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Dangerous or Defective Equipment on a Jobsite – Your Remedies

Seeking Compensation for Injuries Caused by Dangerous or Defective Equipment on a Jobsite

Cement truck at construction siteIn today’s world, many workers face daily risk of injury because of exposure to inherently dangerous machines and equipment, or because of the potential for breakdown of heavy machinery. Here are important things you need to know about a workplace injury involving a defective or poorly designed workplace machine, tool or product.

  • You can seek workers’ compensation benefits for any injuries sustained—Workers’ compensation is designed, in Delaware and Pennsylvania, to be your exclusive remedy for injuries caused by the negligence or wrongful acts of an employer or co-employee. Your employer has a duty to ensure that the equipment or machinery used on a jobsite does not pose an unreasonable risk of injury to you. This may include assessing the design or manufacture of a tool, machine or piece of equipment. If you can make any argument that your employer failed to use reasonable care in using or bringing in a tool, machine or piece of equipment, you can seek benefits through the state’s workers’ compensation program.
  • In many instances, you can also file a lawsuit against the manufacturer, designer or distributor of the machine, tool, product or piece of equipment—In most instances, the machines or tools you use at work are obtained from a source other than your employer. Because workers’ compensation benefits only cover losses for which your employer has responsibility, you can circumvent the workers’ compensation system for any injuries caused by the negligence or wrongful act of someone other than your employer or a co-employee. This is known as a “third party” action, because you are allowed to file a lawsuit against a “third party”—someone other than you or your employer.
  • While you cannot typically recover twice for the same injury, you can simultaneously seek damages from your employer in a workers’ compensation claim, and from others in a “third party claim.” The amount recovered from workers’ compensation will relieve your employer of any additional liability, and the amount received in a lawsuit must be specifically for losses caused by the third party.

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.

The Common Types of Construction Site Accidents

Construction workersConstruction sites are commonly considered to be among the most dangerous places in the world to work. Even when you take the highest level of personal precaution, paying close attention to your actions and the actions of those with whom you are working, a mishap can occur in an instant. Here are the most frequent types of accidents causing injury on a construction site:

  • Falls from heights—Even with a single story home, you can be at risk of fall from a ladder or roof. On high-rise construction sites, you may fall from scaffolding or a ladder, but there are also risks associated with construction elevators, with higher levels that don’t have proper guardrails, and with buckets or cranes.
  • Falling objects—There are many potential falling objects on a construction site, from cranes, ladders and scaffolding to tools or machinery, from jobsite materials to trash or debris.
  • Dangerous or defective machinery, equipment or tools—The power and pneumatic tools used on most construction sites can be highly dangerous if poorly designed, improperly manufactured or maintained, or incorrectly used.
  • Negligence in hiring, training and supervising—Contractors and owners often take short cuts in hiring in order to put more labor into a jobsite. Workers may not have the necessary experience to operate a complex power tool or piece of heavy machinery. Some workers with minimal training may not get the additional training they need to safely operate a machine. Furthermore, contractors and subcontractors may simply delegate tasks without ensuring that those performing them have the requisite skill or experience.
  • Job-related motor vehicle accidents—With regular deliveries and the removal of waste, trash or earth, there can be a lot of traffic on a construction site. In addition, workers may be required to drive distances to obtain materials or perform other tasks.

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.

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.

The Need to Call Your Own Insurance Company Immediately After a Motor Vehicle Collision

Calling insurance agentWhen you purchase auto insurance, make certain that you have what is known as PIP, or personal injury protection. PIP is typically no-fault, so it will provide coverage regardless of who is at fault in the accident. PIP will cover medical expenses and/or lost wages for a specific period of time after the accident. In Delaware, PIP generally runs for two years from the date of the collision, but in Pennsylvania, it can be two years from the date of your last treatment.

It’s important to understand, though that you need to contact your insurance company immediately and notify them of your accident. They will send you the forms that you need to complete to get reimbursement or payment for medical bills paid, as well as lost wages.

There are often delays in obtaining reimbursement of lost wages, as the insurance company must send the form to your employer, and can’t reimburse you until the forms are returned by the employer. Unfortunately, employers are frequently slow in providing the required information, for a variety of reasons. To expedite your claim, you should continue to follow up with your employer to make sure wage information is provided to the insurance company. Though the insurance company may also contact your employer to move the process along, it’s in your best interests to initiate your claim as soon as possible, and to regularly communicate with your employer about the need to provide the information. You can often encounter delays and stalling strategies, but,with an attorney’s help, you can get your wages as quickly as possible.

If there are any unpaid bills arising out of the collision, and you are not yet represented an attorney, forward those bills to your insurance company immediately. If you don’t, you may run the risk that the service provider will report you as delinquent, which will have a detrimental impact on your credit score.

If you have an attorney, give any bills related to the accident to your lawyer as soon as possible. Your attorney will immediately forward those bills to the insurance adjustor handling your PIP/no-fault claim. If you continue to receive the same bills, keep giving them to your lawyer. Many times things fall through the cracks and a good attorney will follow up with the adjustor to get the bills paid.

It may seem strange that your own insurance picks up the medical bills and/or lost wages. But that is how it works in both Delaware and Pennsylvania, and it’s a good law. Without PIP/no fault, you would have to wait for the other party’s insurance company to pay for your medical bills and/or lost wages, and you could wait a long time.

Contact Us

For 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.

Suing for a Work-Related Injury – The Limits of Workers’ Compensation

Seeking Damages in Court for a Work-Related Injury

Construction worker and foremanUnder the laws of Delaware, when you have been hurt on the job, you must seek benefits under the state’s workers’ compensation laws. Workers’ compensation typically provides you with a specific benefit for a specific period of time, based on the type of injury. The system allows workers to apply for benefits without going to court, and gives employers a sense of certainty, as damage awards are fixed and won’t vary based on the whims of a jury.

Though workers’ compensation is the exclusive remedy (the only source of potential damages) for the wrongful acts of your employer, you can, under certain circumstances, file a lawsuit in a court of law to recover compensation or damages for losses suffered at work. Here’s how that works:

  • Workers’ compensation benefits are designed only to cover losses caused by the negligence of your employer or a co-worker. If your employer fails to act as a reasonable person, or a co-worker is careless, your only recourse is through a workers’ compensation claim.
  • Many accidents are caused by the negligence of vendors, customers, or unrelated third parties. If you can show that someone other than your employer or a co-employee was careless or engaged in negligence, and that the carelessness of the third party caused some injury to you, you can bring what is known as a third party action. In fact, there’s nothing to prevent you from seeking benefits through the workers’ compensation program for the wrongful conduct of your employer or a co-employee, and simultaneously filing a third party claim for injuries caused by anyone else.

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.

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.

Motor Vehicle Collisions

Car accidentOne of the most common mistakes people make after being involved in a motor vehicle collision is failing to call the police. In Pennsylvania, law enforcement officers generally won’t come to the scene of an accident unless there is an apparent injury. In Delaware, though, they will generally always come if they are called.

One of the most important things you need to do in the aftermath of an accident is get the best contact information you can about other drivers and witnesses, so that your attorney will be able effectively put together your case. All too often, people get some information from the other driver, but fail to obtain the complete name and address, making it extremely difficult for their lawyer to identify the at-fault parties.

This failure becomes exceptionally problematic if you have to take legal action to recover full compensation for your losses. Under either Delaware or Pennsylvania law, you must sue the at-fault party personally. Without full name and address, this can be difficult or even impossible.

The Information You Need to Get after an Accident

Any time you are in a motor vehicle collision, get all the information regarding the driver. That includes name and address, along with all insurance information. The other driver should be carrying an insurance card with all relevant information, including the name of the company, and policy number. The insurance card should also have a direct dial number that you can call to reach the insurance company..

If you are involved in an accident in Delaware, you should always call the police. It cannot hurt. If you see someone hanging around, ask if they saw the collision. If they did, politely ask them for their name, number, and address. Don’t wait for the police arrive to question witnesses. A witness may not stick around, and then they can be lost forever.

Do yourself a favor and get that information. It will help you to a great extent down the line.

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 after a Slip and Fall Injury

Pursuing Insurance Benefits after a Slip and Fall Injury

If you are hurt as a customer on commercial property, or in a slip and fall at a friend or neighbors house, where can you turn for compensation for your injuries? Will you have to identify the company provider homeowner’s or property insurance? Can you simply rely on the at-fault party’s insurance company to cover your losses?

Step One: Get the Care You Need

The most important thing to do in the aftermath of a slip and fall injury is to get the medical attention you need. When you go to the hospital, urgent care facility or to your family doctor, you can provide the caregiver with information about your own health insurance policy. The caregiver will typically file a claim with your caregiver, which may either deny the claim or approve it and seek reimbursement from the at-fault party or his/her insurer.

Step Two: Determine Whether There Is Liability Insurance

It’s important to understand, though, that your health insurance company will only reimburse you for actual medical expenses. You won’t be able to pursue any benefits for lost wages, loss of consortium or companionship, or pain and suffering from your insurer, unless there’s an actual medical expense incurred.

To that end, you want to determine whether the property owner, landlord and/or tenant had insurance to cover personal injury. With a private residence, that type of loss will typically be covered by either a homeowner’s policy or a general liability policy (often known as an “umbrella” policy). If there’s a mortgage on the home, there’s a good chance there’s also homeowner’s insurance, as the lender will typically require it. The only way to find out, though, is to ask the homeowner.

With a commercial building, the owner of the property may have liability insurance, and there’s a good chance that the owner of any business on the premises will also have liability insurance.

Regardless of where you were hurt, you should notify the property owner, as well as any insurer of the property, as soon as possible after the accident. The longer you wait, the greater the risk that the insurer will seek to attribute your accident to some other cause.

Step Three: File a Claim

It’s usually not a good idea to rely on the property owner to file a claim on your behalf. You will probably have to contact the insurance company directly and take the appropriate steps yourself to initiate the claim. Once you do, the insurer will likely assign an adjuster, who will interview all witnesses (including you) and make a determination of whether a claim should be paid, and how much should be paid.

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.

Bus Accident Attorney in Delaware

Bus-Motor Vehicle Collisions | Sudden Starts or Stops | Excessive Rates of Speed | Dangerous or Defective Equipment

For many, commuting by bus reduces upkeep on a personal vehicle, or even does away with the need to own a car. It can also reduce the risk of injury in a motor vehicle accident. But bus travel is not completely safe. Far too often, the owners or operators of a public bus don’t take reasonable precautions to protect the safety of riders. If you have been injured in an accident involving a bus, or because of the carelessness or negligence of a bus driver, you want an experienced lawyer to help you get full and fair compensation for all your losses.

At the office of Michael J. Hood, LLC, we have fought for the rights of personal injury victims in Delaware for more than 31 years, including people hurt in bus and other motor vehicle accidents. We recognize that every case is different, so we take the time to learn exactly what happened to you, so that we can give you a realistic assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of your case, as well as your likelihood of success. We will always tell you what you need to know, even if it’s not what you want to hear.

To set up a free initial consultation, contact us by e-mail or call our office at (302) 777-1000.

Our Bus Accident Practice

Attorney Hood will handle all matters related to any injured suffered on a bus or in an accident involving a bus. We will conduct a careful investigation of the details of the accident, traveling to the scene, if necessary. Attorney Hood will work with expert witnesses, such as accident reconstruction specialists, medical professionals and financial planners, to put together the most persuasive arguments for full financial recovery.

We take all types of injury claims related to or arising out of bus accidents, including:

  • Injuries suffered in a collision between a bus and another vehicle, whether as a passenger on the bus or a driver or passenger in another vehicle
  • Injuries suffered on a bus because of the careless or reckless driving of the bus operator, including trauma caused by sudden stops or starts, excessive rates of speed, improper lane changes, or negligence in making turns

Attorney Hood will help you pursue damages for all your losses, from wages and income to physical pain and suffering, from the costs of medical care to loss of companionship or consortium.

We take all personal injury claims on a contingency basis. We will only charge attorney fees if we recover compensation for your losses.

Contact the Law Office of Michael J. Hood, LLC

Contact us by e-mail or call our office at (302) 777-1000 to set up an appointment. 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.