Monday, July 16, 2012

Why Is The Adjuster Making Me A Low Ball Offer?

The reason is simple: because she can. After almost 25 years of representing Ohioans in auto, truck, and motorcycle accident injury claims, there is one thing I'm sure of: the relationship between you and the insurance company you're dealing with is an adversarial one. It is not a business model that's designed to be "fair" to you or transparent.

As proof of this, ask any adjuster any of these questions after they contact you: (1) Will you allow me to take a recorded statement of your insured, the person who smashed into me?  After all, they will require a recorded statement of you. (2) Will you divulge your insured's Social Security number? A standard request they will ask of you to snoop into your financial and credit history. (3) Will your insured sign an authorization allowing me to obtain his medical records both before and after the crash? You can bet they'll ask you to sign these authorizations, which give them a blank ticket to fish around in your medical history YEARS before the crash.

(4) What are your insured's liability limits? They'll ask all about your sources of insurance, such as your auto medical payments and health insurance coverage. (5) Will you pay my medical bills as they come due and reimburse me for mileage and gas for all of my doctors and therapy visits? 

As you'll soon learn, this is a one way street. You will jump through all kinds of hoops, signing all their papers, operating on faith that they'll "do the right thing...and frequently receive nothing in return from the insurance company. And be prepared to hear "company policy does not allow us to divulge that information." See how this works? How do I know this? It's one of the main reasons why people call me after getting nowhere with the insurance company.

This doesn't make the adjuster or the insurance company evil. It's just that their goal, their mission, their reason for existing, is to pay as little as possible. But it doesn't mean you have to accept it, unless you like the equivalent of slamming your head against a concrete wall.


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Does A Prior Felony Conviction Affect My Ohio Car Accident Claim?

What does a prior felony conviction have to do with your Ohio auto accident injury claim? Plenty, if your felony conviction was a "crime of dishonesty."  Under our rules of evidence, convictions for crimes of dishonesty are admissible to "impeach the credibility" of any witness, and that includes you if you take the stand and testify in your Ohio personal injury claim.

What is a "crime of dishonesty?" Theft, perjury, falsification (filing a false police report), and criminal fraud are just a few of these crimes. Bascially, this rule of evidence allows the party you've filed a lawsuit against to argue that you may be dishonest as to how the accident happened or your injuries testimony because of a history of prior acts of dishonesty--known in legal talk as "impeaching your credibility."

Whether you think that's fair or not, that's the law. I guess it's the law's way of saying that there are certain spillover consequences for dishonesty. But it also applies equally to the defendant in any personal injury lawsuit who has a past history of similar crimes.

In any event, it is a standard question any Ohio personal injury victim can be expected to answer from his or her attorney, and the other party's lawyer as well.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


I can prove to you with simple math why your “full coverage” Ohio auto insurance policy is one sided and will leave you scratching your head AND possibly owing thousands in medical bills after a crash. More importantly, after you realize how “insurance company math” works, you can fix your policy with one that will protect your family.


SIMPLE MATH EXAMPLE NO. 1: 50 + 50 = 100 (Any second grader knows this)


Huh? Let's see how a real world example of this fuzzy math does a real number on your "full coverage" auto policy after a crash.

A driver turns left in front of you, putting you in the hospital and on the surgeon’s table for numerous fractures. The driver had $50,000 in liability coverage. You purchased a “full coverage” auto policy with uninsured and underinsured motorists (UM/UIM) coverage of $50,000.

Assume your claim is worth $100,000. Simple math would tell you that you can collect $50,000 from the negligent driver’s insurance company AND $50,000 from your own insurance company under your UM/UIM coverage, right? (After all, this is why you bought UM/UIM coverage – to make a claim under your own policy/UM/UIM coverage if the driver had no insurance or not enough to cover your injuries).

Wrong. Your “full coverage policy” has fine print language prohibiting you from collecting a penny of your $50,000 UM/UIM coverage unless you had more UM/UIM coverage than the driver who hit you had in liability coverage. Perfectly legal in Ohio.

Result: You collect only $50,000 total – half of what you’re entitled to. And you collect NOTHING from your own insurance company even though you paid a separate premium for $50,000 in UM/UIM coverage.

SIMPLE MATH EXAMPLE NO. 2: 50 + 100 = 150


Explanation:  Again, the negligent driver had $50,000 in liability coverage. Let's assume that you bought $100,000 in UM/UIM coverage and that your injury claim is worth $150,000.

Result: You can only collect $100,000 – $50,000 from the negligent driver’s policy and $50,000 from your own policy, even though you paid a separate premium for $100,000 in coverage. Your insurance company gets to subtract the negligent driver’s $50,000 from your $100,000 policy. You’re now shorted by $50,000 on what you deserve on your Ohio personal injury claim. Again, perfectly legal in Ohio.

SIMPLE MATH EXAMPLE NO. 3: 100 + 100 = 200


Explanation:  Assume the negligent driver also had $100,000 in liability coverage, you bought $100,000 in UM/UIM coverage, and your injury claim is worth $200,000.

Result: You can only collect $100,000 from the negligent driver. You cannot collect one penny from your “full coverage” $100,000 UM/UIM benefits because your fine print Ohio auto insurance policy says that you have to have more in UM/UIM coverage than the negligent driver had in liability coverage.

Again, you only get half of what you’re entitled to, and your own insurance company avoids paying anything, despite the fact that you paid a separate premium for $100,000 worth of UM/UIM coverage!

Only an insurance company can get away with this “rip-off math,” legal in Ohio since 1994. Is there any way around all the subtractions in your policy? Not by switching insurance companies. Every insurance company in Ohio has provisions permitting “rip-off math.”


There is only one way to protect yourself and your family and bettering your odds or defeating this fine print math altogether. Buy at least:

(1) $250,000 OR $500,000 worth of UM/UIM coverage, OR (2) a $1 million “umbrella” policy that includes $1 million in UM/UIM coverage.

Your first reaction might be: “I can’t afford $250,000 or $500,000 in UM/UIM!” My guess is that you would be wrong. For less than $150 PER YEAR, you can probably increase your UM/UIM to $250,000 or even $500,000.

That’s less than $13.00 per month. You probably have almost that much in your spare change piggybank.
So let’s see how “insurance company math” works when you buy higher levels of UM/UIM coverage.

SIMPLE MATH 50 + 250 = 300


Explanation: Assume you bought $250,000 in UM/UIM and the negligent driver had $50,000. Assume your claim is worth $200,000.

Result: You can collect $50,000 from the negligent driver’s policy and $150,000 from your own policy, for a total of $200,000. By buying higher amounts of UM/UIM coverage, you’ve now been made whole for all of your losses. And if your claim was worth $250,000, you could collect $50,000 from the negligent driver, and $200,000 from your UM/UIM coverage, for a total of $250,000.

So there IS a way to defeat “insurance company math.” By spending $150, you’ve bought $150,000-$200,000 additional protection in our last examples. If you can’t afford the additional $150 per year, that’s understandable. But now you know how the auto insurance game, and your policy, is rigged. And as you can see, THEIR MATH doesn’t add up to protecting you!