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How to Settle a Car Accident Claim Without a Lawyer

Vehicle Accident. how to settle a car accident claim without a lawyer.

When figuring out how to settle a car accident claim without a lawyer, there are a few steps you should follow. First, determine the extent of the damages caused by the accident. Then, identify who is responsible for the accident. Next, gather evidence to support your claim. After that, write a demand letter and negotiate with the insurance company. If the other driver has accepted fault, you haven’t taken too long to file your claim, and your injuries are minor, you may be able to settle with the insurance company without an attorney. However, it’s usually best to seek legal assistance to ensure you receive the best possible outcome.

Ohio Car Accident Laws

After a traffic accident in Ohio, several laws could impact any case you file.

Statute of limitations

A statute of limitations is a law that sets a time limit on the right of a plaintiff to bring a lawsuit.

Ohio’s statute of limitations for most car accident cases is two years, and it includes claims filed by drivers, passengers, motorcyclists, bicyclists, electric scooter riders, or pedestrians. The same two-year deadline applies to lawsuits over damage to personal property. If the accident resulted in someone’s death, the family or representative of the deceased person has two years from the date of death to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

Modified Comparative Fault

When a motor vehicle accident happens, the person who caused the accident is responsible for paying for any damages caused, including those to the other vehicle and its passengers. Ohio uses a comparative fault system, which recognizes when more than one party is partially at fault for an accident.

If you file a personal injury lawsuit, you can receive compensation from the liable party. However, the compensation you receive will be reduced by a percentage corresponding to your share of liability. For example, if you were 10% liable and suffered $10,000 in damages, you could collect $9,000 in damages. If you were 51% or more at fault, you are unable to recover damages.

Legal Requirements for Reporting an Accident and Filing a Claim

Drivers in Ohio have several legal responsibilities when involved in an accident.

Stopping at the Scene

After a collision, it is mandatory to stop your vehicle at the accident scene immediately. You must stay there until you provide your name, contact information, and insurance information to the parties involved, including the responding police officer. If you are not the owner of the vehicle, you must also give the name and contact information of the owner.

Reporting the Accident to the Police

Call the police immediately if there is a death, injury, or property damage exceeding $1,000. The responding officer will submit a written report to the director of public safety. Err on the side of caution and call the police to document the facts and circumstances of the accident. If you don’t, it may be difficult to recover compensation later if your injuries and damages are greater than you initially thought.

If you get into a car accident with an uninsured driver in Ohio, you must report it to the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) within six months of the accident. However, if all parties involved in an accident are insured, you do not need to report the incident to the BMV. In such a case, you can download the crash report form from the BMV website and submit it to them.

To report an accident involving an uninsured driver, you must provide at least three identifiers for the driver, such as his or her name, address, date of birth, phone number, or driver’s license number.

Collision With an Unoccupied Vehicle

A driver who hits an empty or parked car must leave a note with his or her name and contact information in a noticeable place.

Steps in the Insurance Claims Process

While every claim differs, the process usually takes the following steps:

File a Claim

If you’ve been involved in an accident, you have two options to file a claim: First-party claim with your insurer or third-party claim with the other driver’s insurer. The option you choose depends on the circumstances and your policy. It’s crucial to file a claim as soon as possible and provide the insurance company with all necessary information, including vehicles and drivers involved, a basic description, location and time, insurance information of the other driver, and witnesses.

Investigation by the Claims Adjuster

Once you filed a claim with your insurance company, they will assign a claims adjuster to handle your case. The adjuster may contact you to request additional information. Cooperation is key to helping the claims process move along. However, operating without the help of an attorney will put you at risk of undermining your claim.

The adjuster’s responsibilities include:

  • Investigating by collecting evidence such as police reports, witness statements, and photographs.
  • Evaluating the extent of your damages by reviewing medical records, examining your damaged property, and possibly consulting with specialists.
  • Preparing a report outlining the cause of the accident, who is at fault, and the extent of the damages you have suffered.
  • Verifying whether your insurance policy covers your claim and to what extent.
  • Negotiating a settlement, which is the amount the insurance company will pay you for your damages.

Negotiate a Settlement

After the claims adjuster has prepared the report, you will be offered compensation if the claim is accepted. You can either accept the offer or negotiate for a better one. To prepare for this negotiation, it is important to have evidence to support your claim, such as medical records, invoices, receipts, and any other relevant documentation. The stronger your evidence, the better your negotiating position will be.

Receive Payment

If you and the claims adjuster agree on an amount, he or she will authorize final payment. You’ll then sign a release accepting the offer and receive your payment.

Tips for Communicating Effectively With Insurance Companies

Effective communication with insurance companies can impact the outcome of your claim.

Be Cautious

When you’re interacting with insurance companies, it’s crucial to be cautious about the information you share. Refrain from making statements that could be used against you to deny or minimize your claim. Stick to the facts and avoid making speculations or exaggerations.

Furthermore, it’s advisable to abstain from apologizing or accepting any fault for the incident. It’s up to the insurance company to determine whether to accept or reject your claim.

Keep Records

Keep a detailed record of all interactions with your insurance company, including date, time, and content of every phone call, email, and letter. This will provide evidence of your efforts to communicate. Also, keep copies of all documents related to your injury, such as medical bills, hospital records, photos, repair estimates, and expenses incurred.

Request Written Communication

It’s best to request written communication when dealing with insurance representatives to avoid misunderstandings. This ensures a clear record and avoids discrepancies. If you have a verbal conversation, follow up with an email summarizing the key points and requesting confirmation.

Consult an Attorney

Dealing with insurance companies following an injury can be overwhelming and complex. Seeking the advice of an experienced personal injury attorney can provide you with invaluable guidance and representation throughout the process.

A personal injury attorney knows the top causes of truck accidents, can assess the worth of your claim, negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf, and safeguard your rights.

Understanding Settlement Documents and Releases

How does a car accident settlement work? Most personal injury claims are resolved through a settlement involving an agreed-upon payment to compensate for the injuries suffered. When a settlement is reached, both parties sign a legally-binding document called a settlement agreement, which ends the dispute and dismisses their claims. It’s customary to sign a release form along with the settlement agreement.

The release of all claims form states that the other party is not liable for further legal action, which means you cannot pursue any additional legal action after accepting the settlement. In other words, by signing the release of all claims form, you release the other party from responsibility for the accident, and they pay you a sum of money in exchange.

Why It Is Important to Review Settlement Documents

It is crucial to understand the document you are signing when you put your signature on the release. Even if you need the money to pay for expenses related to your injury, never sign such a document before reviewing it carefully.

You may be wondering – do I need a lawyer for a car accident settlement? While settling without a lawyer is possible, it is wise to consult a car accident lawyer before agreeing to a settlement amount. Once you sign a release, you have no recourse if you need additional medical treatment for your injuries. After you have signed the release, the insurance company is no longer obligated to provide further assistance.

Jay A. Bolotin is a partner at the injury law firm of Young, Reverman & Bolotin. Serving the people of Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio, Jay dedicates his career to helping clients in the tri-state area obtain financial compensation after suffering serious injuries. He focuses his practice on cases involving car accidents, trucking accidents, dog bites and animal attacks, and other types of personal injury incidents.

Years of Experience: More than 25 years
Registration Status:: Active
Bar Admissions: Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, and Cincinati Bar Association