Category Archives: Car Accidents

My child was a passenger in someone else’s car in an accident what do I do?

  • Take your child for medical attention immediately to determine injuries
  • Obtain a copy of the police report
  • Obtain a copy of the drivers insurance in with your child was a passenger
  • Watch your child closely for any changes or signs of continuing injury and obtain the appropriate medical care.

Laura Hunt AttorneyIf your child is involved in an auto accident while traveling with friends or family, your child is considered a fault free passenger and is covered by the at fault driver‘s policy. Your child is also covered by underinsured motorist coverage if available in the passenger car that he or she was in.   Uninsured coverage and Underinsured coverage (referred to as UM/UIM) is coverage that covers you if the other driver is not insured or is underinsured. You should always carry UM/UIM coverage.

If your child is severely injured, your child would also be covered under your auto insurance coverage on your UM/UIM policy. Therefore, there could be three or more auto insurance policies that could cover your child as a fault free passenger if he or she is injured in an automobile accident.

When you take your child for medical attention, if available, provide your child’s health insurance information to the provider. If your child does not have medical insurance, contact a personal injury attorney immediately to assist you with medical care for your child without being sent to collections for unpaid medical bills. When your child has concluded medical care, The Law Offices of Laura Hunt can negotiate a fair settlement for your child and handle the minor’s compromise of the claim.  Nevada has a mandatory procedure to follow when settling a minor’s claim.  This law can be found at N.R.S. 41.200 and states as follows:

NRS 41.200  Compromise by parent or guardian of claim by minor against third person; requirements of court petition; establishment of blocked financial investment for proceeds of compromise; no fees to be charged in proceedings.

1.  If an unemancipated minor has a disputed claim for money against a third person, either parent, or if the parents of the minor are living separate and apart, then the custodial parent, or if no custody award has been made, the parent with whom the minor is living, or if a general guardian or guardian of the estate of the minor has been appointed, then that guardian, has the right to compromise the claim. Such a compromise is not effective until it is approved by the district court of the county where the minor resides, or if the minor is not a resident of the State of Nevada, then by the district court of the county where the claim was incurred, upon a verified petition in writing, regularly filed with the court.

2.  The petition must set forth:

(a) The name, age and residence of the minor;

(b) The facts which bring the minor within the purview of this section, including:

(1) The circumstances which make it a disputed claim for money;

(2) The name of the third person against whom the claim is made; and

(3) If the claim is the result of an accident or motor vehicle crash, the date, place and facts of the accident or motor vehicle crash;

(c) The names and residence of the parents or the legal guardian of the minor;

(d) The name and residence of the person or persons having physical custody or control of the minor;

(e) The name and residence of the petitioner and the relationship of the petitioner to the minor;

(f) The total amount of the proceeds of the proposed compromise and the apportionment of those proceeds, including the amount to be used for:

(1) Attorney’s fees and whether the attorney’s fees are fixed or contingent fees, and if the attorney’s fees are contingent fees the percentage of the proceeds to be paid as attorney’s fees;

(2) Medical expenses; and

(3) Other expenses,

Ê and whether these fees and expenses are to be deducted before or after the calculation of any contingency fee;

(g) Whether the petitioner believes the acceptance of this compromise is in the best interest of the minor; and

(h) That the petitioner has been advised and understands that acceptance of the compromise will bar the minor from seeking further relief from the third person offering the compromise.

3.  If the claim involves a personal injury suffered by the minor, the petitioner must submit all relevant medical and health care records to the court at the compromise hearing. The records must include documentation of:

(a) The injury, prognosis, treatment and progress of recovery of the minor; and

(b) The amount of medical expenses incurred to date, the nature and amount of medical expenses which have been paid and by whom, any amount owing for medical expenses and an estimate of the amount of medical expenses which may be incurred in the future.

4.  If the court approves the compromise of the claim of the minor, the court must direct the money to be paid to the father, mother or guardian of the minor, with or without the filing of any bond, or it must require a general guardian or guardian ad litem to be appointed and the money to be paid to the guardian or guardian ad litem, with or without a bond, as the court, in its discretion, deems to be in the best interests of the minor.

5.  Upon receiving the proceeds of the compromise, the parent or guardian to whom the proceeds of the compromise are ordered to be paid, shall establish a blocked financial investment for the benefit of the minor with the proceeds of the compromise. Money may be obtained from the blocked financial investment only pursuant to subsection 6. Within 30 days after receiving the proceeds of the compromise, the parent or guardian shall file with the court proof that the blocked financial investment has been established. If the balance of the investment is more than $10,000, the parent, guardian or person in charge of managing the investment shall annually file with the court a verified report detailing the activities of the investment during the previous 12 months. If the balance of the investment is $10,000 or less, the court may order the parent, guardian or person in charge of managing the investment to file such periodic verified reports as the court deems appropriate. The court may hold a hearing on a verified report only if it deems a hearing necessary to receive an explanation of the activities of the investment.

6.  The beneficiary of a block financial investment may obtain control of or money from the investment:

(a) By an order of the court which held the compromise hearing; or

(b) By certification of the court which held the compromise hearing that the beneficiary has reached the age of 18 years, at which time control of the investment must be transferred to the beneficiary or the investment must be closed and the money distributed to the beneficiary.

7.  The clerk of the district court shall not charge any fee for filing a petition for leave to compromise or for placing the petition upon the calendar to be heard by the court.

8.  As used in this section, the term “blocked financial investment” means a savings account established in a depository institution in this state, a certificate of deposit, a United States savings bond, a fixed or variable annuity contract, or another reliable investment that is approved by the court.

It sets out the procedure that must be followed when settling a minor’s claim.  Under this statute, the parent or guardian of the child must file a minor’s compromise to allow the court to approve and review the settlement.   After the court approves the agreed upon settlement, the parent or guardian must place the funds in a “blocked financial investment for the benefit of the minor until the minor is 18 years old and can access the funds.

By contacting a lawyer immediately, your child can receive the necessary medical care without the worry of medical bill being sent to collections.  At my office, we are happy to handle the health insurance company’s subrogation claim for you.  Having worked for the insurance company as an attorney for 9 years before opening my boutique law firm specializing in helping injured people, I reviewed thousands of medical claims involving children.   With extensive experience in the insurance field, I can help you review the coverages to maximize the money your child receives.

At the Law Offices of Laura 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 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.

who pays medical bills after an accident

Who is going to pay my medical bills when I’m in a car accident?

  • Always give the hospital your Health insurance card
  • Do not give your car insurance information to the Hospital
  • Protect yourself by having your own Underinsured Motorist coverage
  • Keep all medical bills and insurance Explanations of Benefits sent to you in a file
  • You will need to return the Subrogation forms to your health insurance company
  • An attorney can navigate the sea of paperwork required when multiple insurance Policies exist

Laura Hunt AttorneyBeing in a serious automobile accident is one of the most traumatic things that will happen to most people in their lives. Panic, nervousness and fear set in and often people are confused, angry and uncertain as to what to do at the time. The prevailing thoughts from our clients are that when someone is in an accident that is not their fault, “everything will be taken care of and they will pay all my bills.”   Unfortunately, in the society we live in, and especially in the state of Nevada, this is absolutely not the case. Most of my clients are shocked to hear that drivers are only required by law to carry $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident on their vehicles. This means that each person who is injured in an accident  can only collect $15,000 for their injuries against the insurance company of the other driver. Of course, the other driver is still personally liable for any bills that you may have, but often people do not have those funds or they declare bankruptcy before it is ever paid or it can take years to get a legal judgment.

For this reason, it is extraordinarily important to be wise about your medical bills when you are involved in an accident.  If you find yourself at the hospital following an accident, always give your health insurance information, if you are one of the fortunate Americans to have such coverage, to the hospital. The hospital is required by state law to bill your health insurance before they bill anywhere else.  Nevada Law states as follows on this issue:

NRS 449.757  Limitations on efforts of hospitals to collect; date for accrual of interest; rate of interest; limitations on additional fees.

1.  When a person receives hospital care, the hospital must not proceed with any efforts to collect on any amount owed to the hospital for the hospital care from the responsible party, other than for any copayment or deductible, if the responsible party has health insurance or may be eligible for Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program or any other public program which may pay all or part of the bill, until the hospital has submitted a bill to the health insurance company or public program and the health insurance company or public program has made a determination concerning payment of the claim.

2.  Collection efforts may begin and interest may begin to accrue on any amount owed to the hospital for hospital care which remains unpaid by the responsible party not sooner than 30 days after the responsible party is sent a bill by mail stating the amount that he or she is responsible to pay which has been established after receiving a determination concerning payment of the claim by any insurer or public program and after applying any discounts. Interest must accrue at a rate which does not exceed the prime rate at the largest bank in Nevada as ascertained by the Commissioner of Financial Institutions on January 1 or July 1, as the case may be, immediately preceding the date on which the payment becomes due, plus 2 percent. The rate must be adjusted accordingly on each January 1 and July 1 thereafter until the payment is satisfied.

3.  Except for the interest authorized pursuant to subsection 2 and any court costs and attorney’s fees awarded by a court, no other fees may be charged concerning the amount that remains unpaid, including, without limitation, collection fees, other attorney’s fees or any other fees or costs.

(Added to NRS by 2007, 1497; A 2011, 1525)

NRS 449.758  Limitations on efforts of hospital to collect when hospital has contractual agreement with third party that provides health coverage for care provided; exception.

1.  Except as otherwise provided in subsection 2, if a hospital provides hospital care to a person who has a policy of health insurance issued by a third party that provides health coverage for care provided at that hospital and the hospital has a contractual agreement with the third party, the hospital shall proceed with any efforts to collect on any amount owed to the hospital for the hospital care in accordance with the provisions of NRS 449.757 and shall not collect or attempt to collect that amount from:

(a) Any proceeds or potential proceeds of a civil action brought by or on behalf of the patient, including, without limitation, any amount awarded for medical expenses; or

(b) An insurer other than a health insurer, including, without limitation, an insurer that provides coverage under a policy of casualty or property insurance.

2.  This section does not apply to:

(a) Amounts owed to the hospital under the policy of health insurance that are not collectible; or

(b) Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program or any other public program which may pay all or part of the bill.

3.  This section does not limit any rights of a patient to contest an attempt to collect an amount owed to a hospital, including, without limitation, contesting a lien obtained by a hospital.

4.  As used in this section, “third party” has the meaning ascribed to it in NRS 439B.260.

(Added to NRS by 2011, 1524)

You must also understand that you will not know the policy limits of the other driver and your hospital bill can easily exceed the $15,000.  Please do not think that the other driver is off the hook if you have health insurance.  That is far from the truth. The collateral source doctrine in Nevada as held by the Nevada Supreme Court states as follows :

We now adopt a per se rule barring the admission of a collateral source of payment for an injury into evidence for any purpose.  Collateral source evidence inevitably prejudices the jury because it greatly increases the likelihood that a jury will reduce a plaintiff’s award of damages because it knows the plaintiff is already receiving compensation

Proctor v. Castelletti, 112 Nev 88, 911 P.2d 853, 854 (1996).

This means that regardless of who pays your medical bills, the adverse driver is also liable for them and they are not entitled to the reduced rate that your insurance company may have negotiated to resolve those bills. This means, as we are all familiar with, that when your hospital bill comes in and it is $25,000 and your health insurance company pays their negotiated rate of $3,000, the adverse driver is still liable for $25,000 bill. However, if he only has a $15,000 policy, you can at least collect the $15,000 to help compensate for everything that you have been through.  This is also one of the reasons it is extremely important to make sure that you are covered through your own policy.

who pays medical bills after an accident

I  will have separate blogs on  underinsured motorist coverage and uninsured motorist coverage. When you see your declarations page it will list your different coverages including collision, comprehensive, bodily injury,  UM/UIM, towing, rental, medical payments coverage (etc.)  (all covered in other blogs).

Briefly, Collision coverage is coverage to fix your own vehicle, usually subject to a deductible.  Comprehensive Coverage covers damage done to your vehicle from events other than accidents like theft, vandalism, fire, impacts with deer, etc.  Comprehensive  is not collision coverage but they are generally sold together.  Bodily injury coverage is coverage to pay other drivers that you may injure.  UM/UIM is coverage that covers you if the other driver is not insured or underinsured. You should always carry UM/UIM  coverage.

I never understand why agents would recommend to clients that they cover themselves less than they cover other drivers on the road.  In fact, in Nevada, insurance companies must offer you this coverage and if you reject uninsured /underinsured coverage you must sign a waiver that the insurance company must produce at a later time in the event of a claim that you knowingly rejected this coverage.

I highly recommend that you carry underinsured and uninsured coverage to protect yourself. Unfortunately, the Nevada state legislature does not protect our drivers.  Nevada is one of the lowest bodily injury coverage states in the country.  Only Florida, Ohio, Oklahoma, Mississippi and Louisiana have lower limit requirements.  South Carolina, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, California and Arizona also have $15,000.00 state minimum requirements.

By contacting a personal injury lawyer immediately, you can receive the most money for your vehicle. At my office, we are happy to handle the health insurance company’s subrogation claim for you.  Having worked for the insurance company as an attorney for 9 years before opening my boutique law firm specializing in helping injured people, I reviewed thousands of medical claims.   With extensive experience in the insurance field, I can help you review your coverages to maximize the money you receive.

At the Law Offices of Laura 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 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.

 

 

who pays medical bills after an accident

Who Pays My Doctor if I am Involved in an Auto Accident?

Laura Hunt AttorneyWhen you or a loved one are involved in an auto accident, it is critical that you or your loved one obtain medical attention as soon as possible.  If you have health insurance you should obtain medical care at a hospital if you are injured. If you do not have medical insurance and your injuries are not life-threatening, it is often best to be seen at a quick care to evaluate the level of your injuries and determine if you need to be transported to a hospital.  If you have health insurance, always give your emergency providers your health insurance information. This is critical advice.

Will the At-Fault Driver Pay For My Medical Bills?

People often think that when they are involved in an auto accident, the at fault driver will be able to pay for all of their medical bills. Although it is a fact that they are legally responsible for those bills, they often do not have the funds to pay those bills. In the state of Nevada, unfortunately, the legislature only requires drivers to maintain a $15,000 per person automobile accident liability policy. Therefore, many drivers in the state of Nevada are driving on the road ways with only $15,000 of insurance to cover any injuries that they inflict on other drivers. In the world of skyrocketing medical costs that we live in, it is obvious that $15,000 will not cover extensive medical damages. When you are involved in an automobile collision, you will not have the information as to whether or not the other driver has any insurance at all, and if they do, how much coverage, for a significant amount of time following the auto accident.  In fact, since the Nevada legislature again sided with insurance companies several years ago and determined that insurance companies do not have to tell you how much insurance the other driver has following an accident.  It often requires a lawsuit against the other driver to even find out how much insurance they have to cover your injuries.

Therefore, it is important to protect yourself and your finances when you are involved in a collision.  At the Law Offices of Laura Hunt, we have been helping injured drivers and passengers in Henderson and Las Vegas get compensated for the injuries they sustained and the medical bills incurred in automobile accidents for over 10 years. We understand the importance of our clients obtaining the best medical care possible and having their medical bills paid.

What if Health Insurance Denies Auto Accident Related Bills?

Often times, your health insurance may initially deny medical bills related to an automobile accident. However, once the appropriate subrogation forms are submitted to your insurance company, they are required to pay those bills. They are allowed to be reimbursed from the other driver’s insurance policy. However, they cannot deny paying these bills. That doesn’t mean that they won’t improperly deny payment.   With our years of experience, we will get your bills paid.  In these complex insurance matters where there is health insurance coverage, insurance from the other driver, and other coverages available, it is important to have a personal injury attorney to negotiate these bills in order to maximize your recovery and make sure they are paid by the correct policy.

As long as we maintain a third-party payer system in this country where insurance companies control our healthcare system, the negotiated rates of the insurance companies cannot be matched.  For example if you are seen in the hospital and your bill is $15,000, a negotiated rate from your health insurance company or Medicare or Medicaid is likely well under $5000.  The other driver does not get the benefit of this offset when arguing this case in a court of law. Therefore, the other driver is liable for the extent of the medical bills as they are incurred on their face and not as they are negotiated by insurance company.

I know this appears to be a complicated explanation for who should pay your medical bills. But the short answer is always your health insurance if you have coverage available for your emergency care. If you do not have health insurance, and your injuries are not life-threatening, seek treatment at a quick care medical facility immediately for an evaluation and referral to the appropriate doctors. It is an unfortunate reality that the driver that hit you may very well not have enough insurance or money to cover a large medical bill and if you do not have health insurance or underinsured motorist coverage you could be stuck for that bill, even though the accident is not your fault.

By contacting a personal injury lawyer immediately, you can receive the care that you need and be assured that you will receive the maximum compensation available for the injuries you sustained and have your medical bills paid.  We are happy to review your policy with you to make sure that you have coverages that best suit your needs.  Having worked in the insurance industry as an attorney for 9 years before opening our boutique law firm specializing in helping injured people, I reviewed thousands of insurance policies.   With extensive experience in the insurance field, I can help you review your coverages quickly and efficiently so that you know exactly what coverages you have or need in the event of an accident.

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

taking photos after a car accident

The Need to Take Photos After an Auto Accident

Laura Hunt AttorneyThe moments after a car accident can be confusing and stressful for most people.  It is a traumatic event which most people are not expecting and most have not experienced before.  As with any trauma, there are numerous concerns that immediately flood your mind. Of course, always foremost, is the well-being of all persons involved in the collision. Immediately following any accident, if you are physically able, you should always check on the health and condition of your passengers and passengers in the other vehicles.   Call for medical help immediately if emergency care is needed.

Everybody is OK. Now What?

Once you have confirmed that persons are stable or have called for emergency help for anyone who is not stable, it is critically important that you document the scene of the accident as quickly as possible. In a digital world people no longer expect to hear the testimony of witnesses to determine how the event happened.  It is almost expected that there will be photos and even video.  Although it seems at the scene of the accident that there can only be one explanation for how the impact occurred, many years of experience shows us that witnesses will have different accounts of the same event. For that reason, it is critically important that evidence from the scene be preserved so that at a later time, it can be easily determined who is at fault and how the collision occurred.

Therefore, taking photographs of the vehicles in their location in which they came to rest after the impact is crucial. In the age of the smart phone, it is a convenience we often take for granted and do not use to its most effective potential.   If the accident occurs at night, it is important to make sure you are using a flash when taking photos.  When taking photos, be sure to obtain photographs with license plates and identifying information on vehicles. If possible, it is often helpful to have photographs of the other driver or witnesses at the scene of the accident for later identification.  Take photographs from a wide angle so that you can see the entirety of the vehicles involved in the collision. Now that film is not an issue in the modern age, there cannot be too many photographs taken.

What else should I take pictures of?

In addition to photographs of where the vehicles came to rest,  take photographs of any debris left from the vehicles on the road way or on the side of the roadway before it is moved for safety reasons. In addition, take photographs of the roadway, any signs near the scene of the accident and if the accident occurred at an intersection take photographs of the entire configuration of the intersection.  Also photograph any witnesses and other drivers, just in case.

Often times, the scene will change from the time of the accident until the time a claim against the other driver is made. For example, additional roadway signs can be added or construction can be started or concluded.  Also, the condition of the roadway can change.   For example, there could be sand rock or debris on the road at a later time or at the time of the accident.  For that reason, it is critical to document the scene of the accident as it was on the date of the accident.

Pictures of vehicle damage.

In addition to documenting the accident scene, it is critical to document the damage to the vehicles. This evidence can be of significant importance to your personal injury attorney if there is a liability dispute.  It is also persuasive evidence to show the extent of damage to a vehicle as well as the persons occupying the vehicle. For those reasons, you will want to take photographs of all vehicles damaged in the accident at the scene.  Keep in mind this will likely be your only opportunity to take photographs of the other driver’s vehicle.  Thus, it is crucially important to capture this evidence at the scene.

Also in the digital age, it is always a good idea to back up any critical photos that you take of an accident. I would highly recommend that when you have the opportunity following the accident, that you download and archive the photos of the scene to a safe and secure location such as a zip drive. That way these photos will be available to you in the future should you need them in pursuing your claim.

Do police take photos of an accident scene?

Although the police do sometimes take photographs of an accident scene, they are often difficult to obtain and are sometimes lost. If you’re able to capture your own evidence it will be much easier to present your claim to the other driver’s insurance company. However, if you are severely injured and you are unable to capture this information the police may take photos in a serious accident.

In the event that the responding emergency agency takes the photos, they will archive those photos and they can be obtained at a later time. There is generally a cost involved in obtaining those photos and some delay.  With extensive experience in the handling of auto accident claims, I can obtain any evidence that was collected by a responding agency including police, fire and ambulance responders.

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

tips for towed car

My car has been towed. What do I do?

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

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

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

Problems with Tow Yards

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

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

Towing Coverage on Insurance

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

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

Towed from a Parking Lot?

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

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

Apology means guilt?

Is Saying I’m Sorry an Admission of Guilt?

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

Outcomes of Apologies in Court Cases

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

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

So, how do you apologize without admitting guilt?

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

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

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

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

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

holiday accidents

Holiday Accidents and Driving

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

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

What causes holiday car accidents?

Drunk Driving

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

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

Drowsy Driving

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

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

Distracted Driving

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

Marijuana impaired driving

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

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

 

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

The Weather Wrecked My Car

BAD WEATHER/ BAD DAY – WHAT IF A TREE FALLS ON MY CAR OR IN MY YARD OR BAD WEATHER CAUSES A CAR ACCIDENT

Bad weather can cause more than a bad hair day or a dirty car. Strong winds, heavy rains and blowing debris can cause trees to fall and roads to become unsafe causing accidents to happen. When conditions are less than ideal, accidents occur. The most common cause of vehicle related accidents due to weather is a loss of traction. When weather conditions become inclement and the roads become wet, muddy and sandy, vehicle traction is reduced and cars have a significantly increased chance of slipping and losing control. The best way to reduce your chance of losing traction on wet roads and in windy weather conditions is to drive slower and more smoothly. Try not to follow cars too closely and avoid jamming on the gas and brakes or making sudden and violent maneuvers with the steering wheel. The best way to think of this is if you had to cross a wet floor or a skating ring in your tennis shoes, you would tread in a slow and controlled manner and very carefully.  Use those principles when driving in windy and wet road conditions.

The best option is always to try and stay home in bad weather. Unfortunately, today’s reality just does not allow for that.  Work, school activities and responsibilities take us out on the roads in bad weather.  When you cannot avoid taking the risk, there is some important information that you should know if you are involved in an accident due to the loss of traction because of wet, muddy, snowy or icy roads in Henderson Nevada or if you are involved in an accident or cause property damage as a result of bad weather due to falling trees or debris as a result of bad weather in Henderson Nevada.

Rain And Accidents

I’ll take these topics in two sections.

First what if I lose control of my car due to bad weather

If you find your car starting to skid or lose traction or what we call “hydroplane” on wet roads, don’t panic.  Hydroplaning is when a layer of water prevents direct contact between your tires and the road. Take your foot off the gas and look in front of the vehicle.  Look where you want to go and gently and carefully steer the vehicle in that direction.  Apply very light brake pressure only if it is needed. Once the vehicle is traveling in the direction that you intend to go, you can lightly apply the gas as you regain control. This is a difficult driving situation and your skill will improve with experience.  If it is possible, it is best to learn these skills by practicing in a parking lot that is empty and the conditions are controlled.  I would recommend having an experienced driver teach you how to recover from a skid.  The most important thing to remember in these situations is not to panic and look in front of the vehicle and continue to steer the vehicle where you want to go.

Drivers sometimes have a natural inclination to look at objects they don’t want to hit and steer towards them and end up hitting the objects instead of maintaining their path. If you are able to continue looking where you want to go when you’ve lost control of a moving vehicle, you will be better able to regain control.  It is possible to regain control of the vehicle. However, if an accident occurs as a result of bad weather conditions in Henderson Nevada, the most important thing in any accident that occurs for any reason is to make sure that everyone in your vehicle is OK.  You should immediately call 911 to reach police and emergency medical personnel after any accident. Regardless of whether or not anyone appears severely injured, emergency personnel should be summoned to the scene.  Head injuries or internal injuries often cannot be observed immediately, and medical personnel are trained to detect these life-threatening injuries.  It is important not to panic, but to be calm and controlled and assist others.  Speak clearly when contacting emergency personnel to give them your location and the information that they need.

People often ask who pays for my damages if I am the only one involved in the accident

If you are the only car involved in the accident, you should call your insurance company as soon as you have arrived at safety and the parties in your vehicle have been treated and are safe. Use your cell phone to take pictures of your vehicle, the roadway and the surrounding areas. You will have to make a claim for the damage to your vehicle on your collision insurance. Unfortunately, you will be responsible for your deductible even though bad weather conditions caused you to lose control of your car.  An experienced attorney can help you fully recover your vehicle damage, and often there is coverage available for your injuries.  With 8 years experience working for insurance companies, and the past 8 years spent helping victims of accidents recover their property damage and money for their injuries, I can help you if you have an accident as a result of bad weather conditions.

If a Tree Falls on My House or Car, Am I Covered?

Sometimes it takes just one good storm to topple what was once a sturdy tree in your yard or at a business. Once the storm is over, a lawyer can assist you to determine which insurance will help pay for the cost of removing the branches and repairing damage if the tree fell on your home or car.

Whether your homeowners insurance policy includes coverage for fallen trees typically depends on a number of factors, such as what caused the tree to fall and what kind of damage resulted. Which coverage will cover your car will depend on whose tree fell on your vehicle and why.

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about trees and insurance.

If the tree was otherwise healthy and toppled due to wind, a typical homeowners insurance policy will likely pay to repair damage to your home or other structure on your property, the Insurance Information Institute (III) says.  Be aware of deductibles.

Q: If a tree falls on my own property, will my own homeowner’s policy pay the damages?

A: This question depends on the facts.  A homeowner’s insurance policy generally protects your home against stated causes of loss, defined as perils. “Covered perils” are generally inclusive of wind damage.  Therefore, the reason that the tree to fell is important. If the tree was in good condition at the time of the storm and fell due to wind, a standard homeowner’s insurance policy will likely cover the damages to your home or other structure on your property, the Insurance Information Institute (III) says.

If the tree was rotting before the accident, the homeowners insurance usually won’t cover the damage because they will claim it is a maintenance issue. If you have sustained a large loss and the insurance company claims it is a maintenance issue, you should call a lawyer before the tree is removed and take a large number of photos of the downed tree including roots.

Q: What if my tree fell on my neighbor’s car?

A: Generally, the owner of the fallen tree is not responsible for the damage unless he negligently maintained the tree.  If your tree falls on your neighbor’s vehicle, your neighbor’s vehicle auto insurance should pay the claim if your neighbor carries comprehensive coverage. If your neighbor’s tree falls on your car, your comprehensive coverage applies.

Q: What happens if the tree was on someone else’s property?

A: If you have damage because of someone else’s tree, the Insurance Information Institute (III) states your homeowners insurance will likely cover the damage to covered property.

 

Q: Am I responsible if my tree falls on my neighbor’s property?

A: You are only responsible if the tree was negligently maintained usually meaning rotting and not previously removed.  That would make you a contributing factor to the tree falling down and negligent.  Otherwise, your neighbor will have to file a claim through their own insurance.

Q: Does homeowners’ insurance cover removing tree after it has fallen?

  1. Usually, only if the tree damaged property. If the tree fell without causing damage to a structure on your property, insurance won’t likely cover the cost of removing the debris. Insurance Information Institute (III) says.

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