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Hit & Runs

Unfortunately, there are too many times someone will hit a motor vehicle and leave the scene. Many times, you will not get a license plate number, and all you have is just the close description of the make and model of the vehicle. You may be able to tell if the driver is male or female, but there is just not enough information for you to pursue the person that struck you.

Initially, it is vital you call the police when it happens. No one wants to wait around for the police to come, but it is essential for your sake that you do. Once the police come, you tell them exactly what occurred. Hopefully, your car will be driveable. If not, it can be towed.

Secondly, you need to let your insurance company know immediately. I have written many times before for the need of uninsured motorist coverage. This is a perfect example. If you do not have uninsured motorist coverage, you are going to be stuck with the damage to the vehicle, and if you got hurt, you cannot get paid fair money for your injuries. Also, you have what is called PIP insurance on your policy to get your medical bills paid. Some people have some type of health insurance, but many people do not. Therefore, you may be shut out in three different ways.

Under the law, you need to inform your insurance company as soon as practical to notify them of what occurred. That amount of time is up in the air. However, it is best to have it done immediately. I would suspect that if the car has any significant damage, your deductible for uninsured motorist coverage will be less than your deductible for collision. That happens in most cases.

If you are injured, you need to request an application for PIP benefits to get your medical bills and/or lost wages paid.

You should get something from the police officer that investigated it, and that should be supplied to the insurance company.

Lastly, you should also have coverage to get your medical bills and lost wages paid. I have written many times about the need to have enough insurance to get this done. It is up to you to see how much coverage you have. You should not have deductibles on your PIP coverage, and if you can afford more, you should get more than $15,000.00, which is the minimum.

All too many people do not do things in a timely fashion, and end up paying a lot of money out of their pocket for what occurred. Again, all too many people do not have uninsured motorist coverage, and they will not receive a nickel for anything that occurred.

 

The Distinction Between Worker’s Compensation and Ability to Sue for Full Damages in Delaware

A lot of people do not understand when you are hurt at work, most times, you are not entitled to get what you normally see on T.V. That is in terms of your pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment in life, and other things that are commonly associated with a personal injury.

If you are hurt at work, either it was something you did while at work, or something negligent by your employer, you are restricted to go under worker’s compensation, except if the employer intentionally tried to hurt you. Worker’s Compensation is something where you can get 2/3 of your lost wages up to a certain amount of money. You get your medical bills paid, and if you end up having a permanent problem with a part of your body, you can receive some money for that problem. Also, if you cannot work again, you can end up receiving money from your insurance carrier for your inability to work.

However, there are times you are hurt at work where you can receive both worker’s compensation and also sue for the personal injury aspect. That occurs when your injury at work occurred as a result of the negligence of a third party. In other words, you did not just hurt yourself at work in the normal course of doing things, or your employer did something that made you get hurt. It is when some type of independent contractor working for our employer or some other person or entity that is not employer caused your injury. A good example would be if you do construction. You work for a specific employer. If some other person working for another construction company does something that causes your injury, you can get worker’s compensation from your own employer, but you can also sue whoever the other person is employed by, if there was negligence that caused your injury.

Another good example is if you are driving the company motor vehicle on a work related matter. Someone runs a stop sign and hits your motor vehicle and causes injury.

Since you were driving on a job related situation, you are eligible for worker’s compensation. However, since it was also due to the negligence of someone else, you can also sue that person that ran the stop sign for personal injuries.

It sounds complex, but it is really not. I do not want to get into graphic detail, but if you are hurt by some person or business that is not employed by your employer, while you are on the job, you want to try to make sure the worker’s compensation pays for certain things, and your own car insurance pays for other things.

Many people do not think they are hurt and they can completely sue for everything that you would see on T.V. or read about in the paper for the types of problems that may end up occurring. That is not the case, unless there is some other third party beyond yourself or your employer.

Insurance Limits

I keep seeing certainly things from so many clients. I realize people can only afford what they can in terms of the amount of insurance. Through the good work of the Delaware Trial Lawyers Association, the legislature has increased the minimum amount of insurance that a person must carry to $25,000 per person/$50,000 for everyone in the motor vehicle collision. That has increased from $15,000 per person/$30,000 for everyone in the motor vehicle collision. That took place at the very end of 2017. That also increased uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage to $25,000 per person/$50,000 for everyone in the vehicle.

However, under any policy  of car insurance, you have what is called PIP/No-Fault insurance. That means your insurance company is responsible to pay your medical bills and/or lost wages up to two years from the date of the collision, up to the amount of coverage that you have. In Delaware, it is still $15,000 per person/$30,000 for everyone in the car.

For both liability in terms of getting money from the other person, and also for your own medical bills and lost wages, many times that is a sufficient amount of money. However, many times it is far from the amount people need for coverage. The same thing holds true as to what I stated above in terms of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Uninsured motorist coverage is when the person who struck you does not have insurance. That means you go through your own insurance company to try to get fair money for your injuries. Underinsured motorist coverage means the amount the person who struck you had in the way of insurance is not sufficient to pay the amount of damages you had as a result of being hurt. Therefore, underinsured motorist coverage can add to that amount you already received from the person that struck you.

Also, what people tend to do, and many times not know, is they get a deductible in their PIP/No-Fault insurance. In other words, they have $15,000.00 in coverage, but there is a $1,000.00 to $10,000.00 deductible. However much the deductible is on the policy, the insurance company is not responsible to pay that amount. If you do not have any back up health insurance, that can be an extreme problem. Also, if you have back up health insurance, health insurance has a right to get their money back in almost every case. If PIP pays for it, you have a right to go after the full amount  of coverage the other driver had.

What I am trying to say, and have been saying is a person should ask their agent how much it costs for different levels of coverage, both for PIP and also uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. If you can afford the higher coverages, I strongly suggest you get it. If you got your insurance online, which many people do, the same thing should happen. You should find out what type of insurance is available, and how much you can afford.

I have just seen too many cases where the amount of injuries and medical bills far exceed the amount insurance available. That even includes uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, which a lot of people have, and some people do not. Too many people waive uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Also, in terms of PIP, you may end up being out of work for months. If you do no have short term disability from your employer, you may not get paid your wages.

Again, you can only afford what you can. However, I think most people would find to increase their amount of coverage is not that expensive, and many can afford it. Hopefully, you will never have a motor vehicle collision where you are injured. However, the one time do you and if you get hurt, you can find that you are just not going to get back to normal, and you are not going to get fair money for your injuries.

 

 

Toxic Mold Cases

I get a lot of calls about mold cases. I will take a mold case. However, many times when I hear about a mold case, what I am being told is there was mold in a property that was purchased or rented. There are problems that a person believes are connected to the mold. Usually, they state they are better but had a problem for a certain amount of time.

When I hear that on the phone or in person, I tell people that having problems with mold can be extremely serious. However, there are certain doctors that deal with that type of problem. Even though there may be mold on the property, you just cannot say you felt bad, and therefore, it had to be as a result of the mold.

If you see mold and start having problems with breathing or any other types of problems, you need to let a doctor know. If you are aware there is mold, you need let a doctor know that also. He or she should refer you to a specialist. You have to prove in any personal injury case that the injuries sustained are both directly and proximately related to, in this case, exposure to mold.

Secondly, what is sometimes difficult to prove is the apartment complex, landlord, or former homeowner knew or should have known that the mold was there. Sometimes it is not very hard to show. Other times it is more difficult. You cannot just show there is mold, and therefore, some other person is responsible.

As I stated above, people can become very seriously ill from exposure to mold. However, you need to make sure you see the correct providers to try to diagnose your problems, and correct your problems. Most primary care physicians will not state your problems are related to mold. That is not their area of expertise, that is why there are specialists for mold and any other problems that can occur. It is not that the doctors are poor doctors, it is just not what they do day to day.

Consistent Treatment

One of the things I see in my practice, unfortunately, quite a bit is people that I think are really hurt do not have consistent treatment. If you are involved in a motor vehicle collision, slip and fall, or any other type of injury where you think someone else is at fault, it is just essential that you have consistent treatment by doctors, therapists or anyone else that can help you. The main reason is you want to get healthy. Any money you make is going to come and go. You only have one body, and you want that body to be in good shape throughout your life. If you end up having a bad back, neck, or any other problem, it is just not worth it.

I hear from all too many people that they are busy, they have families and a job. That is understandable. However, the insurance companies, or the attorneys representing the person or entity that caused your injury are just so happy that there are gaps in your treatment. Juries also hate to see gaps in treatment and will reduce your verdict to almost nothing many times.

If you are in physical therapy, most places are open from 8:00am until 7:00pm. If you have to miss an appointment, let them know, and they will reschedule. The last thing you want when you receive the records is “DNS”. That means, did not show.

The same applies for seeing a medical doctor, chiropractor, or any other type of healthcare provider.

This may sound silly, but it happens so frequently. For the most part, it is not people that are unhurt. They just make a decision that other things in life are more important than their body. It ends up that you cannot help them or you can help them very little. Many times it also ends up that they have a problem that never goes away.

 

 

 

Need for Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Unfortunately,  I have seen in the last couple of months more than a few times where people have stated that they do not want uninsured motorist coverage. In Delaware, specifically, you have to affirmatively state you do not want uninsured motorist coverage after being informed of what it would cost.

What is has happened in two different cases recently is one client has not been able to receive any fair money for any injuries as a result of the collision since the person that struck him was uninsured, and he did not have uninsured motorist coverage.

In another case, a person could not receive fair money for her injuries because the driver of her vehicle did not have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.

I realize people want to save money as best as they can. However, a quick call to an insurance agent or go online, you will find uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is not very expensive. That coverage can help you get fair money for injuries that were the cause of someone else not obeying the rules of the road.

Over my almost 37 years of doing this, I have seen it happen all too often. People are saving themselves probably a couple hundred dollars a year, and when a collision happens either they are hit by an uninsured driver, or their injuries are much more severe than the coverages the person that struck them has. You can always sue the person that hit you, but if they are uninsured or have very little insurance, 99 times out of 100 they are not going to have any money to go after even if you get a successful settlement against them.

For everyone’s sake, ask your insurance company how much it costs for uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. I would think almost everyone can find a way to afford that. Hopefully, you will never be in motor vehicle collision. However, thousands every year are involved in motor vehicle collisions.  You do not want to be someone who is hurt and cannot receive fair money for their injuries,  or only receive partial money for their injuries.

Toxic Mold

Toxic-Mold

What is happening very frequently these days is people are complaining of being exposed to toxic mold. It generally happens when you are renting a premises or even when you are staying at a hotel/motel. It is important to note that just like most things in life, the person who owns the apartment complex or hotel/motel is not automatically responsible for the mold. As with a slip and fall in the supermarket, the owner of the establishment will be liable if they knew or should have known there was mold present.

Obviously, from what I just stated above, if you are in an apartment or a hotel and see evidence of mold, it is important that you not just call, but write the landlord or owner immediately and inform them of what you see. Certain times, it is obvious that they knew or should have known , and just did not bother to do any investigation of the property. Other times, it is a lot closer of a call. Therefore, alerting them to that fact goes a long way in putting them on notice that things are not as they should be. It also can show, depending on how much mold exists, they should have known what occurred.

It is also important to understand that the person exposed to the mold has to prove that the mold is responsible for the health problems that they have. A person can say they are having problems breathing or they are feeling ill, but it does not prove that is as a result of the mold. Therefore, it is essential that you talk to you doctor and get a doctor that specializes in the reactions people have to mold. The defense will argue most times that any problems you have are not related to any potential exposure to mold. There are doctors out there that specialize in the adverse health consequences most people have as a result of being exposed to mold. Your family doctor can get you to someone almost immediately that would have that ability.

As I stated above, it seems to be becoming a more and more prevalent situation. However, people are not aware of the legal requirements to be able to recover for injuries as a result. Anytime you rent an apartment, if there is a problem you write your landlord. If you are in a hotel/motel, especially for a long period of time, write a note to the manager explaining the problems you are seeing. If it turns out he said/she said, then it makes it much more difficult to proceed on the case.

Contact the Law Office of Michael J. Hood

At the law office of Michael J. Hood, in Wilmington, we bring more than 30 years of experience to personal injury victims in Delaware and Pennsylvania. For a free initial consultation, contact us online or call our office at 302-777-1000 for an appointment.

PIP vs. Health Insurance

PIP-vs.-Health-Insurance

I have written about this topic before, but it is something that most people who have never been involved in a collision just do not realize. Almost every automobile policy, unless you specifically decline it, has a specific provision that your insurance company will pay your medical bills and lost wages up to a certain amount of time and up to the amount of policy limits that you paid. The minimum limits in Delaware are $15,000.00 per person/$30,000.00 for everyone in the motor vehicle.

A lot of people do not understand what I have stated above when they are involved in a motor vehicle collision. They generally will use their health insurance whether it be general health insurance, Medicaid, or Medicare. The problem with using other health insurance besides car insurance, you almost always have an obligation to pay back the money that the other health insurers paid on your behalf. If you use your automobile insurance, you do not have any obligation to pay back your insurance company for paying out that money. They have a right to go after the person that caused the collision to try to get their money back, if there is enough insurance left over. You do have a right to get all the insurance available for the injuries you sustained.

Again, as I have stated previously, but keep seeing it is that people have very minimum car insurance for medical bills and/or lost wages. Sometimes, that is all you can afford. Go to your agent or insurance company and ask how much it cost to get higher levels of insurance. Generally, it is not a lot more money over the course of a year to get a higher level. A one day stay in the hospital will basically wipe out the minimum limits for the $15,000.00 a person has in insurance through the vehicle. If you are in the hospital for a day, you will have additional medical expenses. Also, you will have lost wages. If you simply can not afford more, that is fine. Motor vehicle collisions just happen all too frequently and you do not want to be in the position where you do not have a right to get fair compensation for your injuries.

What I also see, as I stated before is people that have deductibles on the PIP (Personal Injury Protection ) insurance on their automobile. Again, that is your medical and lost wage coverage. In other words you will have a $15,000.00 policy, but a $5,000.00 deductible. That means the first $5,000.00 is not going to be paid by your insurance company. If you do not have health insurance, or even if you do, it becomes a nightmare to get that paid. That means doctors may not see you, you will get collection notices from hospitals or other types of medical providers. Importantly, you will not get the treatment that is necessary. Getting rid of the deductibles are generally very inexpensive. As I have stated, it always matters if you can afford it or not. However, I have seen cases where people end up in serious financial distress even though the collision was not their fault. It has happened more than a few times. It is something you need to look at and make a decision not just about getting in a motor vehicle collision, but your financial health.

Contact the Law Office of Michael J. Hood

At the law office of Michael J. Hood, in Wilmington, we bring more than 30 years of experience to personal injury victims in Delaware and Pennsylvania. For a free initial consultation, contact us online or call our office at 302-777-1000 for an appointment.

Dog Bites

Dog-Bites

In Delaware, state law and many city and county laws state that any dog bite that causes injury can be sued upon, even if it is the first bite by the animal. Usually, the only times that would not be the case is when someone trespasses onto the property where the dog is kept, or if someone is teasing the animal. That makes perfect sense.

The problem that is occurring more and more frequently is most homeowner policies or renters policies are excluding paying for any type of dog bite cases. Just a few years ago, you would see policies that would exclude certain breeds of dogs that some would consider dangerous. However, a lot of the policies are adding additional exclusions for any breed of dog.

If you are bitten by an animal on the street or any where you have a right to be, you should contact the local SPCA. It does not mean the dog will be put down. I am very much a dog lover, and I would not want to see that happen. However, you need to at least set up a record of what occurred. The authorities should investigate exactly what took place and why the bite occurred.

Contact the Law Office of Michael J. Hood

At the law office of Michael J. Hood, in Wilmington, we bring more than 30 years of experience to personal injury victims in Delaware and Pennsylvania. For a free initial consultation, contact us online or call our office at 302-777-1000 for an appointment.

Signing a Release of Claims Too Soon

Signing-a-Release-of-Claims-Too-Soon

What many people do, and they very much end up regretting doing so, is signing a release for an insurance company right after a motor vehicle collision. A lot of insurance companies for the people that cause a collision will come to you immediately and offer you money to end the case. It usually happens within a week to two weeks after the motor vehicle collision happened. At that point, a lot of people feel that they are a little sore, but they will get better. Obviously, it is nice to have money in your pocket. Therefore, they end up accepting the money and signing a release for all potential bodily injury claims that may occur as a result of the motor vehicle collision.

Unfortunately, what happens a lot of the time is those injuries do not go away. It turns out when your doctor does a more serious test such MRI, CT Scan, or some other type of testing, they find a very serious problem. It can involve anything up to surgery. When people hear that, they say they have no idea how hurt they were, and the insurance company should give them additional money for their injuries. Unfortunately, that is not the law in the State of Delaware.

If you knew you sustained an injury as a result of the motor vehicle collision, and you accept money, you are not allowed to go back after the person that struck you or their insurance company for additional money if it turns out the injury is more severe than you expected. The rationale the courts have used is, “you know you were injured”. Once you know you are injured and accept money, it is not the insurance company’s fault if you are more injured than you believe.

I realize a lot of people do not want to pay attorney’s fees in a motor vehicle case. However, I can honestly say in 35 years of doing this, I have never seen a person end up with less money by hiring an attorney. In very minor cases, it may only be a few dollars. In other cases, it can be a lot more money.

What I tell every client that walks through my door is you only have on body. Money is going to come and go. You need to do what is necessary to get the body healthy, but you are also entitled to fair compensation, no more, for what injuries you sustained. Until you feel better, or some doctor says you will not feel better, you do not know that answer.

Contact the Law Office of Michael J. Hood

At the law office of Michael J. Hood, in Wilmington, we bring more than 30 years of experience to personal injury victims in Delaware and Pennsylvania. For a free initial consultation, contact us online or call our office at 302-777-1000 for an appointment.