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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.

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.

Delaware’s Dog Bite Law

Protecting Your Rights When You’ve Been Bitten in Delaware

Most of the time, a dog is man’s best friend, and most pet owners act responsibly, minimizing the risk of dog attacks. But it only takes a moment of carelessness to lead to serious injury.

Delaware’s Dog Bite Law

Delaware has one of the more comprehensive statutes governing liability for damages caused by a dog. The law provides for damages for personal injury and property loss, and allows an injured person to bring legal action against not only the owner of the dog, but against third parties whose negligence may have contributed to the attack. For example, if a person is dog-sitting and the animal in his or her charge bites someone, he or she may be liable.

Delaware’s dog bite law finds liability under four different scenarios:

  • Intentional tort—A person who incites or orders a dog to attack another person will be liable
  • Negligence—Negligence involves a failure to use a reasonable standard of care. If a dog owner doesn’t use that level of care that an ordinary person would (as determined by a jury), he or she may be liable for any ensuing attack.
  • Negligence per se—“Per se” means “as a matter of law.” Under Delaware law, a dog may not run free unless accompanied by an owner/custodian and under reasonable control, or on the owner’s property. If a dog bites or attacks someone while in violation of this requirement, the injured party does not need to show negligence or carelessness by the owner. The simple fact that the dog was running free is considered proof of negligence.
  • Scienter—Scienter is a legal term that refers to the dog owner’s knowledge of the animal’s inherently dangerous nature. If a dog bite victim can show that the owner knew or should have known that the dog had a propensity toward violence, the victim won’t have to show negligence to recover compensation.

Exceptions to the Law

A dog’s owner will not be responsible for injuries to anyone who was illegally on the owner’s property at the time of the attack, or who was engaged in the commission of any crime when bitten, or who teased, tormented or abused the dog.

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.

Recreational Sports Injuries

Can You Recover Compensation for a Recreational Sports Injury?

Many recreational sports involve some level of risk of injury, from football and baseball to mountain biking, skiing, snowboarding or riding an ATV. If you are hurt while participating in a recreational sport, is it just part of the bargain? Can you willingly take part in a dangerous or risky activity and then seek damages if you get hurt? The answer—it depends.

The long established rule with respect to many sports-related injuries is known as assumption of risk. When you go onto a football field, in a full-contact game, you expect to get hit, particularly if you want to handle the ball. The key question, though, focuses on the nature of the risk assumed. Do you automatically assume risk for any type of injury simply because there is a chance of certain types of injury? The clear answer there is no. Here are some of the instances where assumption of risk would probably not apply in a recreational injury:

  • When equipment used for the activity is dangerous or defective—Participants in recreational activities have a right to expect that goods specifically developed and marketed for use in that activity are safe. Accordingly, a person may be able to recover damages if an ATV is demonstrated to have an unreasonable risk of rollover. Bats made with defective lumber, bindings that break, inadequate protective gear—all can be the basis of a lawsuit
  • Intentional or reckless actions that are outside of accepted components of the activity—Throwing a baseball at another player or taking a swing at someone, either with a fist or a bat, may be considered outside of the scope of the activity and not covered by the assumption of risk.
  • Other acts not considered to be an inherent risk—You can be hurt by acts of negligence that it’s not reasonable to assume, as they are not part of the activity. For example, if a stadium wall or fence is poorly maintained and causes injury, you will likely have the right to sue.

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.

Premises Liability—Negligent Security

The laws governing premises liability—the potential responsibility of a property owner for injuries suffered on his or her premises—require that residential and commercial property owners take reasonable steps to monitor property for potentially dangerous situations, and that they either remedy those problems or provide adequate warning of the risks involved. In most instances, this involves some sort of structural breakdown or defect—broken steps or stairs, slippery floors or sidewalks.

But the duty to ensure the safety of legitimate visitors to your property also involves taking reasonable measures to protect their safety when you know or should know that they are at risk of harm from muggings or physical attacks. If your property is in a high crime area—if there have been prior incidents on your property (or even nearby), you may be responsible for injuries suffered if you don’t take reasonable measures to minimize the risk of a mugging; accusations of negligent security can plague owners.

Here are some of the steps you can take to protect your interests:

  • Install adequate lighting—Dark corners and alleyways provide convenient cover for a lot of illegal activity. Install and maintain good lighting.
  • Ensure that all locks and security systems are completely functional—If you have restricted access to the building or property, make certain all systems work, so that no one gets in without permission.
  • Monitor and maintain fences and other barriers
  • If you have security guards, perform random checks on them to make certain they are doing their jobs.
  • Install security camera and motion-sensitive lights

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.

Construction Site Injuries—An Overview

The Types of Construction Site Injuries

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), approximately one in every ten construction workers in America is hurt on the job every year. Almost one out of every five dollars paid in workers’ compensation claims annually goes to people hurt on a construction site. Here are the most frequent types of injuries suffered by construction workers:

  • Injuries from falls—The most common type of injury on a construction project is a fall, either from a ladder or scaffold, an unguarded upper level or a construction elevator. A lot of workers are also hurt in slips, trips and falls over site debris, materials, tools and equipment.
  • Injuries from falling objects—Particularly on high rise projects, a lot of workers are hurt when items stored on upper levels, from tools to construction materials to trash, fall on them.
  • Dangerous or defective machinery, tools or equipment—Far too often, general contractors or owners use poorly maintained equipment, or tools or machines that are inappropriate for the job, or that have simply been poorly designed or manufactured. In those instances, the manufacturers and sellers of those devices can be liable for any injury they cause.
  • Negligent hiring, training or supervision—In the drive to complete a project, owners and general contractors frequently hire people without appropriate skills, fail to properly train them to use heavy equipment, and allow them to work without adequate guidance and supervision. Many workplace injuries occur when unsupervised workers devise workarounds that violate safety requirements.
  • Motor vehicle accidents—With trucks and other vehicles in and out of job sites, and with workers traveling back and forth from a job site, workers are continually at risk of injury in motor vehicle accidents.

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.

Dangerous and Defective Products

The Different Types of Product Liability Claims

When a product that you’ve purchased, used or been exposed to has caused you physical injury or loss, you may have a right to seek compensation from a number of different parties, from the designer to the manufacturer to the wholesaler or retailer. This is known as a product liability claim.

Product liability claims generally fall into one of three types:

  • The product was defectively designed—This claim is based on the allegation that the product designer failed to take certain known or reasonably discernible risks into account when designing the product.
  • The product was defectively manufactured—This claim alleges that the manufacturer made a mistake in the production of the product. It may involve the use of substandard materials, the omission of key components or some other defect.
  • The product did not contain adequate warnings—This claim alleges that the product manufacturer did not adequately warn the potential user of risks that were reasonably foreseeable.

Most product liability claims are based on a theory of negligence. To recover under a theory of negligence in a product liability claim, you generally have to show four things:

  • You must have incurred injury or loss—it can be property damage or it can be personal injury (or both), but you can only recover for actual losses
  • You must show one of the three conditions above, i.e., defective design, defective manufacturing or failure to warn
  • You have to demonstrate that the design defect, manufacturing defect or lack of warning actually caused your injury or loss
  • You must also show that you were using the product as it was intended to be used

Contact Our Office

To arrange a free initial consultation with a Delaware personal injury lawyer, 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.