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What Type of Doctor Should I See After a Car Accident?

Published on Jan 21, 2016 at 10:51 am in General.

Being involved in any type of accident that may potentially cause injury is stressful, chaotic, and can be downright frightening for even the strongest of human beings. Among all types of accidents, car accidents can be the most terrifying. After an accident occurs, a dozen questions will run through the minds of those involved: “What happened?” “Am I okay?” “Is everyone else okay?” “How will I pay for this?” “Was I at fault?”

All of these questions are important, of course, but your priority after any type of automobile accident should always be to ensure that you and any loved ones are safe and receive medical aid if necessary. But what happens if you aren’t sure what type of medical care is necessary? What type of doctors are best to visit after a car accident? How do you know what your insurance claim will cover and what it won’t? Knowing the answers to these questions can clear up some of the distress and anxiety felt immediately following an accident.

If serious medical aid is deemed necessary, our first instinct is to usually call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. This is the correct course of action. Accident injuries need to be treated as quickly as possible, especially if they’re serious. Lives may be at stake. All emergency room hospitals also bill insurance providers in agreeance with personal injury protection (PIP) policies. This means that you’ll have no complications later on when it comes time to figuring out how to settle the bill with your auto insurance provider. It also means that there will likely be no legal ramifications as long as you go to the emergency room immediately following the accident.

Do I Need Uninsured and Underinsured Auto Insurance?

Published on Nov 16, 2015 at 11:12 am in General.
Do I Need Uninsured and Underinsured Auto Insurance?

It is estimated that 1 in 8 drivers are UNinsured in the United States–and that doesn’t even count UNDERinsured drivers. Everyone is required to carry insurance coverage in order to register their vehicle with the state, but unfortunately, many drivers let their policies lapse or only carry the bare minimum. What happens if one of those drivers hits you? It would be too late to ask, “Do I need uninsured and underinsured auto insurance?” but you can certainly weigh the risks and reduce your vulnerability now.

Risk Assessment

If you’re hit by a driver with minimum coverage ($25,000 in Kentucky) and your injuries cost more than $25,000, you’d need an underinsured insurance policy on your own auto insurance plan to kick in once the liable party’s limit is met.  Then your underinsured insurance would pay your remaining bills, lost wages, future medical, etc.  This is a really big deal. Imagine having a horrible accident in which your car is totaled and you break a bone and need surgery, rehab, physical therapy, time off work, and pharmacy purchases. $25,000 could be exhausted after the ambulance service and a thorough hospital workup of CT scans, X-rays, and an MRI, let alone the surgery and after-care. Many of those items would be out-of-pocket expenses unless you carry an underinsured auto insurance policy to help with the balance.

The same goes for uninsured auto insurance coverage: If you get hit by someone with no auto insurance at all–especially someone with no personal assets to pursue in litigation–then you’d use your uninsured insurance coverage to pay your bills.

Uninsured Driver Stat1

There are two types of uninsured and underinsured auto coverage to consider:

  1. Uninsured and underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage (UMBI):

This can cover medical expenses, lost wages, and injury-related expenses for you or any drivers or passengers your allow in your vehicle. It can also cover you for hit-and-run accidents.

  1. Uninsured and underinsured property damage coverage (UMPD):

This can cover your car’s damage but doesn’t protect against hit-and-run collision damage.

Adding uninsured and underinsured auto insurance coverage to your auto policy usually costs less than 10% of your current rate. It’s completely doable and could save you and your family from being hung out to dry. Check your policy today and add uninsured underinsured coverage if it’s not already there.

The Law Office of Todd W. Burris can answer your questions today at 859-252-2222.

Buckle Up for Safety

Published on Oct 7, 2015 at 5:33 pm in General.
Buckle Up for Safety

Seat belts have been appearing in cars since the 1960s, but it wasn’t until 2006 that Kentucky law mandated that all drivers and passengers wear seat belts, imposing a fine should you fail to do so. You’ve heard that wearing a seat belt is important, but you might not realize how big a difference it makes between life and death when you’re in an accident. Read on for some facts about seat belt use.

  1. Seat belts can make the difference between whether you live or die.

Seat belts are the single most effective way to save lives in car accidents. Seat belts will reduce your risk of serious injury in a crash by 50% and reduce your risk of death by 45%. If you’re in a light truck, your risk of serious injury is reduced by up to 60%. Not wearing a seat belt increases your chances of being thrown from the vehicle, which multiplies your chances of being killed by 25 times. While air bags provide additional safety from injury, they are not a substitute for seat belt use and cannot on their own prevent as many injuries as can a belt and airbag together.

  1. Contrary to a pervasive myth, seat belts almost never make you less safe.

Everyone has one stubborn friend who asserts that, if you’re in a car accident while wearing a seat belt, you might end up being more badly injured than if you weren’t, since the belt could prevent you from escaping a wreck. However, the percentage of crashes that involve a car being submerged in water, or otherwise involving a type of accident where a seat belt could be a liability, is less than one half of 1%.

  1. Wearing a seat belt will also keep your passengers safe.

Not only will you be saved from being thrown from the vehicle, your passengers will be saved from injury by you wearing a seatbelt. In a crash, a body that’s moving freely through the vehicle can cause serious injuries to other passengers.

  1. If you or any of your passengers fail to wear a seat belt while you’re driving, you could be pulled over.

Kentucky has a “primary enforcement” law regarding seat belt use. This means that cops can pull you over solely for failing to wear a seat belt, and impose a fine of $25 for failing to wear one. If you have not secured a child under 7 in a car seat, or under 57” tall in a booster seat, you may be fined up to $50.

If you’ve been injured in a crash as a result of the careless or reckless behavior of another driver and want to ensure your injuries are compensated fully, contact the experienced Lexington personal injury attorney Todd W. Burris at 859-252-2222.

Frequently Asked Questions about Kentucky Wrongful Death Lawsuits

Published on Sep 16, 2015 at 5:29 pm in General.
Frequently Asked Questions about Kentucky Wrongful Death Lawsuits

The loss of a spouse, child, or parent is devastating, and can also result in a serious financial burden. When that loss is the result of negligent, reckless, or even intentional acts committed by another person or corporation, you may be entitled to compensation from the party responsible for your loved one’s death. Wrongful death lawsuits are a way to recover money you and your family are owed. Below are some facts on how the lawsuits work, and what sorts of damages are available.

Who brings a wrongful death lawsuit?

When a family wishes to file a wrongful death lawsuit on their loved one’s behalf, they must first open an action in probate court to handle the individual’s estate. The probate court will appoint a personal representative for the person who died, who will stand in that person’s place for purposes of a wrongful death lawsuit. If the deceased person had a will and named an executor of their estate, the executor will generally be named the personal representative.

What sorts of losses are covered by a wrongful death lawsuit?

A wrongful death lawsuit is designed as a way for family members to receive the compensation that the deceased person would have been able to recover, had they not died. For example, if you were injured in an accident caused by a defective car, you would be able to sue the company for manufacturing and designing the defective car. If you had instead died in that accident, your survivors would instead bring a lawsuit for wrongful death caused by the defective car.

Families of persons wrongly killed can recover for items such as the loss of care and support that the deceased person would have provided, and their loss of earning capacity or contribution to the household. The costs of the funeral and burial are also a component of an award in a Kentucky wrongful death lawsuit and are paid into the estate.

Are there additional damages available if the death was caused intentionally or recklessly?

There are occasions where a family may be entitled to damages going beyond the actual costs caused by the loss. Where an individual or a company caused the death by acting recklessly, intentionally, or grossly negligently, then the family may be entitled to punitive damages, which are financial penalties intended to punish the wrongdoer for especially bad behavior. For example, if an individual was killed by a drunk driver, punitive damages may be available, whereas they would probably not be available where the driver simply forgot to check a blind spot before merging lanes, causing a crash.

If you have lost a loved one in Kentucky due to the negligent or reckless acts of another person or corporation, contact the Lexington law office of Todd W Burris PSC for a free consultation, at 859-252-2222.

Accident between Motorcycle and SUV Leaves Two Injured

Published on Aug 4, 2015 at 10:37 pm in General.
Accident between Motorcycle and SUV Leaves Two Injured

A couple riding a motorcycle is recovering after a crash with an SUV. On Saturday, August 1, at approximately 9:30 p.m., the couple was traveling on Versailles Road toward Lexington. A Chevrolet Blazer was traveling in the opposite direction on Versailles Road when the driver of the Blazer began to turn left, crossing the motorcycle’s path. The turn began too late for the motorcycle to avoid hitting the Blazer. The couple riding the motorcycle were taken to University of Kentucky Hospital, with non-life-threatening injuries. Police believe that the motorcycle had the right of way, and are investigating whether a citation will be filed against the driver of the Blazer.

Many motorcycle accidents are caused by larger passenger vehicles turning left into the paths of oncoming motorcycles. Due to the smaller target that motorcycles present on drivers’ visual fields, it can be difficult both for drivers to see the oncoming motorcycle, and to gauge how fast the motorcycle is traveling.

Because of the lack of protection afforded to motorcyclists, they are far more prone to fatal or serious injuries than drivers of passenger vehicles. Over the course of 16 years that saw a 66% drop in passenger vehicle fatalities, fatalities among motorcyclists have remained static. Despite constituting only 3% of all motor vehicles on the roads, motorcyclists constitute 14% of all motor vehicle-related fatalities.

Motorcyclists often attract negative attention from police and other drivers, but they are frequently not the responsible party in crashes with passenger vehicles. If you or someone you love has been injured in a motorcycle crash, seek out knowledgeable, diligent legal help to ensure you’re fully compensated for your injuries. Lexington Attorney Todd W. Burris is available to represent your personal injury and motorcycle crash claims in and around the Lexington area, throughout Fayette County and beyond. Call Todd W. Burris, PSC for a free consultation on your claims, at 859-252-2222.

Choosing The Right Car Insurance Coverage

Published on Jul 24, 2015 at 9:47 pm in General.
Choosing The Right Car Insurance Coverage

There are so many options for how you can craft your car insurance plan that it can be difficult to know how to design your coverage. Under the law in Kentucky, you are required to have $25,000 in coverage per person and $50,000 per accident for bodily injury liability, as well as $10,000 in property damage liability and $10,000 in personal injury protection. These are the minimum amounts of coverage you need to drive in Kentucky, but having greater coverage may be advisable, depending on your individual circumstances.

Here are explanations of the different types of coverage, and some thoughts on whether you might want more than the minimum:

  • Bodily Injury Liability: This covers the cost of injuries to other drivers or pedestrians when the accident is your fault. Even if you’ve elected Kentucky’s no-fault coverage for your auto insurance, if your coverage and the individual’s own Personal Injury Protection coverage are exhausted by their costs, then they can sue you for the difference. If you own a house or other valuable assets, you may want to consider greater coverage, so that it’s less likely you could be sued for the value of those assets.
  • Personal Injury Protection: This covers the cost of medical bills and related expenses after an accident for yourself and your passengers.
  • Property Damage Liability: This covers damage to other people’s property, such as the other driver’s car or a structure you may have hit in a crash. Considering that new cars cost, on average, $20,000, you may wish to increase this coverage from the legally-required minimum.
  • Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist: These are two individual forms of coverage, and are not required under the law, but will ensure that expenses from your injuries and damages are covered in the event of an accident with someone who has no insurance coverage, or not enough coverage to compensate you.
  • Collision: This coverage is not legally required, but will cover costs to repair your vehicle after an accident. The cost of the insurance is measured by how much of a deductible you’ll pay for repairs to be done to your car after a crash. Selecting a higher deductible will mean lower monthly premiums.
  • Comprehensive: This coverage is also not required, and covers costs to repair or replace your vehicle when it has been damaged in some way other than an accident, such as natural disaster or theft. Again, a higher deductible will result in lower monthly payments.

Choosing the right coverage for your individual situation can be tricky, and understanding how different types of coverage apply when you have been in an accident can be confusing. To be sure you are making the right claims and getting all the compensation available, contact the Lexington law office of Todd W. Burris, PSC to speak with one of our attorneys today, at 859-252-2222.

Federal Government Changes Rules Mandating Rest for Truckers, Despite Fatal Crash

Published on Jun 9, 2015 at 1:08 pm in General.
Federal Government Changes Rules Mandating Rest for Truckers, Despite Fatal Crash

Despite ongoing violations and evidence of a problem requiring increased regulation, the federal government has softened regulations relating to how much rest professional long-haul truckers must take between workweeks. Last year, the country was witness to a glaring example of the dangers of under-rested tractor-trailer drivers when a semi-truck driven by a sleep-deprived driver for Wal-Mart crashed into a limo bus occupied by actor and comedian Tracy Morgan, along with several of his associates. In recent weeks, the lawsuits against Wal-Mart and other responsible entities reached a settlement. However, Morgan continues to suffer effects of the traumatic brain injury he experienced in the crash. Additionally, the family of Jimmy McNair, who lost a father in the wreck, could never be fully compensated for his death.

In the accident causing Morgan’s injuries, the tractor-trailer was being driven by a Kevin Roper of Georgia on the New Jersey Turnpike. At approximately 1 a.m., Roper was allegedly going 65 mph in a 45 mph zone when he crashed into the rear of the limo bus carrying Morgan and his associates. Roper had reportedly been working for 13 hours and 32 minutes so far on the day of the crash. While the limits on a day’s work for a trucker is 14 hours, Roper was still 20 miles away from his final destination for the night at the time of the collision. Roper is currently free on $50,000 bail, with criminal charges for vehicular homicide and assault by an auto pending in New Jersey.

Mandatory Rest Period for Truckers Eliminated

The change in the law, quietly included in a Congressional appropriations bill, eliminates the regulation which required truck drivers to take a two-night weekend rest between work weeks. Work weeks for long-haul truck drivers are defined as being up to 70 hours long across up to six or seven days. A representative from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reported that a study of how the change in this regulation may affect professional truck drivers is ongoing.

Driver error is listed as the cause in over 80% of all tractor-trailer and other large truck crashes. While driver error includes such issues as distracted driving, alcohol use, and speeding, the number one reported cause of driver error is fatigue. Federal hours of service rules mandate that truck drivers may not work longer than 14 hours a day, with 11 of those spent behind the wheel, and that a driver must be off-duty for ten consecutive hours before starting a shift. The means of tracking such hours worked are largely through self-reporting on driver logs, which truck drivers are required to keep. However, drivers who fall behind on a delivery through forces outside of their control may be motivated to make up lost time, work longer hours, and complete logs inaccurately to keep government regulators satisfied.

Tractor-trailers and semi trucks have the capacity to do a great deal of damage. If you or a loved one has been injured by a negligently-driven semi or tractor-trailer, seek help from seasoned professionals in the area of truck accident law. Contact the Lexington Law Offices of Todd W. Burris for an evaluation of your potential truck accident personal injury lawsuit at 859-252-2222. Attorneys are available to assist with your claim throughout the Lexington, Kentucky area.

Questions You May be Asking After Your Car Accident in Kentucky

Published on May 15, 2015 at 9:13 pm in General.
Questions You May be Asking After Your Car Accident in Kentucky

Car accidents can be overwhelming and disorienting, and you may not know where to turn for guidance on basic questions you may have. Below are some answers to questions that may arise for you after your car crash.

Do I need to go to the doctor after an accident, even if I’m not in pain?

Yes. There are multiple reasons you should see a doctor right after you’re involved in a car accident. First of all, you may be hurt but not realize it. Many injuries that victims of car or truck accidents experience may not be obvious right away and can require a doctor’s expertise to uncover. Second, if you do end up incurring substantial medical expenses, not seeking treatment right away could diminish your eventual recovery. Waiting longer than 72 hours after an accident to seek medical care may be considered a “delay in treatment” by the insurance adjusters determining the value of your claim. Such a delay in treatment will lead the insurers to offer you a smaller settlement. It is thus important for you to seek medical care right away; if your regular doctor isn’t available within 72 hours, ask if there is someone else in the practice who could see you, or go to an urgent care facility.

What will happen to my car insurance rates after the accident?

Kentucky insurance companies look at several factors when reevaluating your insurance rates after an accident. A very important factor will be the circumstances under which you got in the car accident. This includes whether or not you were at fault for the accident and, crucially, whether you were doing anything illegal at the time of the accident. If you were intoxicated, speeding, driving recklessly, or ran a red light or stop sign in the moments before your accident, there is a high possibility that your insurance rates will go up. Insurance companies will also consider how many claims you’ve made on your policy in the past, your driving record, and what sorts of claim settlements you’ve received from the insurer in the past.

Your insurer may offer an accident forgiveness program. Such programs vary from insurer to insurer, but typically they allow you to keep the same insurance rate after one at-fault accident, depending on the severity of the accident.

How long will it take to process my claim?

The time that Kentucky insurance companies will take to settle a claim varies broadly. If the claim and issues of liability are fairly straightforward, and the value of the claim is not especially high, then settlement may only take a few months. If your claim adjuster is overrun with cases, if the questions of liability are not clear-cut, or if the claim is for serious injuries, then receiving a settlement may take a year or more from the date you submitted your claim. It is important not to settle your claim too soon, before the full extent of your damages is known.

Make sure your interests are protected and aggressively represented when you’re in a car accident. Contact Todd W. Burris Law, PSC for a free consultation on your potential claims with a knowledgeable Lexington car accident attorney. We are available throughout the Lexington, Kentucky area, as well as Georgetown, Richmond, Keene, Lancaster, Bryantsville, Clark County, and Mercer County.

More Essential Things to Know About Personal Injury Insurance Claims in Kentucky

Published on Apr 7, 2015 at 1:46 pm in General.
More Essential Things to Know About Personal Injury Insurance Claims in Kentucky

Last month we took a look at five things everyone should know about dealing with insurance companies following a car accident or other personal injury. This may or may not surprise you, but it turns out there are still more important things you should know before attempting to settle your claim with an insurance company or take them to court. Let’s take a look:

When Insurance Companies “Lowball” You, They’re Breaking the Law

Insurance companies have a duty to act in good faith, and if they employ certain bad faith negotiation tactics, such as unreasonably delaying a settlement or ignoring your attempts to contact them, then they may be liable for a claim of bad faith. Kentucky courts have found that insurers who make an unreasonably low initial offer to settle your claim may be in violation of the law.

Your Recovery Will Be Reduced by the Amount to Which You Were Deemed at Fault

Kentucky tort law employs a “comparative fault” theory of liability. This means that, if a court could find that you were partially to blame for an accident, then you will be responsible for the percentage of your damages for which you’ve been deemed at fault. During claim negotiations, an insurer could try to convince you that you were responsible to a greater degree than may be accurate, in order to reduce their own responsibility. Having an attorney investigate your claim and make a determination of fault could ensure that you don’t settle your insurance claim under the misguided belief that you bore a greater responsibility for your damages than you really did.

If your Insurance company refuses to settle when their liability is basically clear, they’re acting contrary to the law

Kentucky insurers are obligated to attempt to reach a prompt, fair, and equitable settlement of claims when liability is reasonably clear. If an insurer continues to try to litigate claims after this stage, then they are violating the law by acting in bad faith.

You May Need to File a First Party Claim or a Third Party Claim For Your Injuries

When you’re at fault for an accident, you would normally file a first party claim with your own insurer for your injuries, depending on your insurance policy. When another person or business is at fault for your injuries, say after you slip and fall in a store, you would file a third party claim with the store’s insurer. The determination of fault is a legal decision that you may not be qualified to make on your own, and taking the word of the insurance company may not be the best choice either.

Obtaining all Your Medical Bills is an Expensive, Time Consuming Process

You may assume it’s safe to allow your insurance company to obtain medical bills on your behalf, and to trust their statement as to what the records say and what the sum of your bills is. However, this gives up  a great deal of control to the insurers. Obtaining your own bills might involve contacting numerous doctors’ offices, hospitals, and ambulance companies, as well as paying fees to each company for the cost of duplicating the records. Getting help from a Kentucky personal injury attorney can eliminate this hassle and up-front expense.

We could go on with more things you need to know, but all you really need to know is, Don’t try to negotiate your claims alone; contact the knowledgeable and compassionate Lexington attorneys at Todd W. Burris, PSC, for a no-cost consultation to make sure your rights are protected. Our attorneys can help you obtain your best possible recovery for claims against insurers in Frankfort, Shelbyville, Louisville, Lawrenceburg, and throughout Fayette County.

Five Things You Didn’t Know About Personal Injury Insurance Claims

Published on Mar 7, 2015 at 1:43 pm in General.
Five Things You Didn’t Know About Personal Injury Insurance Claims

Insurance companies, whether your own insurer or the insurer of a third party, want to settle your personal injury claim for as little money as possible. If you’re filing a personal injury claim with an insurer in Kentucky, make sure you understand what you’re in for—and consider hiring a lawyer to help you avoid common pitfalls.

Below are five important things to know before you set off navigating the insurance claims process:

Giving a recorded statement to an insurer could impact your ultimate recovery negatively

Appearing without an experienced Kentucky attorney to give a recorded statement means you’re bound to the statements you make—including statements you may think are innocuous but actually sound like admissions of liability. Exercise caution when giving a recorded statement to an insurer, and, if possible, speak with a lawyer before speaking to an insurer.

Not conducting your own investigation leaves you at the mercy of the insurance company’s factual findings

It can be difficult to contest a bad set of facts as presented by an insurance company either during negotiations or at trial if you can’t present equally convincing facts that support your own arguments. If only one party in a two-sided negotiation has conducted a factual investigation, and it isn’t you, you could be at a serious disadvantage.

Demanding too little or too much can affect your final recovery negatively

If you make too small a demand when first negotiating with an insurance company, you could get stuck with a paltry recovery. If you demand too much, you might be showing the insurers that you are inexperienced, as you don’t understand how to value your claims. Either way, improper valuation of claims can lead to a smaller settlement.

Settling a claim without knowing the full extent of your injuries can bar you from recovering in the future on those injuries

Once you’ve signed a settlement agreement with an insurer, it’s probable that the agreement will include a release of future claims based on that accident. Don’t release your right to sue in the future without making certain that you’re being compensated for all of your injuries related to that event, as physical injuries and complications can often surface many months after the initial injury.

Without Having it in Writing, Don’t Rely on an Admission of Liability

When starting the negotiation process with your insurer, the adjuster might try to get you to let down your guard by assuring you that the party that the insurer represents is liable for your damages. However, unless the insurer goes on the record, either by putting the admission of liability in writing or in a recording, do not rely on this admission. Continue preparing your case and gathering facts to support your side.

Don’t Go It Alone

Insurance companies are staffed with experienced adjusters who do nothing but investigate accidents and settle claims all day long. Pitting yourself against these professionals puts you at an immediate disadvantage from the very start. Instead, get a knowledgeable and experienced personal injury attorney on your side who won’t let you get taken advantage of in the insurance claims process. In Lexington and Fayette County, call Todd W. Burris at (859) 252-2222 for a free consultation.

 

NEXT MONTH: But that’s not all! More Essential Things to Know About Personal Injury Insurance Claims in Kentucky

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