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Minor’s Settlements in Delaware

Minor’s-Settlements-in-Delaware

Delaware Courts have recently modified the rule for settling cases involving minors. The old rule was you needed to go to the Superior Court, and have that Court accept the settlement. After that, you then needed to go to the Delaware Chancery Court to file the appropriate papers to make sure it gets put into an account that neither the minor nor the guardian can touch until the minor reaches 18 years of age. At 18 years of age, it is the minor’s money. Occasionally, the money can be used for very exceptional circumstances before the minor turned 18.

The problem with doing it that way is it can become quite expensive going into two different Courts. Within the last year, the courts in Delaware have modified the rule to a certain extent. If the settlement is $25,000.00 or less, you only need to go through the Superior Court to approve the settlement. If the settlement is approve, within sixty (60) days, the guardian must take the money they received for the child and put it in what they call a Minor’s Account. Almost every bank has a Minor’s Account.

The same rules hold true as it was previously. In other words, no one can touch the money in the account until the minor reaches 18 years of age, absent court approval.

If the amount is over $25,000.00 then you still need to go through both the Superior Court and the Court of Chancery to get everything done correctly. The only time that would not occur is if you ended up having what is called a structured settlement. A structured settlement is generally when you are paid a certain amount of money up front, but the remainder is put into what they call an annuity. That means the minor will be paid a certain amount of money over a period of time which can be an extensive period of time depending on how much money you end up receiving as a result of settling the case.

Happily, most cases are less than $25,000.00. I say happily, because it means the injuries can be painful, but not horrible for someone who is under the age of 18 years of age. Therefore, the amendment to the rule does allow it to be done much easier and cheaper than it was previously.

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.

What to Expect from Your Insurance Company after a Personal Injury

In the aftermath of a personal injury, you may be unable to work or have substantial medical expenses. It’s natural to turn to your insurance provider for coverage and assistance, but you will often encounter delaying tactics, denials of legitimate claims, or efforts to get you to take less than you need and deserve. The insurance claims process can be confusing and intimidating, so it’s always to your benefit to have an experienced lawyer to represent your interests. Here’s some information about the process to help you work with your attorney to get the best result.,/p>

The Different Types of Claims

In general, you’ll file one of two types of claims—first party claims and/or third party claims.
A first party claim is filed with your insurance provider. Under no-fault laws, your insurance carrier will reimburse you for certain types of losses—medical expenses, lost wages and income—up to a limit specified in your policy. Your insurer will then seek reimbursement from the at-fault party’s insurer through a process known as subrogation. No-fault policies are customarily limited to automobile insurance.

A third party claim is filed with someone else’s insurance company. If you are a passenger in a motor vehicle and suffer an injury, you may seek reimbursement of medical expenses from the driver’s insurer. If you suffer injury in a slip and fall, or because of the malfunction of a product, you will need to seek compensation from the property owner’s insurer or the company’s general liability provider.

The Denial of Your Claim—Not the End of the Line

It’s not uncommon for legitimate insurance claims to be initially denied, but there is an appeals process. If you have received notification that your claim has been wrongfully denied, you’ll want to look at your policy to determine the precise process for overturning the denial. Again, that’s when you want to have an experienced attorney acting on your behalf.

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.

Your Right to the Payment of Medical Bills after a Car Accident

When you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, your first step if typically to notify your insurance company. But you can have a wide range of losses and have little understanding of which insurance company will pay for which losses. Do all medical claims have to be filed with your health insurance provider? What losses will your auto insurance company cover?
The answer, unfortunately, is that it depends on a number of factors, including the type of accident, the type of insurance you have and the state where you reside.

Medical Bills

There is no requirement that the person who caused the accident pay your medical expenses. In most instances, that happens, but not on an ongoing basis. Typically, you’ll file a lawsuit and your medical expenses will be covered in a settlement or verdict. However, don’t expect the at-fault driver to pay medical expenses as they are incurred.

If you live in a state with “no-fault” insurance, your motor vehicle insurance provider will customarily pay your medical expenses, regardless of who was at fault. Be careful, though, as there may be a limit on the amount that the insurance company will pay for the whole claim—that amount is frequently $10,000 or less. You can purchase additional coverage, with an additional premium.
When your insurance company pays the costs of medical care, but you were not at fault, the company will typically seek reimbursement from the at-fault party’s insurer through a legal process called subrogation. In that process, the insurance companies typically negotiate or litigate how much each will pay.

A word of caution—don’t expect your insurance company to be real cooperative when you have been hurt in a car accident. Insurance companies make their money by minimizing payouts on claims. You can expect delays, denials and attempts to diminish the value of your claim. That’s why it’s so important to have an attorney representing you at all times.

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.

The Types of Damages Available in a Personal Injury Claim

The Different Types of Damages You Can Pursue in a Personal Injury Case

Accident victim in gurneyWhen you have been hurt because of someone else’s carelessness or negligence, it can have an impact on every aspect of your life. Even if your injuries are not life-threatening or don’t seem that serious, they can limit your daily activities, leave you in constant pain, or force you to stop doing things you enjoy. It’s important to know the full range of damages you can seek in a personal injury lawsuit.

Compensatory Damages

The vast majority of damages in a personal injury action are designed to “compensate” you for a loss. Generally, though, compensatory damages fall into two categories: economic damages and non-economic damages.

Economic damages are those that represent a specific, easily quantifiable, loss. For example, any lost wages or income suffered because the injury prevents you from working would be an economic loss, as would all medical expenses incurred. You are entitled to compensation for any medical expenses already received, as well as any treatment subsequently required because of the accident. However, if medical expenses are paid by your insurance company, you won’t be able to personally recover those costs, as you did not incur them.

Other economic damages can include any property loss, or any other out-of-pocket expense incurred because of the accident

Non-economic damages are those losses that are more difficult to quantify, but nonetheless a result of the wrongful act. Non-economic damages include compensation for pain and suffering, for loss of companionship or consortium, for emotional distress, and for the loss of enjoyment of activities in which you can no longer participate.

Punitive Damages

A separate type of damages seeks to punish the wrongdoer or to act as a deterrent to others who might engage in similar conduct. As a general rule, these damages are referred to as punitive damages. Punitive damages are seldom awarded, and typically require that the defendant engaged in egregious, outrageous, or wantonly negligent behavior.

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. For a free initial consultation, contact us online or call our office at 302-777-1000 for an appointment.

Your Ability to Get PIP Payments for Lost Wages, and Short Term Disability

Arm injuryIn Delaware and Pennsylvania, you can purchase PIP (personal injury protection) coverage through your automobile policy. If you are injured in a motor vehicle accident, you can recover for lost wages under your PIP policy. But what if you already have short term disability coverage from your employer? Can you recover from both sources at the same time? The answer—sometimes yes and sometimes no. In certain situations, you are eligible to receive lost wage benefits through your insurance company under the PIP coverage on your auto policy, and simultaneously receive short term disability through an employer-sponsored plan. But there are some restrictions.

In Delaware, if you pay any part of the premium for your short term disability insurance, you are eligible to receive both PIP and short term disability payments. If, however, the short term disability is fully funded or paid for by your employer, any recovery under a PIP policy will prevent you from recovering under the short term disability policy. However, if the short term disability only pays 40% of your wages, you can go after your own insurance company for an additional 40%. PIP pays 80% of your gross pay. It is considered to be net of taxes.

Don’t be surprised if your employer or the disability insurance company delay or try to deny your claim. This is fairly typical with any insurance company, in any situation. Often, they will examine your medical records or require you to visit a doctor of their choosing, and will contend that you are not hurt enough to be out of work. If that happens, you need go to your doctor and request that your doctor write a strong letter reflecting why you should not be working.

It’s also important to remember that, if you file suit for damages after a motor vehicle accident, any money you receive will be offset by the amount you received in disability payments. This is pursuant to a “subrogation” right that the disability insurer has, which essentially says that they have a right to reimbursement of any benefits they paid you if you recover compensation through legal action.

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.

Insurance Benefits—Available for a Personal Injury?

Hurt in An Accident? Can You Get Insurance Coverage?

Distressed manWhen you have been injured in any kind of an accident, you will naturally look to the at-fault party to compensate you for your losses. If the losses are significant, or if the at-fault party (like many) does not have the resources to cover your losses, you’ll want to see if there is insurance that will provide coverage for your injuries. Depending on the type of accident, you’ll want to look at different policies to determine if you are eligible for benefits.

Most claims for insurance benefits after a personal injury stem from motor vehicle accidents, and are filed under an automobile insurance policy. The process for recovering insurance benefits varies, based on whether you are filing a no-fault claim or a third-party claim. Under no-fault laws, you must seek compensation for your losses from your own insurance provider. Your insurer may then seek reimbursement of payments under a legal process known as subrogation. Typically, no-fault rules only apply to injuries that are not serious.

It’s customary, when you have suffered physical injury, to seek medical attention and file a claim for benefits with your own health insurance provider. For example, if you are injured in a slip and fall accident on someone else’s property, you can go to the hospital, an urgent care facility or your doctor and have the costs initially covered under your own health insurance policy. Your insurer will typically then pursue reimbursement from the at-fault party or their insurance company. Reimbursement may be sought under auto, homeowners’, malpractice or comprehensive general liability policies.

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.

Insurance Issues When You Have Been Injured

Insurance Challenges after An Injury

Insurance agentWhen you have suffered needless injury because of the carelessness or negligence of another person, your first course of action, after getting the care you need, will likely be to submit a claim with your insurance provider for your losses. Often, though, insurance companies engage in tactics to delay, diminish or deny legitimate claims. Insurance companies are for-profit businesses, with a focus on maximizing shareholder value. The less they pay you, and other legitimate claimants, the more they can pay their shareholders.

If Your Claim Is Denied

You don’t have to accept the insurance company’s decision. In most instances, it’s best to be represented by an attorney, but there are some things you can do to get the process moving.

First, request that your insurer provide you with the appropriate forms to appeal the denial of your claim. In addition, ask the company to provide you with a specific reason for the denial in writing. In the interim, pull together all documentation to support your claim, including medical records and proof of out-of-pocket expenses, as well as all communication with your insurer.

If you file an appeal and it is denied, you can ask the state department of insurance to review your claim. When you file a complaint with the state department of insurance, an investigator will conduct an investigation of the facts and circumstances of your injury. The investigator will likely review any documentation that you provide, and will also interview witnesses. If the investigator concludes that your claim was legitimate and should have been paid, the insurer may face penalties and other sanctions, may be ordered to pay your claim, or may be ordered to mediate the claim.

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.

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.

Bicycle Accidents and Injuries

Bicycle Accidents—Protecting Your Rights

In Delaware, as in every state, bicyclists have a right to share the road with motorists. Unfortunately, far too often, drivers fail to pay appropriate attention or simply ignore that right, leading to serious injury.

The Common Types of Bicycle Accidents

Nearly half of all car-bicycle accidents occur at intersections, caused by:

  • Motorists making a left turn into the path of an oncoming bicyclist
  • Drivers failing to stop at a light or sign
  • Drivers making a right turn without looking for a cyclist

When on the road, a bicycle is considered a “vehicle,” and all laws and regulations governing vehicles apply. For example, if a bicyclist comes to a stop sign, he or she should make a complete stop, especially when there is other traffic present.

When determining who is at fault in a car-bicycle accident, then, the bicycle will be considered a vehicle and liability will be based on general traffic rules. If there are no traffic signals at an intersection, the first party to the intersection has the right of way. If there is a signal, the bicyclist must obey the signal.

The other common type of bicycle accident results from road hazards—gravel, potholes, sewer grates, uneven curbs and even water on the road. Generally, when you are hurt because of a defect in the road, you will have to seek compensation from the municipality with responsibility for maintaining the roadway. To successfully recover compensation for such an accident can be difficult unless you had witnesses and even then, you need to show that the municipality had not taken reasonable measures to fix the problem. If the fix was relatively simple, but the government failed to act, you have a good chance of recovery. But if the government had posted reasonable warnings or the fix was unreasonably expensive, it will be difficult.

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.