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Before You Go… The Differences in Advance Directives, Living Wills, Power of Attorney, and Why it Matters

Before You GoWe prepare for things in advance all the time. From parties to exams to vacations, being knowledgeable and ready is a part of day to day life. But, few of us take the time to prepare for something we all will eventually do. That is, we are often unprepared for end-of-life and emergency care. Advance directives are a way of ensuring your desires are met.

Often, the assumption is that such preparation only matters once we’re old enough. This assumption, however, is not only untrue, but it’s also poor planning. Emergencies and unexpected events can happen at any time, and being prepared is a good idea for everyone. Ending up in the hospital with your family and friends having no clear picture of what to do when you can’t speak for yourself is a taxing ordeal. Being prepared and well-studied can not only lower the stress, but it can also cut down on fights and headaches.

Far from being the domain of the elderly, planning who gets to make decisions when you cannot make them yourself is a vital consideration for everyone. In Ohio, two legal documents deal with these concerns.

The Ohio Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care

This document allows you to name an agent, someone to make choices about your medical care if you cannot do so yourself. This includes decisions on life-sustaining treatment. Not only that but the person you appoint can also make decisions at any time you cannot decide for yourself, not just during end-of-life care. A doctor decides when you cannot make decisions and it is then when the durable power of attorney comes into effect.

You may choose a variety of people as your agent, as long as you trust them to make choices that align with your wishes. However, some people cannot be your agent. These include your doctor, any administrator of a nursing home that you receive care from, and an employee or agent of your doctor or health care facility, unless they are part of the same religious order.

The Ohio Living Will Declaration

This document is your actual living will. Inside this document, you can state your desires about health care that should take place when you are terminally ill or rendered permanently unconscious. Because you cannot make your own choices in these situations, this document can help determine what, if any, healthcare should take place. This document goes into effect once a doctor decides that you cannot make choices for yourself.

Organ Donation Enrollment Form

This form is where you can address your organ donation decisions so these wishes can be carried out even if your living will declaration cannot be located.

For Ohio to consider these documents legal, you must either sign them in front of a notary public or you must have two witnesses to your signature. These witnesses cannot be related to you, your agent, your doctor, or any administrator of a nursing home that you receive care from.

This is just a brief primer and cannot stand in for legal advice. There are also some things these documents do not cover, such as mental illness considerations. Speak to an attorney to answer any questions and make sure that your documents are valid so that they best carry out your wishes.

23 Apr 2016

3 Tips to Keep in Mind About Bail Bonds

Us DollarBail has been a part of the United States’ legal system for some time. While it is a regular part of the legal process in many cases, it is important to remember some notable aspects of bail bonds. A bail bond is paid to the courts. A person pays part of the bond themselves, and the bail bondsman pays the rest.

Tip 1: Collateral Can Be Any Resources You Have

Most of the time, a credit card is enough collateral. But you can also use a vehicle you own, real estate, jewelry, or anything that has a high value. Keep this in mind, because if you are in a tight spot or cannot access your credit card, you do have other options. When you get to place a phone call in jail, be sure to phone a family member or friend who can find a bail bond agency and knows what collateral you have.

Remember that in many cases, upon showing up to trial and going through with it, you may get the money or collateral back.

Tip 2: You Can Likely Find a Bail Bond Agency Any Day of the Year

Because anything can happen at any time, many bail bond agencies are open every day. Even if you require a bail bond on Christmas day, you will likely be able to find a bail bond agent somewhere. Remember, when calling that friend or family member, be sure they do their due diligence to find an available agent.

Tip 3: You Cannot Just Get a Bail Bond, You Have to Apply

Every bail bond agency has an application process. This could involve credit checks or questions about the person being bailed out. Some agencies only take on certain types of crimes or clients. Be sure to inquire about premiums as well. This also means potential waiting periods. As such, be sure to start the process early. Being armed with research and resources is a good idea.

While these are three bail bonds tips to keep in mind, always consult with an attorney as soon as possible. They can help guide you through this process and the trial. Be sure to ask them any question early on in the process. Keeping everyone involved and informed ensures the process functions smoothly.

11 Mar 2016

Hurt at Home? Could Your Landlord Be To Blame? Find Out.

tenancy agreementOne of the most common places we get injured is in our own homes. If you are renting, some of these injuries could be the fault of the landlord. While this is not always the case, there are a few things to consider when determining who would be liable.

Landlords are usually obligated to provide housing that meets certain minimum requirements. This usually entails things like security, livability, and safety standards. These conditions often amount to the fact that the landlord must maintain certain portions of the property and fix particular problems.

For example, a broken stair on the central staircase of your building causes you to fall and break your arm, the landlord may be responsible. If the landlord was maintaining those stairs, knew about the problem but failed repair it in a reasonable amount of time, and the repair was not a significant burden to the landlord, the landlord may be at fault. Other factors to consider are whether the results of the action or inaction could lead to serious injury. In this case, the unrepaired step can and did result in broken limbs; you can prove it was the fall that broke your arm, and that you are not making it up.

If your landlord agreed to even more responsibilities in your lease, they could be responsible for larger categories of injury and it is a good idea to consult with an attorney.

There are situations where injuries that happen because of something you did in your own apartment that is your own fault are not the responsibility of your landlord. For example, burning your hand on your own skillet \probably will not be considered your landlord’s problem.

If you and an attorney determine the personal injury was the fault of the landlord, you could file damages for any number of things, including medical costs, lost or reduced wages, and pain and suffering.

Keep in mind, however, that many aspects governing tenants and landlords are covered under state laws. That means you need to find an attorney that is local and well aware of what the law says. Keeping your attorney involved means you can determine the proper procedure and what your next steps should be.

07 Jan 2016

10 Common Misconceptions About Workers Compensation

work-injury

Workers’ Compensation Claims Aren’t Worth Filing

-Depiste the fact that you think there may be factors disqualifying your claim or you’re unsure of an outcome, there wil likely be additional benefits you’er unaware of. Even if you think you have a “minor” injury, claim are definitely worth filing.

My Employer Will Have My Best Interest At Heart

-No matter how strong of a bond you think you have with your employer, that doesn’t necessarily mean they will look out for you after an injury occurs. The best route to take is to have an experience legal partner who can help navigate the situation and ensure your interest as the top priority.

Independent Contractors Are Never Eligible For Workers’ Comp

-This depend on the situation. There some cases in which an indepdent contractor is eligible for workers’ compensation. It helps to have a good attorney when deciding in these situations.

It’s Not Worth Fighting Denied Claims

-If at first your claim is denied, you have the right to file and appeal and have your case re-examined in another eharing in front of the industrial commission.

Workers’ Compensation Claims Are Cut And Dry

-There are a number of factors that contribute to a workers’ compensation claim. Each claim has its own unique details and the outcomes and benefits can vary widely for each one. That’s why it vitally important to get an attorney experience in workers’ comensation law.

You Don’t Have Control Over Doctors Chosen To Cover Comp-Covered Injury

-In Ohio, there is no law or regulation that prohibits you from choosing your own doctor for an approved workers’ compensation claim.  

Workers’ Compensation Claims Don’t Cover Consultation; Only Treatment

-It’s a vey common misconception that workers’ compensation covers only medical treatment. This is false. There is no need for you to pay anything out of pocket for medical consultation.

Emergency Medical Services Are Covered Under Workers’ Compensation

-Given the approval of your claim, emergency room visits and emergency response servioes are both covered benefits of a workers’ compensation claim.

You’re Not Eligible To File Both Personal Injury AND Workers Compensation Claims

-You do in fact have the ability to file both claims. There are different benefits for each.

My Employer Can Fire Me If I Pursue A Workers’ Comp Claim

-Many people who file workers’ compensation claims do so apprehensively due to a fear of being fired after being hurt at work. These indivuduals need not worry because it is in fact illegal for an employer to fire an employee for filing a claim.

01 Jun 2015

What to Do If You Have Doubts about Your Medical Care

Sometime in the 1970’s, the American Hospital Association drafted a Bill of Rights to inform patients of what to expect while in the hospital. Different groups have since then come up with different declarations resulting to multiple versions of the Patient’s Bill of Rights. This essentially means that there are many provisions under the law that protect your rights as a patient. And some of the more significant ones that you should remember are:

  • You have the right to accurate and easy-to-understand information about your health plan, health care professionals, and health care facilities. If you speak another language…or just don’t understand something, help should be given so you can make informed health care decisions.”

 

  • You have the right to be informed about your treatment options and take part in decisions about your care. You have the right to ask about the pros and cons of any treatment, including no treatment at all. As long as you are able to make sound decisions, you have the right to refuse any test or treatment, even if it means you might have a bad health outcome as a result. You can also legally choose someone who can speak for you if you cannot make your own decisions.

 

  • You have the right to a fair, fast, and objective review of any complaint you have against your health plan, doctors, hospitals, or other health care personnel. This includes complaints about waiting times, operating hours, the actions of health care personnel, and the adequacy of health care facilities.

 

“Health is wealth”, no doubt. And because the cost of health care in the United States doesn’t come cheap, it is but natural for everyone to expect to get the appropriate care and treatment they need. Let’s face it, these doctors and health care providers are very important part of our lives. When you or any loved one receives treatment and care from a healthcare professional, they are bound by law to attend to your medical needs to the best of their abilities. Sadly, that isn’t always the case. And their inability or negligence to provide the appropriate care and treatment could result in medical complications and serious or even life-threatening conditions.

In case you are unsure about the care or treatment you or a loved one is receiving, here are some things you can consider doing:

Gather your medical records. Getting copies of your medical records is an important first step. If you are not happy with the care and treatment provided by your current doctor, you will most likely search for another doctor and you’ll need to provide that new doctor with your medical history and records. It also makes sense to keep copies for yourself.

Keep track. It takes a long time for a medical malpractice cases to get resolved so it would be very advisable that you spend extra time to recording things.

Seek second opinion. A second opinion is critical in becoming educated regarding your treatment options. The more you know, the better chance you have of receiving the most appropriate and adequate medical care. If the second opinion is consistent with the original diagnosis and medical assessment, you can have peace of mind. On the other hand, in case you are somehow misdiagnosed, a second opinion can minimize the risks or complications.

Learn more. “Knowledge is power”, right? Get yourself more actively involved in your or your loved one’s care by understanding and learning more about your medical condition and symptoms. This will enable you to get the proper health care and attention you need.

Consult a medical malpractice lawyer. If ever you think that you or a loved one have not received the appropriated and optimum standard of care from your healthcare provider or you or your loved one suffered an injury because of a medical professional’s mistake or negligence, you may demand for a full explanation. And if you feel you have a case for medical negligence, it would be wise to consult a medical malpractice attorney. Medical malpractice or medical negligence occurs when a medical professional does something or fails to do something that results in an injury or causes harm or discomfort to the patient. Although you might think your doctor has made a mistake while treating you or your loved one, your claim still has to be proven whether it is true or not. There’s actually a lot more to a medical malpractice case than meets the eye. A medical malpractice attorney can undertake a legal and factual assessment and advise you on whether you may have a legal claim. More often than not though, a malpractice case is a long and complicated legal matter and usually takes some time to resolve.

Now in case you have doubts about the quality and appropriateness of the care and treatment that you or your loved one received, you may consult an attorney to determine if you have a case. In order to file a legal claim, the following have to be established first:

1. A duty of care exists between your or your loved one’s health care professional.

2. The duty of care has been breached by the standard of care that you have received.

3. The treatment or care that you or your loved one received has resulted to an “avoidable harm”, meaning pain, discomfort or complications which could have avoided had you received the appropriate care and treatment.

01 Oct 2014

How To Avoid Tax Audits After Divorce

A study revealed that 60% of taxpayers actually need the help of a professional to get through their own return. This means that 6 out of 10 people need the help of a tax professional to minimize the possibility of committing errors and minimize the probability of being audited. According to a tax expert, one factor that increases the likelihood of being audited by the IRS a painful and ugly divorce. According to Forbes, an ugly divorce results to a still unhappy ex-spouse who might think of reporting you to the IRS to inconvenience or spite you.

Divorce is something no one wants to experience. But the reality is that around 1 million divorces happen every year. That’s 50% of the 2 million or so marriages that occur annually. According to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, which is the best annual national data source for marital events, the number of divorces per 1,000 married people was 19.0 in 2012. That’s why we all need to know more about the possible effects and consequences of divorce.

After a divorce, the law allows the IRS three (3) years to audit your finances during the marriage.  This could be even longer depending on the scale of the “discrepancy” or the existence of “fraud.” Now in case you learn that the IRS is auditing you, you have to remember that being selected for an audit doesn’t necessarily mean that you did something wrong. Perhaps there might just be something in your tax return that got you flagged for an audit, or you could have just been randomly selected. In 2011 alone, 1,724,728 returns were audited out of the 184,596,616 that were filed. So it’s not at all impossible to be one of the more than 1 million-and-a-half people in the United States who become subjects of an audit.

You have to realize that the IRS has the biggest database of personal information ever collected on American citizens. Notice of marriage is required to be disclosed by filing as (1) Married Filing Joint or (2) Married Filing Separately while divorced individuals are required to file as either (1) Single or (2) Head of Household. As difficult and painful divorce is, it can even actually become a recurring nightmare if ever the IRS audits you after your divorce. Because of the required “forensic audit”, undisclosed income or assets and other facts can get exposed in a divorce proceeding. These are collected and reported by forensic accountants to determine the amount of all the income and assets that will be subjected to “equitable distribution.”  The Judge is required to review all the facts and circumstances as well as to report or refer any reasonable inconsistencies to the IRS under their ethical requirements.  Thus, the Judge is legally required to report these facts to the IRS for a tax audit.

There are more Americans now who go through divorce more than just once. And every time someone goes through the process, the judge might think that person could somehow be violating tax codes. The possibility of being audited after a divorce that involved complex property division issues is something that ex-couples must be ready for.

The stress from divorce goes well beyond dividing assets and negotiating an agreement on child custody and visitation, especially when things don’t end on the best of terms. Divorcing couples have a lot of anxiety so it often times becomes very difficult to communicate with and to get information from the other party.  That lack of communication can lead to circumstances that eventually result to an IRS audit.

Here are some common red flags that you need to watch out for because these can increase the possibility of being audited by the IRS during or after a divorce:

Undisclosed assets and underreported income. According to Forbes, hidden assets and undisclosed income can lead to a red flag from the IRS. These can happen during the property division determination part of the divorce. Do not attempt to underreport income or not disclose certain assets – like others have done –just to try to get a larger portion of the marital property. A review of the marital assets is conducted as part of the divorce and judges are ethically obligated to report any inconsistencies that they may discover.

Missed deadlines. Individuals who are attempting to file taxes after a divorce might need information from the ex-spouse. To ascertain the correct preparation and timely filing of your taxes, give yourself more than enough time to gather and secure all the documents and information you need from your ex-spouse.

Your filing status. The IRS only cares about one day with regards to your filing status — December 31. To clarify, if you are married on December 31, then it is as if you are married for the whole year — whether you married on New Year’s Eve, or 20 years before that. On the other hand, if you get divorced by December 31, it is as if you are divorced for the whole year. For example, if your divorce was final by December 31, 2012, then you cannot file as a married person for your 2012 taxes. Your filing status options are “Head of Household” or “Single.” Keep in mind that if you will be filing as “Head of Household”, you should meet all the requirements to qualify under that status. Generally, the one who has custody of the child/children for more than half the year (even if it is only one day) can use this designation. IRS regulations state that the parent with whom the child spends more time may claim the child as a dependent. However, this can also be negotiated. For example, the parent who had custody of the child for more than half of the year may opt to allow the other parent to claim the child as a dependent. But this must be stated in writing and the parent must execute the required IRS form (Form 8332).

Support. You have to be mindful on how support is claimed on your taxes. Spousal support can be deducted but child support cannot. In the view of the IRS, it is a parent’s legal obligation to financially support his/her child. On the other hand, alimony (spousal support) must be reported as taxable income by the recipient and can be deducted by the payer, unless you agree otherwise. You can deduct spousal support payments on your income tax return, but not child support or property distributions.

These are only a few of the things that the IRS looks into after a divorce. If ever you are going through a divorce, it would be good idea to get some legal advice. Taxes can be complicated in any year and any person who is divorced or is headed towards that road should certainly consult with a legal expert to ensure that the taxes related to marital assets and support are taken into account and also to minimize the risk of an audit after the divorce is complete.

01 Sep 2014

Should You Settle Your Case Outside of Court?

Are you aware that most cases end up being settled even before going to court? Statistics show that about 95% of pending lawsuits actually end in a pre-trial settlement. In simple terms, that’s 1 out of 20 cases. What this means is the option of a pre-trial settlement is something worth looking into.

A settlement is a resolution between disputing parties that both parties agree on either before or after court action begins. The courts will enforce the settlement and in case it is breached, the party in default could be sued for breach of contract. In the United States, a settlement is submitted to the court to be “rolled into a court order”. This is done so that the court, which was initially assigned the case, may retain jurisdiction over it. The court then has the option to modify its order, if necessary.

In a settlement, one of the parties offers a payment or award of some sort to the other party. Although settlements tend to favor plaintiffs over defendants, it actually benefits both parties because settling a case out of court can protect the reputation and dignity of the defendant.

Lawyers need to scrutinize the details of a settlement offer and determine if it would be in the client’s best interest. However, the client still makes a final decision on whether to accept it or not.  It is not rare that the settlement terms don’t fully compensate the other party’s damages. However, some lawyers encourage or even pressure their client to accept it in order to save time and quickly end the case.

So why do a lot of people eventually decide to opt for settlement? Is it more beneficial than going to trial? Well, the numbers don’t lie. Most legal claims filed in civil court do not reach the trial stage because they get resolved through a negotiated settlement. Even an informal settlement can occur before any lawsuit is actually filed. Here are some of the significant benefits that settlement offers:

 

  • Less costly. Going to trial entails attorneys, travel and time. Most of these expenses related to these can be reduced if a settlement occurs even before going to trial.
  • Less stressful. Going to trial can become very stressful so settling can certainly reduce some stress if it an agreement can be reached before going to trial.
  • Privacy. Sensitive details pertinent to the case can be kept private upon settling. When a case goes to trial, the court documents become public record. On the other hand, most of the details are kept out of the court documents in a settlement. Many settlement agreements also have confidentiality agreements, so the case won’t be discussed in public
  • Predictability. A settlement is certainly more predictable than a jury decision
  • Saves time. Going to trial may take 1-3 years before reaching a verdict. Settlement happens within a very short time frame.
  • Finality. If a case goes to trial, the losing party can appeal the decision, which will make the process even longer. In contrast, settlements cannot be appealed. It also ascertains the closure of the case.
  • Flexibility. There are strict guidelines and rules about what can be said and presented in court. A settlement offers more flexibility during discussions.
  • Absence of a “Guilty” verdict. In a settlement, the defendant may not want a record of guilt and settling a case is a way to pay for a mistake, but not admit wrongdoing.

 

If you receive a settlement offer, here are 10 important things that you have to consider and discuss with your attorney before you make a decision whether to accept it or not:

  1. Monetary value of the case.
  2. History of decisions and settlements in similar cases.
  3. Chances of winning if you choose to go to trial.
  4. Possibility of a smudged reputation or image.
  5. When the case is likely to be called for trial.
  6. Practical difficulties in trying the case.
  7. Weaknesses in your evidence as well as the other party’s.
  8. The other party’s financial capability and resources.
  9. What you’re willing to give up to get the case settled.

How much is the minimum amount you will accept.

01 Aug 2014

Auto Accidents Caused By Running a Red Light

Red light running pertains to a vehicle entering an intersection at any time after the signal light has turned red. Running a red-light is a serious driving safety issue in the United States. In fact, vehicle collisions caused by red light runners are more likely to happen (47%) than any other type of vehicular crash (33%). The National Coalition for Safer Roads (NCSR) released a report which revealed that in 2011, there were 85,367 red light violations every week in the state of Ohio. The report analyzed data from red-light safety cameras in operation from January 1, 2011 to December 31, 2011.

In a different study which was conducted during several months at five busy intersections in Fairfax, Va., prior to the use of red light cameras, revealed that a driver ran a red light every 20 minutes at each intersection.

In 2013, AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety conducted a survey which found that that although 93% of drivers say that it’s unacceptable to go through a red light if it’s possible to stop safely, an astonishing 35% of the respondents said that they actually did in the past 30 days.

Red lights were designed to help ease the traffic flow. However, there are drivers that are in too much of a hurry who accelerates speed when they approach a yellow light and drive through an intersection even after the light has turned red. When one vehicle collides with another at high speeds when running a red light, the effects can be disastrous.  Do you know that drivers that run red lights are a top cause of car accidents that results in nearly 1,000 deaths and about 90,000 cases of personal injury every year? Unfortunately, the most common excuse of drivers that run a red light is “being in a hurry”. This selfish and irresponsible driving habit has led to these staggeringly high vehicular collision statistics.

In Ohio, the penalty for running a stop sign or red light ranges from $100 to $200. However, these figures may change over time and differ by county.

To those who are unaware, Ohio’s Red Light/Stop Sign Law states that:

4511.12 Obedience to traffic control devices.

(A) No pedestrian, driver of a vehicle, or operator of a streetcar or trackless trolley shall disobey the instructions of any traffic control device placed in accordance with this chapter, unless at the time otherwise directed by a police officer.

No provision of this chapter for which signs are required shall be enforced against an alleged violator if at the time and place of the alleged violation an official sign is not in proper position and sufficiently legible to be seen by an ordinarily observant person. Whenever a particular section of this chapter does not state that signs are required, that section shall be effective even though no signs are erected or in place.

(B) Except as otherwise provided in this division, whoever violates this section is guilty of a minor misdemeanor. If, within one year of the offense, the offender previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to one predicate motor vehicle or traffic offense, whoever violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor of the fourth degree. If, within one year of the offense, the offender previously has been convicted of two or more predicate motor vehicle or traffic offenses, whoever violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor of the third degree.

One way to decrease the chances getting in a red light accident is to look out for cars rushing through intersections at the end of a red light. If you are the first person in line at a red light, quickly look both ways before proceeding once the traffic light turns green. This can help you avoid colliding onto a driver who may be trying to make it through the intersection on the yellow light. If you rush into the intersection soon as the light turns green without watching out for that oncoming car, you will get hit. It’s something that happens a lot of times.

Vehicular accidents can happen any time. However, being an attentive driver, following traffic rules and driving defensively minimizes the risk of getting into an accident which in turn can save you a lot of time and money, and not to mention, your life.

01 Jul 2014

How To Avoid Costly Mistakes When Filing A Personal Injury Case

In the United States, a large percentage of the civil litigation cases involve personal injury claims. Personal injury is legally defined as an injury to the body, mind or emotions, as opposed to an injury to property. It is the branch of tort law that pertains to any wrong or damage done to another in his person, property, rights, or reputation. Torts are civil wrongs recognized by law as grounds for a lawsuit. These wrongs result in an injury or harm constituting the basis for a claim by the injured party.

Accidents are unforeseeable and thus can happen at anytime. As such personal injury can occur at work, in a traffic accident, because of a faulty product or a faulty repair, because of a mistake during medical treatment, or because you slipped and fell on a wet floor. It can be physical or psychological but, to be considered actionable, it must have happened because of the negligence or unreasonably unsafe actions by the accused party.

The most common types of personal injury claims are road traffic accidents, accidents at work, tripping accidents, assault claims, accidents in the home, product defect accidents and holiday accidents. Personal injury also incorporates medical and dental accidents and conditions that are often classified as industrial disease cases.

Handling the legal aspects of a personal injury claim isn’t that simple. In fact, a lot of people make common mistakes when filing a personal injury case that eventually end up costing them a lot of money.  To keep this from happening to you, we offer you the following tips on things to consider when filing a personal injury case.

  1.  Avoid misrepresentation. Never attempt to exaggerate the severity of your injury just to support your claim to get a higher compensation. On the other hand, do not underreport your physical ailments just because you don’t totally understand how serious it is or you failed to get a thorough examination. Best thing to do is to get medical attention and have your condition diagnosed by a medical expert. It is imperative that you accurately report your injury to avoid any discrepancies or inconsistencies later on.
  2. Don’t forget to file a police report. Filing a police report will ascertain that there is an official record of important information regarding the incident such as the identity and contact information of all involved parties and important facts related to the accident. Moreover, the police report can be used in court in case a lawsuit arises.
  3. Seek legal advice right away. To better protect your interests, seek legal advice and hire a lawyer soon after the accident.  Don’t sign anything until you have conferred with a lawyer. Although you need to communicate with the other party after an accident, be discreet with your statements. You are not bound by any law to state whose fault the injury was or to offer additional information. And while you haven’t spoken to an attorney yet, refrain from giving a statement to the insurance company or discussing the incident with others, and even describing the events to a doctor. The reality is that there is the risk that things can be taken out of context and even used against you. So be careful what you say at the scene of the incident. Do not admit any guilt before speaking with an attorney. However, also keep in mind that not all personal injury lawyers are the same. So look for one who is most suitable for your situation.
  4. Keep accurate records related to the incident. This includes all records of all the costs and expenses incurred because of the injury you suffered e.g. medical bills, property damage, lost income, insurance records. We also suggest that you keep a written account of the injury as well as an “injury journal” to document the frequency as well as the amount of the pain you are experiencing.
  5. File your claim soon as you can. Time becomes of the essence here because there is a window of time after an accident that allows you to file a personal injury claim. This is known as the “statute of limitations” and this varies depending on the state and the type of accident. You should make yourself aware of the deadline and submit all the necessary documents on time. Once the statute of limitations expires, you won’t be able to file your claim anymore.

01 Jun 2014

Factors That Will Prove Who Is Liable In An Auto Accident

According to a research conducted by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Motor vehicle crashes and fatalities in highways increased in 2012 after six consecutive years of declining fatalities. The increase in crashes can be seen across many crash characteristics such as vehicle type, alcohol impairment, location of crash. Another alarming stat is that around 2.36 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes in 2012, representing a 6.5% increase from 2011. Even pedestrian and motorcycle fatalities showed an upward trend in 2012 where motorcycle and pedestrian fatalities increased by 7% and 6%, respectively. Alcohol-impaired-driving fatalities increased by 4.6% in 2012 representing 31% of all fatalities. A related study by the NHTSA indicates that drivers at .04 g/dL BAC, which is way below the legal limit of .08 g/dL, have a significantly higher relative risk (ratio of 1.18 to 1.00) of being involved in a traffic crash than drivers at .00 g/dL BAC.

The critical issue in most vehicular accident cases is determining which driver is at fault. Normally, if one driver is negligent which means that he or she failed to use reasonable care or caution while driving – that person will be considered to be at fault. Fact is that many states have complicated systems of determining fault which usually results to different monetary obligations for each party. So in the end, the drivers’ insurance companies –which make claims for damages—actually make the decision on each driver’s liability.

Although common sense can usually tell us who was at fault in an accident, the more important issue is determining the laws or rules the person at fault violated which makes him or her liable. There are several factors that can determine who is liable for a vehicular accident. For example, if a driver gets injured because another driver cuts in front of him after turning onto the street. However, that driver could be found liable if he or she was speeding or made an illegal lane change before the accident. In this case, the liability will be determined based on motor vehicle statutes, rather than the traditional, common law definition of “fault.” Insurance companies lobbied state legislatures to base vehicular accident liability more on motor vehicle statutes than on common law notions of fault. This consequently made it easier for insurers to challenge fault and liability in cases wherein the other party has violated a traffic law, especially since liability insurance is required in all states.

To support your claim that the person caused the accident, you will need to undertake some actions and secure documents to reinforce your case. It is best to have tangible proof of traffic law violations or negligence. Remember that insurance companies are inclined to settle claims quickly and inexpensively so your argument should be short and direct. Here are the factors that are considered in proving who is liable in an auto accident:

  1. Police Reports. The police don’t always go to the scene of an accident. But whenever they do, they are compelled to write an official police report about the accident. If a police officer arrives at the location of the accident, don’t forget to ask how you can secure a copy of the accident report. You will need it to support your claim because these reports include documented observations and opinion of the police officer about the accident.
  2. State Traffic Laws. Another thing you can consider in reinforcing your claim that the other driver was at fault is the state laws that govern driving. The State traffic law more commonly known as the vehicle code. A simplified version of these laws known as “The Rules of the Road” can be found at your local DMV office. Or if you prefer, you can also find many full vehicle codes online at various state government websites. After you find the appropriate code that is applicable to your accident, copy the text and the statute number so that you can use it in negotiating your claim with the insurance company.
  3. Rear-End Collisions. If your vehicle gets bumped from behind, it is almost always not your fault. Rear end accidents are one of the most common types of vehicular accidents. The basic principle in driving requires a vehicle to have enough distance from the vehicle in front so that he can stop safely in case the need to suddenly stop arises. If the vehicle behind cannot stop safely, it only means that the driver isn’t driving as safely as the driver in front. Another way to determine fault and liability is the damage. If the front of one vehicle is damaged while the other vehicle’s rear end is, it’s hard to argue that the vehicle behind hit the one in front. Keep in mind though that the driver of the vehicle that hit you might have a claim against another driver who caused you to stop suddenly, or against a third vehicle that caused his or her vehicle to crash into into yours. However, that doesn’t affect his or her responsibility for injuries to you and damage to your vehicle. There may be cases though when the amount of your compensation could be reduced due to “comparative negligence”. For example, one or both of your brake or lights were not working during the accident, or if you had mechanical problems but failed to move your vehicle off the road.
  4. Left-Turn Collisions. In general, a vehicle making a left turn is at fault for a collision with a vehicle coming straight in the other direction. Exceptions to this near-automatic rule are rare and difficult to prove. However, even though vehicles coming straight into an intersection have the right of way, the driver of that vehicle can still be found at fault based on a few circumstances.
  • The speed of vehicle going straight was beyond the speed limit.
  • The vehicle going straight went through a red light.
  • The vehicle making a left turn began its turn when it was safe, but something unexpected made it slow down or stop. This is very difficult to prove because any vehicle making a left turn must wait until it can safely complete the turn before moving in front of oncoming traffic.

01 May 2014