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If you have a question relating to an accident where you were not at fault and it resulted in injuries, I have answered many of the common questions I have been asked over the years. Just below, you’ll see a number of categories where the questions and answers are listed.

You can click one of the categories that applies to your situation, and all the answers will be presented to you. An even easier way to get an answer to your question is to type the question in the search box to the right…. and every answer that applies to your question will be shown.

If by chance I don’t have the answer to your question on this site, call me at 513-621-4775. The call is free and I’ll take the time necessary to answer your question.

Q & A About Motor Vehicle Accidents
General Q & A About Accident & Injuries
Specific Q & A About Injuries & Accidents
Q & A About Truck & Big Rig Accidents

Two Reasons. The jury cannot conclude the scar is permanent without a doctor’s opinion. And the jury – or the insurance company – needs to know how much it would cost to try to fix the scar.

You are not exactly the same as you were before the accident. You have a scar that wasn’t there before, because someone else screwed up. The right doctor can tell you – and the insurance company – whether the scar will heal on its own, and how much it will cost to fix the scar.

Let’s say that instead of talking about your body, you are talking about an old car you own. The car is a 2001 Oldsmobile that runs just fine. But the paint is faded, your daughter backed into a wheelbarrow with it and never got that fixed in 2009, it got banged with a golf ball last year, there is another dent from when the kids in the neighborhood threw a boulder on it in the middle of the night, and your teenage son painted a Grateful Dead insignia on the driver’s door in 2011.

Some idiot runs into your Oldsmobile, and bends a fender. It will cost $700 to fix the fender.

If it comes out of your pocket, you probably wouldn’t do it. You’d rather have the $700.00. Should you NOT get the $700 in this case because you are not going to get the car fixed?

Of course you should get the $700.00 – your car is worse than it was before, because of what the other driver did.

Your scar is like the bent bumper. Most doctors I have heard from say scars usually reach their best appearance after about a year. And most scars don’t get fixed – or “remediated”. But if it is there, you don’t look the same as you did before.

If your scar is visible, then you need to see a doctor for two reasons. First, in my opinion, a jury would not be allowed to award damages for the permanency of a scar without the expert testimony of a doctor that the scar is in fact permanent, even if that is something everyone “knows.” And you need to establish what it would cost to try to get the scar fixed – or to improve it as much as possible. Because that is the only way that the insurance company can assign a value to it.

Certain doctors do this a lot. Plastic surgeons, obviously. Ear Nose And Throat surgeons also do it – at least some of them do. And some dermatologists can perform this kind of evaluation.

A lot of people are reluctant to go to a doctor when they don’t intend to get scar revision. All I will say is that every time someone I work for has seen a doctor to have their scar evaluated, it helped settle the lawsuit.

If you think your accident has resulted in a permanent scar, call me, Bill Strubbe, a Cincinnati Personal Injury Attorney. My phone is 513-621-4775. There is no charge for talking to me.

Other lawyers refer their clients to me. And if you decide you‘d rather hire someone else, that’s OK.

Because all situations are different, and because there may be other facts pertaining to your case that I don’t know about, you should not rely on this answer for legal advice. I am not your attorney, and no lawyer client relationship has been formed. All discussions are limited to Ohio law unless otherwise indicated. And past performance cannot be used to predict future results.

Yes.

People don’t become my clients unless I believe them.

Am I always right? No – I sign people up, and then sometimes I learn something that makes me not believe them. And then I stop representing them. But that hardly ever happens.

I might stop representing someone for other reasons, too – the case might turn out to be too expensive in terms of costs or time, relative to the amount I think we will win. But that doesn’t happen very often, or I wouldn’t sign them up in the first place.

Do juries – or the insurance company on the other side – always believe me, or believe my client? Not always. But usually, they do.

If you’ve been hurt in an accident, I can help you. Call me, Bill Strubbe, a Cincinnati Personal Injury Attorney. My phone is 513-621-4775. There is no charge for talking to me.

Other lawyers refer their clients to me. And if you decide you‘d rather hire someone else, that’s OK.

Because all situations are different, and because there may be other facts pertaining to your case that I don’t know about, you should not rely on this answer for legal advice. I am not your attorney, and no lawyer client relationship has been formed. All discussions are limited to Ohio law unless otherwise indicated. And past performance cannot be used to predict future results.

I figure out where the delays are most likely to be, then try to fix them.

Delays usually come because the other side doesn’t know something that I do. Usually, it’s medical records that establish that my client wasn’t hurt before the accident, or that establish the severity of the injury. So I get the medical records.

If there is a large wage loss claim, I send the other side my client’s employment records and paycheck stubs, and I try to get them copies of the work excuses.

If there is a dispute about liability, it means there is a fight over what happened. In other words, who is telling the truth. I try to schedule the sworn statements of the important witnesses – including my client and the other driver – so the other attorney can see what they look like, and make his recommendation.

A few years ago, in a dogbite lawsuit, the dog’s insurance company was putting up a huge fight, saying that the jury was going to be reluctant to make a big award against the dog’s owner. My client told me that the dog was known throughout the neighborhood as a bad dog. So I talked to a neighbor, who was familiar with the dog.

I scheduled the neighbor for a deposition, or a sworn statement. We found out just how bad the dog was. The insurance lawyer talked to his supervisor, and the lawsuit settled. For a lot of money.

You see, if I had not made a preliminary evaluation, and liked it, I would not have taken the lawsuit in the first place.

It’s usually that simple. The other side may be lazy – but if you make them work, they evaluate the situation, and sooner or later they want to stop paying their lawyer.

I have been a lawyer over 30 years. Insurance companies are usually smart enough to tell when a lawsuit is getting better or worse for them. If it is getting worse, they want to settle. My job is showing them how bad it can be.

If you’ve been having trouble settling your lawsuit on your own, give me, a Cincinnati personal injury attorney, a call. My phone is 513-621-4775.

You don’t have to hire me. You can just call, and we can talk. But you need to do something, and it’s going to have to start with a phone call.

Because all situations are different, and because there may be other facts pertaining to your case that I don’t know about, you should not rely on this answer for legal advice. I am not your attorney, and no lawyer client relationship has been formed. All discussions are limited to Ohio law unless otherwise indicated. And past performance cannot be used to predict future results.

They do want to do the right thing. But “the right thing” means something different to them than to you. And they are paid to protect the insurance company.

To an insurance adjuster or attorney, “doing the right thing” means protecting the insurance company against false claims, and lawyers who want too much. And if they screw up, not doing this version of “the right thing” – in the sense of protecting the insurance company – means getting fired.

I have had at least one lawsuit where I filed a lawsuit knowing that the lawsuit was almost certainly filed too late – it was past the statute of limitations.

(I was working for an insurance company, which had paid a claim and wanted to get their money back from the insurance company for the person who caused the accident. The company got me what I needed to file the lawsuit after the last date suit could be filed. And I say “almost certainly” because the statute of limitations can be extended by certain things, such as a defendant’s absence from the state under certain conditions. You cannot know until after you file suit, and ask the defendant a number of questions.)

An adjuster for the other driver’s insurance company called me up – apparently without checking the filing date – and offered me 2/3 of the amount I had asked for in the lawsuit. I immediately faxed a letter back to the adjuster accepting the offer.

She called me an hour later and asked when I had filed the lawsuit. I told her. She said she wouldn’t pay. I said we had a deal.

I referred the lawsuit to another lawyer for the insurance company for which I worked – I was now a witness to the terms of the deal, and could not testify. The other driver’s insurance company fought the lawsuit, and then settled after a couple months for the original settlement amount.

I never heard again from the adjuster who made the original settlement. I am pretty sure she was fired.

The question in all this was never whether the other insurance company owed the money, or how much. They clearly did. The question for them was whether they could get the amount reduced.

Insurance company adjusters and attorneys can rationalize just about offer – short of lying – by saying that there is no way to know what a jury will award for an injury, or for property damage.

The “right” thing, according to the other insurance company, though, was not to pay the bill. The “right thing” was to minimize the bill – regardless whether it was the proper amount. Their adjuster failed to do this – in a blatant manner – so she was fired.

Obviously, you cannot rely on the insurance company to provide you with all of the information you need to evaluate your lawsuit. You certainly cannot use their offer as a barometer of what your lawsuit is worth.

If you want someone who can level the playing field, call me, Bill Strubbe, a Cincinnati Personal Injury Lawyer. My phone is 513-621-4775. There is no charge for talking to me.

Other lawyers refer their clients to me. And if you decide you‘d rather hire someone else, that’s OK.

Because all situations are different, and because there may be other facts pertaining to your case that I don’t know about, you should not rely on this answer for legal advice. I am not your attorney, and no lawyer client relationship has been formed. All discussions are limited to Ohio law unless otherwise indicated. And past performance cannot be used to predict future results.

Sometimes, it’s required by law, or the other driver’s insurance company. Other times, it’s not required, but it’s just good sense.

Nearly always, your own health or auto insurance company requires that it be reimbursed for the cost of your treatment out of settlement funds. This is in their contract or policy.

And the other driver’s insurance company usually requires that your health or auto insurance company be repaid out of the settlement, to the point of having a separate check issued out of the settlement proceeds payable to the health or auto insurance company.

And often, it makes sense to pay your doctors and hospitals back out of your settlement, even if you do not have to do that.

Let’s start with the difference between a debt and a lien. If you owe someone a debt, obviously, they can sue you. But that may not do them much good if you don’t have a lot of money lying around.

A lien is a debt that gives the person you owe the right to be reimbursed from specific funds – in this case, the funds generated by your settlement with the other driver’s insurance company. The creditor has the right to sue not only you, but anyone coming into possession of settlement funds – that is, the other driver’s insurance company.

Health insurance companies have liens on money they pay for your medical treatment – your policy says the health insurance company has a right to be repaid out of the settlement. They enforce this lien by suing the insurance company for the other driver if they don’t get paid. Auto insurance companies – when they pay you medpay benefits – have this same rule.

So the other driver’s insurance company makes it a condition of the settlement that you will pay back your health or auto insurance company – and also Medicare, Caresource, and Medicaid if they have paid you any benefits because of the accident. If you don’t agree to this, they won’t pay the money, and they will make you go to trial.

If you don’t pay your health and auto insurance back – and your insurance company sues the driver’s insurance company to get their money back – you will probably have to pay the other driver’s insurance company not only the amount of the judgment, but also their attorney fees.

A good lawyer addresses this problem by negotiating a reduced payback amount as part of the whole settlement.

There are other types of liens that your attorney must pay out of settlement funds. These include liens that your attorney knows about and that are:

1) Created by a statute (such as Medicaid or Medicare; in fact, if Medicare or Caresource or Medicaid has paid you benefits, the insurance company will probably write a separate check to that insurer and deduct it from the total funds paid out.)), or

2) A judgment of a court addressing the disposition of the funds (for instance, once two of my clients divorced; the final decree stated that part of one’s property settlement had to be paid out of the other’s injury settlement), or

3) Liens guaranteed in writing by you or the lawyer on your behalf out of the settlement funds. As of today’s date – March 31, 2014 – this probably does not include chiropractors’ liens.

Chances are your doctor or hospital does not have a “lien”. But if those bills have not been paid, they are a debt that you still owe, and can be sued on – or they can become a negative on your credit report. I advise all my clients to resolve these – or let me negotiate terms for repayment of these debts – out of the settlement.

Sometimes my client doesn’t want to repay the doctor or hospital. They take their chances that the debt will eventually be written off, or just “fall through the cracks.” And that is fine.

But with all debts that are not liens, it is up to you – until you get sued.

If you want to know more about how this works, call me, Bill Strubbe, a Cincinnati Personal Injury Lawyer. My phone is 513-621-4775. There is no charge for talking to me.

Other lawyers refer their clients to me. And if you decide you‘d rather hire someone else, that’s OK.

Because all situations are different, and because there may be other facts pertaining to your case that I don’t know about, you should not rely on this answer for legal advice. I am not your attorney, and no lawyer client relationship has been formed. All discussions are limited to Ohio law unless otherwise indicated. And past performance cannot be used to predict future results.

Because I – as your lawyer – have to make sure it gets distributed properly.

And because it is the only effective way to “make change”.

When the insurance company settles your lawsuit, they almost always do it by writing one check to both you and your lawyer.

Why? Two reasons: (1) the other driver’s insurance company is afraid your lawyer will sue it for his fee if the check is made out to you alone and (2)The insurance company is afraid your health insurance company will sue it for any money you owe them out of the settlement. (This is called subrogation.)

And there is another reason. It is how the lawyer can “make change”, and distribute the money from the settlement all at once.

When a lawyer settles a lawsuit for an injured person ,the other side’s insurance company issues a check for the settlement amount – say, $10,000.00 – payable to both the lawyer and client, and mailed to the lawyer.

Typically, there are a number of debts, or “liens” that have to be paid out of this money. The lawyer gets a check for his fees and his costs.

Any health or auto insurance company that has paid money to you – or to your doctor – for your medical care has a right to be paid back. If your Anthem policy – or your employer’s health insurance company, or Medicare or Caresource – paid $3,000 for your medical treatment, they have a right to be paid back.

The health insurance company may or may not have a right to get paid out of the settlement funds directly, but it sure has a right to sue the injured person if it does not. Some government based insurance – like Medicare or Caresource – may have the right to sue the lawyer if they don’t get paid.

Similarly, some hospitals and doctors – especially chiropractors – provide treatment before they are paid. They also have the right to sue you if they are not compensated out of the settlement.

So everyone gets paid. In the example above, I would have my clients come in to sign checks, along with a document that shows how the money is getting distributed. A typical distribution in the above case might be:

Chiropractor (after negotiating a reduction on a $2,000 bill)………………..$1,000.00
Hospitals and doctors (after negotiating reduction of $3,000 in bills)………..$1,800.00
My client………………………………………………………………$3,616.67
My fee(1/3)…………………………………………………………….$3,333.33
My forwarded expenses (Photocopying and getting medical records)………………$250.00

Total Distribution………………………………………………….$10,000.00

After my client comes in and signs off on the distribution, and endorses the check, I deposit the check in a “trust” or IOLTA account. (IOLTA stands for “Interest on Lawyer’s Trust Account. “ It’s set up so that the interest on the funds does not go to the lawyer, in accordance with Ohio Supreme Court guidelines.)

One to two weeks later when the funds have cleared, I distribute the money as indicated on the settlement statement.

And – almost always – everyone is happy. At least to the point where I don’t hear complaints about it.

If you want to know more about how this works, call me, Bill Strubbe, a Cincinnati Personal Injury Attorney. My phone is 513-621-4775. There is no charge for talking to me.

Other lawyers refer their clients to me. And if you decide you‘d rather hire someone else, that’s OK.

Because all situations are different, and because there may be other facts pertaining to your case that I don’t know about, you should not rely on this answer for legal advice. I am not your attorney, and no lawyer client relationship has been formed. All discussions are limited to Ohio law unless otherwise indicated. And past performance cannot be used to predict future results.

No. If you want, you can take it home with you, sign it and send it in or drop it off later. (As long as the statute of limitations is not a factor.)

And I don’t want you to feel as though I pressured you to sign.

Usually, you come down to see me because you wan to know what I look and sound like, whether you think you can work with me, what I think of your lawsuit, and – nearly always – how long it will take before I can settle your lawsuit.

I tell you about myself. I look at the papers you bring down, and listen to as much as you feel comfortable telling me. I want you to feel comfortable talking to me.

(More on listening in a separate blog. I think I am good, but no one is as good as they think they are.)

I tell you what my fee is and how it is calculated.

I try to answer every question as much as I can, and as honestly as I can. There are usually a lot of questions that I cannot answer, and that no honest lawyer can answer. The reason I cannot answer is because I don’t have access to all your medical records, and I don’t know what the other side knows or is thinking.

I usually have a fee agreement, and medical authorizations printed out in advance. Most people sign right away – they want to be able to get started, they don’t want to come back to my office again (they don’t really have to – they can fax, mail or scan and email their signature), and they don’t want to talk to the other driver’s insurance any more. And signing fixes all that.

Some people take their agreements home with them. And that is fine. I want you to feel secure that you have chosen the best lawyer for your needs you can find. And you won’t feel that way if you think you were pressured.

It’s only good for me if it’s good for you.

Finally, I’m able to meet most of the people I work for anywhere in the Greater Cincinnati area.

If you want to know more about how this works, call me, Bill Strubbe, a Cincinnati Personal Injury Attorney. My phone is 513-621-4775. There is no charge for talking to me.

Other lawyers refer their clients to me. And if you decide you‘d rather hire someone else, that’s OK.

Because all situations are different, and because there may be other facts pertaining to your case that I don’t know about, you should not rely on this answer for legal advice. I am not your attorney, and no lawyer client relationship has been formed. All discussions are limited to Ohio law unless otherwise indicated. And past performance cannot be used to predict future results.

There are a couple reasons.

When they are trying to figure out how much to pay you for an accident, the other driver’s insurance company will calculate the total paid toward your medical bills by your health insurance company – and by you through copays and deductibles, and expenses not covered – and then multiply that by a number. The result is an estimate of what they think they will owe on your lawsuit.

For instance, if your health insurance paid $4,000 to your doctors and hospitals for treatment from your accident, then the other driver’s insurance might look at that number and decide to pay between $7,000 and $12,000 in total, depending on the formula they use.

The car insurance companies use different formulas, and they don’t tell you what they are. They also look at other factors – whether you are permanently injured, whether your injury is to a part of your body where you were injured before, whether there was much damage done to either car in the wreck, whether you will need surgery, whether you have lost wages, whether you have a scar.

Also, when your health insurance pays a bill caused by an accident, it has the right to be repaid out of your settlement. This is called subrogation. So you – and your attorney – need to know how much your health insurance company will be looking for out of your settlement.

The bottom line, though, is that the more your health insurance company pays – and the more that you pay through deductibles and copays – the more the other side’s auto insurance will pay.

If you want to know more about how this works, call me, Bill Strubbe, a Cincinnati Personal Injury Attorney. My phone is 513-621-4775. There is no charge for talking to me.

Other lawyers refer their clients to me. And if you decide you‘d rather hire someone else, that’s OK.

Because all situations are different, and because there may be other facts pertaining to your case that I don’t know about, you should not rely on this answer for legal advice. I am not your attorney, and no lawyer client relationship has been formed. All discussions are limited to Ohio law unless otherwise indicated. And past performance cannot be used to predict future results.

There are lots of different ways.

The most obvious is to get the insurance company on the other side to pay more money.

A second way – one that is more and more necessary when liability insurance companies are looking at the bottom line – is to bargain down the amount that you owe out of the settlement at the end of the case. Most people owe money to either their doctors and health care providers, or to their insurance companies by way of subrogation, at the end of the lawsuit. Or maybe to both. The hospitals and the insurance companies are usually both willing to take a discount on the value of their claim – maybe 20%, maybe 33 %, maybe 50%.

Obviously, the less money the insurance company – or hospital – gets, the more you get.

Finally, a good lawyer checks significant bills before he pays them, and makes sure that they haven’t been written off. A lot of hospitals and other providers take the position that if someone hasn’t paid their bill a year after treatment, they are probably not a good collection prospect – so they stop trying to collect at all.

As you can guess, there can be a downside to this. Namely, whenever a creditor (a hospital; a doctor) is not paid in full, there is a danger that the bill will be reported to a credit service. You can condition the payment on the hospital agreeing to do this, but it’s tough to enforce.

With doctors, you probably don’t want to make them mad if you still need them to treat you. And they will probably get mad if you don’t pay them, or if you offer them a percentage of your bill in satisfaction of the whole amount.

All the same, most of my clients prefer to take the route of paying less – certainly with hospitals, as well as providers of services like Emergency Room Medical Treatment, xrays, anesthesia and ambulances.

If you want some idea on how to maximize the dollars you will get out of your settlement, call me, Bill Strubbe, a Cincinnati Personal Injury Lawyer. My phone is 513-621-4775. There is no charge for talking to me.

Other lawyers refer their clients to me. And if you decide you‘d rather hire someone else, that’s OK.

Because all situations are different, and because there may be other facts pertaining to your case that I don’t know about, you should not rely on this answer for legal advice. I am not your attorney, and no lawyer client relationship has been formed. All discussions are limited to Ohio law unless otherwise indicated. And past performance cannot be used to predict future results.

Do Insurance Companies Value Cases Differently Than You Do?

March 20, 2014

Yes. But it is hard to predict. When I evaluate a lawsuit, my main concern is evaluating what I think a jury will pay my client, after a trial. I do this because it is the most honest way to evaluate a lawsuit. If I promise my client more than a jury will award him, [...]

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