Category Archives: Accident Litigation

Who Pays for My Rental Care When I Get in An Accident?

THREE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT RENTAL CAR COVERAGE

  1. Always Purchase Rental Car Coverage on your own Policy;
  2. Make sure your coverage will cover the vehicle you need;
  3. The other driver’s insurance company may take weeks to authorize a rental car

One of the most frustrating parts of getting into an automobile accident is often being without transportation. Some clients have additional vehicles that they have access to following an accident and they are not quite as burdened. Unfortunately, many of our clients have one vehicle and when that vehicle is wrecked, it compounds the frustration, stress, anxiety, pain and suffering already involved in an auto mobile vehicle accident

When clients are involved in an accident that is not their fault, they automatically assume that they will instantaneously be placed in a rental vehicle at the expense of the at fault driver. Unfortunately, this is very far from the truth. The at fault driver‘s insurance company will investigate the accident to determine fault even if fault on the part of the other driver appears obvious at the time.  At the Law Office of Laura Payne-Hunt, Esq., we have seen this situation many times as Henderson personal injury attorneys. This process can often take a week and sometimes even up to 30 days. You do have the option to rent a vehicle at your own expense during that time to be in reimbursed when and if the other insurance company finds that their insured driver is at fault.

That is why it is of critical importance that you have rental car coverage on your own policy. Your insurance company will place you in a rental vehicle immediately following the accident regardless of who is at fault. When purchasing rental car coverage, it is important to understand the options. Sometimes they limit you to the cost per day.  I often have clients very frustrated that they are used to driving in SUV or truck and they are placed in a small economy vehicle as their rental vehicle.

When purchasing rental car coverage, there is usually an option to the cost per day or/and the total amount of rental allowed.  If you are a person who is concerned about what your temporary vehicle may be, it is important that you review this coverage at the time you purchase the coverage.  This is a coverage to be used when your car is being repaired or is deemed a total loss. It’s also important to note that your insurance company will pay for the rental until your vehicle is repaired. 

These polices will have a limit on how much will be paid per day and/or how much total it will pay per claim. The limit per claim might be a maximum dollar amount or a maximum number of days of coverage. For example on my own insurance policy, I also am a person who drives a large vehicle to accommodate my three sons. Therefore, a small compact vehicle would not work for my family. For a minimal additional cost, I raised my rental car coverage to a total of $50 per day for rental coverage.  That way, if I need a rental vehicle I can be placed in a larger car to accommodate my family.

Under most policies, you can only purchase rental reimbursement insurance if you also have collision and comprehensive coverage on your policy.  These are the two most common types of auto insurance offered for property damage to your vehicle. Although they are generally sold together, the type of damage they covers very different:

Collision Insurance provides coverage for damage to your vehicle in the event of a covered accident involving a collision with another vehicle. This includes repairs or a full replacement of your covered vehicle if your vehicle is deemed a total loss.

Comprehensive car insurance pays for damage to your vehicle that is caused by covered events such as theft, crime, or weather events like hail, which are not collision-related. 

WHY IS MY INSURANCE PAYING WHEN IT’S NOT MY FAULT

It is also often frustrating for clients that their insurance company is paying for their rental car when they are not at fault for the accident. You should not allow this to be a frustration. If it is found that you are not at fault for causing the collision, the at fault driver‘s insurance company will pay back your company for the cost of your property damage including the cost of your rental car. Purchasing rental insurance is covering you and your family for losses that may occur. It is important to realize as well that many drivers on the road do not even have insurance. The last estimate available in Las Vegas estimated that approximately 15% of all drivers on the road in Las Vegas and Henderson do not have auto insurance coverage at all. That means if you are unfortunately involved in an accident with one of those drivers your insurance company will have to cover your losses.  Please note that in those situations, most of the large insurance companies are aggressive at going after the at fault driver personally to reimburse them for the damage paid.

The most important thing to remember and to take away from this blog is to protect you and your family by purchasing insurance that will cover you in the event of an accident.  The cost of adding rental car coverage to your policy is generally $2.00 to $20.00 per month depending on your carrier and your other coverages. Considering that the average cost of a rental car is $30.00 to $45.00 per day, this coverage is well worth the small additional expense.

PROTECT YOURSELF AND YOUR FAMILY

Don’t let your self be in a position where you are stranded without a vehicle. Not being able to get into a rental car immediately following the accident causes more grief to accident victims sometimes than the injuries themselves. We live in a society where you cannot depend on the perpetrator to pay for your damages. If you do not have rental insurance on your auto policy you are at the complete mercy of the adverse driver’s insurance company or possibly lack thereof. At the Law Offices Of Laura Payne-Hunt, Esq.  we have been helping our clients review their insurance policies for over 15 years. Please do not hesitate to contact our office and we will be happy to give you a consultation regarding what coverages you currently have and likely need. A brief review of your auto insurance policy can protect you and your family from additional losses in the future at a very minimal cost. Please call the personal injury Law Offices Of Laura Payne-Hunt to review your automobile insurance policy today. This consultation is free to anyone who calls the personal injury Law Offices of Laura Payne-Hunt, Esq. and it only takes a few minutes.  These few minutes could save you a great deal of grief, headache, and distress in the event you are in an accident

If you have a question about rental car coverage and/or any questions regarding a personal injury, whether from a car accident or a slip and fall or any combination of injuries, please don’t hesitate to call The Law Offices of Laura Payne Hunt, PC, and Henderson Injury Attorneys for over 13 years. Please call our office if you or if a loved one is injured.  We can make sure that you receive the care you need and deserve and advise on how to preserve evidence. If you have been in any type of accident and have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact our Henderson and Las Vegas Accident injury offices today. At our office, we are experienced in helping injured victims get the compensation they are entitled to.  Insurance companies never have the best interest of the injured person at the top of their priorities. They want to pay as little on every claim as possible. Having worked for an insurance company as an attorney for 9 years before opening my boutique law firm specializing in helping injured people, I reviewed thousands of auto accident claims and policy provisions.   

         At the Henderson and Las Vegas Accident injury Law Offices of Laura Payne Hunt, PC we are here to help you and your family in the event that accidents and tragedies occur.  For any of your legal needs, do not hesitate to contact our Henderson and Las Vegas Accident injury Henderson offices. The Law Offices of Laura Payne 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 and text 24/7 at 702-600-0032.

What if I am Injured in two different accidents close together, Can I recover?

What Do I do if I am involved in 2 injury accidents close in time?

  1. Seek medical care for the second accident immediately;
  2. Explain clearly any new symptoms you are having;
  3. Document the difference in your condition after the second accident;
  4. See the same doctor so she can document your new injuries or exaserbation of your previous injuries;
  5. Be open and honest with all your doctors about both of your injury accidents.

The answer to the question, “What if I am injured in two different accidents close together, Can I recover”  is yes! It’s not an uncommon scenario. An individual is injured in an auto accident and two months later is injured in a second car accident involving different defendants.  Insurance companies for the defendants will want to point the finger at the injuries coming from the second accident. The case is now more complex due to the multiple injuries. The question becomes, how is the fact finder supposed to handle the apportionment of the injuries when there were two accidents causing the same or similar injury? It is important to contact an attorney after any injury accident. At the Law Offices of Laura Payne Hunt, PC, Henderson Injury attorneys, we will make sure your rights are protected.  With nearly ten years of experience representing the insurance companies, Henderson Injury Accident attorney Laura Payne Hunt, Esq. has the experience you need to fight the insurance company. The law is well settled regarding burden of proof regarding a victim who is involved in multiple car accidents. The Nevada Supreme Court ruled on the issue of multiple injuries from multiple car accidents.

The Nevada Supreme Court addressed the issue of injuries from multiple accidents in the case of Kleitz v. Raskin, 738 P.2d 508 (1987). In the Kleitz case, appellant Kleitz was injured in an automobile accident on December 23, 1981. His treating doctor examined Kleitz and determined that he was suffering from a loss of lumbar curve due to muscle spasms.  The doctor saw Kleitz on January 25, 1982 and believed that Kleitz should be hospitalized. Hi doctor opined that Kleitz may have suffered a herniated disc from the December 23, 1981, accident.

              Unfortunately, while Kleitz was driving to the hospital on January 25th, Kleitz after his doctor’s appointment, was involved in a second automobile accident. The driver of the at fault vehicle  in the second accident was respondent, Ellen Raskin. In 1985, Kleitz brought suit against the persons involved in both the first accident and the second accident. Kleitz settled with the first accident defendants but reserved his rights against Raskin. Raskin then moved for summary judgment alleging that the second accident did not cause additional injury to Kleitz. Summary judgment is when a party asks a court to make a finding as a matter of law, rather than allowing a jury to decide the facts.  Raskin used the doctor’s testimony who stated that he had examined Kleitz before and after the second accident and found that his condition was unchanged in support of the motion for summary judgment . Kleitz moved for partial summary judgment on a legal issue asking the trial court if two unrelated at fault drivers in two separate automobile accidents produce an injury to the plaintiff which cannot be apportioned between the two impacts, are both jointly and severally liable to the plaintiff?

The trial court granted Raskin’s motion for summary judgment concluding that “Inasmuch as plaintiff cannot apportion damages as between tortfeasors, the jury would have nothing upon which to base a reasoned opinion as to damages to be awarded in the event liability was established.”  On appeal, the Nevada Supreme Court concluded that under the facts presented, the plaintiff must prove that the second accident defendant’s actions were the cause of the injury. Once this is shown by the Plaintiff, the burden of proof then shifts to the defendant to apportion damages. If the defendant fails to meet his burden, then he is jointly and severally liable for the entire amount of the plaintiff’s damages attributable to the injury.

In reaching this decision, the Nevada Supreme Court relied upon the Washington Supreme Court case of Phennah v. Whalen, 621 P. 2d 1304 (1980). In Phennah, the plaintiff was injured in two automobile accidents that took place about four months apart. Trial testimony of the doctors established that both accidents caused the plaintiff’s injury, but there was no basis for segregating or apportioning damages among the causes. The issue before the court in Phennah was whether the plaintiff was required to offer an evidentiary basis for the segregation of damages among successive defendants. The Wisconsin Supreme Court made the following ruling:

“Once a plaintiff has proved that each successive negligent defendant has caused some damage, the burden of proving allocation of those damages among themselves is upon the defendants; if the jury finds that the harm is indivisible, than the defendants are jointly and severally liable for the entire harm. Id. 1310.”

The Nevada Supreme Court expressly concurred with the findings and result in the Phennah decision and noted that a similar legal principle is also found in section 433B(2) of the Restatement of Torts, which explains that the rational for placing upon the defendant the burden of apportioning damages as follows:

“As between the proved tortfeasors who has clearly caused some harm, and the entirely innocent plaintiff, any hardship due to lack of evidence as to the extent of the harm caused, should fall upon the former.” Restatement (Second) of Torts, Section 433B Comment D (1965).

As stated in both the Restatement and the Phennah decision, the plaintiff must first establish that both the defendant’s actions were the cause of his/her injuries and then the burden shifts to the defendant to apportion damages.  The Nevada Supreme Court reversed summary judgment but stated that Raskin may renew his motion for summary judgment at which time Kleitz must demonstrate a genuine issue of material fact concerning whether the second accident contributed to his injury.

The best way to protect your claim if you are involved in two injury accidents of any kind is to be candid and honest with your attorney and your doctors about these conditions at your first consultation. Henderson Auto Accident Injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Laura Payne Hunt, have handled hundreds of cases involving victims of multiple car accidents. Your truthfulness about your medical conditions and injuries will allow your doctors to understand your new injuries.  It is important to be open about your past medical history. This honesty will put you in the best position possible for a maximum recovery in your case. Insurance companies and defense attorneys will have access to past accident history whether or not you are candid. It can damage your case if they find it be other means. That is why it is important to remember all of your past injuries when discussing your case with your attorney and your doctor and let your attorney and doctors know about these issues. If you are not honest in disclosing these conditions in the beginning, you are setting yourself up for many different problems including harming your credibility, ruining your entire case, and even subjecting yourself to legal action.

If you have a question about a prior accident or multiple injuries, whether from a car accident or a slip and fall or any combination of injuries, please don’t hesitate to call The Law Offices of Laura Payne Hunt, PC, and Henderson Injury Attorneys for over 13 years. Please call our office if you or if a loved one is injured.  We can make sure that you receive the care you need and deserve and advise on how to preserve evidence. If you have been in any type of accident and have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact our Henderson and Las Vegas Accident injury offices today. At our office, we are experienced in helping injured victims get the compensation they are entitled to.  Insurance companies never have the best interest of the injured person at the top of their priorities. They want to pay as little on every claim as possible. Having worked for an insurance company as an attorney for 9 years before opening my boutique law firm specializing in helping injured people, I reviewed thousands of auto accident claims and policy provisions.   

         At the Henderson and Las Vegas Accident injury Law Offices of Laura Payne Hunt, PC we are here to help you and your family in the event that accidents and tragedies occur.  For any of your legal needs, do not hesitate to contact our Henderson and Las Vegas Accident injury Henderson offices. The Law Offices of Laura Payne 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 and text 24/7 at 702-600-0032.

What You Need to Know About Auto Insurance Coverages

FIVE MOST COMMON COVERAGES ON YOUR POLICY

  1. Liability – covers the other driver
  2. Comprehensive/ collision- covers your vehicle repairs
  3. UIM/UM – covers your medical if you are not at fault and the other driver has no or too little coverage
  4. Rental – covers your rental car immediately
  5. Medical Payments- covers your medical bills whether or not you are at fault

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?”  At the Henderson Auto Accident Injury offices of Laura Payne Hunt, PC, we have over 20 years’ experience dealing with insurance policies and coverages.

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.

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.

The more you know, the better buyer you can be.  The following is a brief outline of these coverages to help you understand what you are buying when you are buying insurance:

Liability Coverage (often called bodily injury 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. 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. 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.

https://www.thezebra.com/insurance-guide/liability-insurance/

Collision Coverage

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. 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.

https://www.thesimpledollar.com/insurance/auto/car-insurance-collision-coverage/

Medical Payments Coverage

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 inexpensive 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.

https://www.valuepenguin.com/medical-payments-car-insurance-coverage

UM/UIM Coverage

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. https://www.insure.com/car-insurance/uninsured.html

Rental Car Coverage

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 twenty dollars. https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/insurance/rental-car-insurance/

I hope this information was helpful and if you ever have questions when purchasing auto insurance, please do not hesitate to contact the Henderson Auto Accident and Injury  Law Offices of Laura Payne Hunt, PC. 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

If you or a loved one has been in an accident, the Henderson Auto Accident and Injury Attorneys at the Law Offices of  Laura Payne Hunt, Esq. can make sure that you receive the care you need and deserve, and advise on how to preserve evidence.  If you have been in any type of accident and have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact the Henderson Auto Accident and Injury Attorneys at the Law Offices of  Laura Payne Hunt, PC today. At our office, we are experienced in helping injured victims get the compensation they are entitled to receive. Insurance companies never have the best interest of the injured person at the top of their priorities.  They want to pay as little on every claim as possible. Henderson Auto Accident Attorney Laura Payne Hunt, Esq. worked for an insurance company as an attorney for 9 years before opening her boutique law firm specializing in helping injured people.  During her time working for an insurance company, Henderson Auto Accident Attorney Laura Payne Hunt, Esq. reviewed thousands of auto accident claims and policy provisions.

         At the Henderson Auto Accident and Injury Law Offices of  Laura Payne Hunt, PC we are here to help you and your family in the event that accidents and tragedies occur.  For any of your legal needs, do not hesitate to contact our offices. The Henderson Auto Accident and Injury Law Offices of Laura Payne 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 Henderson Auto Accident Attorney Laura Payne Hunt, Esq. anytime you have a legal question or you or a loved one has sustained an injury at 702-450-(HUNT) 4868 and text 24/7 at 702-600-0032.

My health insurance won’t pay my medical bills from an auto accident

WHEN YOUR ARE INVOLVED IN AN ACCIDENT AND YOU HAVE HEALTH INSURANCE, REMEMBER THESE THREE TIPS:

  1. Use your health insurance for all emergency care
  2. Retain an attorney immediately to handle subrogation and injuries claims
  3. Do not give any medical provider your auto insurance information.

When you have a personal injury claim after being involved in an accident, the at fault driver often has a limited auto insurance policy.  Your health insurance will have more coverage and allows you to get the emergency care you need. Although they will have a subrogation lien, meaning they will get paid back, that amount will be at their negotiated rates instead of the entire bill.  It often comes as a surprise to our clients that they need to pay back their health insurance company.

As a long time personal injury attorney in Henderson, Nevada, Laura Payne-Hunt, Esq. will address these claims on your behalf.   The funds to pay back the health insurance company will come out of your settlement the same as if you paid those bills directly.  However, it will be much less to pay back the subrogation lien than to pay the bills directly. In addition, there is the serious issue of collections.  Your health insurance will pay them timely and is contractually bound to wait for repayment until your personal injury lawsuit is settled. The hospital will not wait until your personal injury lawsuit is settled and will demand payment in full within 30 days.  

How the Subrogation Process Works

The term subrogation is often used in discussing personal injury settlements. Often, clients are not familiar with this term. Subrogation is commonly used as a synonym for reimbursement. However, they are actually contractually different. But for purposes of resolving your personal injury claim they act with the same outcome. Below I will summarize the process of subrogation as it affects personal injury claims that arise from your health insurance plan.

Notice of Subrogation Notice Letters

At the Law Offices Of Laura Payne-Hunt, as experience personal injury attorneys we advise our clients at their first visit if they obtained emergency room care that they will be receiving a letter from their health insurance company that will request details of the accident. We ask that our clients bring that letter or send that letter to us immediately. This is the health insurance companies attempt to deny your claim. They can seek reimbursement or have a subrogation claim on your recovery if you obtain one but they cannot deny your claim because it was an accident. However, they often will make the attempt.

Their initial letter will request additional information from you –the injured person. It is important that you provide that letter to your attorney immediately. At the Law Offices Of Laura Payne-Hunt, Esq. we contact the health insurance timely.   We handle personal injury matters and respond to the health inaurance company’s letters. The Law Offices of Laura Payne-Hunt will advise the health insurance company that we will honor their subrogation lien, but that all claims need to be paid timely.  We will work with the health inaurance company to timely respond to their requests for information so that our client is in complaince with the responsibitiles she has under the contract. Health insurance companies will often attempt to deny claims on the basis that the insured breached  the contract by failing to provide requested information, forms and documentation to the inaurance company.

The initial letter from the health insurance company will usually point out provisions of your insurance policy that entitles them to be paid back out of your personal injury recovery.  The policy will not have provisions that they do not have to pay at all based on a third party at fault. Often times, an automobile policy will not cover your medical bills and you could be stuck with additional bills that your insurance company did not pay. At the Law Offices Of Laura Payne-Hunt, Esq.  we will make sure that your health insurance company honors the terms and conditions of their health insurance policy which is a contract with you and pay your claims timely.

Why do you have to worry about subrogation?

Whether you realize it or not, you are contractually bound on the subrogation claim by the very reason of having health insurance. The concept of subrogation is that health insurance companies do not believe they should have to pay for injuries that someone else is liable for and this is also part of Federal Law for some policies.  A health insurance policy is a contract that clearly states that if a third-party injury pays for your medical bills, the health insurance company is entitled to receive reimbursement for those bills that they have already paid.

The health insurance company will attempt to assert that the at fault parties liability insurance policy is liable for your medical bills and expenses for your personal injury claim. That is why it is important to obtain counsel. At the Law Offices Of Laura Payne-Hunt, Esq. we have handled thousands of personal injury matters for over 15 years and are very experienced in handling the subrogation portion of your claim. It usually is contractually complex and not something that you want to navigate on your own. Failure to properly handle the subrogation claim in a personal injury accident can cost you money out of your pocket and possibly prevent you from obtaining a recovery at all.

Your lawyer will obtain a copy of your insurance policy

If you do not have a copy of your health insurance policy, the Law Offices Of Laura Payne-Hunt, Esq.  will obtain a copy on your behalf. In the plan, the health insurance company’s reimbursement and subrogation rights will be identified. This is often difficult to find in a voluminous health insurance policy. It is important to understand what your rights are involving your health insurance company.   It is also important that you understand the policy and Federal Law. This is why it is important to obtain counsel. At the law offices of Laura Payne-Hunt, Esq. we are experienced in subrogation matters under federal law and under state law. There have been certain circumstances where the policy fails to outline the right of subrogation or reimbursement and they are contractually prevented from seeking the same.

Do not let your health insurance company take advantage of you or put you in a situation where your bills are not paid and going to collections. Contact the Law Offices Of Laura Payne-Hunt, Esq. as soon as you have been involved in an auto injury accident and we can assist you with all of these contractual situations and make sure you get the medical care you need and deserve.

An Attorney Can Often Obtain a Reduction for Attorneys’ Fees

By retaining a Henderson Personal Injury Attorney to handle your case and the health plan does not state otherwise, your attorney can demand a reduction of the lien for the cost of attorney’s fees.  Meaning that if the Henderson Personal Injury attorney charges a 33 percent fee, she would seek a 33 percent reduction in the reimbursement or subrogation claim.

If you have a question about your health insurance and claims from an auto accident, whether from a car accident or a slip and fall or any combination of injuries, please don’t hesitate to call The Law Offices of Laura Payne Hunt, PC, and Henderson Injury Attorneys for over 13 years. Please call our office if you or if a loved one is injured.  We can make sure that you receive the care you need and deserve and advise on how to preserve evidence. If you have been in any type of accident and have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact our Henderson and Las Vegas Accident injury offices today. At our office, we are experienced in helping injured victims get the compensation they are entitled to.  Insurance companies never have the best interest of the injured person at the top of their priorities. They want to pay as little on every claim as possible. Having worked for an insurance company as an attorney for 9 years before opening my boutique law firm specializing in helping injured people, I reviewed thousands of auto accident claims and policy provisions.   

         At the Henderson and Las Vegas Accident injury Law Offices of Laura Payne Hunt, PC we are here to help you and your family in the event that accidents and tragedies occur.  For any of your legal needs, do not hesitate to contact our Henderson and Las Vegas Accident injury Henderson offices. The Law Offices of Laura Payne 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 and text 24/7 at 702-600-0032.

DO I HAVE TO FILE A LAWSUIT AFTER MY ACCIDENT?

There are a number of steps that can take place during the course of a car accident negotiation and litigation process.  However, there are a few points to bear in mind:

  1. The plaintiff is not legally required to have an attorney in order to file a lawsuit.
  2. Most auto accident claims resolve without suit being filed.
  3. Many accident claims where a lawsuit is filed result in a settlement after the lawsuit is filed.

   In Nevada, injured victims are constitutionally entitled to a right to a jury trial in a civil action.  However, most auto accident claims settle without going all the way to trial. In fact, it is so stated in Article one as follows:

Article 1, Nevada Constitution –

The right of trial by Jury shall be secured to all and remain inviolate forever; but a Jury trial may be waived by the parties in all civil cases in the manner to be prescribed by law; and in civil cases, if three fourths of the Jurors agree upon a verdict it shall stand and have the same force and effect as a verdict

A CLAIM VERSUS A LAWSUIT

There is often confusion on the difference between a car accident lawsuit and an insurance claim.  This may be because a “settlement” can occur in both situations. In fact, even when suit is filed most claims settle after litigation begins.  In general, an auto accident insurance claim arises when you notify the insurance company of a claim in an attempt to collect damages due and owing under provisions of an applicable insurance policy.  In the beginning, negotiations will ensue between the insurance company representative, aka the claims adjuster, and you or with your attorney, if you are represented by counsel.

If a settlement cannot be reached, a lawsuit may be filed.  A lawsuit is formal legal action that is filed in the civil court of the appropriate jurisdiction.  Suit is filed when a settlement cannot be reached and the Plaintiff, aka injured victim, is seeking to recover monetary damages from the defendant, aka the at fault driver.  If negotiations fail and your attorney is forced to file a lawsuit, the following are the steps she will follow in your case:

Step 1: File a Complaint

A lawsuit is commenced when the plaintiff files a document called the complaint (sometimes called a “petition” in certain states) with the court. A complaint is a document stating what happened, the claimed damages, and the legal basis for bringing the lawsuit. After the plaintiff files the complaint, the lawsuit has officially begun.  Nevada is a notice pleading state, meaning that the complaint gives notice of the lawsuit with minimal facts.

Step 2: Serve the Complaint on the Defendant

The U.S. legal system holds a requirement that  legal notice is provided to someone who is the subject of a legal proceeding. Informing the defendant of the lawsuit means “serving” them with a copy of the complaint, and usually a “summons.” There are special rules governing who may serve the complaint, when it must be served, and how. These rules vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but in Nevada the plaintiff has 120 days to serve the defendant. This deadline can usually be extended when the defendant is difficult to track down, but a motion before the court is required.

Step 3: The Defendant Files an Answer

In an answer, the defendant responds to the plaintiff’s complaint and admits or denies the factual allegations listed in the complaint. The answer is also where the defendant will set forth any legal defenses to the claims of the Plaintiff.

Step 4: Discovery

Discovery is the process through which the parties exchange information that’s relevant or likely to lead to the uncovering of relevant evidence. The purpose of discovery is to allow for an opportunity for each side to see all the facts.  In Nevada, as in most states, the discovery process includes interrogatories (written questions), requests for production of documents, and depositions (oral statements made under oath).

Step 5: Trial

After the parties have completed discovery, each side will have all the information and will then prepare to present its case in court. The trial will consist of each side making opening statements, the plaintiff presenting its evidence in the form of oral testimony and presentation of  documentary evidence. The defendant will cross-examine plaintiff’s witnesses. The defendant will also present its defense by cross-examining plaintiff’s witnesses. In conclusion , both parties will give closing statements.

After closing statements are completed, the jury (or judge, if it’s a bench trial), will deliberate and reach a verdict finding in favor of the plaintiff or the defendant, by a “preponderance of the evidence,” and entering a judgment accordingly (if the judgment is in favor of the plaintiff, the defendant will be ordered to pay damages in a certain dollar amount).

If you or a loved one has been in an accident, the Henderson Auto Accident and Injury Attorneys at the Law Offices of  Laura Payne Hunt, Esq. can make sure that you receive the care you need and deserve, and advise on how to preserve evidence.  If you have been in any type of accident and have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact the Henderson Auto Accident and Injury Attorneys at the Law Offices of  Laura Payne Hunt, PC today. At our office, we are experienced in helping injured victims get the compensation they are entitled to receive. Insurance companies never have the best interest of the injured person at the top of their priorities.  They want to pay as little on every claim as possible. Henderson Auto Accident Attorney Laura Payne Hunt, Esq. worked for an insurance company as an attorney for 9 years before opening her boutique law firm specializing in helping injured people.  During her time working for an insurance company, Henderson Auto Accident Attorney Laura Payne Hunt, Esq. reviewed thousands of auto accident claims and policy provisions.

         At the Henderson Auto Accident and Injury Law Offices of  Laura Payne Hunt, PC we are here to help you and your family in the event that accidents and tragedies occur.  For any of your legal needs, do not hesitate to contact our offices. The Henderson Auto Accident and Injury Law Offices of Laura Payne 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 Henderson Auto Accident Attorney Laura Payne Hunt, Esq. anytime you have a legal question or you or a loved one has sustained an injury at 702-450-(HUNT) 4868 and text 24/7 at 702-600-0032.

If I have a pre-existing Condition Can I make a claim for Injuries in an accident?

ANSWER: Yes, You can make a claim for injuries if you have a pre-existing condition

It is a long standing legal proposition that a tort defendant “takes his victim as he finds him.”  This rule is referred to in the law as the “eggshell plaintiff” rule. This legal theory makes a defendant responsible for all damages resulting from his negligence The Defendant, aka the insurance company, will want to argue because of the plaintiff’s preexisting condition, the injuries he/she are more severe than they would have been in a non-frail person. However, this argument will not prevail

Under the law, A person who has a condition or disability at the time that he or she is involved in an  injury accident is entitled to recover damages for any aggravation of that preexisting condition or disability that results from the accident.  Thus, a person cannot recover damages for the injury they have, but rather for making that injury worse and for additional injuries they suffer.  

This is true even if the person’s condition or disability made him more susceptible to the possibility  to being injured than a person without injury would have been. Therefore, even if a healthy person probably would not have suffered any substantial injury in the accident, a person with prior injury may be more likely to sustain injury and the adverse driver is liable for those injuries.

The most important thing to remember is that having a pre-existing condition does not prevent you from recovering damages in an injury accident. A pre-existing condition may make you more susceptible to injury,  but that does not allow the insurance company to offer you less compensation. It is very important to be up-front with your lawyer about your past accident, injuries and medical conditions . Laura Payne Hunt, Esq. has many years’ experience working for and against the insurance companies.   With this experience and a skilled legal team, she can help get you the compensation that you are you entitled too, regardless of your condition before the accident. If you or anyone you know is injured in an accident, please call our office today at (702) 450-4868 to schedule your free consultation with Laura Payne Hunt, Esq. a  highly experienced Las Vegas and Henderson car accident attorney.

Where a preexisting condition or disability is made worse, the damages as to  for the exacerbation are limited to the additional injury caused by the accident.  In fact, the Nevada Pattern Jury Instructions specifically address this issue at Nev. J.I. 10.06 as follows:

PERSONAL INJURY; AGGRAVATION OF PREEXISTING CONDITION

A person who has a condition or disability at the time of an injury is not entitled to recover damages there for.  However, he is entitled to recover damages for any aggravation of such preexisting condition or disability proximately resulting from the injury.

This is true even if the person’s condition or disability made him more susceptible to the possibility of ill effects than a normally healthy person would have been, and even if a normally healthy person probably would not have suffered any substantial injury.

Where a preexisting condition or disability is so aggravated, the damages as to such condition or disability are limited to the additional injury caused by the aggravation.

NEV. J.I. 10.06

BAJI 14.65

Courts have addressed this issue repeatedly over the years.  In Lovely v. Allstate Ins. Co., No. 7274 (Me. May 30, 1995) the plaintiff suffered from a preexisting injury which was exacerbated by a subsequent accident.  The defendant successfully argued to the trial court that, in order to recover, the plaintiff had the burden of demonstrating which portion of his injury resulted from each accident.  After reviewing the evidence, held that the medical testimony failed to provide a basis for apportioning the damages as between the two acidents.  Although the record contained substantial evidence of pain and suffering, as well as medical expenses attributable to plaintiff’s elbow injury, the trial court declined to award any damages based on this injury, finding that plaintiff failed to meet his burden of proof. 

The Appellant Court reversed on the ground that the trial court had mistakenly placed the burden of proof as to apportionment on the plaintiff.  Rather than awarding no damages for the elbow injury, the Appellant  Court ruled that the trial court should have awarded plaintiff his total damages.  In so holding, the Court actually invoked not the eggshell-plaintiff rule, but also the single-injury rule, traditionally applied in cases involving multiple tortfeasors.   The court held that that the single-injury rule “places any hardship resulting from the difficulty of apportionment on the proven wrongdoer and not on the innocent plaintiff,” the Court extended the application of the rule to cases involving preexisting conditions. Thus, the Court held that where a preexisting condition is exacerbated or made worse by a negligent act, resulting in an aggregate injury which is incapable of apportionment, the tort feasor and not the victim must suffer the hardship of proving apportionment.

Insurance companies use any tactic possible to unreasonably deny or undervalue claims.  You need an attorney experienced in dealing with insurance companies. Laura Payne Hunt, Esq. has been a Henderson Accident attorney for over ten years.  Prior to working exclusively with injured people, Laura worked for a major insurance company in house for many years. She knows how to beat then to the punch so to speak.  She can help you fight for the compensation you deserve, including pursuing a filing a lawsuit against the person or persons who caused your injuries. Insurance companies understand that at the end of the day it will be a jury who will decide the value and not the insurance company.  However, it takes experience to convince a jury that your condition and pain and suffering has been caused by the defendant’s negligence, rather than the pre-existing condition. An experienced lawyer like Laura Payne Hunt, Esq. knows how to prover your injuries. If you have a prior injury or pre-existing condition and are injured in an accident, you will want to do the following:

  • Maintain Documentation: You should make sure you discuss any pre-existing conditions with your doctors.
  • Discuss differences with your Doctor –Ask them to be clear about explaining whether your current problems and symptoms are due to the accident or the prior condition.
  • Be Honest with your Doctor – You must also be honest and open about your prior condition when speaking to your Doctor.
  • Be Honest with your Attorney — Hiding information puts your lawyer at a disadvantage when negotiating with the insurance company.

 

The best way to protect your claim if you have pre-existing medical conditions or prior injuries is to be candid and honest with your attorney and your doctors about these conditions at your first consultation. Your truthfulness about your medical condition will allow your doctors to understand your new injuries.  It is important to be open about your past medical history. This honesty will put you in the best position possible for a maximum recovery in your case. Insurance companies and defense attorneys will have access to past accident history whether or not you are candid. It can damage your case if they find it be other means.  That is why it is important to remember to all of your past injuries when discussing your case with your attorney and your doctor and let your attorney and doctors known about these issues. If you are not honest in disclosing these conditions in the beginning, you are setting yourself up for many different problems including harming your credibility, ruining your entire case, and even subjecting yourself to legal action.

 

If you have a question about a pre-existing condition, please don’t hesitate to call our office or a loved one is injured call our office immediately.  We can make sure that you receive the care you need and deserve, and advise on how to preserve evidence. If you have been in any type of accident and have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact our offices today.  At my office, we are experienced in helping injured victims get the compensation they are entitled to. Insurance companies never have the best interest of the injured person at the top of their priorities. They want to pay as little on every claim as possible.  Having worked for an insurance company as an attorney for 9 years before opening my boutique law firm specializing in helping injured people, I reviewed thousands of auto accident claims and policy provisions.

         At the Law Offices of Laura Payne Hunt we are here to help you and your family in the event that accidents and tragedies occur.  For any of your legal needs, do not hesitate to contact our offices. The Law Offices of Laura Payne 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 and text 24/7 at 702-600-0032.

Fatal accident investigation. What really happens?

Sadly, statistics show that driving is dangerous in this country.

  • Almost 1.25 million people die in auto accidents each year
  • Tragically, auto accidents are the leading cause of death among young people ages 15-29, and the second leading cause of death worldwide among young people ages 5-14.
  • Over one half of the victims are young people ages 15-44.
  • There are an average of 3,287 deaths a day as a result of automobile accidents
  • Automobile accidents are the 9th leading cause of death and account for 2.2% of all deaths globally.
  • Experts predict that auto accidents will become the fifth leading cause of death by 2030.

https://www.asirt.org/safe-travel/road-safety-facts/

Most of us take driving for granted.  It is part of our everyday routine. We are in and out of the car many times a day, putting thousands of miles on our vehicles every year.   When a hazard occurs, you often only have a split second to react in a way that could save your life. . If you are changing the radio station, talking on a cell phone or not paying attention to the road, that opportunity is lost. In fact, in researching and writing this blog, I believe I will enroll my teenage son in the defensive driving course at the Las Vegas Motor speedway.  https://driversedge.org/the-program/  The better prepared drivers are to react, the better their chances at avoiding a fatal accident.

In working for a major insurance company as an attorney for many years, I had the unfortunate experience of reviewing many fatal accident claims files.  I think that the luxury and comfort of modern vehicles makes drivers forget that they are moving at a high rate of speed and not at a concert or sitting in a movie theater.  Drivers are becoming desensitized to the danger of the roadway.

When the police and/or highway patrol are dispatched to the scene of an accident, they conduct a thorough and often lengthy investigation of the scene.  The following are the steps of the investigation process:

Tape off the scene

The scene of a fatal traffic accident is taped off to preserve evidence. It is marked off like any other crime scene. Photographs are taken and all the evidence is carefully collected

Take Measurements of Skid Marks

Measuring the skid marks left on the road surface by the cars is a significant indicator of how the accident took place.  Police can often tell from the skid marks how fast the vehicles were traveling prior to impact.

 

Calculating drag factor

Once the skid marks are measured, police use various formulas to compute how fast the cars were traveling. It’s important to take into consideration the “drag factor” of the concrete or asphalt, whether it is raining or snowing and if the surface is sloped. Police use algebraic calculation to determine the coefficient friction on the roadway.  Drag factor is the deceleration coefficiant for an entire vehicle. The coefficient of Friction is the deceleration coefficient for a sliding tier. The Drag factor and coefficient of Friction are the same, if and only if, all four tiers of a motor vehicle are locked and sliding on a surface.

 

Interviewing all Witness

Then, all witnesses are interviewed. This could be occupants, drivers, bystanders etc. The primary officer interviews the suspect driver if they’re able to speak. While the interviews are being conducted, the other members of the team begin to collect the evidence. This includes creating a scale diagram, taking photos, alcohol bottles, and blood and urine samples if the crash is alcohol related

 

Testing for Impaired Drivers

The driver would be questioned and examined for signs of being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and to see if they were otherwise medically impaired. A drug/tox screen would be ordered. The results of this usually take several days, at minimum.

 

Look for Mechanical Failures

 

The vehicle would be carefully examined to see if there were any mechanical failures, malfunctions, or relevant modifications.

 

Careful Site Inspection

 

The site of the accident would be carefully diagrammed. Critical items would include the position when the vehicle started moving, the area of impact, the area of initial braking, and the point of rest. As a team, the police will walk through the entire scene to get a feel for it… how it happened… looking for evidence. In a fatal crash, the evidence can be skid marks, debris field… it could be the distance a bumper off a car flew after impact… anything inside that scene is a possible piece of evidence.

 

Check for Possible Surveillance Video

There would be a search for any surveillance video of the area at the time of the accident.

 

Autopsy of Victims

An autopsy would be performed on the victims to determine the precise causes of their deaths, and whether there were any intervening medical issues.

 

Further review of Evidence

When all the evidence has been gathered, there is often a multi-disciplinary meeting of accident and homicide investigators, prosecutors, and possibly psychological or medical experts to determine the culpability of the driver or others involved.

 

Criminal Charges

 

Once the evidence is collected, the team works for days, weeks and sometimes months to complete the investigation.  The evidence is generally put into a booklet form or report format and the principle officers and the traffic supervisor meet with the District Attorney to discuss charges. If the driver is found to have some antagonistic relationship with the victims or their families, the prosecutor will consider whether the case is a deliberate act, as opposed to an accident (this is rare). If the actions of the driver are deliberate, the appropriate charges aren’t something like unsafe backing or careless driving. They become murder.

If the driver reports he/she lost consciousness before or during the incident, a medical examination will be ordered to determine whether she might have suffered a seizure or some other medical problem. If she was aware of this problem and drove in spite of it, her culpability will increase.

The prosecutor is ultimately the final arbiter of what charges, if any, will be filed.

 

How to Become a safer Driver, Experts offer the following advice:

  • When you come to an intersection, don’t just look straight ahead, look all around. Don’t just look at the car in front of you; look at the car in front of it.
  • Don’t follow too closely. If the car in front brakes unexpectedly, you have more time to react if you have more space.
  • Pay more attention, be more courteous.
  • Use a “hands-free” device if you have to talk on the cell phone.
  • Be alert for other drivers who are acting recklessly.
  • Change your attitude — slow down, relax and take your time getting to your destination.
  • Be an extremely courteous driver
  • Be an extremely defensive driver
  • Be on the lookout for drivers who appear impaired

Safety Features Matter


When shopping for a vehicle in today’s market,  airbags really offer the best protection in the event of an accident. However, seatbelts are still extremely important and must be used with the other protections.   It is also important to check the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) crash test scores   https://www.nhtsa.gov/  before making a final selection for a car. In today’s market, you can shop for safety and style.  It is no longer an either or choice.

All of this information will eventually be released to the participating insurance companies, who may undertake their own investigation. If a loved one has been involved in a fatal accident, please don’t hesitate to call our office immediately.  We can make sure that injured victims receive the care they need and deserve and that families of victims with fatal injuries receive justice, and advise on how to preserve evidence.  If you have been in any type of accident and have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact our offices today. At my office, we are experienced in helping injured victims get the compensation they are entitled to.  Insurance companies never have the best interest of the injured person at the top of their priorities. They want to pay as little on every claim as possible. Having worked for an insurance company as an attorney for 9 years before opening my boutique law firm specializing in helping injured people, I reviewed thousands of auto accident claims and policy provisions.   

         At the Law Offices of Laura Payne Hunt we are here to help you and your family in the event that accidents and tragedies occur.  For any of your legal needs, do not hesitate to contact our offices. The Law Offices of Laura Payne 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 and text 24/7 at 702-600-0032.

What to Do if the Insurance Company Says My Car is a Total Loss.

FIVE THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT A TOTAL LOSS VEHICLE

  1. You will not get to decide whether or not your car is a total loss
  2. A total loss is not always obvious
  3. Legally, if the cost to repair is more than 65% of the car’s value, it’s a total loss.
  4. The fair market value of the vehicle is negotiable; don’t let the insurance company tell you it’s not.
  5. The loan on the car is not the fair market value.

One of the biggest misconceptions that we see in our office is what the meaning of total loss is in the context of an auto accident. Often times, clients think that total loss means they will get a new car. Unfortunately that is not the case. In addition, clients will often think that they can determine whether or not their car is, in fact, a total loss. Unfortunately, that is also not the case.

In the state of Nevada, whether a car is a total loss is governed by Nevada Revised Statute 487.790. Specifically NRS 487.790 states as:

NRS 487.790  “Total loss vehicle” defined.

  1.   “Total loss vehicle” means a motor vehicle:

      (a) Of a type which is subject to registration; and

      (b) Which has been wrecked, destroyed or otherwise damaged to such an extent that the cost of repair is 65 percent or more of the fair market value of the vehicle immediately before it was wrecked, destroyed or otherwise damaged, except that, for the purposes of this paragraph, the cost of repair does not include the cost of:

             (1) Painting any portion of the vehicle;

             (2) Replacing electronic components in accordance with the specifications of the manufacturer; or

             (3) Towing the vehicle.

      2.  The term does not include:

      (a) A nonrepairable vehicle;

      (b) A motor vehicle which is 10 model years old or older and which, to restore the vehicle to its condition before it was wrecked, destroyed or otherwise damaged and regardless of cost, requires the replacement of only:

             (1) The hood;

            (2) The trunk lid;

             (3) A fender;

             (4) Two or fewer of the following parts or assemblies, which may be bolted or unbolted:

                   (I) Doors;

                   (II) A grill assembly;

                   (III) A bumper assembly;

                   (IV) A headlight assembly; or

                   (V) A taillight assembly; or

             (5) Any combination of subparagraph (1), (2), (3) or (4);

      (c) A motor vehicle, regardless of the age of the vehicle, for which the cost to repair the vehicle is less than 65 percent of the fair market value of the vehicle immediately before the vehicle was wrecked, destroyed or otherwise damaged, except that, for the purposes of this paragraph, the cost of repair does not include the cost of:

             (1) Painting any portion of the vehicle;

             (2) Replacing electronic components in accordance with the specifications of the manufacturer; or

             (3) Towing the vehicle; or

      (d) A motor vehicle that was stolen and subsequently recovered, if the motor vehicle:

             (1) Has no structural damage; and

             (2) Is missing only tires, wheels, audio or video equipment, or some combination thereof.

      3.  For the purposes of this section, the model year of manufacture is calculated based on a year beginning on January 1 of the calendar year in which the damage occurs.

      (Added to NRS by 1995, 1573; A 2003, 1911; 2005, 1245; 2011, 1663)

What this means is that if the repair estimate to fix your car is more than 65% of the fair market value of the vehicle, it must be declared a total loss by state law. However, even with this definition that would seem clear on its face, there are a lot of variables. Such variables include determining what will be the actual cost to repair the  car as well as the actual value of the car. I will discuss each one of these issues.

First, it is necessary to determine whether the vehicle is, in fact, a total loss. With over 18 years’ experience in this business, I can generally look at a photograph and tell you if the vehicle is going to be a total loss. Feel free to call our office with any questions if you have been involved in accident involving a vehicle that has been deemed a total loss.  When estimating the damage, the insurance company will generally allow some leeway for hidden damage in determining whether to repair the vehicle or not. This means for example if your vehicle is worth $10,000 and the insurance company estimates the damage at $4,000, they will likely deem the car a total loss because if there is additional hidden damage found when repairs begin, it will rise to the level of total loss.       

Sometimes, if the client really wants the vehicle repaired, and it is close on the total loss versus fair market value, we can have their carrier repair the vehicle and the client will sign a waiver regarding future repair costs. This is not something we generally recommend but there are occasions that clients are very attached to their vehicles and do not want to send them to the salvage yard.   At the Law Offices of Laura Payne Hunt, we listen to our clients’ needs and requests and assist throughout the property damage loss assessment and payment. We also do not take any fee for handling this portion of the case when handling the personal injury matter. It is important when finding a personal injury attorney to discuss this matter up front. Many personal injury attorneys do not help their clients with the property damage at all. At The Law Offices of Laura Payne Hunt, we make sure you are fairly compensated for your vehicle or that it is fully repaired, and we do not charge for this service when handling the personal injury claim.

The second part of a total loss claim is determining the fair market value of your car.  I generally explain this to clients as if you were going to sell your vehicle on the morning of the accident before the collision occurred, what would be the price that you would accept for the vehicle. The way we generally determine this number is to look at what we call in the business “comps“. This means comparable vehicles for sale. Most common vehicles can be searched easily on the Internet. Simply enter the year, make, and specific model of your vehicle and look for similar vehicles for sale. You will generally find a significant range in value often thousands of dollars depending on the vehicle.  We look for higher value comps that are as close to our client’s vehicle as possible to determine the fair market value. You want to compare things like options; for example whether it has leather or cloth seats, whether it is turbo or not turbo, whether it has navigation or not, as well as mileage.

Once you locate these comparable for sale vehicles, you want to print this information and make sure you include the name of the dealership or private seller on the documentation you print as a way to reach them to verify the comparable sale. You can compare these with the amount the insurance company is offering you for the total loss of your vehicle and it should be comparable to these numbers.

On a related note, when purchasing a new or newer vehicle, we urge our clients to obtain GAP insurance on their car loan. If the dealer offers this to you, you can research to compare rates with other carriers to make a comparison to what the dealer is offering you when you are buying the car.   You can do this on your phone at the dealership while in the process of purchasing the car. GAP insurance is insurance that protects you in the event that your car is an accident, is a total loss, and has even fair market value of less than the loan balance. Your insurance company or the other side will only pay the fair market value of the vehicle. Sometimes that is less than what is owed on the car. You could reach a situation where you still owe thousands of dollars on a vehicle you no longer have because the value was less than the loan. Unfortunately, this can and does happen. That is why we urge clients to have a GAP insurance to pay the gap in the fair market value and the amount of the loan balance. If you’ve already purchased a new vehicle and did not obtain gap insurance, it is something that you can add and we urge you to do that.

If you have a question about a total loss vehicle, or a loved one is injured call our office immediately.  We can make sure that you receive the care you need and deserve, and advice on how to preserve evidence. If you have been in any type of accident and have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact our offices today.  At my office, we are experienced in helping injured victims get the compensation they are entitled to. Insurance companies never have the best interest of the injured person at the top of their priorities. They want to pay as little on every claim as possible.  Having worked for an insurance company as an attorney for 9 years before opening my boutique law firm specializing in helping injured people, I reviewed thousands of auto accident claims and policy provisions.

         At the Law Offices of Laura Payne Hunt we are here to help you and your family in the event that accidents and tragedies occur.  For any of your legal needs, do not hesitate to contact our offices. The Law Offices of Laura Payne 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 and text 24/7 at 702-600-0032.

AUTONOMOUS CARS AND PERSONAL INJURY LAW

State Overview of Autonomous Cars

  • Nevada was the first state to Allow Autonomous Cars
  • All States now have legislation enacted or pending regarding Autonomous cars
  • Lyft has over 25 Autonomous vehicles on the Road in Las Vegas
  • Google has more than 40 self-driving cars on the Road near Austin, Texas.
  • Most accidents involving driverless cars have been a human’s fault.

If you’re in Las Vegas, or now most major metropolitan cities, you may have observed or experienced autonomous vehicles on the road. Lyft recently announced that it would be putting 30 autonomous vehicles on the road in Las Vegas. Lyft has been a major proponent of autonomous ridesharing vehicles. Last year in Las Vegas and Boston they gave rides to people attending the Computer Electronic Show (CES). However, more than a trial run at CES, 30 vehicles went live on the roads in Las Vegas last year and is available to the general public through Lyft.

Don’t worry though, you’ll have to opt in to get a chance to ride one at this time — a driverless vehicle will not just show up for your ride randomly. The vehicles that Lyft used during CES were BMW’s powered by autonomous technology that was developed by a Pittsburgh-based company called Atpiv.  Those vehicles were equipped with LIDAR’s, 10 radars, a trifocal camera, vehicle to infrastructure data about stoplights and differential GPS.

According to the website engadget, they found that the erratic traffic in Las Vegas was still no match for these vehicles.  The cars all handled very well in tests. Similar to the vehicles used during the trial at the CES show, the 30 vehicles that are hitting the road in Las Vegas can only take you from one high demand location to another. Meaning they will not be heading into the suburbs just yet. In discussing the trials of autonomous vehicles in Las Vegas, spokesperson Kevin Clark of Atpiv, said in a statement “more importantly, the resulting knowledge and data from this test will allow us to further refine our autonomous driving capabilities and strengthening our portfolio of industry leading active safety solutions.”

Recently, taxi service Waymo officially launched its self-driving taxi service in the suburbs of Phoenix, Arizona. At this time, humans must be behind the wheel and they’re only open to a subset of a few hundred people who have enrolled in the company’s test program. But it is evidence that driverless cars are coming and the laws are changing quickly. It’s high time that regulators coordinate with consumer advocates and promulgate rules and regulations for self-driving vehicles. There has been a bill lingering in Congress for quite some time. It’s entitled the American Vision for Safer Transportation Through Advancement of Revolutionary Technologies Act. Quite a mouthful indeed.

One draft of the bill would create a loose framework for testing and developing automated vehicles. Federal regulators would like to get a handle on the growing industry and determine which agencies will handle which issues. However, manufactures of self-driving cars want to avoid a patchwork of different local and state regulations all over the country. At this time, over 36 states have enacted legislation or executive orders that govern self-driving vehicles.  Some of the proposed regulations by various states are seeking manufactures to validate that their self-driving systems can identify all users on the roads including pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. Some of the legislation would also require auto makers making semi-autonomous systems like Tesla’s auto pilot and General Motor’s Supercruise to submit Public Safety and Crash Reports to the federal government. This bill is a win for the American Association of justice a lobbying group that represents trial lawyers because the bill also limits the use of forced private arbitrations for those who are hurt from self-driving involved collisions.

Many people consider these vehicles to be a sign of the future of the rideshare industry. The technology for autonomous vehicles is continuing to develop and although it has not been perfected quite yet, it is rapidly changing. In an attempt to keep up with autonomous vehicles technology, all 52 states introduced legislation in 2016 and 2017 to begin to deal with this new technology. In fact, the legislation is changing so rapidly that NCSL has a new autonomous vehicle legislative database to provide up to date information about different states autonomous vehicle regulations and legislation pending.

And although they may be late to the party, on September 12 a national highway and transportation safety administration released new federal guidelines for automated driving systems (ATS).  The following is a website with the latest guidelines for automated driving systems in various states. The guideline builds on NHTSA‘s guidance from 2016. http://www.ncsl.org/documents/standcomm/scnri/NHTSA_HAV.PDF

In particular, two of these sections give guidance on design elements and aligns federal guidance with the latest developments and technology. They also clarify the rules of federal versus state government. These guidelines can be found at:

https://www.nhtsa.gov/sites/nhtsa.dot.gov/files/documents/13069a-ads2.0_090617_v9a_tag.pdf

Nevada was the first date to authorize the operation of autonomous vehicles in 2011. Since then 21 other states including Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Vermont and Washington DC have also passed legislation related to autonomous vehicles. The governors in Arizona, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Ohio, Washington and Wisconsin have issued executive orders related to autonomous vehicles.

The advent of Uber and Lyft   as ridesharing companies has changed the way people travel. They’ve also changed how insurance companies write policies and how Jury’s will have to decide who is liable after an accident.  The law is generally behind technology and this area is no different. But driver’s, riders and pedestrians need to understand how the rules of the road are going to change with the placement of autonomous vehicles on the road.  The question is going to be if there’s not a driver behind the wheel, who is liable for an accident. I believe the obvious answer would be the manufacturer and this may increase litigation against vehicle manufacturers of self-driving cars.

It has yet to be determined if there will need to be a person in the driver seat to override the car legally. If there is no person in the driver seat, will the legislature determine the owner of the car is liable or the manufacturer or both?  It may be a case where eventually the law will have to catch up and possibly impose strict liability on owners of self-driving cars. However that is speculation and that is an area that our state legislature will have to address in years coming. There have already been accidents with self-driving vehicles and the more that enter onto the roadways, the more these types of accidents will occur.

If you are a driver for Lyft or Uber it would be wise for you to carry higher limits for your insurance coverage to protect yourself. At the Law Office of Laura Payne-Hunt, we are always available to give free consultations to discuss coverage is that you have and coverages that you need depending on your situation.  People often ask if they are involved in an accident with it Uber or Lyft driver do they file a suit against Uber or Lyft. The answer is no because Uber and Lyft consider their drivers as independent contractors, unlike cab companies who consider their drivers to be employees. However Uber and Lyft do carry commercial auto insurance policies on their drivers of $1.5 million.

If you or a loved one is injured by an autonomous vehicle or any vehicle, call our office immediately.  We can make sure that you receive the care you need and deserve, and advise on how to preserve evidence.  If you have been in any type of accident and have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact our offices today.  At my office, we are experienced in helping injured victims get the compensation they are entitled to.  Insurance companies never have the best interest of the injured person at the top of their priorities.  They want to pay as little on every claim as possible.  Having worked for an insurance company as an attorney for 9 years before opening my boutique law firm specializing in helping injured people, I reviewed thousands of auto accident claims and policy provisions.

At the Law Offices of Laura Payne Hunt we are here to help you and your family in the event that accidents and tragedies occur. For any of your legal needs, do not hesitate to contact our offices.  The Law Offices of Laura Payne 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 and text 24/7 at 702-600-0032.

WHAT IS MEDICAL PAYMENT COVERAGE AND DO I NEED IT?

MED PAY — THREE REASONS THIS COVERAGE CAN SAVE YOUR SANITY AND CREDIT SCORE

 

1) Pays your medical bills no matter who is at fault

2) Pays all co-pays from the accident if you have health insurance;

3) Pays medical bills without referral from an accident even if your health insurance does not

or you do not have health insurance.

 

Medical payments coverage, often referred to in the industry as MedPay, is a coverage that pays for medical or funeral expenses that occur as a result of an auto accident. Generally, it is an option that is available when you purchase your auto insurance policy or can be added later. This coverage covers the person who purchased the policy called the policyholder, any passengers and family members driving or riding in the vehicle at the time of an accident. As will be outlined below, this policy can sometimes extend to cover injuries you sustained outside of the car. A very important point of this coverage is that it applies no matter who is at fault for the accident.

 

In this blog about medical payments coverage, hereinafter referred to as MedPay, I will discuss what MedPay covers, how it works, how it can work with your health insurance and the cost of such coverage.

 

What medical bills will MedPay cover?

 

When you or a loved one, a friend or family member is in your vehicle and involved in an accident, injuries can occur. MedPay coverage covers all of these people regardless of who’s at fault for the accident. Medical payments will pay medical bills that are directly incurred by you, a passenger, or a family member in the car at the time of the accident.  Such expenses can include, but are not limited to, x-rays, surgery bills, hospital bills, doctor visits, ambulance, emergency medical fees, professional nursing services and care, any dental procedures that were required as a result of the accident, injuries that you sustain if you were a pedestrian or you were riding your bike if another vehicle hits you, prostheses and even funeral expenses.

 

It is important to realize that MedPay coverage covers  the policyholder even if he/she is outside the vehicle but involved in an automobile involved accident. For example if you were walking and you are hit by a car, or you are riding in a friends vehicle, or even if you are riding on a public bus, your MedPay coverage will pay medical bills up to the limit if you are injured during one of these activities. MedPay also applies if you are involved in an auto related accident outside your state.

 

HOW MedPay COVERAGE APPLIES TO YOUR  INJURIES

 

MedPay can work in any way that is best suited for your situation. As counsel for injured people, we maximize our client’s benefits and make sure that their bills are covered to the best available coverages in every situation. For example if our client has health insurance, we will reserve MedPay claims until all co-pays have been received to make sure that co-pays are promptly paid on behalf of our clients so that bills do not go to collections. If you are involved in an accident and you have MedPay coverage, it is always extremely important to work closely with your attorney to make sure that all bills are timely sent to counsel’s office. At the Law Office of Laura Payne-Hunt, we work diligently to maximize our client’s benefits. It is noteworthy that  our primary area of practice is in the State of Nevada and no-fault states are different. If you live in a no-fault state, it is important to check with your agent to determine whether health insurance would be considered primary or medical payments coverage primary.

 

MedPay coverage in Nevada will pay your bills immediately. They will not ask for a referral or a discount but they will pay your actual bills incurred up to the limit of your medical payments coverage. Often times people assume that the at fault driver will timely pay all their bills. Unfortunately, the adverse insurance company will not pay any bills directly. They will only pay to resolve the entire claim when your injuries and treatment have concluded. There may be a substantial period of time where you have outstanding bills that need to be paid before they go to collections.

Sometimes the limits on MedPay coverage is low, for example $2,000.00 to $5,000.00. It is important to maximize benefits in an auto accident. At the Law Offices of Laura Payne-Hunt, Esq. we have 20 years’ experience in making sure that our clients recover the maximum amount of money in their pocket and all of their bills or timely paid.

 

HEALTH INSURANCE VERSUS MED PAY

 

Over my years in the practice, I have had clients tell me that their agent advised them they did not need MedPay coverage if they have health insurance. Unfortunately, I believe this was bad advice on behalf of their agents. Health insurance does not always pay your medical bills related to a car accident and they are entitled to be indemnified out of your settlement. However, even if health insurance does “cover” your bills, health insurance, as we all know, often will not cover certain events or there can be very large co-pays for out of network or “unauthorized” treatment. Med pay is a coverage that covers this gap. MedPay coverage can offset those expenses and pay those co-pays while your health insurance picks up the remaining balance. MedPay can reimburse you timely for those deductibles so that you do not have to worry about getting behind on bills as the result of  expenses related to an auto accident.

 

PREMIUMS FOR MEDICAL PAYMENTS COVERAGE ON MY AUTO INSURANCE

 

MedPay is a coverage that allows policyholders to specifically choose a limit a.k.a. a maximum dollar amount that will be paid by your policy for your medical bills. It is generally not a very expensive coverage and can provide extraordinary peace of mind and financial security in the event of an automobile collision. Like anything else, there will be a slight increase in your rates for obtaining medical payments coverage. It is also important to note that it is a coverage you can put on your policy at any time. Call  your agent or your carrier to discuss the cost of adding this coverage.  Value Penguin did research regarding the costs.  Below are their finding of some examples of the additional cost added to a premium for  a 30-year-old married person driving a Toyota Camry:

“Coverage Limit per Incident GEICO State Farm Allstate Esurance Progressive*
$1,000 4.56 1.56 8.00 5.10 6.00
$2,000 8.76 12.00 6.46 9.00
$5,000 19.18 3.12 20.00 8.48 17.00
$10,000 27.52 4.37 26.00 28.56 26.00
$25,000 6.87 32.00 36.72 35.00

*Notes: Progressive limits are per person, and not per incident

The most common coverage limits for Med pay  are $1,000, $2,000, $5,000, $10,000 and $25,000 across the five companies we surveyed. GEICO offered more limit options on the lower end of the range, from $500, and then in $1,000 increments from $1,000 to $5,000. State Farm offered more limits on the higher end, including medical payments up to $50,000 and $100,000.”

 

https://www.valuepenguin.com/medical-payments-car-insurance-coverage

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see, certain carriers can provide $25,000 in med pay for a very small monthly fee. Even having a couple thousand dollars in medical payments coverage can be a lifesaver when the ambulance is not covered by your insurance or you have a $500 hospital co-pay and a $500 ambulance co-pay and you are already missing time from work.  The cost will always differ depending on the amount that you opt to buy, the overall underlying policy that you have, your driving record, your insurance carrier, and other factors that impact your overall rates such as driving history.

 

 

NOTE FOR DRIVERS IN NO-FAULT STATES

 

In no-fault states,  Personal Injury Protection (PIP), is a mandatory coverage and MedPay works different in those states.  As of this writing, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland (unless a waiver is signed at initial purchase of the policy), Massachusetts, Michigan,  Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Utah.  Several states require insurance companies to offer PIP coverage, but allow the insured to reject it in writing which include Washington and Texas.  Michigan is the only no-fault auto insurance state with no limit on medical expenses.  In states with PIP, drivers may still want to buy medical payments coverage because PIP is subject to claim limits. If a you live in a PIP state and your medical bill exceeds your PIP limit, you would have to pay for the out-of-pocket, which MedPay  could pay.  In that situation, you could recover for therapy and lost income  under PIP, and get reimbursement from MedPay  for other medical expenses.

 

If you or a loved one is injured call our office immediately.  We can make sure that you receive the care you need and deserve, and advise on how to preserve evidence and maximize all of your coverages.  If you have been in any type of accident and have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact our offices today.  At my office, we are experienced in helping injured victims get the compensation they are entitled to.  Insurance companies never have the best interest of the injured person at the top of their priorities.  They want to pay as little on every claim as possible.  Having worked for an insurance company as an attorney for 9 years before opening my boutique law firm specializing in helping injured people, I reviewed thousands of auto accident claims and policy provisions.

At the Law Offices of Laura Payne Hunt we are here to help you and your family in the event that accidents and tragedies occur. For any of your legal needs, do not hesitate to contact our offices.  The Law Offices of Laura Payne-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 and text 24/7 at 702-600-0032.