Signing legal documents, including checks, without first getting free advice from an Injury Lawyer could forever limit your legal rights
We all pay insurance premiums, including corporations, for the very purpose that if an injury occurs the injured person will be FAIRLY compensated, under the law, for all injuries suffered. Some corporations are self-insured which means they hire people to fix the liability and, instead of paying insurance premiums, they self-charge annual expenses on their balance sheet to cover future claims. For insurance companies and corporations that receive these premiums or have a "claim payout" on their balance sheet, there is an "unspoken" but actual financial incentive to limit the payout of the claim to maximize annual profits.
Claims agents are highly trained and skilled at (1) negotiation; (2) attempting to immediately resolve a claim; and (3) limit the exposure (or payout) of the claim. The problem is the injured person or their family is not skilled in any of these areas. Further, some Claims Agents may withhold bad facts or evidence in order to quickly resolve the claim.
Providing a recorded statement without first getting free advice from an Injury Lawyer may severly limit your legal rights
At the time of the injury the Insurance Company or Corporation is ADVERSE to your claim. There is an apparent and immediate conflict of interest as your interest is to be FAIRLY compensated under the law. The interest of the Insurance Company or Corporation is to LIMIT the payout of the claim.
These two interests conflict with one another. Skilled and trained Claims Agents will often immediately contact the injured person and say "we are investigating." However, the rest of the statement is often left out which is "on behalf of our Company which has a conflict of interest with your rights and claims." Claims agents may often ask for recorded statements and sometimes ask LEADING questions which are unfair and improper under the law and are meant to affect and limit your rights to recovery and gain admissions against your interest. This is very fact specific and it is only fair that both sides of the story and ALL facts be disclosed for FAIR value and legal compensation.
Ask the Claims Agent what facts has been gathered from the Corporation related to the responsible party
It is fair and reasonable if you are being asked to provide information that you be provided information on what facts have been gathered from the other person or from the Corporation. If you are told that the investigation is ongoing and they need to first get information from you, this should be a red flag. If the Corporation or Claims Agent is truly independent he or she would disclose ALL bad facts they found, even if is bad for them. Unfortunately, they may not in an effort to get the claim quickly resolved.
You might also hear what bad things you or the family member injured did wrong. This may be improper and one-sided as there are always two sides to a story. For example, if a driver in Ohio is speeding and sideswipes another car pulling out, the car pulling out is likely to get a ticket for failure to yield. However, if further investigation reveals the speeding, the speeding driver can LOSE THE RIGHT OF WAY under Ohio law and person pulling out may not be liable.
You do not need to hire the first Injury Attorney your speak with during your free consultation
Most Injury Attorneys provide FREE consultations. Your call should be focused on finding out information about your case and you should make sure to ask if you are speaking with an attorney. Some law firms have non-attorneys that initially screen calls.
When you do speak with an Injury Attorney, feel free to ask what fees will be charged, and which attorney will be handling your case. There is nothing wrong with telling the attorney that you (1) personally would first like to meet with him or her; or (2) would like to speak with/meet with a few other attorneys. If an Injury Attorney is licensed in Ohio, he or she can practice in ANY court in the state. There are many good reasons why you may want to hire an attorney outside of you local area and you should discuss this with the attorney you speak with in your free consultation.