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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.

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.

Falling After Snow Storms

Woman Slipped And Injured Back On Icy Street

Among fellow trial lawyers in Delaware is something all people should understand. Many people have fallen after snow storms after coming in or out of department stores or any other place of business. In Delaware, there is a doctrine called “The Continuous Storm Doctrine”. What that means is the courts in Delaware have held that there is no duty for the owner of land of a commercial establishment to clear either snow or ice while the storm is continuing. Furthermore, the courts also seem to suggest if they try to do it an proper fashion during the storm, they still may not be held responsible.

It comes up more than you would think. If there was snow for hours and then changes to rain and a person thinks it is ok to venture out, a person gets out of the car and slips on the snow or ice. Generally someone thinks because it is now raining, someone should have cleared the snow that was on the ground. However, with the doctrine I stated above, most probably the place where you fell is not going to be responsible for injuries.

Also, most times the court will give an establishment time in which to clear. In other words, once the weather clears, they do not have to do it immediately. It can vary from half a day to a full day for business owners to make sidewalks and parking lots decent for people to walk back and forth without hurting themselves.

The moral of the story is to be very careful if you are venturing out, for your own sake, while there is bad weather going in on your area. Obviously, you do not want to hurt yourself, and if you do, you are not going to be able to hold the place where you are shopping responsible for your injury.

Changes in Underinsured Motorist Coverage in Delaware

car wreck

In the last few years Delaware trial lawyers have been able to get the Delaware legislature to amend how to apply what is called underinsured motorist coverage. The result of doing that has been very much of a help to people who have been severely injured as a result of a motor vehicle collision.

For a long period of time, the law was you needed to have more underinsured motorist coverage than the person that struck you had in the way of insurance for causing a collision. Underinsured simply means that you have insurance if your injuries are greater than the amount of insurance for the person that caused the collision.

However, until three years ago, the courts have held that you must have a higher level of underinsured motorist coverage than the person had in the way of coverage for causing a collision in order to go after your own underinsured motorist coverage. An example would be, is if the person that struck you had $25,000.00 in insurance for causing a collision, and you had $15,000.00 or $25,000.00 of underinsured motorist coverage. Up until very recently you would not be able to go after your own underinsured motorist coverage for that $15,000.00 or $25,000.00 because you did not have more insurance than the person that struck you. Thanks to the legislature with the help of Delaware trial lawyers, that has now changed.

Under the same situation that I stated above, if you had $25,000.00 of underinsured and the other person had $25,000.00 of insurance for causing the collision, you would be able to get the $25,000.00 from the person that struck you. Furthermore, if your injuries are worth more than $25,000.00 you would now be able to go after you own underinsured motorist coverage for $25,000.00. Therefore, you would have $50,000.00 of insurance as opposed to $25,000.0 under the law as it was up until three years ago.

Of one note, try to get as much uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage that you can afford. The minimum limits in Delaware are $15,000.00 if you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage and to go up to $25,000.00 or higher is not that much more. You should always ask your agent or insurance company how much it would be for $25,000.00, $50,000.00, $75,000.00 or $100,000.00 of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. If you can not afford it then you can not do it. If you can, it just takes one person’s failure to follow the rules of the road that you cause you a lot of problems.

Slip and Fall

Slip and FallIn a slip and fall situation it is vitally important that you report it to the management of the place you fell as soon as it occurred. Many times people call me and say that they had a slip and fall at a supermarket, department store, or any other type of commercial establishment. They did not feel that hurt at the time, and continued on with their business. They did not report it to anyone. Later on, they started developing very severe symptoms as a result of the fall.

If you do fall and feel any type of personal injury, or even if you do not, you should report it immediately to the management of the place where you fell. If you fell because of some type of defect such as water, other type of substance on the floor, by doing so you will protect anyone else that is shopping or working in the store.

For your own protection, it documents what happened at the time in which it did happen. In other words, the management can come and see that there was water or another substance on the floor that caused you the fall. Most establishments will do some type of incident report that will detail exactly what they saw and what you have to say. It becomes part of the record of the store. If you sustained an injury or end up having feeling pain within a few days thereafter, it is already documented.

Furthermore, a lot of establishments as we well know, have cameras. However, cameras do not keep what happened forever. If you report it, then the camera can show exactly what occurred. Most times that will be to your advantage.

If you do not report it until days or weeks later, you lost the effectiveness of having the management see exactly why you fell. Furthermore, if the camera has been erased, you lost the ability for everyone to see exactly what did occur. It is just essential that if you do fall for both your sake and for everyone that is there in the establishment or will be in the establishment, to report it immediately.

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.