Do I Need a Lawyer to Deal With My Car Insurance Company?

This video features Michelle Martin, a Civil Rights attorney based in Ohio.

Columbus, Ohio Car Accident Lawyer Michelle Martin

Video Transcript:


Michelle Martin:

We're recording this conversation for quality assurance purposes, but it'll also be used against you, if you say the wrong thing.

Rob Rosenthal:

Can you count on the insurance company to be on your side if you're injured in an auto collision? Well, that's what we're gonna find out today, because that's what we gonna ask on this episode of Ask the Lawyer. Hi again everybody I'm Rob Rosenthal with AskTheLawyers.com and my guest today is Ohio personal injury attorney, Michelle Martin. I wanna remind you right at the top, if you wanna ask Michelle questions about your specific situation, just head over to ask the lawyers dot com and click the button up to the top corner of the page that says, Ask a Lawyer. It doesn't cost you anything to ask a question. Michelle, good to see again, thank you for helping us out.

Michelle Martin:

Rob, always a pleasure, thank you so much for having me.

Rob Rosenthal:

Alright, so let's start at the top. It seems like every insurance commercial I see, they're on my side, they're looking out for me, they're gonna take care of me. In your experience, is that how it goes if I'm injured in an auto collision, is the insurance company looking out for me?

Michelle Martin:

Not at all, Rob. You ever heard the saying, If you wanna find out who your friends are, wait until something bad happens? 

Rob Rosenthal:

Right. 

Michelle Martin:

And so that's the same thing with insurance companies, right? So you pay these premiums monthly, you have these great relationships with your agents, and then something bad happens, you contact your insurance company thinking they're gonna be on your side, and that entire time that conversation is fact gathering for them to avoid liability and avoid paying out. So you gotta be really careful what you're saying to the insurance company, 'cause even after they pay out on the claim, a lot of times they're gonna drive up your rates, so you wanna make sure that you talk to an attorney before you give the insurance company a call because a lot of times, they're just not gonna be on your side and they're looking for a way to avoid getting out of paying out on the claim.

Rob Rosenthal:

So that's even my own insurance coverage, not even necessarily the insurance company or the person at fault, but of my own, I have to be careful what I say? 

Michelle Martin:

Oh, absolutely. 

Rob Rosenthal:

Wow. And so what about when I talk to the other driver's insurance company, what do I need to know? What do you want people to know about that? Specifically in the state of Ohio.

Michelle Martin:

Right, so you're gonna wanna record everything when you're talking to the... Especially the other insurance companies, the other driver's insurance company, you wanna know what are the policy limits? In the state of Ohio, we have to have $2,550 policy limits or to legally drive in the state of Ohio operating on the vehicle, in our roadway, and when you have that initial conversation with the insurance company, you wanna make sure that that driver, the other driver actually has an active policy and that they're compliant with the laws in Ohio, because if they're not, you're gonna have to contact your own insurance company so that they can get on your side and start to litigate that claim on your behalf.

Rob Rosenthal:

Now, is this the sort of thing... Some people, I think maybe even rightly so, might be intimidated and they're concerned, I don't wanna say the wrong thing or hurt my case. Is this the kind of thing they can just say, "Talk to my attorney Michelle, she's gonna handle all this for me?"

Michelle Martin:

That would be the smart thing to do, right? You wanna avoid giving out so much information to the insurance company because a lot of times you think you're just having casual conversation, and the whole time they're doing fact-gathering, preparing their case from that very first conversation. So it's really important for you to do the same thing. You wanna make sure that your medical bills are covered and that's your family compensated for the injuries that you suffer, and talking to the insurance company early on from that very first conversation, they let you know: we're recording this conversation for quality assurance purposes, but it'll also be used against you if you say the wrong thing, so it's important to get in contact with an attorney early on, just so you can make sure that you exercise the proper rights and that you're fairly protected.

Rob Rosenthal:

What if someone, the insurance company, they talk to me, they're all super friendly and they go, "You don't need to contact an attorney, in fact, we'll cut you a check right now and we'll get it in the mail to you." What's the danger there?

Michelle Martin:

Well, not only what's the danger, that's exactly what's gonna happen, you're gonna be contacted by the insurance company and they're gonna wanna resolve the claim really quickly, and I would caution a lot of people to pause and really give your body an opportunity to calm down. When you're in automobile accidents, your adrenaline is rushing, your body swells up, your whole nervous system is responding in a fight or flight response. And so it hasn't really had an opportunity to assess your total body composition, and you wanna take time and make sure that you're going to that emergency room to get that initial diagnostic, you're going to your primary care physician because they're the person that has the history and knowledge about your care, and that you're doing any follow-up care that is recommended by those previous providers, and so if you settle with the insurance company, prematurely, you may have injuries that develop later on, or bills and fees that develop later on that once you settle, you can no longer recover.

Rob Rosenthal:

If someone gets that offer that initial offer from the insurance company, should they expect that this is the bottom, this is a low ball offer?

Michelle Martin:

Yeah, the initial offer made to an attorney after, and to a client as well after the case has been presented to the insurance company in an effort to get the claim resolved is usually a low ball offer by the insurance company. They wanna basically let you know that they don't really value your claim that they're not planning to put much money on the table and they wanna discourage you from moving forward. A lot of the times, if you have a knowledgeable attorney that can really look at the claim, have experience litigating these types of claims in that jurisdiction, they're able to advise you as to whether or not the insurance company has room to move or whether or not that offer is really equitable.

Rob Rosenthal:

And what if someone says to you Michelle, "Well, I'm afraid the attorney's fees will eat up any claim that I get." Explain maybe what happens, the initial offer from insurance company just to the injured party compared to what happens usually after an attorney like yourself gets involved.

Michelle Martin:

Right, so initially, when an injured party handles the claims themselves, there's a great risk that you can miss a lot of the medical bills that are charged to the providers and the specialists that help you out during your treatment, and so it's really important to make sure that when you're negotiating those claims, that not only are you contacting all of the medical providers, but all the specialists that also assists those providers in those facilities and offering you care to make sure that your medical bills are actually totally paid for. Now, when you have an attorney, of course, the attorney, given the experience that we have is knowledgeable enough to know who are all the necessary parties in relation to this claim? Who are all the medical providers and all the potential billers that have to be compensated. Additionally, you have to take that into consideration with the jury verdicts in that jurisdiction as well as any settlement trends, depending on the client that you're dealing with and the type of injuries that they sustain, so taking all of those things into consideration, you are able to barely negotiate the claim, and the insurance companies, they're very knowledgeable, they know who's negotiating and litigating these claims, and they're not able to really low ball you as often, and they know that you're willing to bring a claim if you're gonna litigate the claims, they know the attorneys who are willing to litigate the claim, and they know that a lot of times, pro se litigants don't have access to the resources to litigate the claims with the same force that an attorney would be able to litigate those claims. 

In terms of getting your attorney's fees paid for, a lot of times what I like to do with my clients will be when we sit down, I explain to them that this claim is their claim, they were the injured party, this is in no way an attempt for us to usurp their power or their right to a jury trial, and I want them to be fairly compensated. I let them know that in terms of the policy in our office, we do not take more attorneys' fees than the client is going to receive in his compensation, and of course, there are some disclaimers to that. There are certain clients that take loans and different things on their personal injury settlement proceeds that I really can't control, but as a policy in our office, we try to make sure that we are not eating up the funds that are available to the client, and so our policy is that we don't take more an attorney's fees, then the client is able to recover in his pain and suffering.

Rob Rosenthal:

Tons of great information. Michelle, always a pleasure to speak with you. Thanks for helping us out again today.

Michelle Martin:

Absolutely, Rob. You have a great day, thank you so much for your time. I thank you for having me.

Rob Rosenthal:

That's gonna take care of this episode of Ask the Lawyer. My guest has been Ohio attorney Michelle Martin. I wanna remind you if you'd like to ask Michelle questions about your specific situation, head over to AskTheLawyers.com, click the button at the upper corner of the screen that says Ask a Lawyer, and it'll walk you through the very simple process right there. Thanks for watching, I'm Rob Rosenthal with AskTheLawyers.

Disclaimer: This video is for informational purposes only. In some states, this video may be deemed Attorney Advertising. The choice of lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.


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