As I mentioned in my last post, pain from auto collisions tends to get worse in the days following the incident. The effects of “soft tissue” injures such as herniated and bulging discs may not manifest themselves for days or even weeks, but have life-long consequences. Some insurance companies have been taking advantage of this by offering potential claimants who have recently involved in collisions small sums of money for a release of their “bodily injury” claim. If they do make an offer, the insurance company will likely express a sense of urgency in taking the money. We strongly advise against accepting these offers. Although it is possible to fight the release of your claim, a Court may hold you to the “deal”. As the saying goes, patience is the companion of wisdom!
When considering a personal injury lawsuit, the most important piece of evidence is YOU! In order to show damages in Court, we rely on the medical evaluations of health care providers as evidence of your injuries. Pain from auto collisions tend to get worse in the days following the incident. Instead of sitting home in pain hoping they go away, get to a doctor. It will be good for your health and your case!
- 1. If you are injured while at a business or in a building, it is NOT necessary to fill out a report with management or an employee to preserve your claim. Instead, do your own investigation. For example, take pictures and get the contact information of witnesses and the employees on duty.
- 2. If you are injured by a foreign object in your food or other product, take pictures and save the whole item. If it is perishable, take pictures of the item in its original condition and save the foreign object.
- 3. Sometimes, conversations can be valuable evidence in your case. You can record YOUR OWN phone calls and conversations in New York without consent from another party as long as you are one of the parties. This is known as “one party consent.” However, this may not apply if all the parties are not in New York at the time of the conversation.
- 4. If you are injured in an elevator, write down or photograph any identifying letters or numbers for the elevator car you were in at the time of your injury so that a proper investigation can be done as soon as possible.
- 5. Save your pay stubs. These can be very useful for establishing the amount of a lost wage claim after an injury and provide proof of unfair wage practices where you feel you have not been paid what the law requires. This information can become difficult to get if you do not return to work after an injury or if you are fired.
Always remember, help is a phone call away!
It is no surprise that when a legal claim is brought, the negligent party will often try to escape responsibility for their wrongdoing. I have been fortunate enough to have many clients who have acted swiftly and preserved valuable evidence long before they even called Ardito Law Firm, PC. Here are some tips to help you do the same if you find yourself in situation where legal action may be necessary:
1. Take pictures, especially for conditions that change quickly. Some examples are defective walkways or roadways and the scene of an auto accident.
2. Save text messages that are relevant to your case. If you delete them, you may not be able to get them back until after a court case is filed. This is because many cell phone providers require a subpoena before they will give you a copy. In cases where the text is an important part of your law suit, having your messages available before the case starts can be necessary in order to evaluate your claim.
3. DO NOT send defective products back to the manufacturer! Many times the manufacturer will ask you to return a defective product to the company so they can review the claim. However, if they refuse to pay a fair settlement, it is unlikely that they will return the item to you. Even if it is returned, it will probably not be in the same condition and lose much or all of its value as evidence.
4. DO NOT repair or remove damaged parts from your car before the insurance companies can inspect it. If they do not get a chance to inspect the original damage to the vehicle, your claim may be denied. Also, the damage to the vehicle can provide valuable information about how the accident occurred.
5. Finally, DO NOT give statements over the phone to any insurance company, including your own. Call us right away to assist you with this. Remember that many deadlines are imposed by law, so call as soon as you can do it safely and after you have received medical attention.
Stay tuned for part 2 of Evidence For Everyone next week. As always, help is a phone call away.
Whether your car is in the shop or you are going on a trip, many of us need to rent a vehicle from time to time.
When renting, you will be given the option to purchase “supplemental insurance” in case you are involved in an accident. The cost of this insurance is often as much as the charge to rent the vehicle itself. What many people do not know is that you may already be covered, making this insurance unnecessary.
Your Personal Auto Policy
The insurance policy for the vehicle you own includes both liability and property damage coverage. Whenever you rent a car, this personal auto policy provides the same coverage for the rental vehicle. If you have liability, collision or comprehensive coverage on one of your cars, you also have those coverages on a car that you rent.
Your insurance company may also provide a daily allowance toward your rental cost when your vehicle is otherwise covered for damage or repairs so be sure to ask your carrier!
However, your personal auto policy may only protect you while the rental car is used in the US and Canada. Your coverage may also exclude a rented truck or van (even minivan) used for business purposes.
In New York, the renter of the vehicle, the renter’s spouse (if they over 18), operators in emergency situations and any drivers listed in the rental agreement are authorized to drive the vehicle. However, allowing unauthorized drivers to operate the vehicle could lead to coverage problems and is probably not a good idea.
Coverage through your personal auto policy will usually apply when you get a “loaner” car from your dealer as well.
Coverage through your credit card company
Many credit card companies also offer insurance if you rent a vehicle using their card. This is usually considered “secondary” insurance because it doesn’t apply until after your personal auto policy and the rental company’s coverage pays. Credit card coverage may help you pay for deductibles, coverage gaps, or damages exceeding your primary insurance payout.
There’s really no “standard” credit card coverage, so call your company to find out what protection they provide.
Sometimes Supplemental Insurance Makes Sense
For some people, the supplemental insurance from the rental company may be a good idea. For instance, it may protect you from a raised auto insurance premium if you damage the rental car. Supplemental coverage might also be a smart idea if you carry a high deductible on your auto insurance policy or if you do not own your own vehicle. Also, supplemental coverage usually provides excess liability coverage of up to $1 million for the time you rent a car which is higher than most personal policies.
Know before you go
For help sorting out your coverage options:
Step 1: Contact your car insurance company to make sure you understand your policy and what is covered when you rent a car.
Step 2: Contact your credit card company to find out what coverage it provides.
Step 3: Finally, bring your car insurance declaration page so you can present it to the rental company if any questions come up when you pick up your car.
As always, no matter what you are driving, stay safe and remember….help is a phone call away!
Tow truck drivers perform an invaluable service when you become stranded in your vehicle because of an accident, mechanical failure or when you can no longer operate your vehicle safely. However, as with any business, there are the good, the bad and the downright ugly! Once you have been towed to their yard, issues can arise between an insurance company and the tow company over such things as storage fees and towing charges. This can have a serious impact on your ability to get compensation for damage to your vehicle. If you cannot afford the out-of-pocket expense to retrieve your car when these disagreements arise, you may be unable to retrieve your vehicle, the license plates (which may be necessary for a new vehicle or to cancel existing insurance) or your belongings.
Here are some tips to help you minimize or avoid these situations:
- Find a reputable tow company in your area now and keep the number handy in case you have a road emergency
- If your circumstances require your vehicle to be towed by a company that you are unfamiliar with, do not assume anything. Promptly find out where your car is being held and consider getting it relocated to a more suitable location, such as a storage yard you trust or even your own home if space is available.
- Remove your license plates from the vehicle as soon as it can be done legally and safely so that you have them when you need them. Being stuck out on the road can be scary. Additionally, if you have been injured in an accident, your car may be the last thing on your mind. Having the right information before the situation arises can make all the difference.
Of course, as always, we are only a phone call away!
Everyone loves a bargain. Well here is one, lawyer style of course.
Protect your family against motor vehicles with no insurance or low insurance by saying these magic words to your insurance company: “I want my UM / SUM coverage to match my liability coverage!”
So what does that get you? Here’s a rundown of what those simple words mean and why your insurance company may not have told you about it!
New York State’s minimum insurance requirements for automobiles are far from adequate to protect those who have been seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident. It is also less likely that an individual with minimum coverage will have any assets that might provide you with the recovery you deserve. Worst of all, if the other driver has no insurance, or if an unidentified driver leaves the scene of the accident, you have no other insurance company to call.
Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage and Supplemental Underinsured Motorist (SUM) coverage can protect you in these circumstances and you will be surprised how little it costs. However, you must do it NOW, before the accident occurs.
Here is how it works:
Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM): Your insurance policy will provide coverage for injuries to the occupants of your vehicle which are caused by an uninsured driver or an unidentified hit-and-run driver.
Supplemental Underinsured Motorist Coverage (SUM): Your insurance policy will cover the difference between the insurance policy of the other driver and the amount of your vehicle’s insurance policy. In other words, if the other driver has $ 25,000 in liability coverage and you have $ 100,000 SUM coverage, your insurance policy will make up the $ 75,000 difference.
Your UM / SUM coverage can be as high as your liability coverage (the amount of insurance you have if you injure someone else), but it also can be lower than your liability coverage. If you have anything above the minimum liability coverage, call your insurance company and tell them you want your UM / SUM to match your liability coverage. I think you will be surprised how much you get for so little money.
New York State requires employers to have worker’s compensation insurance to provide medical benefits, disability payments and death benefits to employees who are injured or killed on the job. So what happens when an employer disregards this obligation?
Luckily, the law protects workers in this situation. In fact, the law gives the injured worker options:
- New York’s Uninsured Employers Fund provides coverage for an injured worker whose employer does not have worker’s compensation insurance, so that a claim can still be brought.
- Alternately, the worker may choose to sue their boss directly (where normally, you cannot sue a properly insured employer).
Although these options can be pursued simultaneously, accepting one precludes the other. An employee elects one over the other when worker’s compensation benefits are accepted or a civil law suit results in a settlement or judgment for the employee.
The right choice ultimately depends on many factors, such as the needs of the injured worker, the financial situation of the employer and the nature of the injury. Such decisions should be made with care and with the advice of a knowledgeable attorney. An employer that does not have worker’s compensation insurance may be subject to significant liability and penalties and will often retain an attorney in these situations. As a result, it is important that the injured worker get legal advice as soon as possible.
Remember, help is a just a phone call away .
Many have heard it, few have heeded the command. Many have said it, for better or for worse! So what happens when you are a passenger injured in a vehicle driven by your husband or wife? What if your spouse is responsible for the accident? Can you make a claim?: yes. Are you covered?: well, maybe.
Readers, this will be my first installment of many posts with a universal message: read your insurance policy! If it is too boring for you, call me (I love this stuff)!
New York law allows for law suits against your spouse. The catch is that in order for insurance coverage to apply, you must have Supplemental Spousal Liability Coverage in effect at the time of the accident.
So should you get it? Well, if you are me, the answer is no, because my wife is perfect, infallible even (she reads these posts – hi honey). However, in the real world, people make mistakes, and these mistakes can have consequences. Also, the law allows a court to split liability between the parties involved in an accident. So while your beloved chauffeur may not be all at fault, the role he or she played in the accident can diminish your recovery by the amount they are found to be responsible.
Supplemental Spousal Liability Coverage is just another way to protect yourself and your family. You may be surprised how inexpensive it really is…now that you know to ask for it.
Choosing the right doctor and the right lawyer are two important steps when you have been injured in an accident. And let’s face it, each one has a lot of questions and even more forms…and more questions and more forms!
Unfortunately, sometimes these forms get lumped together. Doctors, even the good ones, have forms that are not for medicine, but for insurance and to secure payment for services. These forms often involve legal issues and a doctor’s office may not always be the best place to address them. A well intentioned medical assistant or doctor is no substitute for your lawyer at times like these.
It is always important to give a doctor every fact which may be relevant to your prior and current medical condition so that he or she can best provide the care that you need following an accident. However, when your medical provider presents you with documents that say things such as “Lien”, “Assignment” or “Application for Benefits” , it is best that you consult your attorney before completing or signing these documents whenever the situation allows you to do so.
Your doctor and your attorney are both important contributors in your pursuit of health and compensation for your injuries following an accident. Let the doctors take care of the medicine and let us take care of the rest!