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Accident Injury Claims and Accident Injury Lawsuits Explained

When injuries related to car accidents are discussed, two terms often come up: accident injury claims and accident injury lawsuits. What are the differences, and which is the better way to get the car accident compensation you need? The answer is that while these are technically parallel choices, they’re often tried one after the other. Here’s a basic explanation: Auto Accident Injury Claims If you’ve been injured in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, then your medical expenses should be covered by the at-fault party’s insurance company. The insurance company will assign a claims adjuster to the case. He or she will investigate the matter at hand to determine the answer to three questions: first, whether the insured caused the accident; second, whether the insured driver was negligent; and third, whether your injuries justify a settlement.Based on the answers to these questions, the adjuster will make you an offer for a settlement, ranging from nothing to 100% of your claim. If you’re happy with the offer, you can accept it, get a check and move on. If you’re not satisfied, then you and your attorney can negotiate with the insurance company for a better offer.   Two Kinds of Arbitration If you can’t reach an agreement regarding your claim, then you might take an optional route called arbitration. In this process, you and the insurance company agree to let a third party decide the case. This arbitration can either be binding, meaning that both parties must adhere to the decision the arbiter makes, or non-binding, meaning that if one party is dissatisfied with the outcome, a lawsuit is...

5 Questions You Ought to Be Asking About Car Accident Settlements

Car accidents are all too common in the United States; the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 5.5 million take place annually. If you’ve been injured in one of these many accidents, then a personal injury claim may be the only way to recover your medical expenses and get your life back to normal. But there’s a lot of misinformation about car accident compensation floating around. Probably the most pervasive myth is that filing a claim will automatically necessitate a courtroom trial; in reality, all but about 2% of personal injury lawsuits in the U.S. are settled out of court. If you’re trying to sort out what other misconceptions you might hold about car accident settlements, you’re probably asking some of these questions: What Determines the Value of Settlements?  There are two types of damages that may be awarded in car accident settlements. The first, compensatory damages, is the more common type and covers more areas. This includes the direct cost of medical treatment, lost wages, lost earning capacity, pain and suffering, and emotional distress. Punitive damages, which are imposed by the court, are intended to punish the defendant and are generally only applied if he or she was particularly careless or reckless. How Does Fault Factor In?  Fault will be an important factor in the strength of any auto accident injury claim. Your claim will be the strongest (and carry the most monetary value) if the other driver was fully at fault. In most states though, a system called “comparative negligence” can allow you to receive a proportional settlement if you were partly at fault for the...

5 Ways to Find an Accident Injury Attorney Who Will Represent Your Best Interests

There are many reasons you might consider hiring accident injury attorneys. The majority of personal injury suits in the U.S. have to do with car accidents, but medical malpractice or on-the-job injuries may also be cause to work with a lawyer; about five out of every 100 employees are injured on the job at some point, and construction accidents alone account for 300,000 injuries annually in the U.S. But if you have been hurt in such a situation, how can you choose an accident injury attorney who will put your needs first and increase your chances of getting the best possible settlement? Here are five tips on what to look for: An Attorney Who Concentrates on Personal Injury Law While there isn’t an official specialty for personal injury law, some lawyers choose to focus their practice on these specific issues. The law is far too vast for attorneys to know all parts of it exhaustively, so it’s very important you work with someone who knows the ins and outs of cases similar to yours. An Attorney With Outstanding Personal Recommendations All attorneys will be qualified in a basic sense in that they’re required to pass exams and remain in good standing with their local legal bar association. But an outstanding attorney will easily be able to give you several personal references that speak to their knowledge of the law and general demeanor. An Attorney Who Listens and Explains Especially if you haven’t done much in the legal system before, an accident injury lawsuit can be an intimidating — even frightening — process. You should feel comfortable expressing yourself to...

3 Things an Honest Attorney Will Tell You About Auto Accident Injury Claims

More than half of the personal injury lawsuits filed in the U.S. are in response to injuries incurred in auto accidents, and unfortunately it’s often necessary to file an auto accident injury claim to recoup medical expenses and lost wages after an accident. The U.S. personal injury law industry is a profitable one, worth about $27 billion according to IBIS World Research, and growing about 1.9% each year. Unfortunately, not all attorneys involved in this industry will give you a balanced overview of how these claims work, putting their own profits above your best interests. Here are the three things an honest auto accident injury attorney will tell you about the claims process: Fault and Settlement Values Aren’t Clear Cut Most states use a system called “comparative negligence” to determine fault and compensation for accidents. In general, this is a good thing, because it still allows you to collect a settlement if you were partially at fault for the accident. What you need to know, however, is that this will affect the value of your settlement. Attorneys often talk about getting you the money you “deserve,” but the value of your settlement is determined by a complicated number of factors including fault, injury severity, proof of lost wages, etc.Even once that dollar number is established, car accident settlements are limited by the insurance policy of the at-fault driver in most cases. This means that if your expenses exceed the limit put in place by the insurance company, the only way to get more money would be to go after the other driver’s personal assets. This may or may not...

10 Tips for Safe Traveling During the Holiday Season

A combination of the improving economy and plummeting gas prices is set to make this year’s holiday travel season the busiest ever. AAA estimates that almost 99 million Americans will be traveling 50 miles or more — and that doesn’t count increased pre-holiday driving due to extra social events and gift shopping. All those cars on the road can lead to the potential for serious accidents. With that in mind, here are 10 tips that can help you stay safe on the road so your holiday season can stay lighthearted and festive: Allow Extra Travel Time Yes, it’s getting into crunch time for last-minute shopping. But don’t let the hectic nature of the season goad you into rushing. Budget plenty of time for getting to the mall, party, airport or wherever else you’re headed. Don’t Drive Drunk or Buzzed This isn’t a new tip, but it’s one that can’t be emphasized enough. You are three or four times more likely to be involved in a crash if you’ve been drinking. And remember: Driving buzzed is driving drunk. Check Up on the Health of Your Car This is important even if you’re just going across town, but is absolutely vital if you’re taking a longer car trip. Check your tire pressure, your lights, your brakes and your fluid levels. This is also a good time of year to assess the condition of your wiper blades. Snooze So You Don’t Lose Fear of missing out on holiday fun can encourage you to push yourself too far. But fatigue can cause some of the same symptoms as alcohol — impaired vision, slowed...

When You Do and Don't Need to Find a Personal Injury Lawyer

Most people know that when it comes to complicated auto accident injury claims, hiring experienced personal injury lawyers can make a big difference. This is because lawyers can help to gather the most relevant evidence, prove substantial injury, and represent the client in either settlement talks or court. But there are cases in which hiring a lawyer isn’t the best move. So when, exactly, is it time to find a personal injury lawyer? Here are some tips on when you need to hire a lawyer and when you might be able to handle things on your own. Do Find a Personal Injury Lawyer If: The Other Party Was NegligentTo prove that the other driver is liable for your injuries, you’ll need to show evidence of two things. First, you’ll need to show that he or she was negligent in driving duties. This might be something as serious as driving dunk (a crime for which 1.4 million people are arrested each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), or something as common as speeding (which actually leads to 40% of all auto-related fatalities in the U.S.). Second, you’ll have to demonstrate that this behavior actually caused your injuries. You’ll want to work with auto accident injury attorneys who know exactly what kind of evidence you’ll need. Insurance Is Balking Some people assume that you only need to hire a lawyer if the other party caused the accident. But lawyers can also help you if your own insurance company is balking at paying out a reasonable claim. Lawyers can often expedite the claims process as well, so you...

5 Facts About Big Truck Accidents That All Drivers Should Understand

It seems like every time you turn on the news, there’s a story about crashes involving semi trucks, and almost every driver has had the harrowing experience of suddenly being boxed in by semis on the highway. These trucks are an important part of the American economy, so there’s no chance they’ll be off the roads anytime soon. But there are a few things that all drivers — whether they’ve been involved in a truck accident or not — should know about commercial truck crashes: Big Truck Accidents Are Becoming More Frequent Trucking accidents, in which a commercial vehicle collides with a passenger vehicle, are becoming more frequent despite studies on and regulation of the trucking industry in recent years. In the past 20 years, big truck accidents have gone up by 20%.   Trucks Have More Blind Spots Than You Think No matter who is at fault in accidents, knowing a little more about the difficulties of driving a tractor-trailer can help you prevent big truck accidents. Look up a diagram of a truck’s “no-zone,” and you’ll probably find that it’s much larger than you expected. It’s always wise to give trucks a wide berth.   Truck Drivers Have to Obey the Rules of the Road While it might not be smart to push issues of right-of-way when you’re matching your 3,300-pound Honda Accord against a 70,000-pound big rig, you should know that trucks are expected to obey the same traffic laws as cars are, and failing to do so may count as negligence on the driver’s part. Many causes of accidents are the same for both passenger...

3 Ways to Prevent Trucking Accidents and 3 Ways to Respond

Trucking is a vital part of the American economy, and it’s absolutely necessary that cars and trucks be able to share the roads. But the bad news is that truck accident statistics show that both overall truck crashes and resulting injuries and fatalities have steadily risen over the past two decades. With that in mind, it’s important that regular drivers, commercial drivers and trucking companies all do what they can to reduce accidents and deal with the aftermath as best they can. Here’s what you should keep in mind: To Prevent an Accident: Drive Carefully Around Trucks Distracted driving causes about 20% of all car accidents nationally, and those accidents can be fatal when they involve a large truck. Drivers of passenger vehicles often underestimate the dangers posed by driving too near tractor-trailers, remaining in blind spots or leaving inadequate stopping distance. The best thing you can do to prevent accidents as a regular driver is to be patient with truck drivers and move out of their way as much as possible. Prioritize Truck Driver Training According to recent truck accident statistics, driver decision-making or reaction is a key factor in whether bad environmental conditions result in accidents. For this reason, it’s extremely important that both trucking companies and their drivers implement truck driver training that goes beyond what’s required by law, equipping drivers to make the best possible decisions despite driving vehicles with very little maneuverability. Respect Hours of Service The number of truck crashes caused by driver fatigue is disputed (some say the figure is as low as 1.4%), but what experts seem to agree on is...

Safe Driving Tips for Sharing the Road with Cars, Trucks, and Others

Each year, thousands of people are killed or injured in motor vehicle accidents across the United States. In 2012 alone, there were 33,561 driver, passenger, motorcyclist, bicyclist, and pedestrian fatalities as the result of these accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Even accidents that don’t involve fatalities can still lead to debilitating injuries. Many of these accident cases go to court, where victims and their families are represented by auto accident injury attorneys. These court cases can take months or even years to fight depending on the circumstances. The first step to avoiding an accident is to practice safe driving at all times on the road. Even though you can’t control the other cars and trucks on the road, there are still ways to stay safe and anticipate an accident before it can occur. Here are a few tips to keep in mind each time you’re behind the wheel: 1. Stay alert to the other vehicles around you.  While it’s not always possible to choose when you have to drive, do your part to make sure that you are awake, alert, and sober every time you get on the road. Also, if visibility is an issue due to weather or other problems on the road, make sure to adjust your speed accordingly. You should be able to pay close attention to other vehicles on the road at all times. One way to do this is to watch for erratic or reckless driving from other vehicles. If you see another driver weaving in and out of other lanes, making frequent stops, or otherwise not practicing safe driving,...

3 Times It's Smart to Hire a Lawyer for Car Accidents

Car accidents are scary, but sometimes the process that comes after — dealing with property damage or even expensive medical consequences — can be even scarier. In some cases, hiring a lawyer to assist in this process can lead to a much more favorable outcome. But hiring lawyers for car accidents can be an intimidating prospect, especially for people who have never been in a lawsuit or worked with attorneys before. One common dilemma people experience is wondering if they really need to hire an attorney at all, or whether they can handle a situation on their own. Here are three cases in which it’s a good idea to hire a lawyer: If the Other Driver Was Negligent If any injuries sustained in the accident were simply that — an accident — then you can probably handle everything through your and the other driver’s insurance companies. But if the other driver was negligent, you may want to contact an accident injury attorney who can help you determine if you’re entitled to a settlement. Car accident settlements vary widely in terms of monetary value, but will probably be based on the severity of your injuries, as well as the behavior of the other driver that caused the crash (being intoxicated, talking on a mobile phone, etc.).   If the Other Party Was Injured If someone in the other car’s party was injured in an accident, hiring an attorney may be a good precaution. According to the Bureau of Justice, over half (52%) of personal injury lawsuits are filed in response to auto accidents. And furthermore, the plaintiff wins those lawsuits...

5 Tips for Finding a Personal Injury Lawyer

Personal injury lawyers can be invaluable assets to their clients when it comes to getting fair settlements needed to cover medical bills and the associated costs of an injury. They help to gather information, build a case and argue it in court if necessary (contrary to expectations set up by TV, only about 2% to 4% of personal injury cases are settled in court). But how should you choose one? There are numerous options for how to find a personal injury lawyer — in fact, you’ve probably seen ads for a practice on late-night TV. But the real question you should be asking is how to find a personal injury lawyer that meets your specific needs and will always put your well-being first. Here are some tips that can help in your search: Consider the Specifics Not all personal injury lawyers focus on the same areas of the law. A workplace injury case will require specialized knowledge, since it’s necessary to demonstrate that hazardous conditions on a jobsite caused the accident or illness. An auto accident injury claim will require similarly specific experience. Some multi-lawyer practices may center their work on more than one kind of personal injury law, but you should make sure you’re working with a lawyer who has handled other cases like yours.   Get Personal Referrals In general, it’s better to do your own research than to wait for a personal injury attorney to come to you if you want the best lawyers. Auto accident injury attorneys who approach you after a car crash or who run TV ads may not be trustworthy. The best...

3 Ways Drivers of Passenger Vehicles Can Prevent Truck Accidents

Truck accidents are on the rise, according to a report by CNBC. Despite commercial driving rules that are supposed to be enforced by federal and industry regulators, nearly 4,000 people per year are killed in truck accidents; 100,000 are injured. If you or a family member has been injured in a trucking accident, then you should absolutely contact a trucking accidents lawyer and file an accident injury claim to cover your expenses and hold companies and drivers accountable for negligent practices. You should ensure that the driver involved adhered to truck driver log requirements and that the freight company didn’t encourage the driver to work outside of federal hours of service or while impaired. But there are also some things you should keep in mind when driving a passenger car that can prevent truck accidents and protect everyone involved. Here are some tips for staying safe on the road around commercial vehicles: Know All the Blind Spots Most drivers know about some of a truck’s blind spots, but there are more than you probably think. A truck driver cannot see you if you are directly behind the truck, on either side of the trailer, directly in front of the truck or beside the cab’s right-hand door. Assume that if you can’t see the driver’s face in the mirrors, the driver can’t see you, either.   Understand Stopping Time Because of a truck’s large mass, it takes a long time for one to stop even after the brakes are applied. When you move into a lane ahead of a truck, immediately speed up until you’ve created an ample cushion of...

3 Ways Trucking Companies Break the Law and Put Drivers at Risk

There are about 5.5 million car accidents each year in the United States, approximately 25,000 of which in recent years have been fatal (according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Statistic Brain, respectively). If you drive a truck or other commercial vehicle for a living, you have an even higher risk of being involved in an accident. If you are in a crash that injures or kills a passenger, you might even find yourself embroiled in a lawsuit: The wrongful death rate has been steadily increasing, going up by 20% just since 2010. In order to reduce trucking accidents and their effects on both truck and passenger-car drivers, the government has instituted special laws for commercial drivers. Unfortunately, some employers will request that you break these laws in order to make quicker runs. You should always keep in mind that if your employer does this, he or she is asking you to put yourself personally at risk — both physically and legally — to increase company profits. If your employer does any of the following, he or she has crossed a legal line:   Asks You to Violate Hours of Service Hours of service are state and federal regulations that mandate how long a commercial driver can operate a vehicle without resting. If your employer asks you to skip these legally mandated breaks or sets a schedule that is impossible to meet without ignoring hours of service, that is a violation of both their responsibilities and your rights.   Suggests That You Tamper With Your Logs Truck driver log requirements regulate how drive times and mandated breaks...

The 3 Most Common Car Insurance Scams You Should Guard Against

Everyone knows that driving has its risks, but most of us assume that everyone on the road is well-intentioned (if discourteous at times). Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case; there are a few drivers out there with far more nefarious plans. Here are three common accident-related scams, along with what you can do to protect yourself from them.[clear]  Car insurance Scams The Staged Accident: No one likes getting in a car accident, right? Actually, there are some scam artists who specialize in setting up car crashes so that they can collect money from your insurance company, not caring that you’ll pay the price in higher premiums. The most common is the forced rear ending, in which a driver will cut in front of you and slam on the brakes. In most areas, a rear-ending is automatically considered to be the second driver’s fault, so the only way to protect yourself from this scam is to avoid tailgating.Other versions of staged accident scams involve a driver waving you forward even if you don’t technically have the right of way, crashing into you and then telling police you ignored right-of-way laws. Trust your gut; if something feels off about a situation, simply insist that the other driver go first. If you do get into an accident you think was staged, try to ameliorate the situation by gathering as much information as you can on the other driver and documenting the scene in case you need to dispute their version of the events. You should also inform your insurance claims adjuster immediately. The Not-So-Good Samaritan: If you are in an accident, don’t...

7 Things Not To Do When Handling the Aftermath of a Car Accident

Most drivers will get into at least one car accident in their lifetime, no matter how careful they are. But especially when someone gets hurt in a car accident, many people forget the proper protocols. Even more frequently, people make mistakes that can hurt them when seeking insurance reimbursement for repairs or filing a personal injury claim. Here are some of the biggest don’ts to keep in mind following an accident: What not to do when in a car accident Apologize or Admit Fault: If you’re a polite person, your first instinct may be to apologize to the other driver even if you didn’t cause the crash; don’t. Even if you do think the accident was your fault, don’t admit it. Admitting liability could expose you to a lawsuit. Get Hot-Headed: On the other hand, don’t let your emotions run away with you if you think the other driver did something to cause the accident. Instead of laying on the blame with no proof, simply ask if he or she (and any other passengers) are all right before you proceed. Agree to Leave the Authorities Out of It: Especially if a collision is relatively minor, it can be tempting to make a gentlemen agreement to leave the police out of it. But it’s not a smart plan: Even if the other driver seems responsible and gives you his or her insurance information willingly, you have no way of knowing that said insurance is real or current. Trust Third-Party Documentation: When you call the police, the officer will document the scene and fill out paperwork on the accident. But you...

3 Ways to Stay Safe as a Commercial Driver

Many drivers have unsafe habits. In fact, despite the proliferation of hands-free laws, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that about 11% of drivers still frequently use their mobile phones on the road. But unsafe driving practices can have even more deadly consequences when large commercial vehicles are involved. If you’ve decided to explore driving a commercial vehicle as a career, there are several steps you should take to ensure both your safety and the safety of everyone else on the road: 1. Go to Truck Driver Training Missouri law doesn’t require commercial truck driver training prior to issuing a commercial driver’s license, but it’s highly recommended that you attend training anyway. The skills you learn will protect you and others on the road, and the completion certificate may help you find a commercial driving job if you don’t already have one lined up. A typical truck driver training program includes both classroom and behind-the-wheel instruction, putting you through as many simulated situations as possible so you’ll know how to react in a real emergency. You’ll probably also learn some basic maintenance skills you’ll need to keep your commercial vehicle safe to drive. 2. Understand Truck Driver Log Requirements (Commercial Driver) The times commercial drivers work are regulated by hours of service, which were created to reduce accidents caused by driver fatigue. The hours of service dictate how many hours per day and per week you can drive without resting. Truck driver log book rules ensure that working and resting hours are recorded and stay within the legal parameters. There are two important legal reasons to understand these...

How You Can Stay Safe This Halloween

Halloween is coming up, promising spooky fun for kids and adults alike. But Halloween can also cause anxiety for parents worried about their children’s safety. Here are nine tips you can follow to make sure the only scary happenings your family experiences on Halloween are strictly of the festive variety: Set Up Supervision: This one’s a no-brainer: Ensure that at least one adult is accompanying your kids trick-or-treating. If they resist having a parent along, enlist a responsible aunt or uncle your kids look up to. Think About Fire Hazards: Don’t let your child wear a costume that could easily catch fire around a candle or bonfire. Don’t Get Tunnel Vision: If your child is wearing a mask, make sure that he or she still has adequate peripheral vision to avoid trips and falls and cross the street safely. Make a Schedule: If you’re not the adult supervising your child’s trick-or-treating group, agree on a time that he or she will be home (and give someone in the group a cell phone to call if they’re going to be late). If your kids will be close by in the neighborhood, you can even dust off walkie talkies to keep in contact periodically throughout the night. Check Props for Safety: If your child’s costume is accompanied by a toy sword, pitchfork or similar accessory, check that it can’t actually hurt anyone. Don’t Trail Behind: Many Halloween costumes have trailing fabric—which is fine, but make sure your child can still walk without tripping. Reduce Sweet Temptations: Have a filling family dinner before your kids leave for trick-or-treating; this way, they’ll be...

How Hours of Service Protect Both Commercial Truckers and Other Drivers

If you work in the commercial trucking industry or have been in an accident involving a commercial vehicle, you should educate yourself on hours of service and truck driver log book rules. These regulations are important in knowing either what your responsibilities are as a driver, or what you may be entitled to if you’ve experienced injury as a result of a commercial driver’s neglect of these rules. Here are three questions you should ask regarding these laws: 1. What Are the Rules? Some basic rules, such as speed limits, are in place for all drivers (and yet speeding still causes 40% of all auto fatalities in the United States). But commercial drivers are constrained by extra regulations. One important type of restriction on commercial driving is called the hours of service. These outline how many hours a driver is allowed to operate his or her vehicle without resting. Truck driver log book rules then require that these driving hours be recorded (either manually or via an electronic log built into the vehicle) to ensure hours of service are being adhered to. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration sets hours of service when a route crosses state lines, and state rules apply to intrastate commerce. 2. How Do Rules Protect Commercial Drivers? The primary intent of regulation mandating rest periods is to reduce driver fatigue, and thereby lower the number of accidents involving commercial vehicles. Drivers should know that resting time is part of their employee rights, and any company that asks its drivers to violate the laws or tamper with log books in order to make quicker runs...