Giving a recorded statement to the other driver’s insurance company is generally not recommended. You are not obligated to give a recorded statement, and once you are on the phone, it is hard to be in control of the conversation. You may not be aware what information can be used against you later. Continue reading
Economic damages — lost earnings and medical expenses — are relatively easy to calculate. But they do not tell the whole story. The in a personal injury case, the plaintiff is also able to recover non-economic damages for:
- Pain and Suffering: physical pain, fright, nervousness, grief, anxiety, worry, mortification, shock, humiliation, indignity, embarrassment, apprehension, terror or ordeal.
- Loss of Enjoyment of Life: impairment of capacity to enjoy certain activities of life as a result of the injury.
The right to make a claim after a car accident does not last forever. Here is what you need to know about the statute of limitations in Ohio.
In Ohio, the time limit for bringing legal action for personal injury is controlled by section 2305.10 of the Ohio Revised Code which provides:
… an action for bodily injury or injuring personal property shall be brought within two years after the cause of action accrues.
How do you handle car accident medical bills before you are ready to settle with the insurance company?
After a car accident, you may not be ready to settle with the negligent driver’s insurance company until after you fully recover from your injuries. That may take many months. In the meantime, the medical bills will start to roll in. In most cases, the medical providers will not be willing to wait for you to settle your personal injury claim. If payment arrangements are not made, the medical offices may send your bill to collection, and your credit may suffer as a result.
Depending on your situation, there are some options for handling medical bills before you are ready to settle. Health insurance, either through an employer, Medicare, or Medicaid, can be used to pay medical bills resulting from a car accident. If there are medical expenses not covered by your health insurance, or if there out-of-pocket expenses for co-pays and deductibles, you may have medical payments coverage available under your own car insurance policy.
The at-fault driver will not be ‘off the hook’ for the medical expenses paid by your insurance. To the extent that they pay your medical expenses, your health insurance and auto insurance companies will expect reimbursement from any settlement you reach with the other driver’s insurance company. (This is called subrogation.) So, before you settle, you will want to be sure that the settlement amount not only adequately compensates you, but also is enough to reimburse your health and auto insurance companies.
Involving your own insurance companies to help you manage medical bills between the time of the accident and the time of a final settlement adds some complexity to the settlement process. But using those benefits can save you worry, aggravation, and potential damage to your credit.
In Ohio, the value of a car accident property damage claim is the difference between the fair market value of the vehicle immediately before the accident minus the the vehicle’s value in its damaged condition.
It stands to reason that, the fair market value of a damaged car is its value before the accident minus the amount of money it would take to repair it, as long as the repairs could restore the car to its pre-accident condition. So, Ohio law allows an alternative “cost of repair” method of determining the value of a car accident property value claim. The cost of repairs includes not only the amount charged by the auto repair shop, but the cost of a rental vehicle while the repairs take place.
For those interested in seeing how car damage claims play out in court, this Ohio Court of Appeals decision explains these ideas pretty well.
The at-fault driver or his insurance company never has to pay more than the pre-accident fair market value to repair the car. If repairs would cost more than the fair market value, the car is considered a total loss. In that case, the car accident property damage claim is worth the car’s pre-crash value minus its salvage value. Most insurance companies will offer to pay the full fair market value and take title of the damaged car to sell for scrap.
In some cases, this may seem unfair. A person whose new car is damaged soon after purchasing it may owe more on the auto loan than the car’s fair market value. Unfortunately, there is little that can be done about that. Your car financing arrangement is not relevant in determining the amount you are owed for your car accident property damage claim.
Car Accident Lost Earnings While Recovering From Injury
If the injuries caused by a negligent driver interrupts your ability to work, you are entitled to recover car accident lost earnings. For those earning an hourly wage or an annual salary, calculating lost earnings is easy. For those who work on commission or are self-employed, the task is more complex.
Self-employed car accident victims will need to keep careful records to establish the amount of car accident lost earnings. If you lost new business while disabled, it will be tempting accept the loss and devote your energy to doing the best you can. That is a mistake. You should take a moment to document the lost opportunity and make reasonable estimate of the revenue lost as a result.
Likewise, injured people who are self-employed may need to hire additional help, or pay current employees overtime, to take up the slack. Those additional expenses should be documented and made part of the personal injury claim.
Employees who work on commission face similar challenges. Everyone understands that income based on commission can be unpredictable. One approach to calculate lost commissions is to compare commission earnings while disabled to a comparable period. Perhaps showing that the number of sales during the period of disability is less than average is a more reliable way to document the loss. An qualified personal injury lawyer can help determine what proof would work best in a particular situation.
Future Car Accident Lost Earnings
Severe injuries may permanently affect a worker’s ability to earn a living. How can you be sure that a one-time recovery is enough to compensate for lost earnings over a lifetime?
Documenting lost earning capacity requires the use of expert opinions. A vocational expert is able to quantify the impact of a disability on a person’s ability to work over a lifetime. An economist can translate the vocational expert’s opinion into a dollar value. Coordinating these experts is complex, and should not be attempted without help from a qualified personal injury lawyer.
Understanding Car Accident Medical Expenses
A person injured by a negligent driver can recover the expenses for necessary medical treatment. Surprisingly, that is not necessarily the amount of the medical bills. In Ohio, judges instruct juries to award “the reasonable value of the plaintiff’s medical treatment.” Ohio law assumes that the amount of the medical bill is the “reasonable value” But, the defendant is allowed to present other evidence showing that the “reasonable value” may be less.
You should weigh the risks and benefits when deciding whether you need a car accident lawyer to handle your personal injury claim. An experienced car accident lawyer will know how to maximize the potential recovery in your case. A lawyer can also help take some of the burden and uncertainty out of the process. However, attorney fees will reduce the amount of your recovery. How do you know if hiring a lawyer makes sense?
Car accident damages include Medical Expenses, Lost Earnings and Pain and Suffering
Before starting to negotiate with an insurance company, you need to know what the law allows for car accident damages. Here are the major types of damages that can be recovered in a personal injury case:
- Medical Expenses. The cost of doctors, hospitals, medication, and other health care providers.
- Lost Earnings. If an injury causes you to be unable to work, you should be compensated for that.
- Pain and Suffering, including Loss of Enjoyment of Life. Known as ‘non-economic damages’ compensation for diminished enjoyment is life is difficult to accurately evaluate.
- Loss of Consortium. The spouse of the injured person may be entitled to compensation too.
State laws may limit the amount of non-economic damages Continue reading
Uninsured motorists coverage is very important. It protects you and your family if an a driver who does not have insurance injures you in an accident. Although the law requires all drivers to have insurance, a significant percentage don’t. In Ohio, the Bureau of Motor Vehicles asks you to confirm that you have insurance when you renew your driver’s license, but does not verify. As a result, lots of drivers are on the road without insurance.