You were in an auto accident, you are injured, your car is badly damaged, and the other driver was at fault. Or, you tripped over a hidden defect in store’s parking lot and severely fracture your tibial bone. You have a claim. So what can you expect to happen?
Expect that you will be contacted by the claims adjuster for the negligent party’s insurance company, and the first order of business will be to get you to permit him (or her) to take a recorded telephone statement from you about the accident. You won’t be prepared, the adjuster will frame all the questions, and any inconsistencies or unclear aspects of your statement will be used to either deny liability or to reduce your damages. Unfair, but standard practice, as that is precisely what adjusters are paid to do.
You will then be pressed to settle quickly and for the least amount possible. That’s the adjuster’s job. If you complain that you are still hurting and treating with your doctors, he (or she) will require that you sign a paper releasing your HIPAA rights and allowing the adjuster to get your medical records – from before as well as after the accident. Typically you will never see those records, or even know which ones were ordered. Yet selected information from those records will be fed into the insurance company’s computer program to spit out a lowball settlement number for your claim. You will never know what information from your medical records was fed to the computer for this purpose, or who chose the information to put in. In the meantime the repair of your car or the payment of your medical bills will be held hostage pending your agreement to settle for the lowball offer.
The Role of an Attorney.
An attorney can make a difference, often a big difference. First, he will investigate the facts of the accident and accumulate and assess all the evidence to establish liability of the negligent party. He will obtain and review all of the relevant medical records to review before sending them to the insurance company. If your diagnosis or prognosis is an open question, he will contact your doctor for a medical opinion before allowing the insurance company to draw unwarranted conclusions. And he will counsel you about the available insurance coverages under both the wrongdoer’s policy and your own. In some cases your own policy may “stand in the shoes” of the wrongdoer’s policy if he has little or no available coverage. Policy interpretation can be very important.
Have you lost earnings as a result of the accident? Your attorney can evaluate that loss and obtain the necessary documentation to satisfy the insurance company. Otherwise it will be undervalued or not considered
And most importantly, an experienced attorney will handle, and guide you through the settlement negotiation process. In most cases, the improved settlement amount more than exceeds the cost of contingent fee representation, often by a very large measure. And if the insurance company still refuses to negotiate a fair settlement, you will need an attorney with litigation and trial experience.
Attorney Jim Schuller Brings This Experience to your Case.
Attorney Jim Schuller’s career as an independent trial lawyer has spanned over 40 years, with over 200 trials, and as a former insurance defense counsel he is intimately familiar with the patterns and practices of the insurance claims industry. He has also argued before the Ohio Supreme Court and a number of Ohio Courts of Appeal, and now focuses on representing Toledo, Ohio area residents injured in auto and other types of injury accidents. Personal service and commitment to his client’s cases is his highest priority.