Uber Accidents Can Be Tricky

Uber is a ride-sharing service that has grown by leaps and bounds over the past few years. It’s popular because it’s convenient and less expensive than taxi service. Simply sign up, download Uber’s app onto your smartphone, request a ride, and a nearby driver—in their own personal vehicle—will be there in minutes to whisk you off to your destination.

However, auto accident cases involving Uber vehicles can be more complex than typical auto accident cases. Uber defines itself as a technology provider, not a transportation service. Uber drivers are not considered employees of Uber; instead they’re classified as independent contractors. What this does is shield Uber from certain complaints and claims made against them when one of their drivers is involved in an accident.

An Uber driver may be off duty, on duty but between rides, or on duty with a passenger onboard. Insurance coverage will vary for each circumstance, further muddying the waters. When there is an accident involving an Uber vehicle, the driver and passenger(s) of the Uber vehicle, occupants of another car that was party to the accident, and/or pedestrians can all be impacted in various ways.

As always, familiarity with your own insurance is important. For instance, does your own insurance company cover you if you’re an Uber rider? Are they aware that you drive for Uber? If not, they’ll likely not cover you in the event you’re in an accident while “on duty.” Uber related auto accidents can be tricky. If you have been involved in an Uber related accident give me a call so we can discuss how to protect your rights.   Christine

Deciding Who is At-fault for a Collision

Fault is one of the most critical elements in any car accident. The person at fault is the person who typically must pay for the damage caused by his or her negligence. If one driver is cited by the police as at fault that helps in determining fault but it is not always the deciding factor.

If fault is not clear in your case or if there is shared fault then fault is apportioned between the drivers. When fault is shared in an auto accident the insurance adjusters of both insurance companies will attempt to determine the percentages of fault for each driver. There is no set formula for determining percentages of fault in a car accident. If you are negotiating your own settlement you and the claims adjuster will negotiate and come to some agreement as to what extent, if any, you were at fault.

This is a critical determination because any settlement will be adjusted according to your percentage of fault. As an experienced personal injury attorney I can help you in dealing with the insurance adjuster’s determination of at-fault percentages. I know how to assess the accident and advocate for the lowest percentage of fault on your behalf. If an agreement cannot be reached with the insurance adjuster regarding percentage of fault, filing a law suit is ultimately your next step to resolve the issue of fault.

In New Hampshire and Massachusetts the way assigning fault works is that when two people are involved in an accident and the injured party was partially at fault then your settlement would be reduced by the percentage of your fault. For example, if your settlement is for $10,000 and it is determined that you were 10% at fault for the accident then you would only receive $9,000.

If your fault is determined to be more than the other driver’s, in other words anything over 50%, then you would not be able to receive any settlement from the other driver. Negotiating fault can be a critical element in obtaining a full and fair settlement. Never admit any fault to an adjuster.

So, What’s My Injury Case Really Worth?

The value of a personal injury case that goes to trial is determined by the jury. They are given evidence to evaluate and a list of items they may take into consideration before making their decision.

When settling a case prior to trial, various factors play a role in establishing the worth of a case. A good personal injury attorney makes their evaluation based upon all the doctor’s reports, present and future medical bills, and a comprehensive discussion with your doctor. Information covered should include the invasiveness of, pain associated with, and the duration of treatment; future pain and discomfort; and loss of enjoyment of life. Employment considerations include lost wages and future lost wages.

Insurance companies influence the landscape as well. They keep track of cases nationwide and can crunch the numbers. They know which doctors are “over-treaters”, whose bills can more easily be challenged at trial, and which doctors would make a poor or an excellent witness.

Insurance companies keep tabs on attorneys who are willing to go to trial and those who settle in every circumstance. They also know which attorneys have expertise in a specific area of law and those who are general practitioners. Insurance companies lick their chops when an attorney sends most of his/her clients to the same doctor, which they may then exploit at trial by insinuating that the doctor is shading his/her testimony to favor the attorney.

There is no magic formula in determining the value of a personal injury case, but hiring the right personal injury attorney can go a long way toward winning your case or achieving a fair settlement.

 

TV TIP OVER DANGERS

TV tip-overs…dangerous and all too common

Alarming reports of children being killed or injured by television tip-overs are headlining newscasts with ever-increasing frequency. According to Safe Kids Worldwide, a child dies from a TV tip-over every three weeks in the United States, and another 13,000 are injured each year—a rise of 31 percent over the last 10 years. Children ages 5 and younger account for over 70 percent of tip-over injuries, and over 90 percent of injuries requiring hospitalization.

Tip-overs are commonly caused by a dangerous combination of factors: TVs that are not secured to a wall and inquisitive or rambunctious children. Newer flat-screen TVs may be lighter than the older cathode ray tube TVs, but are more unstable and still pack enough weight to cause serious harm when they are toppled and fall on children.

TVs of any kind placed on top of high furniture pose hazards as well. Children often climb up dressers, chests of drawers, and other furniture, and use open drawers as rungs. Uneven weight distribution leads to tip-overs. Keep toys, video games, and the remote away from the TV…anything that grabs a child’s attention and prompts them to reach and climb.

Safe Kids Worldwide recommends that all televisions, bookcases, shelving, and other heavy furniture be anchored to the wall whenever possible. Televisions should be placed in lower, more stable positions as well.

Car Insurance to Protect You And Your Family

I regularly meet with potential clients who have been seriously injured in a car wreck. Their stories of how the accident unfolded and the injuries they sustained can be truly heartbreaking, especially when the driver who hit them has little or no insurance. 

When this is the case, one of the first questions we ask is, “What does your own auto insurance look like? Are you fully insured?” Invariably, their response is, “Yes, I’m fully covered.”

The reality, though, is usually quite different, since the vast majority of accident victims (and most drivers for that matter) don’t have nearly enough of what is known as Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UM/UIM).

Unlike liability coverage, which insures you if you injure someone else in an accident, UM/UIM coverage protects you in the event that the person who hit and injured you has little or no insurance.

The problem is that since so many drivers carry the bare minimum in liability coverage or don’t have any insurance at all, you’re left in a disastrous situation if you are hit by one of them and you or your passengers suffer serious injuries. Any sort of a hospital stay, surgeries, or ongoing medical care can easily run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Here’s the real kicker—UM/UIM coverage is actually very inexpensive. In fact, a $1,000,000 UM/UIM policy usually isn’t that much more per month than a $25,000 policy. So, do what you can to protect yourself and your family—make sure you are carrying a high amount of UM/UIM coverage on your policy.

Stay Safe, Christine

 

New Mammogram Guidelines

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is an independent panel of doctors and scientists who make recommendations to the

Federal Government regarding healthcare. They were tasked with reviewing breast cancer screening guidelines and the

Task Force has recommended sweeping changes in its breast cancer screening guidelines for women who are not

at risk for breast cancer.

Their recommendations are:

• Routine screening of average-risk women should begin at age 50 instead of age 40

• Routine screening should end at age 74

• Women should get screening mammograms every two years instead of every year

• Breast self-exams have little value based on fi ndings from several large studies and should no longer

be encouraged

Their recommendations have set off a fi restorm of controversy.

The American Cancer Society continues to recommend annual mammography screening to all healthy women starting at age 40.

Since age is the biggest risk factor for breast cancer, it makes little sense to stop screening relatively healthy women when they

reach age 75. There are plenty of relatively healthy women in their late 70’s and 80’s for whom screening may be appropriate.

WebMD reports that the American College of Radiology and the Society of Breast Imaging say the new guidelines could cost

women’s lives. Calling the guidelines a “cost-cutting” measure, the American College of Radiologists states that “two decades

of decline in breast cancer mortality could be reversed and countless American women may die needlessly from breast cancer

each year.”

If a woman younger than 50 or older than 74 wants to get a screening mammogram, can she?

The guidelines do not ban anyone from getting a screening mammogram. Currently the recommendations have not affected

insurance coverage for mammograms but it is not yet known if the guidelines will affect mammography coverage in the future.

The Task Force does not make recommendations regarding insurance coverage but they are infl uential in guiding policy.

So, what should you do? My recommendation is to keep doing what you have been doing for years – talk to your doctor about

your individual history, ask questions, and make the decision that is right for you.

 

When You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse

When you make the emotionally diffi cult decision to place a loved one in a nursing home you have

every right to expect that he or she will be well taken care of. Although most nursing home employees

are hardworking and conscientious it only takes a few bad apples to cause serious harm. In

addition, many nursing homes are intentionally understaffed to save on expenses leaving employees overworked

and more prone to mistakes. Training may be skimpy and screening procedures for new hires may be lax.

Nursing home abuse can take various forms:

• Physical abuse includes inadequately explained bruises, fractures, scrapes, sores, lacerations, burns, and forced

restraint.

• Emotional abuse may lead to the resident being fearful or depressed, withdrawing from social interaction, displaying

other unusual behavior, or possibly losing weight or hair.

• Sexual abuse symptoms often overlap physical and emotional abuse symptoms.

• A resident’s daily needs may be neglected—proper hygiene, nutrition, medical care, and access to medical aids

(e.g., glasses, dentures, etc.), among others.

If you suspect that your loved one has been a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect and it is an emergency, call 911

immediately. If the situation is not life-threatening it is still important to take immediate action.

IN NEW HAMPSHIRE

In New Hampshire you can report your suspicions to the Bureau of Elderly & Adult Services at (603) 271-7014. You can

also call the Ombudsmen’s Offi ce who will investigate the situation and act as an advocate for you and your loved one. The

Ombudsmen’s Offi ce of Long Term Care can be reached at (603) 271-4375.

IN MASSACHUSETTS

In Massachusetts you can report your suspicions to the Massachusetts Elder Protective Services. This organization protects

and provides services to the elderly. They have an elder abuse hotline available 24/7 at (800) 922-2775. You can also

call the Long Term Care Ombudsman’s Offi ce who will assist you and advocate for your family. Each area has a different

ombudsman’s offi ce. Every nursing home in Massachusetts is required to post the local ombudsman’s information in public

view. Look for the correct number to call posted at the nursing home.

If you suspect that someone is suffering from nursing home abuse or neglect call me. I can offer guidance on your legal

options and make sure that your loved one’s rights are being protected.

The

 

When To Hire A Personal Injury Lawyer

Insurance companies prefer to settle injury claims as quickly and as economically as possible — settling a claim fast and out of court costs far less than a lengthy litigation process. But this may not necessarily be in your best interest. It depends on the type of injury you sustained and the treatment needed to bring you back to health.

If you’re involved in an accident that wasn’t your fault and you suffer injuries, it’s possible that the at-fault person’s insurer may immediately contact you to settle the claim. Be careful dealing with the company, and if you feel it is needed, consider hiring a personal injury lawyer. The complex language of insurance policies and the hardball tactics used by some claims adjusters can leave you feeling that you are not getting all to which you are entitled.

Be careful what you say

It’s always a good idea to handle negotiations for a claim in writing — especially a complex or large claim. Oral statements, if they are not recorded, are subject to the memory of both parties, and it is all too easy for either party to “change” their version of events in statements. In addition, insurance companies hire claims adjusters to work over the telephone and handle claims usually to the advantage of the insurance company. Be sure that any agreements you make will restore you to your full health or cover any long-term costs for your health care and loss of income.

Every state has statutes of limitations and procedural requirements that put deadlines on how a claim must be handled by the insurance company and when a claimant can file a lawsuit. Statutes of limitations vary by state and depend also on the nature of the claim. Therefore, if you are not satisfied with the way your claim is being handled or the offered settlement, you may need an attorney before your time limit runs out.

When to seek an attorney

If you’re involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist, you should always retain an attorney. An attorney can help you navigate this process without losing money to which you may be entitled. The two main questions to ask yourself before retaining counsel are: “What settlement will I be happy with?” and “Am I going to do better or worse with an attorney?” The first question is easy to answer. The second is unforeseeable. The case’s jurisdiction (the laws where your case is based), your individual circumstances and your willingness to settle are all factors that make the outcome of any case impossible to predict.

Beware Of Negotiating Your Car Accident Or Injury Claim With An Insurance Company On Your Own.

More often than in the past, clients come to me after they have failed to negotiate what they believe is a reasonable amount for their car accident or injury claim. A word of caution if you are handling your own claim: The general public is not trained to evaluate auto accident and injury claims. People often have no idea what their claim is worth without consulting an attorney. On the other hand, insurance adjusters have the education and training required to evaluate claims, but their job is to save money for the insurance company and to settle claims as quickly and as cheaply as possible. The insurance companies would like you to believe that it is so easy even a caveman can do it. Not true.

If you have been injured in an auto collision or by the negligence of another, contact an attorney right away to protect your rights and to ensure that you receive a full and fair settlement.