Our clients and cases involve many practice areas such as people who have suffered serious personal harm, the wrongful death of a family member, the violation of their constitutional rights or unjust criminal charges. Learn more about each of our practice areas in detail below.
Motorcycle accidents cause a much higher incidence of death and injury per accident than do car accidents. In other words, if you are involved in a vehicular accident and you are on a motorcycle, you are 3 times more likely to be injured and 14 times more likely to be killed. Helmet laws, enacted in many states, are helping to reduce these numbers, but motorcyclists still are at greater risk of death or injury than those in passenger vehicles.
It is always wise to take precautions when riding a motorcycle, including:
- Wear a helmet and require your passengers to do so.
- Obey the traffic laws, especially in regard to speeding, passing, and following too closely.
- Remember that you are not as large or as visible as an automobile, so do all you can to increase your own visibility, such as riding with the headlight on at all times and wearing reflective clothing after dark.
- Be sure you are able to control the motorcycle while carrying a passenger and insist that the passenger obey your directions.
- Road hazards have a much greater affect on a small two-wheel vehicle, so watch for bumps, cracks in the road, loose gravel or any other condition that might cause you to lose control.
Pedestrian deaths are second only to occupant deaths in vehicular accidents. While crossing the street is a skill everybody learns, it is not something that can be taken for granted. Every year, thousands of pedestrians are injured. If you are injured, you may be eligible for compensation for your injuries. Be sure you get all the information you can about the accident. Secure any evidence available, find out the names and contact information of witnesses, and get the names and insurance information of the driver involved. Witnesses are especially important to furnish evidence as to whose negligence caused the injuries. In general, pedestrians have the right of way. You will be questioned as to whether you used due care in crossing, used proper crossing locations, etc. You may want to contact an attorney to assist you.
When a small delicate organism like the human body is involved in the collision of two or more large solid objects like automobiles, something has to give – and that something is frequently the neck. The human head is relatively heavy in relation to the neck and a sudden impact gives you no time to brace yourself to prevent the forceful head movement known as “whiplash”. Whiplash is the term used to describe the motion of the neck when an impact causes the head to be “snapped” (moved quickly in a direction opposite the direction of impact). It is also known as CAD (cervical acceleration/deceleration) trauma or syndrome. The sudden sharp movement can cause damage to the joints of the neck, as well as the nerves, muscles, and discs. In extreme cases, not only is the neck damaged, but the brain is bruised. These injuries can include dizziness, headache, pain in the body and arms, and, in the case of brain injury, blurred vision, tinnitus, nausea, vertigo, and numbness. All of these injuries can lead to long-term pain and disability.
Any passenger in a vehicular accident is considered free of liability for the accident, unless they committed an overt act that distracted the driver, or in any other way contributed to the accident. Additionally, if you get into a vehicle knowing that the driver is intoxicated, you may have “assumed the risk” of being in an accident. If you are a passenger and you are injured in a vehicular accident, you may receive compensation for your injuries. Be sure that you see a doctor immediately. As a passenger, you may have a claim against all negligent parties, which can include the driver of the car you were riding in when the accident occurred, as well as the drivers of other vehicles involved. It is vitally important that you get as much information about the circumstances as possible – who was driving each car, what happened, the weather or road conditions, any witnesses, etc. Your independent information may be the key to receiving compensation for your injuries.
Speeding is the most common cause of vehicular accidents in this country and the economic cost of speeding accidents is significant. Laws setting top speeds vary from state to state, but each state expects drivers to travel at prudent speeds based on the situation. Such things as road conditions, weather, and amount of traffic are more important in determining the safest speed as opposed to the posted speed limit. Traveling at an unsafe speed reduces the time available for slowing or stopping and makes it harder to control the vehicle, especially in turns and curves. Additionally, speeding drivers are less likely to be using seat belts, thus adding to the potential for severe injury during an accident. If you are injured by a speeding vehicle, whether as a driver, passenger or a pedestrian, you may have a right to compensation for your injuries.
When your vehicle is damaged in a vehicular accident, you will want to have it repaired and on the road again as quickly as possible.
Who decides where it is repaired?
You can decide where your vehicle is repaired. The insurance company decides how much will be paid for the repairs, and it may not be the same amount as the repair shop estimate.
Will the repair shop charge me for storage?
The insurance company of the person who caused the accident will pay towing and storage costs, according to what is reasonable in your area. If the vehicle is declared a total loss, the insurance company will pay to have it moved to a salvage or wrecking yard. If you do not allow the company to move your vehicle, you will be liable for any storage or towing fees.
Who decides if my vehicle is repairable or "totalled"?
The insurance company who is liable for payment can decide that your vehicle is not worth repairing. If the cost of the labor and parts exceeds the market value of your vehicle, the company can declare it a "total loss" and pay you the market value. Market value is determined by the fair market value of similar vehicles in your area, or from an independent source such as the Kelley Blue Book. If you want to keep the vehicle after it has been declared a total loss, you will have to pay the salvage value to the insurance company.
Who pays the bank loan if my vehicle is financed?
You are still liable for any loans on the vehicle. If the fair market value of your vehicle is less than the outstanding loan, you are still required to pay the entire amount of the loan.
Do I get a rental vehicle while my vehicle is being repaired?
You can always get a rental vehicle if you are willing to pay for it. If you want the insurance company to pay for it, while your vehicle is being repaired or replaced, then payment depends on several factors. If you caused the accident, check to see if your own insurance coverage includes rental vehicles. Many policies do not include rental vehicles unless it is specifically stated. If the other driver caused the accident, then you can expect the liable person's insurance company to pay the costs of providing you with a rental vehicle. The vehicle will be a substitute for your own vehicle, that is, a vehicle of similar quality. Be sure to check with your own insurance company about insurance coverage on the rental vehicle.
I just paid for my license plates - do I have to pay for new ones?
The insurance company should pay the prorated amount of any registration fees that are unused, as well as transfer fees for the new registrations.
At some point after an accident, you may be approached by an insurance adjuster who represents the insurance company of the person who caused the accident. No matter how friendly and caring, or aggressive and threatening, this adjuster may appear, he works for the insurance company and his job is to save that company money. He does that by reducing your claim. He may try to convince you that you should accept a lower settlement. He may try to convince you that you were at fault, partially or completely. He may try to convince you that you do not need a lawyer. At no time will he be working on your behalf. His sole job is to protect the insurance company and he will use every technique he knows to do so.
Although you should always be courteous, you are not required to give any oral statement to the other side?s insurance company. Listen to what he says and note the questions he asked, but do not enter into a dialogue with him. Tell your lawyer what was said and have him evaluate your case. He will be able to direct you as to necessary communications with the defendant?s insurance company.
In many states, drivers are required by state law to have a minimum amount of liability coverage. State laws vary as to the amount of insurance a driver is required to carry. This is insurance to pay for damages to others if you cause an accident. You can pay for greater coverage if you wish. This may protect you from loss if you are found liable in a vehicular accident. Remember, liability insurance pays only to settle claims or pay judgments against you if you are found negligent.
To protect yourself against claims from other drivers or passengers in case of a vehicular accident, you can purchase a coverage known as “uninsured or underinsured motorist benefits”. This allows you to receive compensation from your own insurance company if a negligent driver has limited liability insurance. If the amount of your damages exceeds the negligent party’s coverage, you can make a claim under this coverage from your own company.
To cover medical bills, you will need to purchase an additional coverage called “medical payments”. Medical payments coverage may go by various names, but its intent is to pay for the medical needs of a driver or passengers. It only covers those who are in the insured car.
Collision coverage is another type of voluntary coverage you may wish to purchase. This covers repairs or replacement to your vehicle after an accident, regardless of who is at fault. There is usually a deductible on the amount paid. This allows you to have repairs on your vehicle if you are at fault, or if your car is damaged by someone who has no insurance or who flees the scene.
When a motor vehicle accident occurs, it is easy to become confused and forget to acquire necessary information. Even a minor accident can leave people nervous and shaken. It's a good idea to keep a checklist of phone numbers to call and questions to ask in the same folder as your insurance papers, in your car glove compartment or console. Then when you need them, everything will be in one place.
- If anyone is injured, call the police for help and tell them you need medical assistance. If anyone involved seems to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, tell that to the police when you call for help. Always call the police whether there are injuries or not. Many insurance companies will not cover an accident unless there is a police accident report. Once everyone is safe, you can get the other information you will need.
- Your insurance company will need: Full names, addresses and phone numbers of everyone involved, including drivers, passengers, pedestrians who might have been involved, and any witnesses.
- Try to find out if anyone is injured or says he is injured; or if anyone said "I am fine."
- Make as many notes as you can about the accident itself. Get information about the other vehicles involved, such as license plate numbers, make and model. What was the weather and lighting like at the time of the accident? Were any of the involved vehicles damaged? Was any of the damage obviously prior to the accident, such as tail lights or brake lights not functioning? Were any of the vehicles company-owned?
- Be sure to find out the insurance status of all vehicles and persons involved. If any drivers were not the registered owners, get the registered owners' names, addresses, and phone numbers.
- Did anyone take blame for the accident?
- Get the names and badge numbers of any police officers who come to the scene.
- You may wish to contact a personal injury attorney immediately. He may wish to examine the evidence at the site and gather as much information as possible.
- Contact your own insurance company as quickly as possible. If you feel that, for any reason, your company may not be willing to cover the accident, you should consider contacting a personal injury attorney first. However, do not delay in contacting your insurance carrier. Most insurance companies have requirements in the policy as to how quickly you must contact them, and failure to do so might mean your claim will be rejected. On the other hand, you should not answer any questions or make any statements to the other drivers' insurance companies until you have consulted an attorney. Be polite, but decline to discuss any aspects of the accident until you have obtained legal advice.
- If you have been seriously injured, you will probably be taken directly to a hospital emergency room. If you are not seriously injured, however, do not assume that you are uninjured. Many injuries from vehicle crashes, like whiplash, do not show up right away. If you do begin to suffer ill effects from the crash, notify your health professional immediately, get yourself checked out, and follow the doctor's instructions as to care and follow-up. Failure to get medical care might have serious consequences if you have latent injuries that only show up 24-36 hours later. Do not neglect symptoms that are unfamiliar, or pain that appears hours later. Report any symptoms to your doctor, however slight. Serious back injuries can start out as nothing more than an aching back, but left untreated they can cause major health difficulties. Furthermore, if you do have problems your insurance company will need proof that the problems were diagnosed and treated promptly, and that the problems were related to the accident.
- If you can get a camera, it is wise to take as many photos as possible of the accident site, the vehicles, and people involved, and any thing else that might have bearing on how and why the accident occurred. Pictures taken as soon as possible will be the most valuable. If you do not have a camera, you might be able to buy a disposable one at a nearby convenience store, or ask a passenger or bystander to purchase one for you. Don't forget to take pictures of the damage done to all vehicles, license plates, evidence such as street signs or lights, skid marks, etc. If you have an attorney you plan to call, tell him you don't have a camera. He may be able to send someone from his office to take the needed photographs. Be sure to also tell your attorney about any other evidence you think might be important, such as faulty street lights or signage, malfunctioning equipment (seat belts, turn signals, etc.), weather conditions, etc.
Do not make any statement to an insurance adjuster without your attorney present. You have the right not to give a recorded statement. Additionally, be sure not to sign anything until it is reviewed by counsel.