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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.

Slip and Falls

Unfortunately as we all know, many people slip and fall or get hurt at restaurants, food stores, department stores, and any other place they go which are controlled by other people. Slip and falls are extremely difficult to prove in many cases. The reason for that is you must show in Court the place where you got hurt knew or should have known there was some type of dangerous condition that should have been handled before you ended up being hurt. In some cases, that is a very hard thing for a Plaintiff’s attorney to prove because you are basically trying to prove something that is very hard to know.

There are a few things a person can do to try to help themselves and their attorney, if they, unfortunately, ever end up in that type of situation. Initially, if you are injured severely, your first need is to ask for assistance and get by ambulance to a hospital. Your health is always your main concern.

However, many people feel injured, but they are not to the point where they have to have immediate ambulance service. If you find yourself in that position, there are some simple things you can do.

Initially, look to see what caused you to fall, or otherwise be injured. If it is a fall look to see whether it was some type of liquid on the floor, whether it was a clear liquid, how big of a spill, or if you can see where the spill was coming from. By looking for those telltale clues, it helps quite a bit in determining how long that spill had been there, and whether the employees of the place in which you fell should have realized there was a problem. If it is some other type of injury, see how it happened.

Secondly, look to see if there is a camera above you that is recording what is occurring. If so, then you know the camera should have captured exactly what happened you were injured. If you have a camera phone, take a picture of what caused you to fall. You should always look to see if there is a ‘wet floor’ sign or some other type of indication there was a problem where you fell. Most people are looking for merchandise on the display and not staring at their feet. A picture is always worth a 1,000 words. Also, if people saw what happened, get their name and phone number.

Thirdly, make sure you report the incident immediately. Usually, someone will come and take a statement from you about what occurred. Please give them all the information about what happened. That is what is called an incident report.

It is up to the attorney to develop the case. However, having knowledge of what was stated above is extremely valuable in knowing how to pursue the case. It takes just but a few minutes to potentially have a good case, as opposed to a tough one.

Contact the Law Office of Michael J. Hood, LLC

For a free initial consultation, contact us online or call our office toll-free 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.

Necessity of Having Adequate Insurance

For people that are involved in a motor vehicle collision in either Pennsylvania or Delaware, there are different types of insurance in which you pay. In terms of a personal injury accident, the main ones to consider are what they call Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and Uninsured / Underinsured.

PIP is for your insurance company to pay your medical bills and/or lost wages for a period of time. Delaware has a different time limit as opposed to Pennsylvania. However, that is the way you get your medical bills paid when you are injured and seek treatment, and that is how your get your lost wages paid up to the limits of insurance that you have. You can not go after the other person that struck you for medical bills and/or lost wages until the amount of PIP insurance available through your own insurance company has been spent. Also, that can not be done until you try to resolve the case. That can be a long time.

The minimum in both states is generally $15,000.00 per person. That may seem like a lot of money, but it can turn out to be very little money depending on your injury.

There is also what they call Uninsured / Underinsured motorist coverage. Uninsured coverage is when the person that struck you does not have insurance.

Underinsured motorist coverage is when the insurance on the vehicle that struck you does not have enough insurance to give you fair money for the injuries you sustained.

Again, in Pennsylvania and Delaware the minimum is $15,000.00 per person.

A person can only spend what they can for insurance. However, every time someone comes into my office with a motor vehicle case and they have the minimum amount, I tell them for future reference to contact their agent and find out how much higher levels of PIP and uninsured /underinsured motorist coverage would be. Generally, they find out the amount is not much more than having a $15,000.00 policy as opposed to having a $50,000 or $100,000 policy. If it can be afforded, I strongly urge them to get the higher amount of coverage.

The obvious reason is you have more coverage for your injuries and you do not have to go through other types of insurance that will want it’s money back, or you do not have additional insurance, end up having bills that can not be paid until you go against the personal responsible. Even more importantly, lost wages which can not be paid until you do the same. Many times the other side may not have enough coverage to pay pain and suffering along with medical bill and lost wages. The price of medical treatment is extremely high, and no one knows how much wages they may end up losing.

The same holds true for uninsured / underinsured motorist coverage. If you are hurt very badly and the other side has a minimum of $15,000.00, and you only have $15,000.00 in coverage, in Delaware, that would only leave you with $30,000.00 of potential insurance coverage for your injuries, potential medical bills, and lost wages. In Pennsylvania, it could depend on other factors.

I have seen horror stories where people have been extremely injured as a result of the motor vehicle collision. However, the medical bills were well past the $15,000.00 they had in PIP, and the other side only had the minimum amount of liability coverage in the amount of $15,000.00. The result is, even if they were not at fault, they ended up with more medical bills than there was insurance coverage available. That did not even take into account compensation for their injuries.

This may sound complicated, but it is not. Again, the way to do it is to go to your agent and find out how much high levels of coverage for both PIP and uninsured/underinsured will cost you, per month or however you pay. If it can be afforded, it is very much in your interest to get the higher coverage.

Contact the Law Office of Michael J. Hood, LLC

Contact us online or call our office toll-free at (302) 777-1000 to arrange a free initial consultation. We are available to meet with you Monday through Friday, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., and evenings or weekends upon request. We will travel to your home or the hospital if necessary.

Common Car Accident Insurance Problems

What to Expect When You File a Claim for an Auto Accident Injury

When someone else’s negligence causes a motor vehicle accident and you are hurt, it would seem that recovering insurance would not be that difficult, particularly when circumstances clearly indicate who was at fault. But the process of obtaining compensation for auto accident injuries is often frustrating, confusing and intimidating. Here are some steps you can take to increase your chances of getting timely and fair compensation after a motor vehicle crash.

File Your Claim as Soon as Possible

You want to make certain that you get the medical care you require, but you also want to move as quickly as possible to file a claim. The longer you wait, the greater the risk that the insurance company will try to say your injury was not a result of the accident.

Know What Your Policy Covers and How Much You Can Recover

Be aware of limits of liability on your own policy. You also want to know if you have coverage for underinsured or uninsured motorists, in the event the other party did not have insurance, or only had insurance to cover damage to his or her vehicle. When you are hurt in a motor vehicle accident, your insurer typically pays some benefits up front and then seeks reimbursement from the at-fault party and his/her insurer, but there may be limits as to what your insurer will cover.

Keep All Relevant Evidence and Documentation

Don’t rely on police or others to conduct a thorough investigation of the accident. Take pictures at the scene, get statements from witnesses, and obtain a copy of the police report. Keep copies of all documents, but attach another copy of all evidence to your claim, as it may accelerate the process.

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.