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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.