tips for towed car

My car has been towed. What do I do?

Laura Hunt AttorneyHas Your Car Been Towed?  Here’s what to do.

  • Relax. You’ll find it! The worst thing you can do is stress out.
  • If you’ve been towed from a parking lot or garage, look for signs indicating the towing company name and number.
  • if you’ve been involved in an accident do not have your car towed to the tow yard if possible. Have it towed to your home.
  • If possible, arrange to have the car towed to your home or a friends home instead of a tow yard to prevent theft of personal property.
  • Call your attorney, just in case. Your instinct might be to call your insurance company, but check with your attorney FIRST!

There are several instances in which your car could be towed. Commonly, if your car is not drivable from the scene of an auto accident, the police or responding highway patrol officer will have your car towed from the scene. Critical advice that I give all clients is to have the car towed to your home or a friend’s home. If you are ever in an accident, please store this advice in your mind should you need it someday. Have the car towed to your home or the home of a friend. When the car is towed to a tow yard multiple problems arise.

Problems with Tow Yards

First, unfortunately I will not name names but I have personal experience from helping many clients over the years who have had personal property stolen from their vehicle at tow yards. This is a very difficult issue to prove and from my experience in working with clients over the past 20 years it is a common practice. In addition to the potential theft of your personal property out of your vehicle, many tow yard to require a ridiculous amount of identification to even look at or get to the vehicle and they charge exorbitant rates by the day to hold your vehicle there.  In fact, often times the tow bill has gotten so large that on an older vehicle, the tow fees are greater than the value of the vehicle and the tow yard sells the vehicle at auction.

In order to avoid these risks and pitfalls of trying to get your vehicle out of the tow yard, advise the tow company at the scene of the accident tow the vehicle to your house or a friend’s house. Even if you live in an apartment your insurance company will pay to have it towed to a collision center from your home.

Towing Coverage on Insurance

That brings me to the next issue of towing, and that is towing coverage on your insurance policy.  Towing coverage, often listed as TL on your policy, generally pays the cost of towing of your car to a repair shop when it is unable to be driven.  It also covers a specified amount of labor that is necessary in towing the vehicle. Often times on insurance policies, if you do not have collision coverage, they do not offer towing coverage. It is important to check with your agent or review your online purchase and specifically look for towing coverage and see if you have towing coverage separate from collision coverage. However, I highly recommend that everyone carry collision coverage on their vehicle.

Supplemental policies can also be purchased at a very low rate. For example AAA offers a roadside assistance policy for $85-$100 a year approximately which will cover towing costs in the event that your vehicle breaks down or is involved in an accident.  If you do not carry collision coverage, this is a valuable option.  These policies can be invaluable in the event of emergency. When purchasing a roadside assistant policy it is important to review the policy. Often the basic policy only allows for 10 miles or less in towing and then you are subject to the rate of the towing company that is sent. Generally for another $10-$15 in upgrading the roadside assistance policy they will cover you from 50 to 100 miles. This is an important element of your policy to check when you are purchasing it. It can save you hundreds of dollars in the event of a breakdown when you’re not close to a repair facility.  It is not something you want to learn the hard way. Usually when they offer different policies it is important to review the differences in the policies. Often, for only a few, dollars you can receive a great deal more coverage.

Towed from a Parking Lot?

Finally, there is the event that your vehicle is towed from a parking place or parking lot. Although it does not happen frequently it does happen. Always be careful when parking especially in downtown areas in looking for signs. If the sign is posted and you park in that area they do have the right to tow your vehicle. You could be subject to $300 to $500 towing charges and impound fees for parking in a towing area. However, if this occurs be sure to take pictures of the parking lot, the location of all signs, where your vehicle was parked, and make sure the signs were visible from location where you parked. If they tow your vehicle illegally you will need this documentation to fight the fine and recoup your losses. Please do not hesitate to contact the Law offices of Laura Hunt should you have any questions regarding a towing issue or your towing coverage on your policy. We are happy to review your policy with you to make sure that you have coverages the best suit your needs.  Having worked in the insurance industry as an attorney for 9 years before opening our boutique law firm specializing in helping injured people, I reviewed thousands of insurance policies.   With extensive experience in the insurance field, I can help you review your coverage quickly and efficiently so that you know exactly what coverages you have or need in the event of an accident.

At the Law Offices of Laura Hunt we are here to help you and your family in the event that accidents or tragedies occur. We wish everyone a safe and happy season. For any of your legal needs, do not hesitate to contact our offices.  The Law Offices of Laura Hunt is a boutique, family owned law firm in Henderson that specializes in helping injured people and the community with legal issues involving auto accidents, wrongful deaths, slip and falls, truck accidents, injuries to children, bicycle accidents, dog bites, and all types of injury claims.  Please do not hesitate to call us anytime you have a legal question or you or a loved one has sustained an injury at 702-450-(HUNT) 4868.

Apology means guilt?

Is Saying I’m Sorry an Admission of Guilt?

Imagine this. You’re driving along on Eastern, trying to get to your favorite donut shop. The tunes are playing loudly on the radio and you’re not paying much attention to the road as you sing along. The light ahead of you turns red and the cars stop, but you miss it. You slam on the brakes, unexpectedly. Suddenly, your rear fender finds itself lodged in the front fender of the car behind you. Horrified, you call the police and your personal injury lawyer. Then, you get out of your car and apologize profusely. After all, your mom raised you to be polite and apologize for things. But did you just admit your guilt? And can it cause you legal difficulty if your case goes to court?

Outcomes of Apologies in Court Cases

There’s two possible outcomes when you apologize after an accident. In one case, a sincere apology can lessen a person’s anger, thus making it less likely that they will seek legal action. In the other case, it’s a question of “anything you say can be used against you in a court of law.” By apologizing, they may argue you indicate your liability in the matter and it gives the other party a compelling case against you.

Thirty-six states have recognized the detriment that an apology can cause to a potential defendant and have enacted “Apology Laws”. First applied to medical malpractice, the laws protect anyone who makes a statement of sympathy or benevolent gesture following an accident. As long as the person doesn’t actually admit guilt, such statements are not admissible as evidence. Unfortunately, Nevada is not one of those states, so legal protections for an apology are limited.

So, how do you apologize without admitting guilt?

First, think about if an apology really is important in the situation. It might be your gut reaction, even if you did nothing wrong, but is it necessary? In our example above, there was obviously a lapse in judgment by driving distractedly, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should apologize for being in an accident.

Second, if you decide that an apology is worthwhile, don’t admit any fault or place any blame. It’s important to not give any indication that you are liable. You shouldn’t express any opinions or hunches about what caused the accident or how it could have been avoided.

Third, consider finding something different to say, instead of “I’m sorry.” Simply saying “I’m sorry” is relatively ambiguous and can be applied to many different situations, including accidents, funerals, and arguments. Find specific language for the sentiment you are trying to express. In our above example, you might say, “I understand how frustrating this situation is” instead of “I’m sorry I stopped so abruptly.”

Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm, a Ph.D. in persuasive strategies, gave two suggestions on how to show you are sorry: one, acknowledge pain, death, loss, and inconvenience; two, don’t let acknowledgement get confused with responsibility. In short, there are many occasions when apologizing is meaningful, and can even be beneficial, but don’t let anyone mistake saying “I’m sorry” for saying “It’s my fault.”

In general, when you’ve been in an accident, the old adage probably still holds true: “It’s better to say nothing at all.” And if you have been in an accident, please call our office today at 702-450-4868 and we can explain your legal rights and remedies under the law.

holiday accidents

Holiday Accidents and Driving

Holidays in Las Vegas are some of the best times around. Holiday parties, festivals, and other activities are in full swing around the Las Vegas valley. There are so many opportunities to enjoy the atmosphere of the season. It’s a time to reconnect with family and friends, indulge in some fabulous food and drinks, or follow some holiday traditions. Whether you are going to Ethel M’s to see the Cactus Gardens, the Motor Speedway to see the Glittering Lights display, or taking in some ice skating on the Strip, you can hopefully count on having a lot of fun, but you should do so responsibly. Nothing ruins the season like a car accident.

A study done by the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, spanning 1975 to 2002, found that the deadliest days for accidents are the 4th of July, December 23rd through 25th, and New Year’s Day. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that in 2010, the economic cost of accidents reached $242 billion. This number represents actual costs, like medical bills, lost work, and other tangible things. If you add in the intangible items like lost quality-of-life, the number jumps to $836 billion. That is a significant amount of economic damage to consider when we weigh our responsibility to society.

What causes holiday car accidents?

Drunk Driving

Several things can cause accidents around the holidays. The most obvious one is alcohol-related. According to the CDC, 1,025 people died in alcohol-related accidents between the years of 2002 and 2012. 1 out of every 3 deaths in traffic accidents involves a drunk driver in the US. 7.5 percent of all accidents in the month of December are caused by alcohol-impairment. In our state, a whopping 35 percent of accidents in 2016 were caused by drunk drivers, many of them with a blood alcohol level (BAC) well above the 0.08 level allowed by law.

While the numbers seem to be lower in the last several years, there are still plenty of people who get behind the wheel while drunk. Approximately 1.8 percent of people self-reported driving drunk in the previous 30 days. Perhaps millions more over the course of the year will drive while impaired. The NHTSA said that in 2010, alcohol-related accidents cost over $44 billion. Just in the last week or so, DUI crashes have left a woman in the hospital and a UNLV student injured and property damaged. It’s not worth it, both in cost of life and economic damage, to be a part of these statistics.

Drowsy Driving

Another factor that might cause accidents is drowsy driving. In 2015, the NHTSA reports that 90,000 accidents were the result of drowsy driving. This number has gone up drastically in just a few years, as only 66,000 were reported in 2011. When you are out late, enjoying a holiday party or coming home from looking at the lights, even if you haven’t been drinking, you are still at risk of causing an accident. The National Sleep Foundation reported that as many as 37 percent of adult drivers have reported falling asleep while driving. If you aren’t awake to steer, you can’t control what your car does or does not hit.

We’ve talked about drowsy driving before. There are many notable accidents caused by drowsy driving in our town, including a Greyhound bus in 2001. If you are driving and drowsy, for whatever reason, make a phone call to a friend, get an uber or taxi, or pull over and sleep. All you are losing is time, and time and that’s better than the alternative.

Distracted Driving

Another possible cause of accidents during this holiday season is distracted driving. It’s tempting to take a picture of those Christmas lights with your phone or text your significant other with an ETA, but statistics show that cell phone use, and other forms of distracted driving, can be problematic. It’s currently against the law in Las Vegas to drive with a device in your hands, so put it down. If you want to take a picture, send a text, or even talk on the phone, pull over. You won’t be missing anything by doing so, and it might save you from tragedy.

Marijuana impaired driving

A new risk for Las Vegas during this holiday season is the possibility of marijuana-impairment. The research on the effects of driving under the influence of marijuana is still in the early stages, but the CDC does warn that the risks are real. It is illegal to drive while under the influence of marijuana in Nevada. While there are not currently any roadside tests for marijuana, there are several in development.

While you can control yourself and how you drive, that is not the case for other drivers on the road. Even when we aren’t thinking about it, there are always risks associated with driving. At the Law Offices of Laura Hunt we urge people to act responsibly while driving. If you or a loved one is involved in an auto accident during this holiday season, please call our office today at 702-450-4868 and we can explain your legal rights and remedies under the law.

 

Photo “Car keys and a bottle of beer” by Amanda Mills acquired from Public Health Image Library, under public domain license.

Why I Do What I Do

Laura Hunt:   “I often find clients come into my office and we sit down for a consultation to discuss their case, they are stressed.  They frequently tell me that no one else has explained or listened to them as clearly as I have. I take great pride and find great satisfaction in to listening and caring about the clients that come to my office.  Something clients often say to me is “I don’t want to bother you.”   My reply is always you are not bothering me; I work for you and if you have a question, never hesitate to call or text me.  I am always available for my clients.”

When I graduated from law school in Oklahoma in 1992 I knew I wanted to help people. I thought about becoming a public defender but after two years in the criminal system I decided that criminal law was not for me.  Being a criminal defense attorney was exciting and I gained the valuable experience of arguing before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals regarding federal sentencing guidelines.  I also became knowledgeable in criminal law.  However, I determined that I did not want a career as a criminal defense attorney, but I wanted to help people.  I also knew that as a rookie lawyer, I needed to hone my skills and become a seasoned litigator before I could benefit people who have been wronged by large corporations and insurance companies.  So I went to work for a large insurance company and worked there for over nine years. During my time working for the insurance company, I was able to gain the experience, knowledge and capacity to not only try cases but understand how the insurance companies look at, review and determine value of cases.  I trained insurance adjusters in the law and how to deal with attorneys.  As a result of that extensive experience, I was able to enter private practice as an attorney representing injured clients and their families with an insight into the business that few other attorneys have.

After graduating from high school in Las Vegas with distinction for academics, track and cheerleading, I enrolled at UNLV as journalism major.   I worked at the school newspaper as well as school radio station. I always enjoyed meeting new people to interview for the paper and on the radio and hearing their story.    Having a personal connection with people as an attorney and counselor at law was important to me.  It was what drew me to the law, that personal connection to people and the ability to help them.  I graduated from UNLV with a Bachelor of Arts degree when I was 20 years old. I immediately enrolled in law school and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Oklahoma City University.  I loved my time in the south and enjoyed Oklahoma immensely.  But Las Vegas is my town; it’s where I grew up.  It is where my family and friends live, as well. I am as passionate about our community as I am my clients.  I am supportive of kid’s sports leagues and volunteer with my sons frequently in community outreach charities.

Those early experiences performing as a cheerleader, interviewing amazing people for the newspaper, and broadcasting live on the radio prepared me to be a public speaker and be comfortable in a court room.  I have never been shy or one to back down from controversy. I have admired many strong women over the years like Venus and Serena Williams for their grace, beauty and strength on the court and intelligent demeanor off the court. I have also admired women who’ve been pioneers in their fields like Eleanor Roosevelt and Amelia Earhart. So many amazing women have paved the way like, Coco Chanel who came from a humble background and used her amazing talents to build a legacy.

When I’m not working or attending the baseball games of my three sons, I  love yoga, skiing and riding ATV’s on the trails of the beautiful mountain ranges  all around our area.

I am licensed to practice law in all courts in the state of Nevada and the Ninth Circuit Court of appeals. I am also admitted to practice in Texas and California.  I am a member of the American Trial Lawyers Association, the Clark County Bar Association, and the Southern Nevada Women’s Bar Association.

At the Law Offices of Laura Hunt we are here to help you and your family in the event that accidents or tragedies occur. We wish everyone a safe and happy season. For any of your legal needs, do not hesitate to contact our offices.  The Law Offices of Laura Hunt is a boutique, family owned law firm in Henderson that specializes in helping injured people and the community with legal issues involving auto accidents, wrongful deaths, slip and falls, truck accidents, injuries to children, bicycle accidents, dog bites, and all types of injury claims.  Please do not hesitate to call us anytime you have a legal question or you or a loved one has sustained an injury at 702-450-(HUNT) 4868

Pregnancy Discrimination and Your Rights

Knowing Your Rights Against Pregnancy Discrimination

Pregnancy discrimination involves treating a woman whether, an applicant or a current employee, unfairly  because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition associated with pregnancy or childbirth. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA)  makes discrimination based on pregnancy illegal when it involves employment, this is inclusive of  hiring practices, termination, pay rates, job levels, promotions, layoff, training, benefits, such as vacation and  insurance, and any other term of employment. https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/pregnancy.cfm

 The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) Affects Small & Big Business

The following are requirements of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), and requirements of Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as they apply to women with pregnancy-related conditions.  The PDA and ADA apply to employers with 15 or more employees and therefore include all large and many smaller employers.

PDA Requirements

The PDA establishes that an employer with more than 15 employees must  treat women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions in the same manner as other applicants or employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work.  The PDA refers to and includes all aspects of employment, including firing, hiring, promotions, and benefits (such as leaves of absence and insurance benefits).  Pregnant workers are protected from discrimination based on current pregnancy, past pregnancy, and potential pregnancy.  http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/disability.cfm.

  • Potential Pregnancy.An employer may not discriminate based on an employee’s intention or potential to become pregnant.  For example, an employer may not exclude a woman from a job involving processing certain chemicals out of concern that exposure would be harmful to a fetus if the employee became pregnant.  Concerns about risks to a pregnant employee or her fetus will rarely, if ever, justify sex-specific job restrictions for a woman of childbearing capacity.
  • Past Pregnancy.An employer may not discriminate against an employee or applicant based on a past pregnancy or pregnancy-related medical condition or childbirth.  For example, an employer may not fire a woman because of pregnancy during or at the end of her maternity leave.
  • Medical Condition Related to Pregnancy or Childbirth.An employer may not discriminate against an employee because of a medical condition related to pregnancy and must treat the employee the same as others who are similar in their ability or inability to work but are not affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.  For example, under the PDA, since lactation is a medical condition related to pregnancy, an employer may not discriminate against an employee because of her breastfeeding schedule (For information about a provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that provides additional protections for breastfeeding employees, see the section on “Other Federal Laws Protecting Pregnant Workers” below.).
  • Current pregnancy. Under the PDA, an employer cannot fire, refuse to hire, demote, or take any other adverse action against a woman if pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition was a motivating factor in the adverse employment action.  This is true even if the employer believes it is acting in the employee’s best interest. http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/disability_regulations.cfm.

Benefits of Employment Under the PDA

An employer must provide the same benefits of employment to women who are affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions that it gives to other workers who are similar in their ability or inability to work.

Light Duty Policies.  An employer has to treat women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions the same as other employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work with respect to light duty, alternative assignments, disability leave, or unpaid leave. http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/disability_regulations.cfm.

Leave: While an employer may not compel an employee to take leave because she is pregnant as long as she is able to perform her job, it must allow women with physical limitations resulting from pregnancy to take leave on the same terms and conditions (e.g., provide them with the same amount of leave) as others who are similar in their ability or inability to work.

A covered employer: may not use an employee’s pregnancy-related condition for medical clearance procedures that are not required of employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work, and may not remove a pregnant employee from her job because of pregnancy as long as she is able to perform her job, and must allow her to return to work following recovery from a pregnancy-related condition to the same extent that employees on sick and disability leave for other reasons are allowed to return.

If the pregnant employee used leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act, the employer must restore the employee to the employee’s original job or to an equivalent job with equivalent pay, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment. (For information about the Family and Medical Leave Act, see the section on “Other Federal Laws Protecting Pregnant Workers” below.).

Title I of the ADA may require an employer to provide leave beyond that which it usually allows its employees to take, as a reasonable accommodation for an employee with a pregnancy-related impairment that is a disability.

Medical Benefits. The PDA requires employers who offer health insurance to include coverage of pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions.  An employer must provide the same terms and conditions for pregnancy-related benefits as it provides for benefits relating to other medical conditions.

Rules Against Harassment (In Addition to Protections)

In addition to protecting her job, it is against the law to harass a woman because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition.   Harassment is unlawful  when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive environment, or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted). https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/pregnancy.cfm

 What To Do if You Think Your Rights Have Been Violated?

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will help you to decide what to do next, and conduct an investigation if you decide to file a charge of discrimination.  Because you must file a charge within 180 days of the alleged violation in order to take further legal action (or 300 days if the employer is also covered by a state or local employment discrimination law), it is best to begin the process early.  It is illegal for your employer to retaliate against you for contacting the EEOC or filing a charge.  For more information, visit https://www.eeoc.gov, call 800-669-4000 (voice) or 800-669-6820 (TTY), or visit your local EEOC office at:

 

Las Vegas Local Office

Location: 333 Las Vegas Blvd South
Suite 5560
Las Vegas, NV 89101
Phone: 1-800-669-4000
Fax: 702-388-5094
TTY: 1-800-669-6820
ASL Video Phone: 844-234-5122
Director: Richard Burgamy
Regional Attorney: Anna Y. Park
Office Hours: The Las Vegas Local Office is open Monday-Friday from 8:00 a.m – 4:30 p.m. Please call first to obtain information or to schedule an appointment with the Intake Officer.

(see also https://www.eeoc.gov/field/index.cfm  )

Additional Federal Laws Affecting Pregnant Workers

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows eligible employees of employers with 50 or more employees to take up to 12 workweeks of leave for, among other things, the birth and care of the employee’s newborn child and for the employee’s own serious health condition.  The Department of Labor enforces the FMLA.  For more information about the FMLA see http://www.dol.gov/whd.

Section 4207 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act amended the Fair Labor Standards Act to require employers to provide “reasonable break time” for hourly employees to express breast milk until the child’s first birthday.  Employers are required to provide “a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.” Employers with fewer than 50 employees are not subject to this requirement if it “would impose an undue hardship by causing significant difficulty or expense when considered in relation to the size, nature, or structure of the employer’s business.”  DOL has published a Fact Sheet providing general information on the break time requirement for nursing mothers.  The Fact Sheet can be found at http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs73.htm

 The Americans with Disabilities Act

Although pregnancy itself is not a disability, pregnant workers may have impairments related to their pregnancies that qualify as disabilities under the ADA.  Amendments to the ADA made in 2008 make it much easier than it used to be to show that impairment is a disability. http://www.parentcenterhub.org/repository/ada/  A number of pregnancy-related impairments are likely to be disabilities, even though they are temporary, such as pregnancy-related carpal tunnel syndrome, gestational diabetes, pregnancy-related sciatica, postpartum depression and preeclampsia. https://adata.org/learn-about-ada

An employer may not discriminate against an individual whose pregnancy-related impairment is a disability under the ADA and must provide an individual with a reasonable accommodation, if needed, because of a pregnancy-related disability, unless the accommodation would result in significant difficulty or expense (“undue hardship”).  https://www.ada.gov

 Examples of reasonable accommodations that may be necessary for a pregnancy-related disability include the following:

1)      Re-assigning marginal or nonessential functions (such as occasional lifting) that a pregnant worker cannot perform, or altering how a nonessential or marginal function is performed;

2)      Allowing a pregnant worker more frequent breaks or allowing her to keep a water bottle at a workstation even though the employer generally prohibits employees from keeping drinks at their workstations;

3)      Changing a work schedule so that someone who has morning sickness can work later than her usual start time and leave later to make up the time;

4)      Providing equipment such as a chair when standing is generally accepted;

5)      Providing additional breaks;

 Workers with Caregiving Responsibilities

Discrimination against a worker with caregiving responsibilities violates Title VII if it is based on sex, and violates the ADA if it is based on a family member’s disability.  For example, an employer violates Title VII by treating a female employee with young children less favorably than a male employee with young children when deciding on work opportunities, based on a belief that the mother should focus more on the children than on her career.  In addition, an employer violates the ADA where it takes an adverse action, such as refusing to hire or denying promotion, against a mother of a newborn with a disability over concerns that she would take off a lot of time for the child’s care or that the child’s medical condition would impose high health care costs.

For Additional Resources Regarding your rights in the workplace regarding pregnancy,  caregiving or a disability, the following are additional resources:

http://money.cnn.com/2014/07/25/news/economy/rights-pregnant-workers/

http://www.workplacefairness.org/pregnancy-discrimination

https://www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/caregiver-best-practices.html

http://www.workplacefairness.org/family-responsibilities-discrimination

https://www.care.com/c/stories/2678/what-caregivers-need-to-know-about-the-domest/

 

All about car insurance

What Auto Insurance Should I Have

One of the most frequently asked questions I get  from friends and family members as an insurance attorney handling peoples injury and property claims is “what kind of insurance do I have?

The most common statement a client makes when they come in the offices usually is, “I have full coverage.”

However after reviewing thousands of insurance policies, it has become clear that most people don’t know what “Full coverage” is. In past years, many people used insurance agents who were helpful in explaining what types of coverages people needed.  Agents would have assisted them in purchasing their insurance. If you are able to use an insurance agent that you know and trust, I would highly recommend that.  Understanding insurance coverages can be complex, and often times a large increase in coverage comes with a very small rate increase.

What Insurance Coverages are Available?

For that reason, it is extremely important to understand what insurance coverages for your automobile are available and what the different coverages mean in the event that you are injured or your property is damaged or you have injured someone else.   Most auto insurance policies are relatively simple to understand if you know the terminology they use. I think insurance companies intentionally use vague and ambiguous language so that people don’t know what they’re really buying. The following are the type of coverages that you will be asked if you buy insurance online or by an agent when you go to purchase insurance. Your responses and your purchases can be critical to your well-being in the event that you or someone you love is injured in an accident.

Liability Coverage

The first coverage that you purchase, which is required by law, is called liability coverage (often called bodily injury coverage).   What that means is the amount of money that your insurance company will pay for property damage and bodily injury for the adverse driver and passengers ( a.k.a. third-parties) in the event you cause an automobile accident. In Nevada, state minimum is 15/30/10. Most people do not know what that means either.

15/30/10 ?

When there are three numbers, the first number is the amount your insurance company will pay per person for bodily injury and the second number is the amount your insurance company will pay per accident for bodily injury. For example if you get into an automobile collision and it is your fault and there’s one person in the other vehicle they can only obtain $15,000 from your insurance company. If there were two people in the vehicle they could obtain $15,000 each. However if they were three or more people in that vehicle, the $30,000 would be split between those people if they were injured.

It is not rocket science to know that in today’s exorbitant world of medical billing, $15,000 does not go very far.

The third number is the total amount your insurance company will pay for property damage to the other vehicle or property such as a damaged road sign as a result of the accident.

Does minimum liability insurance protect me?

If you purchase a minimum insurance policy you could wind up being personally exposed. Meaning, if there’s not enough insurance coverage, the other driver could sue you and obtain a judgment against your personal assets to recover their damages. For this reason, it is extremely important to insure yourself and your family as high as you can afford to in order to protect your personal assets. Meaning if you own your home, and you have savings accounts, you want to make sure that you have enough insurance. I often recommended umbrella policy to people which is usually a cost of approximately $12-$15 per month and will protect your assets.  An Umbrella policy provides a higher layer of coverage for your auto, home, boat, etc. on top of your limits, usually in the amount of a million dollars.

Collision / Comprehensive

The second type of coverage which most people consider to be “full coverage” is collision coverage. Collision coverage means that payments will be made to fix your vehicle in the event that your car is damaged in an accident. If you purchase collision coverage, that coverage will cover damage to your automobile.

Deductible?

It is extremely important to know what your deductible is. Often times, changing your deductible from $1000.00 down to $500.00 is as little as $8.00 to $10.00 on your overall premium. It is important that you check what you’re paying for and what you could get for just a little bit more. When you go to Target, you can see all the items on the shelf and you can see what all the items cost and their value so you can choose accordingly. Unfortunately, with buying insurance, they don’t make it that simple.   You have to ask these questions either of the agent or when you’re buying online you need to change the deductibles and change your coverages and see how it affects your premium.

Medpay / PIP

A little known coverage that many agents don’t even mention or offer is called Medical Payments coverage and this can be extraordinarily important for you if you are in an accident. Medical Payments Coverage is usually a fixed amount anywhere from $1000.00, or $2,000.00, or $5,000.00 on up. It means that your insurance company will pay your medical bills regardless of whether you have health insurance if you are in an automobile accident and you’re injured.

Medical payments coverage can be very important because often times you may have large co-pays, especially for ambulance bills, from an accident. Health insurance often will not cover things like physical therapy as much as you need or you may have large deductible on your health insurance policy. Medical payments coverage is generally an expensive coverage which will protect you from out of pocket medical expenses if you are in an accident. It’s important to know that even if it is not your fault, it can take months or years to recover from the other driver. Your medical providers, (hospitals, ambulances, quick cares, etc.) will not wait until the claim is final to send you to collections. When purchasing insurance always look at what medical payments coverage is available and the cost.

If it fits your budget, you should purchase medical payments to protect yourself. Another important issue to know about medical payments is that it is not an at fault coverage, meaning if you use your medical payments coverage on your policy,  it is not counted as a claim against you for your rates.

UM/UIM

Another extremely important coverage that people often drop to save money is called UM/UIM. This means uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. Uninsured is self-explanatory, it means that if someone without insurance hits you, you have coverage for your medical bills and injuries. Underinsured coverage means that if someone with a small policy, like the state minimum of $15,000 hits you and you are seriously injured, you can recover against your own policy after the $15,000.00 is paid from the other driver.

In the state of Nevada, it is estimated that 13% of all drivers on the road do not have car insurance.  It is extremely important to protect yourself and your assets from reckless and illegal drivers. In the state of Nevada, when you purchase insurance, the insurance company is required to offer you UM/UIM benefits and if you reject the same they must have you sign a waiver. Think carefully before you reject these benefits because if you are in a serious accident these benefits could protect you and your loved ones from undue financial burden.

Rental car & roadside assistance

Also, there is the coverage for rental car benefits and towing. These are somewhat self-explanatory, however, there are a few tricks. When looking at your towing coverage always check the amount of miles that they will tow your vehicle. Sometimes they have separate towing packages where they’ll only tow your vehicle 5 -10 miles and then you are at the mercy of the tow truck company for the rest of the bill. It’s often pennies to change the policy to a better towing policy where they will tow you up to 100 miles.  It is similar with rental coverage. If you, like me, drive a large vehicle to take your family places and haul groceries, and you are need of a rental car from an auto accident, most policies will offer you the $20 a day, very basic economy car.  This may not fit your needs, and if it does not, it can be very costly to you to rent a larger vehicle. When purchasing rental insurance you usually have the option of $20-$30 a day or $50 a day in rental coverage. Again, this is generally a very inexpensive change on the policy and when purchasing rental insurance, check to see the cost of having a better vehicle in the event that you need a rental car. Often it is less than five dollars.

I hope this information was helpful and if you ever have questions when purchasing auto insurance, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Offices of Laura Hunt. The Law Offices of Laura Hunt is a boutique law firm in Henderson that specializes in helping injured people and the community with legal issues involving insurance and auto accidents. Please feel free to call if you have questions when purchasing your auto insurance at 702-450-(HUNT) 4868

firework injuries lawyer

Personal Injury Damages for Firework Related Injuries

In calendar year 2015, the U.S., Consumer Product Safety Commission estimated that there were 11,900 fireworks-related, injuries in the United States.  The majority of injuries caused by fireworks are the result of consumers not using them properly. Common mistakes include lighting the fireworks improperly, lighting the fireworks too close to other people, or lighting fireworks while holding them in one’s hand. Even when used properly, fireworks are dangerous explosives that can cause severe injuries.

However, often firework can malfunction and cause injury.  Improperly manufactured fireworks can explode prematurely, before users have made it a safe distance away.  Also, a defective fuse may ignite the explosive powders in the firework in a way the manufacturer did not intend, causing the firework to explode in an unexpected way. Finally, fireworks designed to soar through the air, such as bottle rockets, can take unpredictable flight paths, injuring onlookers or hitting nearby vehicles and buildings.

Fireworks injuries can be catastrophic and a firework injury attorney should be contacted immediately.  If injury occurs, it is important to immediately take the following steps:

  • take as many photos as possible of the scene, the debris, and the injury immediately.
  • Take the name and address and phone number of every person present who witnessed the accident.
  • Most importantly, keep all remnants of the firework including the packaging and the receipt.

Reported fireworks-related injuries have included  loss of eyesight, burns,  lacerations. punctures wounds and even death.  At the Law Offices of Laura Hunt, we urge all our fellow Nevada residents to prevent injuries and have a safe and happy Fourth of July.

The following safety tips can reduce the risk of firework injuries:

  • Always follow the directions on the fireworks package very carefully;
  • Be sure not to set off fireworks near fire hazards such as tall grass, dry leaves, and other dry debris.
  • Do not try to reignite used or malfunctioning fireworks.
  • Keep a bucket of water nearby for emergency purposes, and soak any used or misfired fireworks before discarding to prevent fires or accidental ignitions.
  • Never allow children use fireworks without adult supervision. Even simple fireworks like sparklers have been known to cause injury
  • Never alter or modify or experiment with homemade fireworks.

If you are injured by Fireworks, Know your Legal Rights

Whether a spectator at a fireworks show gone wrong or the user of a malfunctioning firework, victims may be able to recover damages for their injuries. Depending on the circumstances of the firework injury, a number of legal theories may apply. It is important to contact an attorney immediately if you have been injured by fireworks.

If you are injured as a spectator, you may be able to hold the person or company setting off the fireworks liable through negligence.  This may include the organizers the shows such as cities or hotels that may be liable for failing to properly supervise the activity. Although a city’s liability may be limited by state law, entities hiring fireworks companies still have a duty to protect attendee’s from injuries. Cities and hotels and other show organizers can be negligent in fulfilling their duty to supervise and open the door to liability is their negligence

When fireworks malfunction and cause injury, the injured person may be able to recover substantial damages from the manufacturer, the importer of foreign-made fireworks, or the local retail seller. All of these entities have a duty to sell products that function properly.  Under the theory of products liability, they may be liable for any injuries caused by a defective firework. http://injury.findlaw.com/product-liability/fireworks-injuries.html

Over the past decade, thousands of people in the United States have been injured by firework.  Aside from 2005, the number of people injured has risen steadily every year.

Estimated Fireworks-Related Injuries: 2000–2015

 Year                Estimated Injuries                               Injuries per 100,000 People

2015                            11,900                                      3. 7

2014                            10,500                                      3.3

2013                            11,400                                      3.6

2012                            8,700                                       2.8

2011                            9,600                                       3.1

2010                            8,600                                       2.8

2009                            8,800                                       2.9

2008                            7,000                                       2.3

2007                            9,800                                       3.3

2006                            9,200                                       3.1

2005                            10,800                                     3.7

2004                            9,600                                       3.3

2003                            9,300                                       3.2

2002                            8,800                                       3.1

2001                            9,500                                       3.3

2000                            11,000                                      3.9

Source: NEISS, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. The estimate for 2003 excludes an estimated 150

emergency department-treated injuries following the nightclub fire in West Warwick, RI. Population estimates for 2010 to 2015 are from Table 1. Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for the United States, Regions, States, and Puerto Rico: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2015 (NST-EST2015-01), U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division. Release Date: December 2015. Population estimates for 2000 to 2009 are from Table 1. Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for the United States, Regions, States, and Puerto Rico: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2009 (NST-EST2009-01).Population Division, U.S. Census Bureau.

People often mistaking think that only the illegal fireworks cause injury.  This is a mistake.  In fact, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, small fireworks accounted for a substantial number of fireworks related injuries in 2017.

Estimated Fireworks-Related Injuries

By Type of Fireworks Device

June 19–July 19, 2015

 

Fireworks Device Type           Estimated Injuries                   Percent (%)

 

Total                                                   8,000                                                   100

All Firecrackers                                1,200                                                   16

Small                                       500                                                       6

Illegal                                      200                                                       3

Unspecified                             500                                                       6

All Rockets                                        900                                                      11

Bottle Rockets                        800                                                      10

Other Rockets                                     100                                                      1

All Other Devices                              3,700                                                   47

Sparklers                                 1,900                                                   24

Fountains                                100                                                        1

Novelties                                 300                                                        4

Multiple Tube                                     400                                                        5

Reloadable Shells                   800                                                        9

Roman Candles                       300                                                        3

Homemade/Altered                           200                                                        3

Public Display                                   200                                                        3

Unspecified                                        1,700                                                     21

 

Source: NEISS, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Based on 208 NEISS emergency department-reported

injuries between June 19, 2015 and July 19, 2015, and supplemented by 31 completed In-Depth Investigations (IDIs).

Fireworks types are obtained from the IDI, when available; otherwise, fireworks types are identified from information

in victims’ reports to emergency department staff that were contained in the NEISS narrative. Illegal firecrackers

include M-80s, M-1000s, Quarter Sticks, and other firecrackers that are banned under the Federal Hazardous

Substances Act (FHSA) (16 C.F.R. § 1500.17). Fireworks that may be illegal under state and local regulations are not

listed as illegal, unless they violate the FHSA. Subtotal estimates are presented below the estimates for firework type.

Estimates are rounded to the nearest 100 injuries. Estimates may not sum to subtotal or total due to rounding.

Percentages are calculated from the actual estimates, and they may not add to subtotals or the total due to rounding.

https://www.cpsc.gov/s3fs-public/Fireworks_Report_2015FINALCLEARED.pdf

Who Is Liable to Pay for Your Medical Bills After a Firework Injury?

Injuries from fireworks can be serious and the medical bills to treat such injuries can be substantial.  Homeowners’ insurance protection is liability coverage is often available, but is it extremely important to contact an attorney first to discuss the facts of your case and determine if coverage applies.  If your or a loved one is injured in a firework accident, do not give any statements until you speak with an attorney.  Criminal laws and contractual provisions apply in every instance. Liability coverage under a homeowner’s policy can cover the medical expenses, pain and suffering  and  property damages.   This means that if someone other than you or a family member sustains an injury in your home or on your property, your insurance policy may pay for their medical expenses. Health insurance will cover any injuries you or a family member may have sustained in a firework accident and should be used first.

Your homeowner’s insurance policy may also protect you in the event you are sued for an accident involving fireworks you are lighting which causes injury to a guest or passerby.  For a covered loss, your homeowner’s policy will  pay the cost of litigation including attorneys fees and a judgment, should the person suing you succeed in getting the lawsuit to court. The Insurance Information Institute (III) has found that the typical homeowner’s insurance policy has a liability limit of $100,000. I would advise you to check your policy to make sure you have enough coverage if you typically put on a large fireworks display.

However, if  your state or county has made firework shows illegal in your jurisdiction, and you put on a private show in spite of the law, your insurance company may not be responsible to pay for any damages that you may incur as a result of a firework caused fire or injury. It is important to review your policy for an “illegal acts” exclusion. Because the use of certain fireworks was illegal, you should not have been using them.  Unlike the coverage on your home, the law of negligence would apply to your guests and they would be covered by your policy for your gross negligence in setting off illegal fireworks.

City Of Henderson and Clark County Fireworks Laws

Legal Use of Fireworks in the City of Henderson and Clark County

Only fireworks labeled as “Safe and Sane” are legal for use on private property for one week of the year, from June 28 until 11:59 p.m. on July 4. Safe and Sane fireworks can only be used on private property and cannot be used on the street or sidewalk, or on public property such as parks, schools, or federal land.

Safe and Sane fireworks  should only be used by adults and should be kept away from children. Safe and Sane fireworks can cause serious injury or death to adults and children and can cause fires.  At the Law Offices of Laura Hunt, we urge you and your family exercise extreme caution when using Safe and Sane fireworks.

Illegal Fireworks In the City of Henderson and Clark County

Fireworks that shoot  through the air, explode, or rotate on the ground are illegal throughout Clark County, including the City of Henderson. They have been declared to be unsafe because the fireworks user does not have control over where they land, which can potentially cause a fire. Illegal fireworks are usually sold outside Clark County and including on  the Indian Reservation. Those fireworks purchased on the Indian Reservation are expected to be used on the Reservation at a special designated area and should not be transported off the property. If you bring illegal fireworks brought into Clark County or the City of Henderson,  they can be confiscated, and a person possessing or using them can be ticketed. The penalty is a $1,000 fine and/or a maximum of six months in jail.  Private use of fireworks of any kind is not allowed on public property, such as those owned by the Bureau of Land Management, US Forest Service, Lake Mead Recreational Area, or City of Henderson parks, trail facilities, streets or sidewalks. The use of fireworks on public property can result in a fine of up to $10,000 and a year in jail as well as the costs associated with resource damage, suppression costs, and injuries.  Safe and Sane fireworks are illegal at any time of year other than the week of  June 28 until July 4 at 11:59 p.m.. on July 4.

http://www.cityofhenderson.com/fire/community-programs/fireworks-safety

marijuana in henderson

What Does the Legalization of Marijuana mean for the City of Henderson and the State of Nevada and its Drivers?

In Nevada, driving under the influence of marijuana can earn drivers $600-$1,000 fine and jail time for the first offense.  At midnight on July 1, 2017, the sale of recreational marijuana began in Nevada.  Driving under the influence of marijuana is illegal just like driving under the influence of alcohol. You can carry it around or drive with it in your car, but driving when using is against the law. Passengers are not permitted to ingest marijuana in a vehicle under Nevada law. Smoking or consuming marijuana in public is also not permitted and you can receive a $600 fine.

The City of Henderson does not allow recreational marijuana sales at licensed dispensaries within city limits. Users of recreational marijuana in Nevada and the City of Henderson must be at least 21 years of age.  In addition, public consumption is against the law in Nevada.  If you’re going to use recreational marijuana, the Law Offices of Laura Hunt urges you not get behind the wheel of a car.  It is the same as drinking and driving.  You must use a designated driver, cab or ridesharing service if you use marijuana in the City of Henderson as well as anywhere in the state of Nevada. State and local police including Henderson Police will continue to enforce all impaired driving laws. The Law Offices of Laura Hunt urges you to respect our communities if you choose to use recreational marijuana.  Do not operate a motor vehicle while using marijuana or engage in in any activities that could endanger lives.  It is also extremely important to keep all forms of marijuana secured safely so that is not accessible to children or pets.

In November, 2016, 55 percent of Nevada voters approved of a ballot initiative to legalize recreational marijuana.   The following was the text of the ballot question presented to Nevada voters:

STATE QUESTION NO. 2

Amendment to the Nevada Revised Statutes

Shall the Nevada Revised Statutes be amended to allow a person, 21 years old or older, to purchase, cultivate, possess, or consume a certain amount of marijuana or concentrated marijuana, as well as manufacture, possess, use, transport, purchase, distribute, or sell marijuana paraphernalia; impose a 15 percent excise tax on wholesale sales of marijuana; require the regulation and licensing of marijuana cultivators, testing facilities, distributors, suppliers, and retailers; and provide for certain criminal penalties?

Yes  No 

 

Based open a vote of the people, dispensaries in Nevada will begin opening their doors State leaders speculate that the newly legalized drug will bring a tourism boom to Las Vegas.   Nevada will become the fifth state to allow the recreational purchase of marijuana.

On July 1, 2017, 40 dispensaries will be able to start selling the marijuana to those 21 and older.  It has been estimated that sales could bring in as much as $150 million in tax revenue in two years to the state of Nevada.   That is a 25% increase in tax revenue for the state. Nevada beat California to the punch. California will not begin recreational marijuana sales until January 2018.  Experts have projected that Nevada will likely have the nation’s largest market for the sale of marijuana.

Marijuana, both medical and recreational, will be taxed 15 percent at cultivation, and only recreational marijuana will be sold with a 10 percent sales tax.  Medical marijuana currently is taxed 2 percent at cultivation, 2 percent at production and 2 percent at sale. The law allows a person to carry up to an ounce of marijuana and ⅛ ounce of concentrate.  That is the amount you can legally purchase. This applies to local and visitors to Nevada.

Advertising legalized marijuana may prove to be shocking for many citizens.  However, advertisements are banned from any medium 30 percent of the audience is believed to under the age of 21, according to the Associated Press.

It is also yet to be determined how many of the 45 million yearly tourists to Nevada will even use  marijuana since it will also only be legal to smoke in private residencies. Another obstacle with the new law allowing the recreational marijuana in Nevada is that when the recreational marijuana statue was approved by voters, it gave alcohol wholesalers the exclusive right to the distribution licenses for the first 18 months after the law goes into effect. However, there was little interest by Alcohol wholesalers. Therefore, the tax commissioners approved a temporary regulation that allows the department to make exceptions for non-wholesalers to distribute licenses.

“Letters were mailed to eligible license holders in the state, but Chris Thompson, the executive director for the Las Vegas chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) said with few responses, In May, the Independent Alcohol Distributors of Nevada filed a complaint saying the booze wholesalers should have exclusive rights to the licenses and that a May 31 license deadline for the wholesalers should not be enforced, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. At the end of May, a judge ruled in the alcohol wholesaler’s favor. But state officials have said they intend to appeal this ruling.”

So a careful reading of the text of the statute, the alcohol distributors get to set up regulated distribution methods.  This is unique to Nevada. Nevada has had medical marijuana dispensaries operating since 2015.  The law allows that any leftover medical marijuana those dispensaries are in possession of on July 1 can be sold as recreational.  However, once they run out, there is not a plan until the alcohol wholesalers figure out if they will distribute marijuana and obtain licenses.

During the next month, alcohol wholesalers and state legislators will be working to determine how much of a cut will go to the alcohol industry.   Another obstacle is that liquor licenses are federal and the U.S. government still considers marijuana an illegal substance.  Therefore, marijuana cannot be smoked inside the casinos and bars in Nevada including the city of Henderson.   Experts are saying that could boost sales of marijuana edibles. http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/nevada-goes-green-recreational-marijuana-alcohol-industry-wants-piece-pot-n778261

However, packaging issues led the Nevada legislature to make emergency changes to marijuana edibles law.  On June 26, 2017, Emergency regulations passed to change edible marijuana products expected to go on sale July 1, 2017.  Many marijuana products will now require packaging changes or will be discontinued. Theses last-minute regulations may require Nevada marijuana dispensaries to remove certain edible products.

On June 26, 2017, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval approved a Department of Taxation statement of emergency that will allow the department to more strictly regulates marijuana edible products starting July 1, 2017.  “The Governor wants to see the state realize the revenues from its sales, and most importantly, wants a regulatory structure that is restricted, responsible and respected,” said Mari St. Martin, spokeswoman for the governor’s office.

The new regulations, approved by the Nevada Tax Commission on Monday, prohibit marijuana dispensaries from selling the following for recreational use in Nevada:

  • Any products that contain any more than 10 milligrams of THC per dose or more than 100 milligrams of THC per package.
  • Any products that appear to be lollipops, ice cream or are modeled after a brand of products marketed to children.
  • Any products that look like real or fictional characters or cartoons.
  • Any products that apply THC to candy or snack foods other than dried fruit, nuts or granola.
  • Any cookie or brownie products that are not in a sealed, opaque bag.
  • Any products that have images of cartoon characters, action figures, toys, balloons or mascots on the labeling.

For existing packaging that contains the prohibited image, a sticker may be used to cover the images or label, or permanent marker may be used as long as the image is completely obscured, according to a Department of Taxation email sent out to dispensaries on Wednesday. Products being stored outside of consumer view do not need to have the images covered until they are placed on display or immediately prior to sale.

“From day one, we want to make sure that potency, packaging and labeling are strict from the start,” said Stephanie Klapstein, spokeswoman for the Nevada Department of Taxation.  The last-minute regulations also require packaging to have “THIS IS A MARIJUANA PRODUCT” in bold type, as well as the words “Keep out of reach of children” and a list of all ingredients.

Edibles, which come in the form of everything from gummy snacks to chocolate bars, often have potent doses of THC, Tetrahydrocannabinol, and the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. Consumers usually have significantly delayed reactions.

http://www.rgj.com/story/news/college/2017/06/28/nevada-makes-emergency-changes-marijuana-edibles-law/437360001/

At the Law Offices of Laura Hunt we urge people to act responsibly and not drink or use marijuana before driving.  If you or a loved one is involved in an auto accident with someone who has used alcohol or marijuana, please call our office today at 702-450-4868 and we can explain your legal rights and remedies under the law.

ahca are past injuries pre existing conditions?

HOW DOES THE PROPOSED AHCA AFFECT ME IF I HAVE PAST INJURIES FROM AN ACCIDENT?

Note: The AHCA or Trump care was passed by the House on May 4th, 2017 which modifies the ACA (Affordable Care Act aka Obama Care)

Are past injuries counted as pre-existing conditions under the AHCA?

The political battle continues as Republicans attempt another fight to push their proposed healthcare bill, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), through Congress and then to the President’s  desk.   Millions of Americans who have  pre-existing conditions will be affected. This item of the healthcare bill was a major protection under Obama care and continues to be debated among healthcare lobbyists and politicians.  Personally, I do not understand the debate.  Healthcare coverage that does not cover all of your health needs is really not healthcare at all.  Sadly, not all politicians agree.  But if you, or a loved one, has been in a prior accident and have a pre-existing back, neck, or head injury or any other injury from an accident, this article contains import information for you.  If you disagree with anything in the proposed bill, I urge to voice your concerns to our state legislators.  They can be reached as follows:

Senator Dean Heller
Offices: Las Vegas / Reno / Washington D.C. (addresses)
Phone: 702-388-6605 / 775-686-5770 / 202-224-6244
Fax: 702-388-6501 / 775-686-5729 / 202-228-6753
Email: Online Contact Form

Senator Catherine Cortez Masto

Offices: Las Vegas / Reno / Washington D.C. (addresses)
Phone: 702-388-5020 / 775-686-5750 / 202-224-3542
Fax: 702-388-5030 / 775-686-5757 / 202-224-7327
Email: Online Contact Form

Congresswoman Dina Titus – 1st District of Nevada

Offices: Las Vegas / Washington D.C. (addresses)
Phone: 702-220-9823 / 202-225-5965
Email: Online Contact Form

Congressman Mark Amodei – 2nd District of Nevada
Offices: Elko /  Reno / Washington D.C. (addresses)
Phone: 775-777-7705 / 775-686-5760 / 202-225-6155
Fax: 775-753-9984 / 775-686-5711 / 202-225-5679
Email: Online Contact Form

Congresswoman Jacky Rosen – 3rd District of Nevada
OfficesWashington D.C.
Phone: 202-225-3252
Fax: 202-225-2185
Email: Online Contact Form

Congressman Ruben Kihuen  – 4th District of Nevada
Offices: North Las Vegas / Washington D.C. (addresses)
Phone: 202-225-9894
Fax: 202-225-9783
Email: Online Contact Form

https://www.aclunv.org/en/contact-your-elected-officials

Most civilized countries provide Healthcare for their people.  In fact, the US is one of the few that does not.  It seems obvious that study of the systems in other nations could be precedent for structuring our own system to provide healthcare to all Americans regardless of income.  Most of our allies and even our enemies provide healthcare for their citizens.  Many democratic nations have determined and implemented a system to provide Healthcare to all of their citizens.

Below is a table that lists all nations who provide healthcare to all their citizens regardless of the condition being treated:

Country Start Date of Universal Health Care System Type
Click links for more source material on each country’s health care system.
Norway 1912 Single Payer
New Zealand 1938 Two Tier
Japan 1938 Single Payer
Germany 1941 Insurance Mandate
Belgium 1945 Insurance Mandate
United Kingdom 1948 Single Payer
Kuwait 1950 Single Payer
Sweden 1955 Single Payer
Bahrain 1957 Single Payer
Brunei 1958 Single Payer
Canada 1966 Single Payer
Netherlands 1966 Two-Tier
Austria 1967 Insurance Mandate
United Arab Emirates 1971 Single Payer
Finland 1972 Single Payer
Slovenia 1972 Single Payer
Denmark 1973 Two-Tier
Luxembourg 1973 Insurance Mandate
France 1974 Two-Tier
Australia 1975 Two Tier
Ireland 1977 Two-Tier
Italy 1978 Single Payer
Portugal 1979 Single Payer
Cyprus 1980 Single Payer
Greece 1983 Insurance Mandate
Spain 1986 Single Payer
South Korea 1988 Insurance Mandate
Iceland 1990 Single Payer
Hong Kong 1993 Two-Tier
Singapore 1993 Two-Tier
Switzerland 1994 Insurance Mandate
Israel 1995 Two-Tier
United States Currently yes Insurance Mandated

https://truecostblog.com/2009/08/09/countries-with-universal-healthcare-by-date/

THE QUESTIONS MOST PEOPLE ARE ASKING UNDER THIS BILL ARE:

  • Will Trump care cover pre-existing conditions?
  • If you have a pre-existing condition, how will your health plan change under the proposed bill?

In short, the AHCA does not eliminate coverage for pre-existing conditions. Like the Affordable Care Act, Trump care will require all health insurers to cover people who apply regardless of their medical history.  But there are some key differences in coverage  under Trump care vs. the current law.

Is there a requirement to maintain health insurance or pay a penalty tax?

Answer:  NO. The proposed bill eliminates the tax penalties that the Obama Care (ACA) imposes on nonexempt individuals for not having health insurance, as well as employers with 50 or more full-time workers who do not offer health insurance to their employees.

Do insurance companies have to offer coverage regardless of pre-existing conditions?

Answer: Yes, but it’s complicated!!!  There is a penalty for not having continuous coverage. Under both the ACA and the GOP bill, insurers are not allowed to deny coverage to any person due to health status. Under the proposed GOP bill, they can charge up to a 30% higher premium for one year, regardless of health status, to those potential  insureds who did not have continuous coverage, which is defined in the bill as a lapse of coverage of 63 days or more over the previous 12 months.  What???? That means that if you have a past injury, you’ll pay a lot more.

Will young adults under the age of 26 still be able to remain on their parents’ plans?

Yes. The bill does not affect this provision of the ACA.

Is there still going to be an expansion of Medicaid?

Answer: NO. It will be phased out.  The legislation ends the enhanced match rate for Medicaid expansion for new enrollees starting in 2020. Those insureds already in the program could stay as long as they remain continuously insured under the Medicaid program. States that have not already expanded Medicaid would not be allowed to do so, starting immediately.

States could also require able-bodied Medicaid recipients to work, participate in job training programs or do community service.  Before Obama Care (ACA), Medicaid was available to groups including qualified low-income families, pregnant women, children and the disabled.

Obama care expanded eligibility to all individuals under age 65 who earn up to 138% of the federal poverty level (about $16,643 a year for an individual), but only in states that opted for the expansion. Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia have opted in to the expansion, which includes enhanced federal funding, so far. More than 11 million newly eligible adults had enrolled in Medicaid through March 2016, according to an analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation of data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Under the Republican health care plan, no new enrollment can occur under this Medicaid expansion after Dec. 31, 2019. States that have yet to opt in to the expansion by that date also will not be able to do so afterward.

Although the bill doesn’t eliminate the Medicaid expansion coverage for those who are enrolled prior to 2020,  if they have a break in coverage for more than one month after Dec. 31, 2019, they won’t be able to re-enroll (unless a state wanted to cover the cost itself).  This is a harsh rule given that if someone is injured and can’t work for a month, they could lose their benefits.  At Hunt Law Offices, we can help injured people from losing their benefits.

The Republican plan includes another significant change to Medicaid. It would cap the amount of federal funding that states can receive per Medicaid enrollee, with varying amounts for each category of enrollee, such as children, and the blind and disabled. Currently, the federal government guarantees matching funds to states for qualifying Medicaid expenses, regardless of cost.  This is an extraordinary change that could adversely affect many families of handicap children and adults by cutting desperately needed benefits.

Are insurers forced to cover certain conditions?

Yes. The bill keeps the essential health benefits requirement under the ACA. Insurance companies would still have to cover 10 health services, including maternity coverage, prescription drugs and mental health care. However, state Medicaid plans are not subject to this requirement after Dec. 31, 2019.

How does the bill affect abortion?

The bill puts a one-year freeze on funding to states for payments to a “prohibited entity,” defined as one that, among other criteria, provides abortions other than those due to rape, incest or danger to the life of the mother.  This directly impacts groups like Planned Parenthood.  It should be noted that additional funding for education, food, daycare, etc. is not mentioned anywhere for births of these children.  Planned Parenthood under Medicaid, currently receives government funding.   Also under the GOP plan, tax credits can’t be used to purchase insurance that covers abortion beyond those three exceptions.

Are there subsidies aka Tax Credits to help people buy insurance?

Answer: YES. There are two types of financial assistance under the ACA: premium tax credits (which would change under the new GOP plan) and cost-sharing to lower out-of-pocket costs (which would be eliminated under the GOP plan).

Under the GOP plan, Premium tax credits would be available to individuals who buy their own coverage on the individual, or nongroup, coverage. But instead of a sliding scale based on income, as under current ACA, the Republican plan’s tax credits are based on age, with older Americans getting more. However, the plan allows insurers to charge older Americans up to five times more than younger people, so this is really not a benefit as the GOP claims.

There are income limits under the GOP bill.  People earning under $75,000, or $150,000 for a married couple, in modified adjusted gross income, get the same, fixed amounts for their age groups — starting at $2,000 a year for those under age 30, increasing in $500 increments per decade in age, up to $4,000 a year for those 60 and older. The tax credits are capped at $14,000 per family, using the five oldest family members to calculate the amount. This new structure would begin in 2020, with modifications in 2018 and 2019 to give more to younger people and less to older people.   Confused yet?  Just wait!!!

For those earning above those income thresholds, the tax credit is reduced by 10% of the amount earned above the threshold. For instance, an individual age 60 or older earning $100,000 a year would get a tax credit of $1,500 ($4,000 minus 10% of $25,000). The ACA tax credits also take into account the local cost of insurance, varying the amount of the credit in order to put a cap on the amount an individual or family would have to spend for their premiums. The Republican plan doesn’t do that. (See this explanation from the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation for more on how the ACA tax credits are currently calculated.)

The cost-sharing subsidies available now under the ACA  will be eliminated in 2020 under the GOP plan.  Small-business tax credits would come to an end in 2020.

What does the bill do about  health savings accounts?

The GOP bill  increases the contribution limits for tax-exempt HSAs, from $3,400 for individuals and $6,750 for families to $6,550 and $13,100, respectively.  The GOP plan allows individuals to use HSA money for over-the-counter drugs, something the ACA had limited to only over-the-counter drugs for which individuals had obtained a prescription.

Who Does This Affect?

Both the current law and the Republican proposal primarily impacts the individual market, where 7% of the U.S. population buys its own health insurance. The GOP plan allows a wider span in pricing based on age by allowing Insurers can charge older individuals up to five times as much as younger people, and states can change that ratio. Under Obama Care (the ACA), the ratio was 3:1.

Older Americans do get higher tax credits than younger Americans under the Republican plan, but whether that amounts to more or less generous tax credits than under the ACA depends on other individual circumstances, including income and local insurance pricing. Those with low incomes could do worse under the GOP plan, while those who earned too much to qualify for tax credits under the ACA (an individual making more than $48,240) would get tax credits.

I  urge you to review the Kaiser Family Foundation’s interactive map to see how tax credits may change, depending on your individual circumstances. “Generally, people who are older, lower-income, or live in high-premium areas (like Alaska and Arizona) receive larger tax credits under the ACA than they would under the American Health Care Act replacement,” KFF says. “Conversely, some people who are younger, higher-income, or live in low-premium areas (like Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Washington) may receive larger assistance under the replacement plan.”

Which ACA taxes go away under the GOP plan?

Many of the ACA taxes would be eliminated.  The bill eliminates all fines on individuals for not having insurance and large employers for not offering insurance. Also, beginning in 2018, for high-income taxpayers, the bill eliminates the 3.8% tax on certain net investment income and the 0.9% additional Medicare tax on earnings above a threshold. That same year, the bill repeals the 2.3% tax on the sale price of certain medical devices and the 10% tax on indoor tanning services. It also eliminates the annual fees on entities, according to the IRS, “in the business of providing health insurance for United States health risks,” as well as fees on “each covered entity engaged in the business of manufacturing or importing branded prescription drugs.”

It reduces the tax on distributions from health savings accounts (HSAs) not used for qualified medical expenses from 20% to 10% and the tax on such distributions from Archer medical savings accounts (MSAs) from 20% to 15%. It lowers the threshold for receiving a tax deduction for medical expenses from 10% to 7.5% of adjusted gross income. And from 2020 through 2024, the bill suspends the so-called “Cadillac tax,” a 40% excise tax on high-cost insurance plans offered by employers.

I urge readers to follow this proposed law and voice your opinions.  It is an integral part of Democracy to be heard.  Being an attorney,  I love protecting people’s rights on a daily basis, including those of my own family and friends.  Following our political process and voicing objections is key to keeping to all of our freedoms alive.

References:

https://www.oecd.org/els/health-systems/Universal-Health-Coverage-and-Health-Outcomes-OECD-G7-Health-Ministerial-2016.pdf

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_health_care

https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/06/heres-a-map-of-the-countries-that-provide-universal-health-care-americas-still-not-on-it/259153/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3633404/

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members/NV

http://www.bu.edu/law/files/2016/01/EllisPaper.pdf

 

WHAT’S A TORT??? AND IS IT COVERED BY A BUSINESS INSURANCE POLICY: COVERAGES UNDER PART A and PART B OF A CGL POLICY

Most business’ have insurance to protect against potential claims against them. Typical business coverage includes property and casualty, commercial general liability insurance (“CGL”), workers’ compensation, professional liability (“E&O”) and commercial automobile insurance. More specialized insurance available includes employment practices liability insurance (“EPLI”) and insurance against patent and trademark infringement. These policies are intended to apply to either basic, known business risks (such as loss of a commercial building or liability from a car accident) or are tailored to specific risks (such as EPLI). But what about business tort claims?  Most business’s have liability insurance. So what is covered?  Most are covered under the CGL portion.

Most Commercial General Liability policies have two types of coverage: Part A and Part B.

Part A provides insurance against two types of injuries: “bodily injury” and “property damage,” but only if arising from an “accident” or “occurrence.” CGL policies protect against claims arising from accidental or fortuitous events called “occurrences.”  The term “bodily injury,” as defined in an insurance policy, includes physical injury to the body.  Coverage does not always apply to non-physical emotional or mental harm caused by an employee of the insured.  A CGL policy covers physical damage caused to the property of third parties by the insured as well.

Coverage Part A only includes actions involving “accidents” or “occurrences,” business torts based on a negligence theory are potentially coverable.  However, business torts arising from intentional acts are typically not covered.   In these situation coverage may exist for negligent misrepresentation, negligently performed faulty workmanship, employment actions sounding in negligence (negligent hiring, negligent retention, negligent supervision) and other negligence causes of action (failure to warn, unsafe premises and negligent procedure).

Different from Coverage Part A, Coverage Part B does not depend on the existence of an “accident” or “occurrence,” so it may cover damages arising from intentional conduct not otherwise excluded. While the insuring clause of Coverage Part A is expressed in general terms, Coverage Part B covers only specific listed acts committed by the insured.  Some examples of such enumerated acts may include false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, wrongful eviction, defamation, invasion of the right to privacy and copyright and trademark infringement.

It is also possible that there may be Coverage under Part B for liability arising from the insured’s “advertising activity.”  “Advertising activity” has been found in cases of TV, radio, newspaper and magazine advertising.   But not all marketing activities constitute “advertising.” There must be a causal connection between the advertising activity and the injury.  The sale of an infringing product by itself is not sufficient to satisfy the causal connection requirement. The infringement must be committed in the advertisement on its face, and not just in the sale of a product, in order to be covered.

Every business owner should review their insurance coverage’s a broker and attorney to determine whether it has sufficient coverage not only for the typical risks that the company may face, but also for the unexpected, claims for business torts that sometimes happen.

WHAT DO THESE COVERAGES MEAN FOR DEFENDANTS?

Many attorneys and clients think of every tort claim as personal injury action.  But for purposes of insurance coverage, many tort actions arising from an automobile collision, a slip-and-fall, a product liability claim or a defective construction suit are matters of bodily injury and fall under Coverage A of the standard commercial general liability (CGL) policy purchased by most businesses.   Most of the litigation concerns Coverage for bodily injury.   Coverage under Part B usually pertains to personal and advertising injury liability and is often overlooked when seeking coverage under a business policy.

Although obtaining insurance under Coverage B requires more diligence by a policyholder or counsel for defendants seeking coverage, it can provide important protection, including a defense against a plaintiff’s claim.  If one claim in a complaint is possibly covered, the CGL insurer must defend the entire case.  It was this aspect of insurance law that enabled Los Angeles Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss to obtain an entire defense of what was largely a business/contract dispute (26 of the claims in the complaint); something ordinarily not covered under a standard form CGL policy. But a 27th claim for defamation implicated the personal injury provisions of the policy, and Buss received a complete defense to the suit (which eventually settled) that involved more than $1 million in counsel fees. The insurer sought reimbursement for the defense costs that did not involve the defamation claim. In Buss v. Superior Court, 939 P.2d 766 (Cal. 1997), the California Supreme Court stated that insurers had this right, provided they could adequately differentiate what was spent defending the respective claims, a position dividing the jurisdictions and rejected by the Supreme Courts of Illinois and Pennsylvania.1 Even if Nevada should eventually follow the Buss approach,2 a policyholder can benefit in this type of situation by at least obtaining an insurer-provided defense and delay its ultimate payment of some portion of counsel fees.

In practicality, it would be difficult to correctly separate attorneys fees spent on a covered claim versus one that is not covered.  Under the California approach, the insurer defending the claim is forced to pay for the entire defense. Thus, a defendant faced with a lawsuit that looks like a commercial dispute without bodily injury or tangible, physical property damage and therefore what looks like no CGL policy show look for an allegation such as trespassing, defamation or misleading advertising claims that could trigger Coverage B.  The policy states that the CGL insurer will pay “those sums that the insured becomes legally obligated to pay” as damages, because of “personal and advertising injury” to which the following applies:

 

  1. False arrest, detention or imprisonment;
  2. Malicious prosecution;
  3. The wrongful eviction from, wrongful entry into, or invasion of the right of private occupancy of a room, dwelling or premises that a person occupies, committed by or on behalf of its owner, landlord or lessor;
  4. Oral or written publication, in any manner, of materials that slanders or libels a person or organization or services;
  5. Oral or written publication, in any manner, of material copyright, trade dress or slogan in your advertisement. as a “notice that is broadcast or published to the general public or your goods, products or services for the purpose of attracting customers or supporters.”

It includes notices published on the internet “or on similar electronic means of communication,” but as regards websites, “only that part of a website” that purpose of attracting customers or supporters” is considered an

advertisement.  Unfortunately, the following are examples of the long list of exclusions stating that Coverage B “does not apply to:”

  1. Knowing Violation of the Rights of Another
  2. Material Published With Knowledge of Falsity
  3. Material Published Prior to the Policy Period
  4. Criminal Acts
  5. Contractual Liability
  6. Breach of Contract
  7. Quality Or Performance of Goods–Failure to Conform to Statements
  8. Wrong Description of Prices
  9. Infringement of Copyright, Patent, Trademark or Trade Secret
  10. Insured’s in Media and Internet Type Business
  11. Electronic Chartrooms or Bulletin Boards
  12. Unauthorized Use of Another’s Name Or Product
  13. Pollution
  14. Pollution-Related [Matters]
  15. War
  16. Distribution of Material in Violation of Statutes

These provisions are exclusions that remove otherwise applicable coverages, therefore, the exclusions are construed narrowly and strictly against the insurer.  The insurer will bear the burden of persuasion to show the particular exclusion applies.  When exclusion is unclear and cannot be clarified by the facts, it is resolved against the author/ drafter of the policy, which is generally the insurer.   Many of the listed exclusions have been found by courts to be sufficiently clear most of the time and thus make for a situation in which personal and advertising injury coverage has relatively limited scope and use for policyholders when compared to the more prevalent bodily injury coverage.

A fairly accurate summary is that Coverage B applies where a policyholder is accused of negligently or recklessly disparaging a claimant or defaming a plaintiff (defamation that it not within an exclusion) or misleading advertising (such as causing consumer confusion, or hurting a competitor) that does not involve copyright or patent infringement. The Nevada Supreme Court law on Coverage B is limited. I only know one insurance coverage case regarding “advertising injury,” and that is dicta.    A hand full of District of Nevada federal court opinions mention the term.   The substantive local precedent that exists has tended to support insurer efforts to limit coverage and is adverse to Plaintiffs.   Mention of personal injury in case law is much more extensive, but in these decisions, the court is almost always referring to bodily injury rather than the insurance policy concept of personal injury coverage. When instituting litigation, under a business policy, counsel should always review all the defendant’s liability insurance policies and consider coverage under the obscure concepts of personal injury to ascertain if there is a loss that will be covered for their client.

 

 

Resources:   https://www.amazon.com/General-Liability-Insurance-Coverage-Issues/dp/1506140203

 

https://www.irmi.com/articles/expert-commentary/no-harm-no-coverage-personal-and-advertising-  injury-liability-coverage-in-the-cgl-(part-1)

 

http://www.iii.org/article/commercial-general-liability-insurance

 

http://scholars.law.unlv.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1188&context=facpub

 

http://www.roughnotes.com/rnmagazine/search/commercial_lines/02_08p34.htm

 

http://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1424&context=yjreg