Posts Tagged ‘catastrophic’

Five Things To Do After an Accident

July 9, 2012

Should you have the misfortune of being involved in an auto accident, it is important that you gather information and undertake a few responsibilities.

These are the most important steps to take following a collision. Click here for a useful form that you can keep in your vehicle. This form will help you gather important information at the scene of the accident.

1.         Obtain the information listed on our form:

Name, address, telephone number, driver’s license number of all drivers.

Insurance information from all the other drivers (Ins. co. name, telephone number and policy number).

License plate number and (VIN) for all other vehicles.

Name, phone number and address of any eyewitness to the collision.

2.         Report the accident:

immediately to the police and cooperate with them in preparing an accident report. If no police are available to respond to the scene, consider contacting the local police agency to determine if you can complete a report at a later time.  You will also need to fill out and file an SR-1 with the DMV.

to your insurance company, even if you are not at fault. If your insurance policy provides medical payments coverage and you require medical treatment because of the accident, your insurance company will provide you with information about how to use that coverage. Additionally, you may need to make a claim under your policy’s uninsured coverage (if your policy provides such coverage).

3.         Photograph:

Vehicles involved in the accident. Take several photographs that clearly show any damage. Take photographs from different angles and all four sides of the vehicles. Consider keeping a disposable camera in your car for this purpose, although a cell phone that takes quality pictures will work too.

Your injuries.

4.         Seek medical treatment without delay if you are injured or experiencing pain.

5.        Obtain legal advice by calling Heiting & Irwin before meeting with any insurance company representative, filling out insurance documents or giving a recorded statement or medical authorization to any insurance company (even your own). You have no obligation to provide this information before you have had the opportunity to speak with an attorney. If an insurance company representative contacts you before you are prepared to discuss your claims, politely explain that you do not wish to discuss the matter at this time, and you will contact them in the very near future to discuss your claims.

We suggest that you consult with an experienced personal injury firm.  Heiting & Irwin, offers free, no-obligation initial consultations. Our experienced attorneys will provide you with a thorough, thoughtful case evaluation that will help you to decide how best to proceed with your claims. Call (951) 682-6400, email or visit our website for more information.

WHEN TO REFORM TORT REFORM

May 17, 2012

by Sara B. Morgan, Esq.

Reform. A positive-sounding word connoting improvement and enhancement, Webster’s defines “reform” as “an amendment of what is defective, vicious, corrupt, or depraved; a removal or correction.” However, you can have too much of a good thing, and unfortunately, tort reform supporters don’t often realize the negative effect their efforts may have upon the lives of individuals who suffer from devastating, catastrophic injuries, until it is too late.

Take for example, the recent Delaware River incident where passengers of a small, touring duck boat were drown when a large barge literally ran over them. The actions and inactions of the duck boat crew, including stopping the boat mid-river for almost 12 minutes, failing to timely instruct the passengers to don life vests, and cell phone usage immediately preceding the crash, all constitute negligence which caused or contributed to the deaths and injuries of its passengers.

Enter the Limitation of Liability Act, codified at 46 U.S.C. 30503, enacted in 1851 to encourage competition between American shipping companies and foreign shipping companies. Many countries abroad, including in Europe, had similar laws in place which limit the liability of a ship owner for injuries to persons and property to the value of the ship and its cargo after it arrives back to port – as long as the owner of the vessel was not at fault for the accident.

But what is the value of a duck boat that’s been run over by a barge and dragged from the bottom of river? While no money could ever make the duck boat’s passengers and their families whole, it can certainly assist them in coping with those losses and otherwise treating those injuries. To limit any recovery in this matter to the value of the soggy, used-up duck boat is unconsciounable.

Similarly, California enacted the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act, known as MICRA, in 1975 to combat concerns over the availability and rising price of medical malpractice insurance. This Act established a limitation, or cap, of $250,000 on the amount a person could recover for any pain, suffering, distress, anguish, and loss of quality of life in a medical malpractice case.

The theory was that MICRA would decrease the number of medical malpractice claims, as well as the costs of resolving those claims. It was further speculated that these savings would “trickle down” to consumers, resulting in lower or stabilized insurance coverage premiums and increased availability of medical services.

MICRA caps operate on half of all plaintiffs verdicts in California to reduce the award a jury determines necessary to compensate those plaintiffs for their losses. The end result was a reduction in costs – negligent health care professionals benefitted from a 30% reduction in liability. What is lacking is any evidence showing that patients benefitted from a similar reduction in medical malpractice. Even more disturbing, research has proven that the jury awards most likely to be capped under MICRA are those cases which resulted in death, in severe non-fatal injuries, and injuries to children younger than 1 year.

Clearly, there are inequities here, and unfortunately, reform itself can result in the type of defective, vicious, corrupt, or depraved practices which it was intended to eradicate.

PROTECTING YOURSELF WITH UM/UIM COVERAGE

December 7, 2010

By Sara B. Morgan, Esq.

California requires all motor vehicle operators to maintain liability insurance with limits of at least $15,000. What happens if your injuries in an auto accident exceed that coverage?

Uninsured and underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) policies may help. They provide coverage for you, in case you are in an accident caused by a driver with no or little liability insurance. If the other driver has no insurance, and is thus “uninsured,” your insurance company compensates you for your bodily injuries and property damage, up to an including the amount of your policy.

An underinsured policy applies where the other driver has very little liability insurance, but your bodily injuries and property damage exceed that amount. Perhaps the other driver only has the state-mandated minimum of $15,000, but your injuries exceed $50,000. In this case, the other driver is “underinsured,” meaning he/she does not have enough insurance coverage to compensate you. Here, your insurance company would compensate you for your injuries that exceed the other driver’s insurance coverage, up to and including the amount of your policy.

With the increases in the general cost of living, and especially in medical services, the minimum liability requirement of $15,000 seems woefully inadequate to fully compensate those involved in anything other than minor motor vehicle accidents. One way to protect yourself against incurring these losses is through uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance, with limits appropriate for your particular circumstances.

Another way to protect yourself is to seek the assistance of an experienced, competent personal injury attorney. The law firm of Heiting & Irwin has for over 30 years represented clients in successfully bringing all types of personal injury lawsuits, including navigating the waters of insurance claims, and we are readily available to provide you with assistance. Please call us today if you need help.