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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

Five Reasons to Hire an Attorney After a Car Accident in Kentucky

Published on Feb 15, 2015 at 4:06 pm in General.
Five Reasons to Hire an Attorney After a Car Accident in Kentucky

No matter how cautious and thoughtful a driver you may be, car accidents are an inevitable part of driving. Finding an attorney who is experienced with personal injury law and automobile accidents could protect you from expenses you shouldn’t be paying, or liability you shouldn’t incur.

  1. Injuries Resulting from a Car Accident Require Experience and Investigation

If a car accident results in a serious injury either for you or your passenger, finding legal representation can ensure you’re compensated not just now, but in the future for ongoing expenses associated with your injuries. Certain traumatic injuries don’t manifest immediately and may have life-long implications, so that a quick insurance investigation and claim payment might finish before you even experience certain symptoms, excluding you from compensation for all of your injuries. Additionally, the time limits for filing a lawsuit in the state of Kentucky are especially brief. Hiring a lawyer early will help ensure that any legal claims you may possess are filed before the time runs out to make them.

  1. Negotiations with Insurance Companies Can Be Difficult for the Inexperienced

While car accidents are a rare event for most individuals, insurance companies negotiate claims based on car accidents every day. They know exactly how to shape their arguments and will use their vast experience to intimidate the average claimant into accepting less compensation than that to which they’re entitled. However, having strong, experienced legal representation will keep you from getting bullied into accepting less than you need for your injuries and the damages to your vehicle.

  1. Focus on Your Recovery and Leave the Fight to Your Lawyer

Investigating claims, gathering evidence, finding witnesses, composing a settlement demand, collecting incident and medical reports—these all require a great deal of work, especially when you don’t understand the system and are in the midst of recovering from a traumatic incident. Additionally, Kentucky’s comparative fault system makes the post-accident investigation especially important, since your own recovery will be reduced by the amount to which you were determined to be at fault for the accident. An attorney not only knows how to accomplish all these things in a short span of time, but also will do a more precise job of compiling evidence to ensure that your case is solid and successful in getting you the money you deserve.

  1. No-Fault Laws Involve Showing You Meet Certain Requirements to Seek More Compensation

Kentucky is a no-fault state, which means that, even when it was your fault that the accident occurred, your own insurance company will compensate you for at least up to $10,000 of your own accident-related costs, depending on your policy. The no-fault rules only apply to personal injuries, and vehicle damage claims must be pursued against the other driver. However, if you have greater costs than your insurer will cover and you wish to file a claim for liability against the other driver, then you’ll need to opt out of the no-fault system by showing that you have at least $1,000 in medical expenses from the accident or any of the following: permanent disfigurement; fracture of a weight-bearing bone; a complex fracture of any bone; any permanent injury; or permanent loss of a bodily function. An attorney can help you manage seemingly simple negotiations with your insurance company, as well as handle a liability claim or lawsuit when you realize you’re going to need additional compensation to be made whole.

  1. Should Settlement Negotiations Fail, Be Prepared to Go to Court

Going to court can be expensive and time-consuming, further delaying your recovery, and insurance companies will use these facts to their advantage in dissuading you from suing if you’re on your own without an attorney. Finding experienced representation means that you don’t have to be afraid of being bullied into abandoning your claim out of fear of the courtroom. Insurance carriers will also be less likely to think they can steamroll you, and will take settlement more seriously, knowing you have a knowledgeable and seasoned personal injury attorney backing you up.

If you’ve recently been in a car accident in the State of Kentucky, focus on healing and putting your life together after that traumatic event. Don’t go it alone—speak with the experienced attorneys at Todd Burris Law, who will handle the fight with the insurance company for you.

14 Winter Driving Safety Tips

Published on Jan 15, 2015 at 5:35 pm in General.
14 Winter Driving Safety Tips

The Old Farmer’s Almanac predicted a much colder and snowier winter than usual for Lexington, Kentucky, and mid-way through the season, we can see that temperatures and conditions have done their part to live up to the forecast. Winter weather often brings dangerous driving conditions, so follow these winter driving safety tips to help avoid a serious car accident on icy, wet or slippery roads.

  • SLOW DOWN.
  • Always wear your seat belt and make sure your passengers are properly belted.
  • Leave extra distance between your vehicle and the traffic ahead. Try to avoid sudden acceleration or deceleration. Giving yourself extra space gives you extra time to react and slow down safely on icy roads.
  • When the weather is bad, avoid distractions such as playing with the radio and instrumentation panel or excessive talking with passengers. Concentrating on the road is especially important in poor conditions.
  • Keep emergency winter supplies in the back seat or trunk. Valuable supplies include: blankets; extra clothing such as hats, gloves and rain boots; energy bars or other high-energy, non-perishable food; a flashlight with spare batteries (keep batteries outside the flashlight and inside the cabin to help them stay fresh); road flares or reflectors; a first aid kit; and a cell phone with a car charger or other backup power source. Even an old cell phone without an active service plan is capable of making a 911 call, but you still need to be able to charge it first.
  • Make sure you know proper winter driving techniques, like how to drive on ice (slowly) & how to pull out of a skid (steer into the skid). Do you tap your brakes or apply firm pressure to stop on icy roads? Consult your vehicle owner’s manual for proper driving techniques, appropriate tire pressure, etc.
  • Adding weight to the trunk of your car can make the vehicle easier to control on icy roads. A bag of sand adds weight and can also be scattered on the road to give you traction if you get stuck.
  • Check present and forecasted road conditions before starting a trip.
  • Leave early for an appointment so you can drive safely and slowly without worry.
  • Cruise control is generally not recommended on icy, wet or slippery roads.
  • While you are scraping or defrosting your windshield, don’t forget all the other windows as well. Also, knock excessive snow off the hood or roof your car, so that it doesn’t come loose and obstruct your vision while driving or fall on the road and create a hazard for other drivers.
  • Keep your gas tank at least half full. This will help keep your gas line from freezing up and also help keep you from running out of gas if you get struck in traffic or on the side of the road.
  • If warming up your car in the garage, make sure the garage door is open to prevent a buildup of carbon monoxide and dangerous exhaust.
  • Avoid unnecessary trips.

Of course, all the care in the world can’t always keep you safe from other drivers who drive carelessly, recklessly or aggressively without regard to hazardous road conditions. If you are hurt in a car crash caused by another’s negligence or misconduct, contact an experienced auto accident attorney for help. In Lexington, call Todd Burris PSC at 895-252-2222 for a no-cost, confidential consultation.

How do You Handle a Car Accident when the Other Driver is Uninsured?

Published on Dec 15, 2014 at 2:54 pm in General.
How do You Handle a Car Accident when the Other Driver is Uninsured?

Common advice when you are in a car accident is to exchange insurance information with the other driver. But what do you do when the other driver is uninsured? According to the Insurance Information Institute, Kentucky ranked twelfth in the nation in 2012 for uninsured motorists, with 15.8% of drivers uninsured. This means that at any given moment, nearly one in every six drivers on Kentucky roads is driving without liability insurance. While you may not be able to get their insurance information, you should still definitely get their contact information. There are options available to obtain compensation for your injuries and the damage to your vehicle, provided you take the appropriate steps following the accident.

Get the other driver’s contact information – Your options for compensation may include bringing an action against the uninsured driver personally, or presenting a claim to your own insurance carrier under your Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage. The claims process for accessing your UM coverage may require a signed statement from the other driver that he or she is uninsured, so it is very important to you that the other driver can be contacted, no matter which route to compensation you are taking.

Remember, when giving your own insurance information, this information should be limited to your name, policy number, and the name and number of your insurance company. You should not volunteer or share information about the details of your coverage.

Contact the police – The uninsured driver may try to talk you out of calling the police, because they know they will be cited for driving without insurance. Yet this is an important step to securing your rights by establishing the facts of the accident with an official, written report. You can also access your UM coverage if you are struck by a hit and run driver, even if you cannot identify or locate the car that hit you. In this case, a police report can be very helpful to your claim.

Contact your insurance company – In order to secure your rights for UM compensation, you have to comply with the terms of your policy, which most likely requires you to report the incident promptly to your insurer.

Contact a lawyer – As soon as you can after the accident, contact a lawyer who regularly handles car accident cases. Your attorney can guide you on how to deal with the insurance company when notifying them of the accident or submitting a claim and represent you in any negotiations or litigation that may be required.

Your attorney will also want to get started right away gathering important evidence and securing your rights to compensation, so time is of the essence in contacting an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible after an accident. In Lexington, contact Todd W. Burris PSC for a free consultation.

Operation Airbrake Prevents Truck Accidents Through Announced and Unannounced Roadside Truck Inspections

Published on Nov 26, 2014 at 4:15 pm in General.
Operation Airbrake Prevents Truck Accidents Through Announced and Unannounced Roadside Truck Inspections

Operation Airbrake is a selective traffic enforcement program conducted by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) in partnership with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). As the name of the program suggests, Operation Airbrake promotes truck safety by focusing on brake safety in the nation’s commercial semi-truck fleet. Out-of-adjustment brakes and brake system violations routinely account for one-half of all out-of-service (OOS) violations issued to the big rigs on the road. Faulty brakes, worn tires and other defective truck components can be just as dangerous to the passenger vehicles on the road as a reckless or fatigued truck driver who fails to react in time to prevent a serious collision with an automobile on the road.

Roadside Inspections to Prevent Car-Truck Accidents

In addition to trucker and truck mechanic education on inspection, maintenance and safe operation of brakes, the CVSA also conducts annual roadside inspections – announced and unannounced – of commercial truck brake systems. The most recent round of large-scale announced inspections occurred during Brake Safety Week last September, when upwards of 30,000 semi-trucks were inspected. While the results of these inspections have not yet been released, the CVSA has revealed the results of a one-day surprise roadside inspection event it conducted last May.

The Spring Brake Check covered brake inspections of 8,731 trucks and 64,049 individual wheel ends in 23 U.S. states and ten Canadian provinces, as well as Puerto Rico, coordinated across North America last May 7th. Of the thousands of trucks inspected, 9.5% were placed out of service for excessive brake stroke violations – showing them to be out of adjustment – and 8.5% were pulled from service for brake component violations, such as missing or cracked components, air leaks, damaged tubing or brake hoses, and damaged drums, rotors and other brake components. Some trucks were pulled for both kinds of violations, so that overall 15.2% of trucks inspected were declared OOS. This percentage equates to about one in six to seven semis driving on the road with faulty or defective brakes.

While these inspections perform a valuable service in removing dangerous vehicles from the road, unless other measures are taken by the trucking companies to regularly inspect and maintain their trucks in safe operating condition, we may continue to see catastrophic yet preventable truck accidents when truckers find they cannot stop in time due to malfunctioning or poor-performing brake systems. Occupants of passenger vehicles are at great risk of serious personal injury or wrongful death when their smaller, lighter automobile is struck by a tractor-trailer traveling at highway speeds.

Roadcheck 2014: Over 13,000 Trucks Pulled from Service for Safety Issues

Published on Oct 29, 2014 at 3:02 pm in General.
Roadcheck 2014: Over 13,000 Trucks Pulled from Service for Safety Issues

In one 72-hour period last June, over 73,000 trucks and buses were stopped and inspected at more than 2,500 spots across North America in the United States, Canada and Mexico. As a result of the operation, more than 13,000 trucks and 3,500 truck drivers were pulled out of service for violations.

The operation, known as Roadcheck, is conducted annually by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA). 2014 marked the 27th year for Roadcheck, and while the program has shown improvements and reductions in the number of out of service (OOS) placements required, the sheer numbers of trucks and truckers in violation remains alarming. Considering that only a fraction of the more than two million trucks registered in the country were inspected, it is frightening to think how many unsafe trucks and drivers there may be on the road at any given time.

The biggest issues related to vehicle inspections were brake adjustment violations, brake system issues, and tire/wheel violations. For drivers, nearly half of the violations were for hours of service infractions. This number is alarming given that truckers can already drive 11 hours in a 14-hour day across a six or seven day workweek and still be in compliance with FMCSA regulations. A trucker’s work schedule can already be quite grueling and fatiguing without resorting to hours of service violations.

Equally disturbing is the fact that the number two reason for truck driver out-of-service placements was the discovery of false logbook incidents. While efforts such as Roadcheck are clearly important and seem to be getting results, it appears that much more needs to be done to keep our highways and roads safe for truckers and their big rigs and the cars and drivers who share the road with them.

Protect Yourself Before & After a Car Accident

Published on Sep 30, 2014 at 3:09 pm in General.
Protect Yourself Before & After a Car Accident

Whether you’re a driver, passenger, or pedestrian, there are many ways you can protect yourself (and others) before and after you’re involved in a car accident. In this blog, we’re going to give you some tips so you’re prepared in the event of an accident, and able to capably handle an accident situation.

Before you’re ever involved in an accident, make sure you have adequate auto insurance. Find out if your insurance policy will cover you if another party is at fault for an accident, and if it will cover another party if you are at fault for an accident. Also, make sure you’re covered by underinsured and uninsured motorist protection. Read more about Kentucky’s uninsured motorist laws here.

Capably Handling Vehicle Collisions

The Kentucky Drivers Manual is an excellent resource for how to handle car accidents. After a collision, take these steps to help yourself and others.

  1. Stop and park your vehicle at the accident scene and wait for the police. You must contact the police if the damage is $500 or more and/or if there is an injury or death.
  2. Record the names and addresses of everyone involved, including witnesses.
  3. Record the names and addresses of all drivers involved, as well as all vehicle information (year, make, model, license plate, and registration number) and all insurance information (company name and policy number).
  4. Make a list of all vehicle damages.
  5. If there are any seriously injured accident victims, call 911. Never move an injured person yourself unless it is a life-threatening emergency.

If you’re involved in a collision that results in $500 or more in damages and a police investigation isn’t conducted, you’ll need to obtain and complete an accident report provided by the Kentucky State Police and return it within 10 days of the accident./

After a car accident, don’t assume your insurance company or the other driver’s insurance company will readily cover all of your injuries and damages. Talk to a personal injury attorney. In Lexington, contact Todd W. Burris PSC for a free initial consultation.

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice. Viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Prior case results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

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