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How Insurance Companies Calculate Accident Settlements

Have you been injured in a car accident and received a settlement offer from the insurance company that is much lower than you expected? This happens to most accident victims and probably gets you thinking about how the insurance company calculates their settlement offers. When it comes to calculating your settlement, insurance companies do not have a specific and precise mathematical formula since every accident claim is different. However, they do use a specific set of factors to determine the worth of your claim.  See below for the 4 main settlement factors that insurance companies rely on.

Car Accident Insurance Settlement

Damaged Vehicles Settlements

When your vehicle is damaged in an accident, the insurance companies will most likely only pay for the cost of the repair or replacement of the damaged item(s). The exception to this rule is if the car is marked as a total loss meaning the repair costs exceed the value of the vehicle. When this happens, the insurance company will usually base their settlements on fair market value. In other words, you could have sold your car for the day of the accident but before the crash, not the cost of a new vehicle.  In most cases, this is not enough to cover the price of a new vehicle.

Injury Settlements

When it comes to your injuries suffered in a car accident and how that gets figured into your settlement, it is negotiated separately from your vehicle damage. If you suffer a broken bone, you would receive extra compensation from the insurance company. The amount is determined by your total medical bills and the extent of your injuries documented in your medical reports, but in Ohio is part of the injury claim which also includes pain and suffering.

Pain and Suffering Settlements

Separate from vehicle damage and part of the injury settlement, there can also be compensation for pain and suffering. This is an amount in addition to your medical bills that will help compensate for the past and future pain and complications from your injury. Also, if your doctor expects you to need more treatment in the future, make sure your settlement includes an estimate to compensate for your future medical treatment as well. Before you accept any settlement offer from the insurance company, consult a personal injury attorney to review your case.

If you have been injured in a car accident, don’t sign or say anything. Contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your case. Attorney Charles V. Contrada will explain your legal options, guide you through the process.

To speak to attorney Charles V. Contrada about a car accident in Ohio or Michigan, call 419.841.4400. Charles has helped thousands of individuals with car accident claims and will explain the legal options that are available to you. Call Contrada & Associates for comprehensive legal guidance that will help you to receive the most favorable outcome.

Defensive Driving in the Winter

It’s no secret that driving in the winter can become treacherous in Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan. Ice and snow can make for slippery roads and poor visibility which in turn cause more accidents than in the summer months. Below are the typical types of accidents you will see in winter and how you can adjust your defensive driving style to help avoid them.

defensive driving in the winter

Sliding Through Intersections

Vehicles sliding through an intersection or through a red light are a common cause of accidents in the winter season. While you can blame the ice and slippery roads for an accident, the insurance companies consider the driver liable for the resulting accident. The best way to avoid sliding through an intersection/red light is to approach slowly and with great caution. Start slowing down well before actually stopping. If you have the opportunity and can do it safely, test your braking well before the intersection.

Poor Visibility

Quickly accumulating snow on roadsides as well as blowing snow and blizzard conditions are all major factors to car accidents during winter by poor visibility. Run-ins with inanimate objects hidden by roadside snow banks, such as fire hydrants or mailboxes are very common single vehicle accidents. Another major factor in poor visibility causing winter accidents is blowing snow. Blowing snow can dramatically decrease visibility on the road, especially going into intersections and in the dark. If it is absolutely necessary to drive in these conditions, take driving very slowly and cautiously. Be extra alert and vigilant with your surroundings and watch for vehicles quickly approaching you. Also, put your hazard lights on if you are driving well below the speed limit

Rear-End Collisions

Rear-end accidents are the most common type, especially in the winter months. When the roads are slippery, wet and icy, it is necessary to provide extra distance between yourself and the vehicle in front of you. If you are forced to brake suddenly as a result of the vehicle in front of you braking, the extra distance could save you from a rear-end collision. Remember to adjust your distance to the conditions of the roads you are traveling on.

Defensive Driving Tips

  • Avoid having to quickly slow down. Keep your distance between the vehicles in front of you and maintain a steady speed.
  • Don’t turn or brake sharply
  • Slow your speed while taking turns or curves and avoid braking in curves
  • Avoid driving beside another vehicle if possible
  • Leave plenty of extra distance between you and the vehicle in front of you
  • Always drive with your headlights on
  • Brush off all snow and ice completely from your vehicle before driving on the roads

If you, a family member or loved one has been injured in an accident during winter weather caused by someone else who was driving irresponsibly, contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your case. Attorney Charles V. Contrada will explain your legal options, guide you through the process.

To speak to attorney Charles V. Contrada about a car accident in Ohio or Michigan, call 419.841.4400. Charles has helped thousands of individuals with car accident claims and will explain the legal options that are available to you. Call Contrada & Associates for comprehensive legal guidance that will help you to receive the most favorable outcome.

Legal Consequences of Road Rage

While you are driving on the road, you never know who you are on the same road with. Over the last few years, drivers have become increasingly aggravated and aggressive and can create a situation which leads to motor vehicle accidents. Some people can keep themselves in check, but others become so enraged they purposely cause accidents in a fit of road rage.

What is Road Rage?

The Department of Motor Vehicles defines road rage as aggressive or violent behavior stemming from a driver’s uncontrolled anger at the actions of another motorist. Examples of road rage are:

  • Hitting another vehicle with your vehicle
  • Running other motorists off the road
  • Pulling over, getting out of your vehicle and engaging in a physical confrontation
  • Inciting the passengers in your vehicle to fight another driver
  • Using any sort of weapon to inflict harm on another driver or vehicle

Road Rage

Road Rage Triggers to Watch For

There are my factors that can trigger road rage. Know the signs and know how to get yourself to safety.  Look out for drivers who are engaging in the following as they might easily be triggered into road rage. If you see a driver demonstrating these behaviors on the road, give them space and avoid getting close to them.

  • Tailgating
  • Cutting other drivers off
  • Weaving through traffic
  • Speeding
  • Honking their horn
  • Brake checking
  • Flashing their headlights

What to do in a Road Rage Situation/Accident

In the unfortunate event of finding yourself in a road rage situation or a victim of an accident caused by a driver with road rage, you need to stay calm and do not engage the other driver. In this type of situation knowing what to do could make a huge difference.

  • Do not engage at any point
  • Keep moving and get away as soon as you can
  • Stay on busy well lit and traveled roads
  • Drive to a police station
  • Get the license plate number of the vehicle driving with road rage if possible and file a police report
  • If you are involved in an accident, call the police and stay in your vehicle. Under no circumstances should you roll down your window or exit the vehicle and engage the aggressor.

Consequences of Road Rage

If a law enforcement officer catches a driver engaging in road rage, they can be charged with a criminal offense. This means that they could:

  • Face increased insurance premiums
  • Go to court
  • Pay legal fees
  • Possibly face jail/prison time

In addition, they risk:

  • Damage to their vehicle and your vehicle.
  • Physical harm to themselves, you and your passengers.
  • Death

Remember, your insurance coverage only kicks in if you are negligent. Every car insurance policy excludes intentional acts. If you purposely crash into another vehicle your coverage will be denied and if the other party sues, you will be forced to pay out of your own pocket.

If you were injured in an accident caused by a driver with road rage, contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your case. Attorney Charles V. Contrada will explain your legal options, guide you through the process.

To speak to attorney Charles V. Contrada about a car accident in Ohio or Michigan, call 419.841.4400. Charles has helped thousands of individuals with car accident claims and will explain the legal options that are available to you. Call Contrada & Associates for comprehensive legal guidance that will help you to receive the most favorable outcome.

Available Legal Options for Injured Passengers

If you are a passenger that was injured in a car accident, you may be wondering what legal options are available to you to cover your medical costs. Depending on the severity of the accident, treatment may be needed right away. Some injuries may not fully develop until several days after the accident and should be treated medically at that time. To make sure you are covered, make sure to obtain all the information of the parties involved. If possible, try and take photos of the accident scene, vehicle damage and your own injuries for your own record.

 

Legal Options for Injured Passengers

 

Discovering the Legal Liable Party

Determining who is at fault in certain cases can be tricky. If the driver of the vehicle you were in was at fault, they would be held liable. Other cases may not be so cut and dry. If the other driver was at fault and was on the job at the time, they or their company could be held liable. If the vehicle had a defect, the manufacturer could be liable. Once the liable party is discovered, an attorney can imitate the steps to seek a settlement from those parties.

Examination of the Damage

In order for the insurance companies to determine compensation and for litigation, an examination of the vehicle damage as well as the cause of the accident could be required. An adjuster will be assigned to the claim to determine how the accident occurred and which party is responsible. Some things taken into account are the weather, speed of collision, traffic conditions, and other third party factors. The adjustor may also request to see medical records or receive a recorded statement from the passenger. Retaining legal representation before signing or saying anything is wise to ensure you get treated fairly.

Medical Injuries

Depending on the severity of the injuries obtained during the accident and any long-term effects could mean hefty medical bills. Compensation is usually necessary to pay for all medical bills and future treatments.

Contact an attorney and File an Insurance Claim

Reaching out to a personal injury attorney will help you sort out the details of your accident and claim. Your attorney can also help you handle communication between the insurance companies on your behalf. Attorneys can also help dispute any claims from the insurance companies trying to negate your injuries and handle negotiations between the insurance companies to ensure you receive an equitable settlement.

If you were injured as a passenger in an accident, contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your case. Attorney Charles V. Contrada will explain your legal options, guide you through the process.

To speak to attorney Charles V. Contrada about a car accident in Ohio or Michigan, call 419.841.4400. Charles has helped thousands of individuals with car accident claims and will explain the legal options that are available to you. Call Contrada & Associates for comprehensive legal guidance that will help you to receive the most favorable outcome.

 

What To Do After a Hit and Run Accident

Being a victim of a hit and run accident is extremely frightening and stressful. First thing first is try to stay calm and keep your wits about you. Look at your surroundings and see if you are able to get a glimpse of the person who hit you. Here are a few things to never do at the scene of a hit and run accident. Don’t follow the fleeing driver unless you are sure you can get a complete license plate number. Leaving the scene of an accident could put you in a compromising position seeing as the police could question who’s really at fault.

 

Hit and Run Accident

 

Gather information about the accident

Gather as much information from the scene as you can. The biggest piece of information is a license plate number. If you can’t make out the whole number, remember as much as you can. Write down a description of the driver, if possible. Describe the car – make, model, color, if the vehicle is older or newer, etc. It is critical to write down the time and location of the accident as well as the damage to your vehicle and what direction the vehicle who hit you was going.

See if there are witnesses

If you were hit in a populated area and there are witnesses that saw your accident, get names, contact information, and write down details of what they saw. If they are still there when the police arrive, have them give their statement as well.

Call the police

Call the police and report the accident, if they arrive at the scene, give your statement and account of what happened. This report will be essential to your claim. If they are not needed at the scene of the accident, you should drive to the nearest police station and get an accident form to fill out.

Take photos

Take as many photos’s of your vehicle’s damage as possible. If the other driver’s vehicle left some of their paint on your car, point that out. Take photos from every angle and direction on each spot of damage. Documenting everything you see will help bolster your claim.

Hire a personal injury attorney

When you don’t have much information on the car that hit you, filing a claim can be challenging. Hiring a personal injury attorney to help you navigate the claims process to make sure your settlement is appropriate, especially if you suffered injuries as a result of your accident.

If you were injured in a hit and run acciden

t, contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your case. Attorney Charles V. Contrada will explain your legal options, guide you through the process.

To speak to attorney Charles V. Contrada about a car accident in Ohio or Michigan, call 419.841.4400. Charles has helped thousands of individuals with car accident claims and will explain the legal options that are available to you. Call Contrada & Associates for comprehensive legal guidance that will help you to receive the most favorable outcome.

Can Social Media Harm A Personal Injury Case?

Social media channels have integrated themselves into the daily lives of most individuals. Everyone loves to share status updates, photos, and videos about what is going on in their life. Sometimes, sharing updates about a car accident can result in consequences in the future. Here is what you can do to protect yourself and your personal injury claim on social media.

social media

Effects of Social Media

Information that is shared on a public social media account can cause complications. Insurance adjusters, lawyers, and others will search profiles on social media scrutinizing any information they can find that they can relate to fraud, conflicting statements as well as additional evidence.

The court rulings on social media are not concrete as it still is fairly new in the eyes of the law. In general, public posts on social media channels will most likely be admissible as evidence. Private posts or person to person posts may be somewhat complex to obtain as evidence.

Here at Contrada & Associates, we believe honesty is the best policy.  If you have a back injury or a neck injury, you should not be out dancing, riding coasters at Cedar Point or driving dirt bikes. Let your body heal up.  Sometimes people at parties do things they are later embarrassed by and when you have an insurance claim you do not want embarrassment in the negotiation of settlement of that claim.

While your personal injury or car accident claim is pending, take the following actions regarding your social media accounts into consideration.

  • Do not post any details, photos, videos or status updates regarding your accident.
  • Tell your friends and family to not comment or make any posts on their own accounts stating any information regarding your accident.
  • Increase the privacy on your account to make sure none of your information is viewable to the public.
  • Remove any past posts, photos or videos that could be damaging to your current claim.

If you were injured in an accident, contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your case. Attorney Charles V. Contrada will explain your legal options, guide you through the process.

To speak to attorney Charles V. Contrada about a car accident in Ohio or Michigan, call 419.841.4400. Charles has helped thousands of individuals with car accident claims and will explain the legal options that are available to you. Call Contrada & Associates for comprehensive legal guidance that will help you to receive the most favorable outcome

Mistakes to Avoid After a Car Accident

It’s extremely common to be very upset, confused and frazzled in the minutes after you are initially in a car accident. In the aftermath and scramble, you may make a few mistakes that can affect your legal claim. Below are actions you must take to ensure you do not jeopardize your claim.

car accident

Gather Information

The first thing you should automatically do is call the police. Then, get as much information about the other driver as possible. Some of Contrada’s clients have actually taken pictures of the other person’s driver’s license, insurance card and, of course, the license plate number of the other vehicle.

Ask the other driver for this information and if they refuse to give it to you, do not become confrontational, as there is a lot of road rage. The police officers will obtain this information.

The pertinent information to gather at the scene of an accident; if you are medically able is:

  • Name
  • Driver’s License Number
  • Telephone Number
  • Address
  • Insurance Information
  • Make, Model and Year of the Vehicle
  • License Plate Number

Moving Vehicles

Under some circumstances it is important to move vehicles to allow other traffic to move forward.  It is also highly advisable to move your vehicle if you believe there is a likelihood that you will crashed into again.   However, if at all possible, take several photographs of the relationship of your car to the car that hit you before the vehicles are moved.  You may also wish to take a photograph of the back of the other driver’s car before the vehicles are moved, because we have had several clients tell us that after they moved the cars, the driver at fault told the police officer they were hit by someone else and pushed into the car in front.

Get Medical Treatment

If you feel any symptoms after your accident, seek treatment immediately. You do not want to give the insurance company any doubts over the cause of the injuries. Once you do seek medical treatment, follow the doctor’s orders, make sure you go to all medical appointments and take any medication prescribed by your doctors. Failing to go to appointments with medical providers often provides insurance companies a reason to reduce the full value of your claim. If the treatment is not helping, tell your provider and be prepared to stop going, if necessary, but let the provider know that or discuss it with your family doctor first.

Document Damages

In the old days, insurance companies wanted people to get three (3) estimates for repair damage but in today’s world, take your vehicle to where you want your car fixed and ask them to provide an estimate and, more importantly, contact the other person’s insurance company directly.   A representative of the other person’s insurance company will want to physically look at your vehicle before they authorize repairs or write you a property damage check for those repairs.  Make arrangements to have the insurance company representative see your vehicle as quickly as possible.

Do Not Speak With the Other Insurance Company

You certainly want to speak with the other driver’s insurance company about the damage to your car.  They will want to come out and see your car and make arrangements for that to happen as quickly as possible.  However, you have no obligation to discuss the accident or discuss your injuries with the insurance company.   Many people simply tell the insurance company that they don’t feel good and they will talk to them later about those issues.  On the other hand, you have a duty to cooperate with your own insurance company and unless you are willing to give them a statement about the accident and occasionally about your injuries, they will not honor your insurance contract and they do not have to.  Oftentimes people prefer to talk to a lawyer before they have to give any statements to insurance companies and feel free to do that.

Retain a Lawyer

Some victims of a car accident think they can handle a claim on their own. This could be a very costly mistake. Retaining a personal injury attorney has many benefits. Your best interest is always protected and they can help you navigate the very confusing process of filing a claim and are dedicated to getting you the best results possible.

If you were injured in an accident, contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your case. Attorney Charles V. Contrada will explain your legal options, guide you through the process.

To speak to attorney Charles V. Contrada about a car accident in Ohio or Michigan, call 419.841.4400. Charles has helped thousands of individuals with car accident claims and will explain the legal options that are available to you. Call Contrada & Associates for comprehensive legal guidance that will help you to receive the most favorable outcome.

 

Driving Safe in School Zones

It’s that time again – back to school and that means driving in school zones. Millions of children from preschool to seniors in high school are headed back to the classroom which means school buses back on the roads, kids walking and biking on sidewalks to school and new inexperienced teen drivers are on the roads. How do you keep yourself and children safe on their way to school? Here are a few easy tips to remember.

Driving in School Zones

Give the big yellow bus lots of space and respect while driving

When driving to work or dropping your own children off at school, always exercise the utmost caution around school buses carrying hundreds of children to their classes. Never pass a school bus when its lights are flashing and you see children getting on or off the bus. Do not tailgate a school bus as they make frequent stops that you may not be ready for. Don’t forget that when a school bus is trying to merge back into traffic they have the right of way, not you.

Get familiar with your school zones

Speed limits in school zones are reduced to 15-25mph, and with good reason. More children are hit by vehicles in or near school zones than any other location. Watch for children that may dart out in the road without looking. When you slow down, it forces other drivers behind you to slow down making it a safer place for children as they might not see the obstacles you do. Even if it is not in school hours, slow down regardless. You never know if a sports/band practice or after school activity just ended.

Watch crosswalks and sidewalks

Don’t forget about the students that walk and ride their bicycles to school. Double and triple check intersections in school zones when you are driving through to make sure it are safe to proceed. Just when you think the coast is clear, a late student might dart across the road without fully looking to see if any vehicles are coming. Also, pay special attention to students riding bikes. They are often inexperienced, unsteady and can be unpredictable. If you see a student on a bicycle, slow down and allow at least three feet of passing distance between the bicyclist and your vehicle.

Look out for new/inexperienced drivers

When driving in school zones especially near high schools, be aware that there will be many more drivers on the road who are newly licensed and inexperienced drivers. New drivers, before they become more comfortable on the road can drive overly tentative or make unexpected maneuvers. Be patient and give them extra room.

If you were injured in an accident or a family member was injured in a school zone, contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your case. Attorney Charles V. Contrada will explain your legal options, guide you through the process.

To speak to attorney Charles V. Contrada about a car accident in Ohio or Michigan, call 419.841.4400. Charles has helped thousands of individuals with car accident claims and will explain the legal options that are available to you. Call Contrada & Associates for comprehensive legal guidance that will help you to receive the most favorable outcome.

Accidents in a Rental Car

You’re on vacation in your rental car and get in an accident. What happens next? Who is liable? Will my insurance policy cover me? These are just a few of the questions you may ask yourself. The answers will vary depending on what rental car company you rent from and what insurance policy you have.

Female Driver Making Phone Call After Traffic Accident With Head In Hands.

Your Auto Insurance Policy

Most auto insurance policies will travel with you when you’re on the road within the United States. Just in case you should contact your insurance company before driving a rental car to make sure your particular policy will provide the coverage you need. In almost all cases, your insurance policy’s comprehensive and collision coverage will extend to a rental car. If you purchase the rental car company’s insurance, it will be treated as supplemental above your personal insurance policy.

When you get into an accident in a rental car, notify the rental car company and fill out an accident report form. The rental car companies will most likely charge your personal auto insurance before the rental insurance kicks in. If you have sufficient personal liability insurance, the rental car insurance will most likely not be necessary.

The Credit Card You Paid With

Some credit cards offer services for their customers such as offering insurance on rental cars paid for with the credit card. Check with your credit card company to see if this service is offered. Also, check with them before you rent to see what their limitations are on renting a vehicle. Some limitations can be time limits, for example: you have a rental car for 30 days and your credit card will only cover your rental for 2 weeks. If you do go this route, make sure you contact the credit card company immediately after the accident to get your information in their system as they will have a time limitation on claims after the accident.

The Rental Car Company

If you have full coverage for rental cars on your personal insurance and rental insurance on your credit card, you probably will not need the rental car company’s extra insurance coverage. So when is purchasing the rental car company insurance a good idea? There are a few situations where this would be a good idea. If you live in a city and do not have a car or auto insurance, the rental car company insurance is necessary. Before purchasing the rental car company’s extra insurance, make sure you read the contract very carefully and clarify with the rental agent exactly what is covered and what is not.

If you were injured in an accident involving a rental car, contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your case. Attorney Charles V. Contrada will explain your legal options, guide you through the process.

To speak to attorney Charles V. Contrada about a car accident in Ohio or Michigan, call 419.841.4400. Charles has helped thousands of individuals with car accident claims and will explain the legal options that are available to you. Call Contrada & Associates for comprehensive legal guidance that will help you to receive the most favorable outcome.

 

4 Simple Tips for Dealing with Insurance Companies

When you are recovering from an accident, the last thing you want is to be given the run around during the confusing claims process by insurance companies. Here are 4 simple tips to keep your claim on track and what you need to know to settle your claim.

Shot of an attractive businesswoman talking on the phone while working on her laptop at homehttp://195.154.178.81/DATA/i_collage/pu/shoots/805292.jpg

Don’t Make Friends with Insurance Adjustors

Your insurance adjustor may seem very nice to you and make you believe they have your best interest at heart, in truth this is to get you to trust them. By using this strategy, they can get you talking with your guard down and you may say something that could put your claim in jeopardy.  Adjustors represent the insurance company and their interests, not yours. Their main objective is to settle the claim for as little as possible without taking your injuries into account.

Hire a Personal Injury Attorney

Retaining a personal injury attorney, you will have an ally with your best interests in mind. In most cases, hiring a personal injury attorney can help you cover your medical bills and damages by working to agree on a higher settlement amount from the insurance company. By retaining an attorney, it helps to even the playing field with the insurance companies so your best interests are protected.

Handle Communications Efficiently

To make sure the insurance company handling your claim takes you seriously, make sure to respond to all communications in a timely manner. Putting off communicating with the insurance company may show them you are not taking the claim seriously. There are usually timeframes in which you can file a claim. The earlier you file a claim, the better. Also, while you are communicating with the insurance companies, do not negotiate with them. Leave this to your personal injury attorney.

Know the Damages You Want to Recover

Knowing the damages of your case before negotiations begin with the insurance company is vital in making sure you receive best settlement possible. You must have documentation and evidence to support your claim for the damages you state. Your attorney will help you identify the sources of damage and tell you what documentation you will need to provide.

If you were injured in an accident, contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your case. Attorney Charles V. Contrada will explain your legal options, guide you through the process.

To speak to attorney Charles V. Contrada about a car accident in Ohio or Michigan, call 419.841.4400. Charles has helped thousands of individuals with car accident claims and will explain the legal options that are available to you. Call Contrada & Associates for comprehensive legal guidance that will help you to receive the most favorable outcome.