Contact us today to schedule a free initial confidential consultation: (302) 777-1000

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.

Uninsured or Underinsured Motorists—Options for Recovery

When you have been injured in a car accident because of someone else’s negligence, the first place you typically look is the other party’s insurer. Even when you submit a claim to your own insurance company, your insurer will typically seek reimbursement from the at-fault party’s carrier. What happens, though, if you suffer a personal injury in an accident with an uninsured driver, or the at-fault party doesn’t have enough liability insurance to cover your losses?

The first step is to look at your own auto insurance policy to see if you have coverage for uninsured or underinsured motorists. This type of coverage is almost universally offered, but generally as a rider to your policy. You customarily have to proactively elect the coverage and pay an additional premium to obtain it.

It’s important to remember that an insurance policy is a contract. As such, it can be difficult to read, and you may be challenged to determine whether you have uninsured/underinsured motorists coverage and, if so, how much you have. Don’t expect your agent to take the initiative to tell you about the coverage, either. Insurance companies make money by minimizing the amount they pay in claims. You are best to hire an attorney to review your policy and help you get all benefits to which you are entitled.

Another approach when you have been hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver—look for another potentially responsible party. Was the accident caused by a faulty or defective tire, brake or other car part? Was the at-fault party under the influence of alcohol? Was there a roadway defect that caused or contributed to the crash?

Contact Attorney Michael J. Hood

For a private meeting, contact us by e-mail or call our office at (302) 777-1000. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request. We will come to your home or the hospital, if necessary. There is no cost for your first consultation.

What to Do When You Have Been Hurt in a Car Accident?

In the aftermath of a motor vehicle accident, things can happen pretty fast. To protect yourself and your rights, here’s a checklist of the things you need to do:

Get the Medical Treatment You Need

The most important thing to do after an accident—get whatever treatment you need. If you can’t leave the scene under you own power, don’t try to. This isn’t the time to be strong or brave; it’s the time to make certain you don’t do anything that’s going to make your condition worse. Wait for the paramedics to arrive.

If you are able to walk around and drive away from the scene, you should still go to either your doctor or an emergency clinic as soon as possible. Not all injuries you sustain in a car accident may be immediately visible. Medical professionals will know what tests to run if you have been in an accident, and will be on the lookout for certain types of injuries.

When you get medical treatment, ask doctors and nurses to document everything in writing. Make certain you tell them about everything that seems out of the ordinary, not just the most obvious issues. Don’t focus on your broken leg and forget to tell the doctor about the stiffness in your neck or back.

Document as Much as Possible

You want to obtain contact information from other parties to the accident, as well as anyone who witnessed the crash. This includes name, address, phone number, e-mail address and insurance provider. If you are unable to do this because of an injury, ask someone else to do so. If you can, take pictures of everything—any dents or damage to vehicles, your injuries, skid marks, road signs and weather conditions. The camera in your phone should be sufficient.

Contact Our Office

To arrange a free initial consultation, contact us online or call our office at (302) 777-1000. Evening and weekend meetings can be arranged upon request. We will come to your home or the hospital, if necessary.

Motor Vehicle Accidents Involving Drunk Drivers

It’s the holiday season and everyone is filled with good cheer. Unfortunately, too many of them are also getting behind the wheel of a car. Statistics show that traffic volumes go up dramatically in the days leading up to Christmas, and that alcohol can be involved in up to 40% of holiday traffic accidents. And with motor vehicle accidents involving drunk drivers, there can be some complicating factors.

Does The Other Driver Have Insurance?

The reality is that many drunk drivers are repeat offenders. If a driver has a prior conviction for driving under the influence, he or she may find it cost prohibitive to get more than the basic insurance coverage, or may simply choose to drive without insurance at all. Of course, when you are hurt in a car accident, the first place you tend to look for recovery is the negligent party’s insurer.

If the other driver doesn’t have insurance, or only had coverage for property damage, you can look to your own policy to see if you have coverage for uninsured or underinsured motorists. Most insurers offer this type of coverage, but typically as an optional rider on your policy. If you have it, it will provide an additional amount of coverage for personal injuries you have suffered.

Another option is to look for another potentially liable party. For example, if there were roadway defects, you might be able to seek damages from the municipality responsible for maintaining the roads. Also, if you can show that the drunk driver was served alcohol at a bar, tavern, restaurant or even a private party, you may be able to pursue compensation from the party who served the alcohol, under what is known as social host liability, or dram shop liability.

Contact Our Office

To arrange a free initial consultation, contact us online or call our office at (302) 777-1000. Evening and weekend meetings can be arranged upon request. We will come to your home or the hospital, if necessary.

Smartphone Use While Driving

Recently, a New York state prosecutor, Kathleen Rice, unveiled a program designed to prevent drivers from texting and driving (aka distracted driving). She is also hoping that insurance companies and smartphone manufacturers will begin to offer incentives for the adherence of text-and-drive laws.

In a press release, she said:

  • texting while driving is equally as dangerous as drunken driving – and more common among the youth
  • she urged smartphone manufacturers to incorporate technology into their devices that would prevent users from texting while operating a motor vehicle
  • she also asked the larger insurance companies to offer rates at a discount for persons whose devices contained the aforementioned technology (or a third-party app that serve the save function of prohibiting texting while driving)

Ms. Rice also stated that her office will seek to impose sentences that require this text-blocking technology for any individual that is convicted of any violation involving texting while driving. She is also asking law enforcement officers to cite any motorist who violates the law against texting while driving, even if the motorist is already facing more serious charges, such as reckless driving, etc.

Driving While Texting in Delaware – Distracted Driving Laws

Delaware state has extremely tough distracted driving laws – with enforcement being equally stringent. DE’s bans cover all drivers, as well as bans that only refer to bus drivers and novice drivers:

  • All drivers are banned from using hand-held cell phones
  • Bus drivers are prohibited from using both hands-free and hand-held cell phones
  • Novice drivers, meaning drivers with either a learner’s permit or an intermediate license, are also prohibited from using both hands-free and hand-held cell phones
  • Text messaging – ALL drivers are banned from texting messaging while driving. This includes text message composition AND sending text messages while driving.

Motor Vehicle Accident Practice at the Law Office of Michael J. Hood

We take cases involving all types of serious and catastrophic injuries, from brain and spinal cord trauma to road rash or burns, scarring and disfigurement, broken bones, paralysis, and amputation or loss of limb. We also represent individuals and family members in wrongful death actions arising out of a motor vehicle accident.

We will help you pursue full and fair compensation for all your losses, including lost wages and income, the costs of medical care, physical pain and suffering, and loss of companionship or consortium.

Contact Our Law Office Today

To schedule a free initial consultation, contact us online or call our office at (302) 777-1000. Our office is open Monday through Friday, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., but we will meet with you evenings or weekends upon request. We will travel to your home or the hospital if necessary.

WIlmington Deleware – Drunk Driving and Motor Vehicle Crashes

Allen Belile, 48, of Wilmington, DE, stands accused of injuring three people in a late-night crash last week in Middletown, DE. When Mr. Belile attempted passing a tractor-trailer, he veered into northbound lanes, and proceeded to strike another vehicle.

Mr. Belile, who was allegedly under the influence during the time of the crash, was also injured and taken to a nearby hospital. This was Mr. Belile’s 4th DUI charge.

Three injured adult crash victims were taken to Christiana Hospital Trauma Center. Their injuries were serious, but not critical.

Allen Belile is facing several charges once released from the hospital, including:

  • One count of 4th Offense Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol
  • Two counts of Vehicular Assault 1st degree
  • One count of Reckless Driving Alcohol Related
  • One count of Failure to have Proof of Motor Vehicle Insurance

The office of Michael J. Hood, LLC offers full-service legal representation to anyone who has been injured in a motor vehicle accident involving a drunk driver, whether as the driver of another vehicle, a passenger in any car or a bystander. We represent individuals who were passengers in the drunk driver’s car, handling injuries suffered in collisions, rollovers and single-vehicle accidents. Often times, drunk drivers are repeat offenders and, could have been driving with very little or no insurance.

Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney

To schedule a free initial consultation, contact us online or call our office at (302) 777-1000. Our office is open Monday through Friday, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., but we will meet with you evenings or weekends upon request. We will travel to your home or the hospital if necessary.

We’ve Moved!

Attorney Michael J. Hood Has a New Location!

The law office of Michael J. Hood has moved to a new location:

The office of Michael J. Hood, LLC, we have provided comprehensive legal counsel to personal injury victims in Delaware and Pennsylvania since 1982. We understand the uncertainty and anxiety that come in the aftermath of a personal injury. We will work hard to make certain that you have accurate and up-to-date information at all times. We will learn as much as we can about your accident and injuries so that we can give you a timely and realistic appraisal of the strengths and weaknesses of your case, the reasonable value of your claim and your chances of success.

We offer a free initial consultation. For a confidential meeting, contact us online.

Practice Areas

Contact Michael J. Hood

Michael J. Hood represents premises liability accident & personal injury victims in the cities of Wilmington, Newark, Middleton, Seaford, Laurel, Milford, Brookside, Claymont, Pike Creek, Wilmington Manor, Elsmere, Edgemoor, New Castle, Chester, Springfield, West Chester, Broomall, Woodlyn, Elkton and Pennsville. Also serving New Castle County, Kent County and Sussex County in Delaware as well as Delaware county, Chester county and Philadelphia county in PA.

Motorcycle Accidents Overview

Motorcycle Accident Lawyer in Wilmington, DE

If you’ve been hurt in a motorcycle accident, you want an experienced lawyer to help you get full and fair compensation for your injuries, one with a long record of successfully representing injured people. The injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident are, unfortunately, often serious. Identifying all their consequences can be challenging, requiring the services of a skilled attorney.

At the law office of Michael J. Hood, we bring more than 31 years of experience to personal injury victims in Delaware and Pennsylvania, including people who have been hurt in motorcycle accidents. We will take the time to learn the intricate details of your accident, as well as what you need to regain your health and get on with your life. We will carefully assess the strengths and weaknesses of your case so that we can give you a realistic expectation of the potential value of your claim, as well as your likelihood of success. We will keep you fully informed of all developments in your case, as well as your options, so that you can make good decisions about how you want to proceed.

To discuss your motorcycle accident claim with an experienced lawyer, contact our office online or call us at (302) 777-1000.

Philadelphia County Motorcycle Accident Injury Attorney

We provide comprehensive representation to people who have been injured while riding a motorcycle, handling all types of claims, including cases involving:

  • Hit-and-run
  • Uninsured or underinsured drivers
  • Accidents caused by defective or dangerous roadways
  • Injuries resulting when motorists run stop signs or lights, or change lanes illegally
  • Accidents involving illegal passing

We take cases involving all types of injuries, including serious and catastrophic losses, which can include brain or spinal cord injury, paralysis, disfigurement, or loss of limb. We also represent individuals, and families, who have lost a loved one because of a wrongful death involving a motorcycle accident.

Contact the Law Office of Michael J. Hood

We provide a free initial consultation to all motorcycle accident injury victims. Contact our office online or call our office at (302) 777-1000 to schedule an appointment. We offer a free initial consultation to every client.

Modified Comparative Negligence and Car Accidents in Delaware

Wilmington Delaware Car Accident Attorney

After a car accident, it’s not uncommon for an insurance agent to contact an injury victim in order to ask a few questions. In most cases, agents present themselves in a way that suggests they are simply doing their “due diligence” – checking up on you to make sure you’re receiving the care you need and are feeling better. At the same time, however, an insurance agent may ask what you remember about the car accident, what caused it, or what you remember right before the collision itself.

After establishing a measure of trust and concern, it’s not uncommon for injury victims to answer these kinds of questions under the assumption they are helping an agent gather important facts necessary for finalizing a claims payout.

Be Careful What you Tell an Insurance Agent

Unfortunately, most insurance agents aren’t personally interested in whether or not you’re actually feeling better or on the mend. In reality, they’re interested in getting you to talk about the accident in the hope you’ll say something they can later use against you to reduce the amount they have to pay out for your accident. Here, if you say something that suggests you were partially at fault for causing the accident you were injured in, your claims payout can be reduced or withheld altogether.

The Doctrine of Modified Comparative Negligence – 51% Rule

The state of Delaware follows the principle of modified comparative negligence – 51% rule. According to this rule, if you are 51% or more at fault in a car accident, you aren’t eligible to receive compensation for your losses. If the court determines that you are 50% or less responsible, you can recover damages reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to you. For example, if you suffered $100,000 in damages but are found to be 40% at fault, you can only recover $60,000 in damages.

Insurance companies are aware of the doctrine of modified comparative negligence – 51% rule. As a result, anything they can use to convince the court you are partially or totally at fault will result in a reduction in the amount they have to pay in claims.

Contact Michael Hood Before Talking to an Insurance Claims Agent

Insurance companies are in business to make money, pure and simple.  As a result, they have an incentive to reduce costs and minimize claim payouts. Most car accident victims are not familiar with the tactics used by claims agents when contacted by them. Once you retain an attorney, however, the insurer has to talk to your legal representative and avoid contacting you.

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, contact Wilmington Delaware personal injury lawyer online Michael Hood today. We will handle all communications with insurers and take steps to ensure your rights and interests are protected.

Delaware Improves Traffic Safety

There was a 13.6% drop in fatal traffic crashes, and an even greater 14.6% drop in Delaware’s traffic deaths for 2013 compared to 2012, according to an Office of Highway Safety (OHS) press release. For the first time in 50 years, there were less than 100 traffic fatalities in a calendar year in Delaware. There were 95 fatal motor vehicle crashes causing 99 fatalities in 2013 compared to 110 fatal crashes resulting in 116 fatalities in 2012.

It was 1963 when Delaware saw fewer than 100 fatalities when there were 96 traffic deaths.  Since records started being kept in 1929, the worst year was 1988 when 165 people were killed. The fewest number of traffic fatalities occurred in 1961 when 65 people were killed.

Where progress was made

OHS officials state the greatest safety improvement was in seat belt use, which increased to an all-time high of 92%, one of the highest percentages in the country.  There were 52 vehicle occupant fatalities (drivers and passengers) in 2013 and of those killed, 48% were not wearing seat belts, the same percentage for 2012.

Fewer fatalities are linked to drunk driving. Preliminary reports also show that 36% of the 99 (or 36%) traffic deaths in 2013 were alcohol-related, which is significantly down from 2012 when 60 (or 52%) of the 116 motorist fatalities were alcohol-related.  Delaware law enforcement officers arrested a total of 4,249 individuals in 2013 for driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs statewide compared to 4,198 in 2012.

Where improvement is still needed

Aggressive driving is being blamed for many traffic fatalities.

  • 31% of Delaware’s 95 fatal crashes are attributed to aggressive driving.
  • 37% involve speeding as a factor, higher than the national average of roughly 30% of all fatal crashes.
  • Other issues contributing to fatal crashes include failure to grant right of way, improper lane change and running stop signs.

Delaware Officials State There are Other Traffic Safety Areas That Need Improvement:

  • Pedestrian fatalities continue to be an issue for Delaware.  There was a slight decrease with 2013 ending with 26 pedestrian fatalities compared to 30 in 2012 and OHS states it’s planning more education and enforcement efforts statewide.  The highest contributing factors in pedestrian fatalities, according to the press release, include intoxicated pedestrians darting in front of cars and pedestrians not being visible to motorists.
  • The number of motorcycle fatalities increased, with twenty in 2013 compared to 17 in 2012.  High speed is blamed as the biggest factor to these crashes. Helmet use continues to be high with 65% wearing helmets in 2012 and 2013.

Contact Attorney Michael J. Hood

Despite these positive numbers, far too many of us are injured and killed on Delaware’s roads and highways. If you or a loved one has been injured in a vehicle accident, for a free initial consultation, contact us online or call our office at (302) 777-1000.