If I Am in a Car Accident in Massachusetts, who Should my Medical Bills be Sent to?

Getting into an auto accident can be extremely overwhelming. Not only was your car potentially damaged or totaled, but you may have experienced personal injuries, lengthy hospital stays, and hefty medical bills. If you’re wondering how these large bills will get paid, we’re here to provide some answers to that question. Depending on which state you were in when the car accident happened, the laws will differ. If you were in a car accident in Massachusetts, the auto insurance company, sometimes supplemented by your own health insurance company will cover the bills. Massachusetts is considered to be a “no-fault” car accident state, meaning that each driver’s auto insurance company will pay for their respective medical bills, regardless of who’s “fault” the accident was. 

How Can I Seek Damages from a Negligent Driver?

Since Massachusetts is a no-fault state and relies on insurance to pay for medical bills, you can only seek additional financial compensation for specific cases. You may be able to be compensated for pain, suffering, or unreimbursed expenses from the negligent driver under specific conditions. In order to do so, you must have suffered from one of the following as a direct result of the accident: 

 

  • A broken or fractured bone
  • Permanent and serious disfigurement
  • Permanent hearing loss
  • Loss of vision or permanent eye damage
  • Amputation of a limb
  • Medical expenses that exceed $2000
  • Wrongful death- surviving family members can seek damages from at-fault driver

What if I’m Partially “At Fault?” 

Massachusetts is a modified comparative fault state, meaning that it depends on how much responsibility you share for the accident. You can only recover damages if you’re less than 50% at-fault. Additionally, the total damages you’re eligible to receive will be reduced by the percentage of fault you share in the crash. 

What to do If the Other Drivers’ Insurance Company Contacts You 

If at any point after the accident the other drivers’ insurance company attempts to contact you, you should not answer them directly. Instead, you’ll want to direct them to your auto accident lawyer. If you do not yet have a lawyer, inform them that you won’t be speaking them until you have received legal counsel. 

Auto Accident Attorney in Massachusetts

If you’ve been in an auto accident in Massachusetts and need an experienced attorney to represent you and get the compensation you deserve, you can count on Attorney Christine M. Smith, R.N. M.S.N. Call us at 603-647-7200 or fill out an online form to get started today. 

If I am in a Car Accident in New Hampshire, Who Should My Medical Bills be Sent to?

Car accidents can take quite a toll on an individual both physically and financially. Whether it was a minor or major accident, it’s likely that medical attention may have been necessary. Medical bills can accrue rapidly and you may be wondering where all this money will come from. If you were in a car accident in New Hampshire, we’re here to explain some of these costs and who’s responsible for them, and if you were not at fault, how an attorney can help represent you to ensure you get the compensation necessary for these bills. 

Types of Medical Costs Associated with a Car Accident

If you’ve been in a car accident and needed medical attention, you’re likely aware of how quickly the bills can add up. Whether your injuries were minor or severe, there are a variety of bills you may have incurred. Depending on the severity of the accident, the medical care may be on-going in the next few months or potentially even years. Below are a few of the different types of medical costs you may expect to incur after an auto accident: 

  • Ambulance costs
  • Emergency room visits
  • Hospital stay
  • Diagnostic tests 
  • Surgery costs
  • Medication 
  • Physical Therapy or rehabilitation costs 

Who Pays the Medical Bills?

New Hampshire is considered a “fault” state. This means that the motorist who was determined “at fault” for the accident can be held liable for any injuries or damages caused, including compensation for medical bills. If you were a victim of negligent driving, you must prove who was at fault in order to pursue compensation for medical bills. It’s important that you keep documentation of all bills, including hospital bills, doctor’s office receipts, and pharmacy receipts. 

Why You Need an Auto Accident Attorney in NH

Understanding the legalities of the situation and what you’re entitled to for compensation can be overwhelming. Hiring an experienced attorney to represent you is crucial. Without representation, initial settlements will likely be lower. Negotiations back and forth will help to get the compensation you deserve for the medical expenses you incurred. 

Contact Attorney Christine M. Smith, R.N., M.S.N

If you were in a car accident in New Hampshire that was not your fault and are in need of an experienced auto accident attorney to represent you, you can count on the Law Office of Christine M. Smith R.N, M.S.N. With more than 20 years of experience, she can get you the compensation you deserve for your medical bills after an auto accident. Fill out an online form or give us a call today at 603.647.7200 to get started. 

 

What is Gap Insurance and Do I Need It

Gap insurance is a type of auto insurance you may choose to invest in that covers the “gap” between how much you still owe on the vehicle and how much the vehicle is currently worth if you are in an accident. If your vehicle’s value has depreciated far lower than what you originally paid for it, the settlement you receive from your auto insurance company may not cover the rest of the money you still owe on the vehicle. The auto insurance settlement will often only cover the actual cash value of the vehicle, which can be far lower than the payments and accumulated interest you still owe on the vehicle. If the car was totaled, this could leave you with expensive bills and no car. 

Gap insurance comes in to protect you from this situation. It can pay the difference between what you currently still owe on the vehicle and what you receive from the insurance company in the event that the car is totaled. This way, you are able to pay the loan that you used to purchase the car with even after a total loss. Gap insurance only covers vehicle damage and theft; it cannot be used for bodily injuries or engine failure.

When Would I Need Gap Insurance?

If you owe more money on your vehicle than it is currently worth, that may be an indication that gap insurance could be a worthwhile investment. This can be if your loan is four years or over, you paid less than a 20% down payment on the vehicle, or you do not have the savings to pay off the vehicle in the event it is totaled.

How Much Does Gap Insurance Cost?

Gap insurance costs vary depending on how and where you purchase it. If you purchase it from the dealership when you buy the vehicle, it is usually between $400-$700 for the year. If you add it to your current auto insurance, it is usually an additional $20-$40 per year. However, this is a good investment compared to the loss you may incur if you total a vehicle you still owe thousands on.

Contact Attorney Christine M. Smith R.N., M.S.N

If you have recently been involved in an auto accident and are not at fault, contact Attorney Christine M. Smith R.N., M.S.N. today at (603) 647-7200 and help protect your rights. Attorney Christine M. Smith R.N., M.S.N. is a personal injury lawyer and auto accident attorney serving Manchester, Nashua, Londonderry NH, and beyond. 

5 Ways You Can Be a Safer Driver

As winter settles in, it’s more important than ever to make sure you are driving with the utmost care. Icy roads and snowfall can make driving more risky and difficult. During any season, reckless driving can lead to serious legal consequences, injury, or even death to you or another driver. Luckily, you can decrease your risk of automobile accidents by being vigilant and taking precautions on the road. Here are our top five ways you can be a safer driver:

1. Eliminate Distractions

It is essential that you are not driving while distracted. Even looking away for a quick second to read a text message or get something from your purse can cause a serious accident. When you are driving, make sure you are giving the road your full attention. Turn off your phone and place it out of reach. Never text and drive. Do not eat, apply makeup, or any other tasks while behind the wheel. Your full attention can help prevent you from getting in an accident.

2. Abide by the Speed Limit

Posted speed limits are tailored to the conditions of the road. If you are driving above the speed limit, there’s a good chance your speed is unsafe for the road that you’re on and can put you or others in an unsafe situation. If you are driving too fast, it becomes more difficult to make a quick stop or to go around someone or something. It’s important to always maintain control of your vehicle, and the best way to do this is by keeping your speed down.

3. Maintain a Safe Following Distance

Rear-ending the vehicle in front of you can cause you legal and financial trouble and can severely harm you, your vehicle, or the other driver. You can help prevent this by always keeping a safe following distance to the car in front of you. When you allow enough space, you are able to stay in control if the vehicle in front of you makes a sudden stop. Ideally, you should be about 3-4 seconds behind the vehicle in front of you, depending on road conditions.

4. Stay Alert

The leading causes of auto accidents are driving while intoxicated and driving while drowsy. NEVER get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol. Always call a car service or ask a friend for a ride home if you’ve been consuming alcohol. It is never worth jail, fines, and injury or loss of life to drive while intoxicated.

Also, make sure you are not driving while drowsy. If you find yourself getting tired while driving, stop to take a rest. Exhaustion can severely impact your focus and reaction time, creating a dangerous situation. If you are making a long trip, be sure to stop and rest frequently, and consider bring another person a lot to switch off the driving duties with.

5. Do Not Depend on Other Drivers

Remember: you are the one in control of your vehicle and your safety. Never assume other drivers on the road will get out of the way or stop for you. Always have room to stop, and do not allow yourself to get boxed in by other vehicles without an escape route. There is no way to know if other drivers are distracted or impaired.

 

If you were recently injured in an automobile accident and were not at fault, contact Attorney Christine M. Smith, R.N., M.S.N. to discuss your case. Give us a call at (603) 647-7200 for more information.

How you initially respond to a Board of Nursing investigation may determine if you get sanctioned, or lose your license.

What not to do when you hear from the Board of Nursing:

Do NOT ever take a Board investigation lightly. You have worked hard to get your license and
most probably, your livelihood depends on your practice. The Board can take your license away.

Do NOT ignore a Board investigation. Regardless of what you think the merit of the complaint
is, take it seriously and remember that the Board’s job is to protect the public.

Do NOT assume that your innocence will be acknowledged. Never assume the complaint
lacks merit, and that as soon as you explain to the Board, it will be dismissed or forgotten.

Do NOT respond to a letter from the Board unless you have consulted with an attorney. Even
better, have the attorney respond to the Board rather than you.

Do NOT ever meet with the Board investigator without legal representation. Meeting with
an investigator without your attorney can be the single most professionally dangerous error you
can make. The reason to have an attorney present is she can protect your rights to respond to
certain questions, so you do not unknowingly incriminate yourself.

Do NOT assume that lack of harm to a patient will end the Board inquiry. You must
understand that the Board will focus on whether you operated below the standard of care or not
and not on harm to a patient.

What to do when you hear from the Board of Nursing:

Contact your malpractice insurance carrier as soon as you hear from the Board of Nursing
that you are being investigated. It is the smart thing to do and is often required by your policy.

Contact a knowledgeable attorney immediately who has dealt with the Board of Nursing
before on similar issues. When it comes to the Board of Nursing, not just any attorney will do.
I have represented many nurses in front of the New Hampshire Board of Nursing.

Prepare for the long run focus on self-care. Being under investigation by the Board of Nursing
is highly stressful. It also can take a long time to resolve.

Look for employment. The Complaint and the investigation process are confidential. You are
not required to inform any potential employer of the Board of Nursing Complaint until the Board
has decided if the Complaint needs them to take action beyond an investigation. This is, of
course, if your license has not been immediately suspended.

SHOULDER INJURY FROM A VACCINATION

Getting the flu shot is never a bad idea. Versions of the vaccine have been around for more than 70 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Basically, the flu shot is safe, reliable, and its benefits outweigh any small risks that may be associated with the vaccine. So, as long as you’re over six months of age, get it.

However, it’s important to be aware of the risks that can accompany the flu vaccine. Typically, they include pain, swelling, and redness around the site of the injection—much like any shot—which may appear 24 to 48 hours after the actual shot.

If a flu shot isn’t properly administered, it can result in a type of shoulder injury commonly referred to as Shoulder Injury Related to Vaccine Administration, or SIRVA. 

What is SIRVA

SIRVA is a condition in which pain and loss of function in the shoulder occurs following a vaccination—usually within 48 hours of administration of an injection in people who had no shoulder issues prior to injection. It can result in shoulder pain, weakness, stiffness, or nerve inflammation. In rare cases, it can result in nerve injury.

While any sort of vaccination can lead to SIRVA, researchers found the majority were the result of the influenza vaccine. According to the report, nearly all who have reported such an injury developed it within 24 hours.

So, why does SIRVA happen?

When a needle is injected too deep the deltoid muscle can be penetrated and structures within the shoulder can be damaged such as the rotator cuff, joint capsule, as well as the axillary or radial nerves in the upper arm could be injured. A 2018 study specified that it “occurs when an injection is administered too high in the arm, and the vaccine is delivered to the shoulder capsule instead of the deltoid muscle.”

What are the symptoms of SIRVA—and how is it treated?

While dull muscle ache pain after a vaccine injection is common, it usually disappears on its own with days. With SIRVA, on the other hand, an individual will usually start feeling pain within 48 hours of the vaccination, and doesn’t improve.

In patients who experience SIRVA, months may pass by, and patients will still complain of increasing pain, weakness, and impaired mobility in the injected arm. Simple actions like lifting your arm to brush your teeth can cause pain. 

In order to diagnose SIRVA, an ultrasound scan is needed, which can also determine the level and type of damage. Inflammation reducing oral medications and corticosteroid injections to the shoulder are common treatments for SIRVA, and additionally, physiotherapy may be recommended.

Can SIRVA be prevented?

Health care providers who administer vaccinations need to use proper vaccination landmarking techniques. It’s important to let the people administrating vaccinations see the entire shoulder, so that they can reference the necessary landmarks for proper injection. Wear a sleeveless shirt or shirt that can be removed in order to reveal the entire shoulder. Rolling up the sleeve may prevent the person administering the vaccine from seeing all of the landmarks necessary to administer appropriately.

But again, just for good measure, keep in mind that SIRVA is rare, and is certainly not a reason to avoid getting the flu shot. My advice is to still be vaccinated as you normally would but to talk to your primary care doctor about any concerns you may have.

Understanding Your Car Insurance

There are over 250 million registered cars in the United States. Of those cars, an average of 4 million are involved in an accident that results in property and bodily damage. Not only will car insurance help reduce the costs in the case of an accident, but it will also help reduce your liability.

At the Law Office of Christine M. Smith, R.N., M.S.N., we often see issues arise when an individual thinks they are completely covered by their policy, but actually have poor coverage. This can end up costing them more in the long run.

When deciding on a car insurance policy, most people automatically get the most affordable option but fully understanding your car insurance and what it covers is important.

Your Insurance Policy

When reading through your car insurance policy, you will notice it is divided into sections. Each section details the coverage, rights, and obligations of the policy and any exclusions. Some of the sections that will be outlined may include liability, medical payments, uninsured/under-insured motorists, and damage.

Declarations Page

There will be a declarations page in your policy, which identifies your policy number and all of the vital information you need regarding your policy, such as the policy term and coverage limits. It will also give a description of your vehicle(s) that is under the insurance policy.

What is Covered?

Car insurance is grouped into two primary groups: liability and property damage.

Liability – This section is broken down into three parts: liability insurance for bodily injury; liability insurance for property damage; and uninsured/under-insured motorists’ coverage. Injury liability protects against the claims of people that are injured when you are at fault. Property damage liability insurance pays for damage to the property of others.

Comprehensive – This section includes collision and comprehensive coverage. Collision insurance pays for your car’s damage, while comprehensive insurance pays for damage to your car due to other causes, such as fires, severe weather, and vandalism.

Medical Payments

Medical payments are purchased by you to help with the medical bills of anyone injured in your car regardless of who is at fault.

I would be happy to discuss what the appropriate coverage for you and your family should be.

If you’ve been in a car accident and were injured, Nurse Attorney Christine M. Smith, R.N., M.S.N. is here to support you. Contact us today at (603) 647-7200 to get started.

Please Stop Vaping

The popular activity of smoking e-cigarettes, or vaping, is on the rise.  But the risks may significantly outweigh any benefit as this new trend has resulted in users reporting serious coughing, shortness of breath, and chest pain.  The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that in October of 2019, over 1,400 cases of vaping related illnesses were reported across 49 states, except Alaska.  33 of these patients died.  These statistics are growing each day. 

While tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Vitamin E have been reported to be a common ingredient in each of these cases, the CDC is advising that all consumers refrain from using all forms of e-cigarettes and vaping products until the exact cause of these illnesses can be determined.  What’s alarming is that regulatory bodies such as the CDC and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are still investigating these products.

No age group has been immune from these symptoms.  In fact, 15% of these cases affected users under 18 years old; 21% of the cases affected users between 18-20 years old; 18% of the cases affected users between 21-24 years old; 25% of the cases affected users between 25-34 years old; and 21% of the cases affected users 35 years of age, and older.  New Hampshire had a lower incident rate, reporting under 10 cases, however, just south of us between 10-49 cases were reported in Massachusetts. 

While vaping remains a popular activity across all age groups, it is important to remember the risks that have a direct correlation with this activity.  For your own health and safety, it is likely a safe choice to stop vaping and to encourage others to do the same.

Nobody Wants Their Tombstone to Read: “This Bicyclist Had The Right of Way”

Spring is finally here, which means bicyclists are on the roads again for exercise and recreation. This year, there actually may be more cyclists due to the COVID 19 health pandemic. As more COVID 19 restrictions are lifted, many motorists will once again be sharing the roads with bicyclists. It is important to review some of the rules and rights for bicyclists.

First, bicyclists have the same rights and duties as a motor vehicle operator, they must follow the rules of the road. Bicyclists must stop at all stop lights, stop signs, and yield to pedestrians. They should signal to other traffic before making turns. They can ride two abreast, so long as they are not impeding traffic, but when the road is narrow bicyclists must ride in single file.

Second, New Hampshire law does require that cyclists stay to the right side of the road, but a cyclist does not have to remain there—especially if there are pot-holes, debris, unsafe storm drains, or any other obstructions in his or her way. If there is an issue with the right side of the road, then a bicyclist can merge with traffic to enter a turn lane. Just because there is a bike lane, it doesn’t mean that a bicyclist has to remain in it.

Third, although a helmet is not required for any bicyclist over 16 years of age it is a very good idea to wear one as bike verses car collisions are bound to happen. And when these collisions occur, they usually result in serious bodily injury or even death to the bicyclist. If you are a bicyclist who is struck by a car it is important to follow these steps: 1. Make sure the police are called. Police officers will generally interview witnesses and take photographs. If the motorist is at fault, the officer will also assign them a citation and note it in the report. 2. Make sure that the scene is preserved. Do not let anyone move your bike and do not let the motorist move their car. Do everything you can to ensure a photograph is taken of the scene in case there is a liability dispute—because there often will be. Ask the responding officer to take photographs. 3. Go to the hospital. Even if you do not think you are injured, when the adrenaline wears off you might find that you have suffered more injuries than you realize. It is important to seek immediate medical treatment, both for yourself and to avoid insurance adjusters claiming that you weren’t injured in the collision. When you are home and healing: 4. Take photographs of your broken bike, helmet, torn clothing, and your injuries. You are entitled to be paid for any property that is damaged. 5. Contact an attorney. If you have been injured while riding your bike due to the negligence of a motorist, contact me, Attorney Smith for a free consultation. I can help you manage your claim so you can focus on healing. I can help preserve evidence, contact witnesses, and make sure that you are fairly compensated for your injuries. Finally, remember that you, as a bicyclist, are a vulnerable road user. While you have the right to be on the road, it is important to ride with vigilance and caution. Nobody wants to have your tombstone state, “He had the right of way.”

HAND SANITIZER DANGER FOR CHILDREN

HAND SANITIZER DANGER FOR CHILDREN There were 5,157 cases of hand sanitizer “exposure” such as swallowing involving children 12 years of age and younger reported to U.S. poison control centers in the first three months of 2018. Most children who get a “taste” or a “lick” of hand sanitizer experience only mild symptoms, if any, and can be safely managed at home with the assistance of the Poison Center. Hand sanitizer taste bad and can result in a burning sensation, so most children will not swallow an amount large enough to produce symptoms. However, there are children who will drink anything, no matter how bad it tastes – and in those cases alcohol poisoning can result. The same thing can occur if mouthwash or perfume is swallowed. The bottom line is – hand sanitizers are beneficial for killing germs on hands and like all potentially poisonous items, they should be stored out of the reach of children and should be used according to the label. Adults should monitor use of hand sanitizer by children to ensure that the proper amount is used and that hands wet with sanitizer are not put in the mouth. Remember…If any amount is ingested, call Poison Control.