury cases. We will help protect your rights making sure you are fully compensated for damages and ensure you get the best healthcare services possible.
Q: HOW WILL THE AMBULANCE BILL BE PAID?
A: Turn this bill in to your lawyer so he or she can address it. He or she may need to use your own health insurance or your car insurance initially. If there is no coverage available, your attorney will make arrangements for the bill to be paid at the end of the case. The car insurance for the person who harmed you will not pay the bills as they are incurred. See Step 4- Medical Bill Addressed.
Q: WHO PAYS FOR THE MEDICAL BILLS IF I GO TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM AFTER AN AUTO ACCIDENT?
Q: DO I HAVE THE RIGHT TO MEDICAL TREATMENT AFTER A CAR ACCIDENT?
A: Yes. You have every right to be checked out by ambulance or to go to an emergency room. If you don’t seek immediate treatment, then an insurance company may question later if your injuries are related to the car accident. It is also always good to see your own family doctor after the collision to be checked out and document any problems. Your family doctor is most familiar with your medical history, and they can make necessary referrals, such as physical therapy, x-rays, or an appropriate specialist. An officer performing the investigation may ask you if you are injured. Tell the truth but take the time to be descriptive. Later, that accident report may be used against you to say that you failed to report any injuries at the scene.
Q: WHEN SHOULD I SEEK MEDICAL TREATMENT AFTER A CAR ACCIDENT?
A: After an auto accident injury, it is very important that you immediately secure any needed medical treatment for your injuries to get better and to document your injuries. You have every right to be checked out by ambulance or to go to an emergency room. It is also always good to see your own family doctor after the collision to be checked out and document any problems. Your family doctor is most familiar with your medical history, and they can make necessary referrals, such as physical therapy, x-rays, or an appropriate specialist. If you don’t seek immediate treatment and you wait a few days or a few weeks to see if things get better on their own, then an insurance company may question later if your injuries are related to the car accident.
Q: HOW LONG DO I HAVE TO SEEK MEDICAL CARE AFTER A CAR ACCIDENT BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE?
A: It’s important to always get checked out ASAP once you realize you may have been injured. Whether it’s 1 day, 1 week, 1 month, or 1 year later, you have a right to seek treatment for your accident related injuries. However, the longer it takes for you to seek medical care, the more likely the insurance adjuster is to deny your claim and say it was not caused by the accident. Gaps in treatment also cause adjusters to want to cut off related medical bills from the collision.
When adjusters do this, your attorney has to work much harder to persuade them with evidence and medical records, or file suit and try to convince them at mediation or trial to award damages related to the collision. It is always best to seek medical attention as soon as possible for any potential injuries the accident may have caused you in order to have the best outcome for your case. Since there is a statute of limitations in Ohio, you do have to either settle OR file suit within 2 years of the collision. So, that 2 year mark is a make it or break it date. If the case involves an incompetent or minor, there are circumstances where the statute may be extended, but those are exceptions and should be discussed with an attorney.
Q: WHAT HAPPENS IF I DO NOT SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL TREATMENT AFTER A CAR ACCIDENT BUT LATER FEEL I NEED TREATMENT?
A: If you need medical treatment, then get it as soon as possible. People are often told it will take weeks to feel better after injury. This is true, but you are not required to just sit around and hope you feel better. Get things checked out. Get the treatment you need. Gaps in treatment can impact your recovery later. So that is why it is so very important to follow through with the medical treatment you need. It is your burden to convince an adjuster pre-suit or convince a jury in a trial. Gaps in treatment make people question your credibility and what injuries are related to the injury.
Q: WHAT IF I DON’T AGREE WITH THE AMOUNT BEING OFFERED FOR THE DAMAGES TO MY VEHICLE FROM A CAR ACCIDENT?
A: Your vehicle may be inspected by an agent for an insurance company. They will determine the damage caused to your vehicle and it’s contents. The at fault party is only responsible to pay the fair market value of your vehicle, which may be less than what you owe. After the inspection, the insurance company will make you an offer on the property damage to your vehicle. If you don’t agree with the value they are offering you, you may ask them for the comparables they used in reaching their opinion of value. You are free to submit your own evidence of your vehicle’s value, such as an appraisal from a local car dealership or research from Kelly Blue Book or NADA. Ultimately, if you and the adjuster are not able to agree on the value, then a court may determine the value of the vehicle.
Q: WHAT HAPPENS IF MY CAR LOAN IS MORE THAN WHAT THEY ARE OFFERING ME FOR THE CAR?
A: If you owe more than they offer for your property damage, and you have GAP coverage on your vehicle loan, then that will cover the difference between the fair market value of your vehicle and what you owe. If you don’t have GAP coverage, you may be forced to come up with the remainder of money owed to the lender or roll over the negative equity into your next vehicle.
Q: HOW DO I GET A RENTAL VEHICLE AFTER SOMEONE HITS ME UNTIL I CAN FIX MY CAR OR GET A NEW ONE?
A: After the accident, you may speak with the at fault driver’s insurance company to arrange for your rental vehicle. If you have rental car coverage, then you may also set up a rental car through your own insurance policy.
Q: WHO PAYS FOR DAMAGE TO THE VEHICLE AFTER A CAR ACCIDENT?
A: Insurance will pay for the property damage, so long as the at fault driver has insurance. If your vehicle is damaged by someone else’s negligence, then you may have a property damage claim. You may submit a property damage claim under their insurance to secure a rental vehicle until your vehicle can be inspected and compensation for repair or replacement of your vehicle is arranged.
Q: WHAT IF THE AT FAULT DRIVER HAS NO INSURANCE OR NOT ENOUGH COVERAGE?
A: It is bad enough to be injured when it’s someone else’s fault, but to find out that they also have little or no car insurance can be overwhelming. It is not likely that if the at fault driver has failed to carry even minimum car insurance, that they will have a lot of assets to cover your damages. However, there are some ways you may still be able to recover some compensation. Check your own car insurance policy. Does your policy have any medical payments coverage? This would help to cover some of your medical bills. Does your car insurance have Uninsured Motorist Coverage (for cases where the at fault driver fails to have auto insurance) or Underinsured Motorist Coverage (for cases that the at fault driver has some coverage but not enough to fully compensate you for your injuries). These types of coverage will help to take care of the cost of damages in lieu of the at fault driver’s inability to do so.
Q: WHO TAKES CARE OF MY MEDICAL BILLS?
A: Unfortunately the other driver’s insurance company will not pay your bills as you incur them. The other insurance company won’t write any checks until you are ready to sign off on your claim. There are different options available that the lawyers at Arthur Law Firm will discuss with you.
Q: WHEN WILL MY MEDICAL BILLS BE PAID?
A: Your medical bills will be addressed as they are incurred. If your own medical insurance is used to pay these bills, your medical insurance company will work with your lawyer to be reimbursed out of your settlement. This process is called subrogation, and the lawyers at Arthur Law Firm have extensive experience in this process.
Q: DOES IT MAKE SENSE TO HURRY UP AND SETTLE, SO THE OTHER INSURANCE COMPANY WILL TAKE CARE OF MY MEDICAL BILLS?
A: Sometimes the other insurance company will promise to pay your medical bills if you hurry up and settle your claim, but that is NEVER a good idea. If you sign off on your claim, and you find out later that you are more seriously injured than you first realized, you will not be able to seek compensation for those previously unknown injuries. For instance, you may think your sore neck is the result of a condition commonly referred to as whiplash – that’s when the muscles and ligaments in your neck get stretched. There are varying degrees of whiplash – depending on the person, the circumstances of the crash, and several other factors. Some doctors like to say whiplash typically heals in four to six weeks. But from the cases we’ve seen, it’s never quite that simple. We’ve seen some clients with symptoms of whiplash that extend for a year or more; and some who are never fully the same after a whiplash injury. Another much more serious condition could be disguised as whiplash, and that’s a disc injury. Disc injuries can only be diagnosed using expensive tests, such as magnetic resonance imaging. Since these tests are so expensive, they are only ordered after symptoms persist and linger for several weeks or months. If you sign off on the claim too quickly in the hopes of taking care of those initial medical bills, you may get a lot more bills later that you may have a real hard time getting paid at all. And on top of that, a serious whiplash injury or a disc injury may go totally uncompensated.
Q: WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO COMPLETE MEDICAL TREATMENT AFTER A CAR ACCIDENT BEFORE SETTLING?
A. Often times attorneys will let you complete all the medical treatment that you need before submitting a claim for your personal injury damages. This allows you time to heal and to know what your true injuries and damages are.
Q: HOW LONG DO I HAVE TO SEEK TREATMENT AFTER A CAR ACCIDENT BEFORE I NEED TO SETTLE OR FILE SUIT?
A. There is a two-year statute of limitations in Ohio to settle your claim or file a lawsuit against the person who injured you.
Q: WHEN SHOULD I SETTLE MY CAR ACCIDENT CLAIM?
A. Ask yourself the following questions: Have I completed all the medical treatment I need to feel better? Do I have any further appointments for medical treatment or testing coming up? Have I followed through with all referrals for treatment?
If I settled now, would I fear that there are other items or injuries I will not be compensated for? Have I put off any treatment? At some point, you will complete your treatment and feel better. Or, you may find that you have gotten better, but perhaps, not all the way better. At the point you complete treatment, the attorney will start making arrangements to submit a demand to the insurance adjuster. There is a two-year statute of limitations in Ohio to settle your claim or file a lawsuit against the person who injured you.
Q. WHAT INFORMATION DO YOU NEED TO MAKE A PERSONAL INJURY CLAIM?
A. The core piece of evidence in your injury claim is almost always going to be the medical records and billing for the medical treatment you received.
Q. WHO OBTAINS THE MEDICAL RECORDS AND THE BILLING INFORMATION?
A. Your lawyer will obtain this. In our initial meeting with you, we will have you sign HIPPA compliant medical authorizations – both a broad all-encompassing form and a form specific to the various facilities where you may receive medical treatment. This allows us to move quickly to get records requested as soon as it makes the most sense to do so.
Q. HOW SOON WILL THE MEDICAL RECORDS AND BILLING BE OBTAINED?
A. Some of the medical records and bills can be obtained very shortly after the injury occurs. For instance, records for emergency medical treatment at the scene, and treatment in the emergency room can be requested immediately. However, in almost every case, follow up medical care is required by the primary care physician, a specialist, physical therapist, chiropractic physician, or some other medical provider. Because these types of treatment occur over the course of several weeks or months, requests to these providers are not issued until treatment with one of these providers is complete.
Q: HOW MUCH ARE MY AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENT INJURIES WORTH?
A: Every case is different, and the value of your case will depend on numerous factors, including, but not limited to, the amount of your medical bills, whether there is clear liability, the severity of the injuries, whether any future medical care will be necessary, and the amount of work missed to recover from the injuries.
Q: WHAT TYPE OF COMPENSATION AM I ENTITLED TO?
A: You may be entitled to compensation for any property damage, medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering that were incurred by the accident.
Q: HOW IS COMPENSATION DETERMINED FROM AN AUTO ACCIDENT?
A: The total compensation is determined by calculating all the types of damages incurred, including, but not limited to, the amount of your medical bills, whether there is clear liability, the severity of the injuries, whether any future medical care will be necessary, and the amount of work missed to recover from the injuries.
Q: WHEN DO I TRY AND SETTLE MY CASE?
A: A case should not be settled until after a person has fully recovered from their injuries or has reached a point where no more treatment is recommended, so that all damages can be calculated. However, there may be a point where a lawsuit must be filed, if you have not settled and a statute of limitation is coming up (the date you must file a lawsuit or forever be barred).
Q. DO I HAVE TO REIMBURSE MY INSURANCE COMPANY AFTER I SETTLE MY PERSONAL INJURY CASE?
A. Various entities may need to be reimbursed after you settle your personal injury claim, that is because of a legal principle called “subrogation.”
Q. WHAT IS SUBROGATION?
A. Subrogation is a legal principle that requires someone to be reimbursed if they paid medical bills or other benefits on your behalf, and then you collect money from a third party. For instance, if you have Medicare, Medicaid, or Worker’s Compensation, there are various federal and state statutes that come into play that afford these outside interests a claim to a portion of your settlement. Likewise, if you have a private health plan, or if you receive benefits for medical payments under your auto policy, then there is probably something in your insurance contract that requires you to reimburse your insurance company from your settlement. The amounts these entities are entitled to be reimbursed, will be based upon the terms of the contracts, as well as case law and state statutes that impose limits on the amount of money on subrogation rights.
Q. WHEN DOES SUBROGATION GET ADDRESSED?
A. Almost always, subrogation is addressed once the amount of the settlement or judgment is determined. So subrogation is usually addressed at the end of the case. The lawyers at Arthur Law Firm have extensive experience with all types of subrogation claims, and our proven results over the course of several years, means at the end of the case, more money in your pockets.
Q: HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO SETTLE MY AUTO ACCIDENT CASE?
A: Every case is different, but it is important for a person to fully recover from their injuries so that damages can be completely calculated. This process often takes several months, but it can take longer depending on the injuries. However, there may be a point where a lawsuit must be filed, if you have not settled and a statute of limitation is coming up (the date you must file a lawsuit or forever be barred).
Q: WILL I NEED TO FILE A LAWSUIT IN ORDER TO BE COMPENSATED FOR MY INJURIES SUSTAINED IN AN AUTO ACCIDENT?
A: Not necessarily. Settlements are often reached without having to file a lawsuit.
Q: WHAT HAPPENS WHEN MY PERSONAL INJURY CASE IS SETTLED?
A. When your case has resolved, your attorney will make arrangements for you to sign any releases for the claim noting full and final settlement of your case. Please note, once you sign the releases and accept payment your case is truly done. You cannot come back next week, next month, next year and say I have more damages I want more compensation. If you settle, and something else comes up, then there can be no further settlement.
Q: HOW MUCH WILL I BE PAID?
A. Your attorney will review your settlement summary with you. What was the total compensation? How much are you obligated to pay under your contract with the attorney? What are the expenses and costs and other items the attorney paid for while working on your case? What medical bills are pending and need to be paid? What liens need to be paid out of the settlement? What is owed to you? You may receive copies of all the forms you sign for your records. Your payment for settlement will then be dispersed to you and your case is closed.