By Paul K Hemmer, Esq.

The attorneys in our firm have successfully represented victims of negligently caused injuries for over two decades. In our practice we have found that many people make costly mistakes after they are injured. These mistakes decrease the likelihood of receiving fair and adequate compensation. A few simple steps following an injury can prevent an insurance company from taking advantage of your claims inexperience. An experienced attorney can help you avoid these common mistakes and maximize the compensation you receive.

If the person who negligently caused your injuries reports the claim to his insurance company an adjuster will be assigned to resolve the claim as inexpensively as possible. Typically, the adjuster is required to investigate the claim, collect records, take photos and obtain tape recorded statements from important witnesses. Using this information the adjuster evaluates who is liable, the extent of the injuries and the likely value of the claim. If you provide the adjuster with an authorization he may even contact your physician and begin directing the treatment you receive. Some adjusters actively discourage you from contacting an attorney for competent legal advice. If you take no other steps and give the adjuster control of all of the evidence the insurance company will have the upper hand in eventual negotiation of your claim.

Most serious injuries require an experienced attorney to help you obtain fair compensation for your injuries. Even before you retain counsel you can help blunt the Ahead start@ available to the insurance company. When someone negligently causes injury to you have someone summon police and/or emergency medical help. Immediately report the incident and don't deny injury. Injuries often worsen during the hours or days following the accident.

Seek prompt medical attention following an injury, give a precise history of how you were injured and carefully follow your doctor=s advice. Any record the doctor makes will become part of your claim. Make every effort to collect and preserve as much evidence as possible. Record the names and contact information of any important witnesses. Take photos of the damaged vehicle before it is repaired or hauled away. Consider that Ohio law allows recovery for physical pain, lost earnings, medical bills, disability, disfigurement, property damage and other out of pocket expenses. So, photograph your injuries, casts, braces and splints. Save receipts for all reimbursable expenses related to your injuries and make a list of physicians and therapists you see.

You must also consider that time limits apply to every legal claim. Notice and filing requirements can be as short as a few months and claims adjusters are under no legal requirement to advise you of these time limits. Waiting too long can be fatal to a serious injury claim.

Our office provides free initial analysis of potential claims for serious injuries. There is no obligation to retain our firm unless you decide to enter into a written agreement of representation. Even then, our firm accepts payment of legal fees on a contingency basis, and will only recover fees if we obtain a verdict or settlement for you. Take advantage of the opportunity to contact experienced legal counsel at no initial cost.

Insurance companies are in business to make money. Claims adjusters are trained experts in minimizing claims paid. Every dollar saved by an experienced insurance company representative translates directly into increased insurance company profits. By following these suggestions you will increase the value of your claim and may prevent the insurance company from turning your loss into their gain.

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