Sometimes accidents can happen. But in some cases these accidents could be prevented. It may be that you were not properly shown how to use equipment or were not given the right protective clothing. Whatever the reason if you feel it was not your fault then you could be due compensation and a company of accident claims solicitors could help you get it.
A lot of cases of this nature can be very complex. Each individual case needs to be looked at carefully in order to see whether or not there is a claim. This is why it is best to choose someone who specializes in these kinds of cases.
Some firms that handle these types of cases may not necessarily specialize in them. Looking online to find people that deal solely in these cases or has specific training, certification and experience is a good start. This should help narrow down the options in the local area to find the specific representative that suits your requirements.
If you know any friends or family who were involved in compensation claims of this nature then it may be sensible to ask them. They should be able to tell you how their representative handled their case. If they can offer a positive recommendation then it is worth getting their opinion at the very least.
Ideally you should find a legal representative who can offer a free initial consultation. This should allow them to look at the facts of your case. They should then be able to offer recommendations and see if the case is one they think they can realistically pursue and get a positive result from. The best ones will not guarantee a positive result. However they may offer to represent you on a no win no fee basis. This should mean that any compensation will be sought from the losing side in the case and if you lose that should mean you do not have to pay.
During this consultation period you should not be afraid to ask questions. Most firms are happy to answer any questions you have and will want to give as much information as possible. In turn they will probably want to know more about what happened. The more information you can give them will help with your case.
A good thing to ask is if they are a member of any organizations. There are some not for profit organizations that represent people who have suffered accidents. Others may be for specific purposes such as for people who have been involved in cycling accidents. With a lot of these organizations you need a specific level of experience in handling cases of this nature and you are often only certified once you have handled a number of cases that have gone to trial.
In short the ideal company of accident claims solicitors will have trained staff who are prepared to engage with you and discuss your requirements. Ideally this should mean one who will arrange a face to face consultation with you. Look online to find specialist legal representatives in your local area.
If you have suffered a personal injury due to an automobile accident, medical malpractice, unsafe working conditions or another cause, the law limits the time in which you have to file a personal injury lawsuit. Failure to timely and properly file suit within the applicable limitation period may forever bar your claim. Each state has a different set of laws, which mandate that a suit be filed within a specific time period. This is known as the statute of limitations and can vary from one to six years. The deadlines vary depending on the type of claim, the state in which the claim is filed, and whether the claim is filed in state or federal court. The only exception to this is when the plaintiff is filing for damages against the government. When that's the case, the statute of limitations is often reduced to thirty days and up to one year.
Typically, the statute of limitations begins on the day the injury occurred. Sometimes, this doesn't apply in certain cases where pharmaceutical manufacturers are held liable for injuries or even deaths attributed to their products. These cases can take several years in which to identify the link between a prescription medication and the sustained injury.
States and their Statutes of Limitations
In making a determination as to which statute of limitations will control a civil action, the type of "cause of action" that the claim is pursued will be critical. For example, in the state of California, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit is two years, but the statute limits lawsuits involving libel or slander to just one year. Furthermore, some states have special rules regarding minors and many states require victims to provide advance notice of their intent to file suit. If a minor is injured, the countdown for pressing charges does not begin until the child turn 18. Below you will find the standard statue of limitations for each state:
Comprehensive insurance is similar to collision insurance, except that comprehensive insurance will pay for damages to your car when you are not at fault. Liability insurance pays for all expenditures, which are related to repairing any other cars involved in the accident. Liability doesn't cover the repair costs of your own vehicle since comprehensive and collision insurance covers those costs.
Liability insurance covers you from claims arising from an accident where there is bodily or property damage. There are three types of liability insurance; bodily injury, property damage, and uninsured motorist's coverage. Liability coverage protects you when an accident is your fault. It will pay claims for medical expenses or lost wages. If you've damaged someone's property, you'll need liability insurance for property damage to pay for repairs. In the last instance, you are protected by uninsured or under-insured motorist coverage, which protects against an accident involving an uninsured or underinsured party.
Collision insurance pays for damage to your car resulting from a collision with another car, object or as a result of flipping, or a rollover accident. It also covers damage caused by potholes. Ever if you are at fault for the accident, your collision coverage will reimburse you for the costs of repairing your car.
Who is Covered?
The people who are covered by your auto insurance policy include yourself, and any of your family members, friends and associates that you let borrow your car. Explicit permission is not required each time they borrow your vehicle. They are covered as long as they have a reasonable belief that you permitted them to use your vehicle.
What Damages are Covered?
Comprehensive coverage covers your vehicle and other vehicles you may be driving. It covers damage to your car if it is stolen, damaged by flood, fire, or animals. It covers the cost of repairs to fix your vehicle, minus the deductible that you chose.
Which Vehicles are Covered?
Most insurance policies provide 30 days of automatic coverage for a vehicle that replaced a vehicle already on your policy. Most policies also provide automatic coverage for a newly acquired vehicle, which is an addition to the vehicles already on your policy. Motorcycles, farm vehicles, commercial and specialty vehicles may not be covered. Higher deductibles will lower your monthly insurance premiums,, but cost you more out of pocket if you are in an accident.
Insurance Coverage by More than One Policy
When the Driver is Not the Owner
In all auto in insurance policies, there is some provision for coverage that applies to permissive users of a vehicle under certain circumstances. When the owner of a vehicle allows someone else to drive his car, the majority of authorities treat the car owner as sharing liability for an accident. In an auto accident, the car owner's part of the liability may be a condition of consequence. Owner liability is that the owner gives permission to use the car deliberately. When a person is driving a company car as an employee, liability is not only on the negligent driver, but also the employer. It is the duty of the employer to check the driving record of all employees who may operate a company vehicle.
When You are the Passenger
Most states allow a passenger to recover damages against the driver if he or she was negligent in the accident. If the other driver was negligent, the passenger may file a lawsuit against that driver.
Parents' Liability for Minors
A parent is not automatically liable for an auto accident caused by his or her child. However, a parent might be liable for damages under the following circumstances:
- The parent was negligent in controlling the child's injuring causing actions that were reasonably foreseeable to the parent;
- The parent was negligent in allowing the child to use the automobile under foreseeable dangerous circumstances, (e.g. knowing that the child was inexperienced and/or incompetent to operate a vehicle);
- The child was acting as an agent for the parent at the time of the accident, such as driving the family car for family purposes.
Employers' Liability for Employees
An employer is subject to vicarious liability for auto accidents caused by its employee's negligent driving. The doctrine of "respondeat superior" provides that an employer can be held liable for negligent acts committed by its employees while they were within the course and scope of their employment. Therefore, employers can be held vicariously liable for injuries caused by an employee's negligence.
Employers have been held vicariously liable when an employee was engaged in a business conversation using their cell phone when they got into an accident. In addition, there have been cases which apply respondeat superior liability against the employer when they required an employee to drive a company-owned vehicle to and from work.
An employer might also be liable on theories of negligent hiring or supervision, if the employer didn't exercise due care in excluding unsafe drivers from duties involving vehicle activity. The employer should check his or her driving record and make sure that they have a valid license for their state and the number of moving violations within the last three years.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance will reimburse you, a member of your family, or a designated driver if one of you is hit by an uninsured or hit-and-run driver. This type of coverage comes into play when an at-fault driver has insufficient insurance to pay your loss. This will also protect you if you are hit as a pedestrian.
Coverage for Property Damage
Property damage liability covers the cost of any property damage to another person's property due to a car accident. In most cases, it may be a vehicle, but it can also refer to buildings and other structures, such as stores, offices, homes, fences or lampposts. Property damage liability coverage pays for the repair or replacement of thing you have damaged other than your own vehicle. Property damage liability is a requirement in most states.
No-fault Auto Insurance
Auto insurance laws establish a personal responsibility system that provides coverage when a driver is at-fault in an accident. Only a few states maintain what is known as a no-fault system. Under no-fault insurance, claims are paid regardless of who caused the accident. However, it only pays for medical bills and lost income up to the limit of your policy. Any expenses above the policy limit are not covered.
A no-fault insurance policy typically limit compensation for pain and suffering, emotional distress and future loss of income due to severe injuries. Not all sates have no-fault statutes and several states have repealed their no-fault laws.
States with Thresholds
Drivers in no-fault states are barred from going to court to collect compensation for injuries or pain and suffering unless they meet a specific threshold of damage. In mandatory no-fault states, lawsuits seeking compensation for human pain and suffering are permitted for injuries if they meet a certain threshold.
There is a verbal threshold which may be expressed in verbal terms. Any state that has a verbal threshold allows lawsuits only if the injured party can demonstrate serious or permanent injury.
States with a monetary thresholds require the victim to prove that his damages exceed a specific dollar amount in order to access the tort system to obtain damages for pain and suffering.
Several states utilize hybrid systems in which no-fault coverage supplements the required third party liability insurance. In these states, there are no limits on lawsuits.
All no-fault systems permit recourse against at-fault drivers for payment of economic losses in excess of the no-fault benefits.
Medical Payments and Health Coverage
When choosing a medical plan, it's important to understand the differences between a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) and a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO). HMO is a prepaid health plan where the doctors that are in the network are already compensated for providing you health care. With a typical HMO plan, you are required to choose a primary care physician (PCP). The role of the PCP is to provide basic health care. If you need to see a specialist such as a dermatologist, your PCP will need to make a referral to a dermatologist within the HMO network.
A PPO is a network of participating doctors in which your insurance company has negotiated a discount rate with. As long as you choose health care providers within the network, you pay lower copayments and fees. The large difference between an HMO and a PPO is that you can choose your own doctor within the PPO network. If you don't like any of the doctors in the network, you may choose an out-of-network provider. In doing this, you will pay a higher out of pocket expense. In addition, if you need to see a specialist, you don't need a referral. PPO plans have much higher premiums, larger deductibles and copayments.
Medicare and Medicaid
Medicare is a health insurance program for individuals 65 years of age or older and some disabled people under the age of 65. It also covers individuals with permanent kidney failure requiring dialysis or transplant.
Medicare can be broken down into two categories. The first part is hospital insurance coverage which covers inpatient care, a critical access facility which gives outpatient and inpatient services to people in rural areas, skilled nursing facilities, hospice care, and some home health care. Most people do not pay for this if they or their spouse paid Medicare taxes while employed.
The second part covers medical insurance, which pays for doctor's services, outpatient hospital care and other medical services in which the hospital coverage may not cover. These might include physical and occupational therapists and some home health care.
Medicaid is a joint program between the federal government and the states. It is their mission to provide health insurance coverage to people who are poor, disabled and elderly people who may be impoverished. Medicaid is available only to certain low-income individuals and families who fit into an eligibility group that is recognized by federal and state law. To qualify for Medicaid, an individual must meet certain criteria such as your age, if you are pregnant, disabled, blind, or your income falls below a certain amount.
State Medicaid program must cover inpatient and outpatient hospital services, physician, midwife and certified nurse practitioner services, laboratory and x-ray fees, nursing home and home health care, early and periodic screening, diagnosis and treatment for children under 21 and family planning. Each state has the authority to cover additional or optional services and receive federal matching funds.
Workers' Compensation is an insurance program, which provides medical and disability benefits to individuals who may be involved in a work-related injury or accident or those who acquire an occupational disease. Workers' Compensation protects both employees and employers. Every employee that is covered has a right to benefits if they become injured on the job. In return, the worker forfeits the right to sue the employer for job-related injuries.
Workers' Compensation laws are designed to ensure employees who are injured or disabled on the job are provided with a fixed monetary award. This eliminates the need for litigation. It also provides benefits to dependents of workers who are killed in work-related accidents.
Some laws also protect employers by limiting the amount an injured employee can recover and eliminating the liability of co-workers in most accidents.
The insurance adjuster can be an intimidating individual. They represent large insurance companies. The claims adjusters overall job is to get you to sign a full release of all your claims for as little money as they can get you to accept. The adjusters have many strategies for accomplishing that. The best way they can get you to accept less money is to search out and find as many weaknesses in your case as they can. The best way the insurance company does this is by offering it to you quickly. The insurance company knows that most claimants will not be represented by an attorney right after an accident. It is a prime opportunity to convince the victim to sign a release, or at least to sign forms turning over medical records and give statements about the facts of the accident and their injuries.
Learn How Adjusters Settle Claims
Once you have presented your documents to the adjuster, they are bound to have questions. When the negotiations begin, the insurance adjuster may try to bully you. They will talk about how long they have been in the business and how many settlements they have dealt with. They will compare your accident damages and injuries to others they have negotiated. Do not back down and keep your wits about you. Remember, they are just trying to do their job and to the insurance adjuster, this is not personal to them. However, it is extremely personal to you and your interests.
Insurance companies like to settle early because the general damages for pain and suffering are always minimal in the first few weeks following an accident.
Step by Step Process
When an insurance company is notified of an accident, the first step they take is to set up a claim file and assign a claim number to that file. Following that, they assign a claims adjuster to your case. The adjuster is responsible for monitoring the claim and has substantial authority in making a settlement on both the property damage and the bodily injury part of the claim. In auto accident cases, some insurance companies may have one adjuster to handle the bodily injury claim and another to handle the property damage claim. Most injury claims are not settled until all medical treatment has been completed. Some of the things you will need to take in consideration when filing your own personal injury claim include:
-Whose Fault Is It?
-Getting A Claim Started
-Understanding Insurance Coverage
-How Much Is Your Claim Worth?
-Processing Your Claim
-Property Damage Claim
-Negotiating A Settlement
-Finalizing Your Settlement
-Hiring An Attorney
-When To Seek Arbitration
-What to do when you can't settle
The most common complaint made in relation to personal injury claims is that even the most straightforward cases take a long time before a mutually agreeable settlement is reached. Everyone wants to settle claims at the earliest opportunity, but very often, there are reasons why they can't be settled.
If the offer from the insurance company is unsatisfactory, you can make a counter-offer and try to negotiate a settlement without using an attorney. If they don't cooperate or accept responsibility, it may be time to seek legal counsel to represent you in your case.
Personal injury claims must be brought within a specific period of time following the accident. This is called the statue of limitations (from the previous page) and it varies for each state, but most often it is a period of 3 years. If you miss this window, there is very little that can be done by you or an attorney.
It is imperative that you take comprehensive notes following an accident. Get organized by creating a file specifically for your case. Since memories can fade, getting these details down in writing is extremely important. This will be powerful support when litigating your case. Your notes should contain the details of the accident, the injuries you suffered and their effect of your daily life. You may want to document how you feel each day and if you have experienced pain, loss of mobility, sleeplessness, anxiety or depression.
Your file should include police reports, hospital bills and medical reports from doctors, photos, vehicular repair estimates, and any written communications to and from your insurance company and the defendant's insurance company.
Notify the Insurance Company
You should immediately notify all insurance carriers. In the case of an automobile accident, you need to inform both your insurance company and that of the other party of your intent to file a personal injury claim.
Physical evidence can act as proof in determining liability. It may also provide insight into the degree of your injuries. At the scene of the accident, there are many details you need to capture. These might include weather conditions, road and traffic conditions, the speed and direction you were traveling at. Make sure to preserve all physical evidence such as bloody clothes or items that were damaged in the crash, such as a laptop computer or cell phone, both of which are expensive to replace.
Pictures can be extremely useful in proving your case. After the accident occurs, and if you are able, take pictures of everything that will help to establish what happened. These can include skid marks, weather and road conditions, damage to your vehicle and any other vehicles involved in the collision. If you aren't able to take pictures at the scene, you may want to return a few days later to do this. Pictures should be taken from a variety of viewpoints and during the same time of day that the events occurred in order to recreate the scene as realistically as possible.
It's also important to take photos of your injuries which may includes cuts, bruises, marks and swelling. If you are hospitalized, have someone take pictures of you showing the extent of your injuries.
Determine Who is Responsible
Nearly every accident is somebody's fault due to negligence or carelessness. Determining liability is a way to establish who is legally responsible. It may depend on the facts leading up to the accident. If an employee was running an errand for an employer and got into an accident, the employer may be held liable. Each state has numerous statutes and code, which establish the standard of care an individual is held to. The code of conduct for vehicles is commonly referred to as "The Rules of the Road". If the driver violated a statue or law, this may determine who is at fault.
When there is more than one person responsible for an accident, the law in most states provides that any one of the parties is responsible. This can be advantageous in certain situations where one of the liable individuals is insured and the other is not. You can choose to make your claim against the insure person for the full amount.
What if the Government is Involved? Tort Claim Acts
If your personal injury case involves a claim against the local, state or federal government, or an employee of the government, you will need to follow strict guidelines and procedures when bringing a lawsuit. Most governments have enacted laws, which contain rules for filing claims against them. These are called "Tort Claims Acts".
The Federal Tort Claims Acts is the statute by which the United States authorized tort suits to be brought against itself. This makes the government liable for injuries caused by negligent or wrongful acts or omissions of any government employee while acting within the scope of his office or employment.
There are three major exceptions:
-The Feres doctrine, which prohibits suits by military personnel for injuries sustained during service
-The discretionary function, which immunizes the United States for acts or omissions of employees involved in policy decisions
-The intentional tort exception, which precludes suits against the U.S. for assault and battery, false imprisonment, false arrest, malicious prosecution, or abuse of process, unless they are committed by federal law enforcement or investigative officials.
Before an action can be filed under the Federal Tort Claims Act, an administrative claim must be presented to the government agency employing the person whose act or omission caused the injury. After an administrative claim is presented to the appropriate agency, they have six months to either admit or deny the claim.
Notice of Claim
The first thing you need to do is file a "notice of claim" within 60 days following your injury. If you fail to file within that time period, you will most likely be ineligible to obtain compensation for your injuries. The government then has the opportunity to respond to the notice before suit is filed. The claim will be either accepted or denied. If you receive a denial of your claim, you may still file a lawsuit in an attempt to hold the government liable through the civil court process.
Decide if You Need legal help
When your injuries are minor and require only minimal treatment, your damages may not be worth an attorney's time. Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency basis. The amount they get paid is based on how much they are able to obtain for your case.
If your personal injury suit involves several parties, complex legal issues, severe or permanent injuries, product liability or a claim against the government, it's probably best to seek legal representation.
Contact the Other Parties Insurance Company
When your personal injury case involves another party and they are insured, you need to contact their insurance company in addition to your own. Be extremely careful as to what information you give them as everything can be used against you at a later date.
Whenever you are involved in any legal process, it's best to have documentation that may be used in court or during the mediation process. However, you should only give written statements to the attorney who is representing you. Never give oral or written statements to the other person's insurance company.
Start the Claims Process
The most important aspect when filing a personal injury claim is to know the total extent of the injuries involved and the monetary amount that you will be seeking. The simplest way to settle your dispute is to write a "demand letter". This is the centerpiece of the insurance claim negotiation process. Details should include the following:
-Extent of your injuries
-Why the other party is legally responsible
-Types of medical treatment you received and the amount of money incurred
-Amount of lost income
-Other damages that you suffered
The letter should conclude with a demand for payment of a lump sum to settle the entire claim. When drafting your demand letter, it's advised to review all of your notes from the days and weeks following the accident. Along with your demand letter, you should send copies of supporting documents, which may include bills from the doctor or hospital, proof of lost income or any other documentation relevant to your case. A general rule is to request a sum that is 75% to 100% higher than what you would be satisfied with. This will give you room to negotiate with the insurance company. If you have not received a response to your demand letter or the proposed settlement is unacceptable, the next step will be to file a "Summons and Complaint".
Preparing and Filing A Summons and Complaint
You will need to prepare a summons and complaint that will be filed with the court. This is a formal document that you or your attorney will file in order to claim your legal rights against the other driver. Included in this document will be the "Cause of Action" which details the reason you are filing the lawsuit. A list of damages will need to be itemized which may include; medical bills, lost wages, property loss or damage, loss of future earnings and any other damages that are specific to your case. After paying a small filing fee, the document is filed with the Clerk of the Court who will assign a case number. All documents need to be served on the defendant named in the complaint. The individual who serves the complaint must be over 18 and not a party to the case. The Sheriff or a licensed process server may be used and they must complete and sign a proof of service. The proof of service together with the original Summons and Complaint must be filed with the court.
Once the defendant has been made aware of the fact that they are being sued, both parties begin the discovery process. This entails requesting documents and information from each other. This often includes a list of questions, also called "interrogatories", doctor's reports, medical records, and any witness testimony also known as "depositions" which is when a witness is questioned under oath. If you have an attorney handling your case, they most likely will have videotape of these depositions. This can be a long and complicated process, which could take months or even years depending on the complexity of the case.
It was last October that a public bus that was on its way to the Colusa County Casino resort flipped over into a ditch and killed 10 of its passengers. An 11th passenger died several months later because of injuries sustained during the accident. The bus held approximately 41 passengers, virtually all of which were elderly immigrants of Mexico going to the casino for a routine gambling trip. For the first time since the accident, the driver of the bus has made a public statement regarding his involvement in the deaths of the 11 passengers.
The bus driver recently wrote a letter to Sacramento's Modesto Bee. In it he assured the families of the deceased victims of his regret regarding the fate of their loved ones. He also expressed his deepest apologies, but stated that he did not believe he should be charged with manslaughter. Many families of the victims disagree because of the controversial cause of the accident. Although the driver has not yet been charged for manslaughter, many believe he will be found guilty of such because other passengers on the bus claim they saw him dosing off at the wheel. The owner of the bus company, who was also the stepfather of this bus driver, attempted to avoid the accident when he felt and saw the bus lurch toward the ditch. He was unable to do so in time and became one of the 10 victims that died during the crash.
The Colusa County District Attorney has charged the bus driver with felony vehicular manslaughter. This is because he believes the driver was negligent in driving a bus full of passengers while tired. The bus driver could be convicted for the felony vehicular manslaughter because of this negligence and also because of his past convictions. To begin, the bus driver was not actually authorized to drive this type of vehicle in the first place. He had a commercial driver's license but was limited to driving a commercial truck, not a bus. The driver also has previous criminal convictions, including possessing a firearm as a felon on parole, possession of a destructive device, and possession of marijuana.
Other parties may potentially be at fault for the accident, however. Besides driver error, the bus company could also be held accountable for the deaths and injuries sustained during the accident. They were responsible for ensuring that the bus was driven by someone who held the proper license to do so. In addition, the road on which the bus was traveling may have been hazardous. County and city governments are responsible for road maintenance and sometimes fail to do so, leading to accidents and injuries. If you or one of your family members has been injured in a bus accident such as the one in Colusa County, you should contact a Sacramento personal injury lawyer. Personal injury lawyers specialize in injury and wrongful death cases. They are equipped with the knowledge and expertise to determine who is at fault for these types of accidents so that their clients can receive fair compensation from whoever is to blame for their injuries.
Learn more info about Sacramento personal injury attorneys here.
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