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.

WHAT IS CBD and WHY IS EVERYONE TALKING ABOUT IT?

As of December 2018, the most recent farm bill, CBD became legal in the US and it is already exploding into the market place.  But what is it? In this blog, I will give an overview of this new product and the legal requirements for its production.

WHAT DOES CBD STAND FOR?

CBD is the acronym for Cannabidiol, a rising cannabinoid found in hemp/cannabis plants.

WHAT IS A CANNABINOID?

The cannabis plant  contains a number of compounds known as cannabinoids. There is estimated to be over 100 cannabinoids produced by a single plant.  THC is only one such cannabinoid. Many of these cannabinoids have little research, however, research on cannabinoids such as CBD is constantly expanding.

Where does CBD oil come from?

CBD is derived from the plant, Cannabis Sativa L. This name refers to all varieties of the plant including both hemp and medical/recreational cannabis (formerly referred to as “marijuana”). While hemp and medical/recreational cannabis share similar names, the one main difference is between the levels of the intoxicating compound, delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Agricultural hemp is naturally high in CBD and is classified as less than 0.3% THC in the dry weight material. Medical/Recreational cannabis refers to plants with large flowering buds and high amounts of THC, between 1%-30%. This type of product can only be sold and consumed in states with laws around medical or recreational cannabis, while hemp-derived products can be sold all across the US.               CBD Oil products are made with CBD that is derived from agricultural hemp.

Is CBD oil different than hemp seed oil?

The hemp plant has many uses and is a great source of nutrition. Hemp seed oil refers to oils that have been made using only the hemp seeds. Hemp seeds themselves do not contain significant amounts of cannabinoids like CBD, but does contain essential nutrients such as omega 3 fatty acids. Hemp-derived CBD oil is extracted from all parts of the plant—which includes the seed, the stem, and the stalk—and contains higher concentrations of cannabinoids, between 5%-50% in concentration.

WHAT IS HEMP?

Hemp oil is generally pressed from the seeds of the hemp plant which are also considered to have health benefits because they contain a large amount of antioxidants, omega 3 and 6 and fatty acids. Hemp oil does not contain the same amount of cannabinoids found in CBD oil which are extracted from the whole plant instead of just the seeds.

Is CBD oil psychoactive?

Although CBD is a component of marijuana (one of hundreds), CBD alone does not cause a “high.” According to a report from the World Health Organization, (https://www.who.int/medicines/access/controlled-substances/5.2_CBD.pdf  ) “In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential…. To date, there is no evidence of public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.” No, CBD is not psychoactive because it contains only trace amounts of THC.  CBD has surged in popularity amongst the medical community for its safety profile. The therapeutic results achieved without feelings of intoxication make it a great remedy.

What are the benefits of taking CBD oil?

Our everyday stresses can make staying balanced difficult. It can be difficult to stay balanced and healthy. The human body has an internal system called the Endocannabinoid System (ECS), that produces its own cannabinoids called Anandamide and 2-Arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG). The ECS helps maintain homeostasis and talks to every other organ system in the body. Hemp-derived CBD has the ability to balance the system that’s designed to balance you, via the ECS.

CBD has been lauded for a wide variety of health concerns, but the strongest scientific evidence is for its effectiveness in treating some of the certain childhood epilepsy syndromes, such as Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS), which historically have not responded to antiseizure medications. In numerous studies, CBD was able to reduce the number of seizures, and in some cases it was able to stop them altogether. Recently the FDA approved the first ever cannabis-derived medicine for these conditions, Epidiolex, which contains CBD.

In the marketplace, CBD is often promoted to address anxiety and  insomnia. Some studies have suggested that CBD may help with both falling asleep and staying asleep.

In addition, CBD studies have been and are being conducted that indicate that CBD may offer an option for treating different types of chronic pain. “A study from the European Journal of Pain showed, using an animal model, CBD applied on the skin could help lower pain and inflammation due to arthritis. Another study demonstrated the mechanism by which CBD inhibits inflammatory and neuropathic pain, two of the most difficult types of chronic pain to treat. More study in humans is needed in this area to substantiate the claims of CBD proponents about pain control.”

What Illegal Claims are being Made about CBD?

Recently, the FDA sent out warnings to four CBD companies related to more than a dozen products and multiple online platforms, on which the FDA stated the companies made “unfounded, egregious claims about their products’ ability to limit, treat or cure cancer, neurodegenerative conditions, autoimmune diseases, opioid use disorder and other serious diseases,” without evidence or FDA approval.

Some of the claims the FDA said these companies made were:

  • “CBD successfully stopped cancer cells in multiple different cervical cancer varieties.”
  • “CBD also decreased human glioma cell growth and invasion, thus suggesting a possible role of CBD as an antitumor agent.”
  • “For Alzheimer’s patients, CBD is one treatment option that is slowing the progression of that disease.”
  • “CBD has demonstrated the ability to block spinal, peripheral and gastrointestinal mechanisms responsible for the pain associated with migraines, fibromyalgia, IBS and other related disorders.”
  • “CBD reduced the rewarding effects of morphine and reduced drug seeking of heroin.”

          In a statement recently released by the FDA, they announced they will hold public hearings  on CBD products to  form of a high-level working group to provide updates to the agency’s website to provide CBD information to the public.

https://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm635048.htm

QUALITY IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT FOR CBD.

For CBD to be the most beneficial, it should be full spectrum.  It is important to understand the quality, purity and potency of the CBD oil you purchase.  Labs should use High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) to measure CBD levels, to the milligram, in every batch.  In some cases, a second level of lab testing is conducted to validate potency findings who independently analyzes the CBD.  CBD products should not contain pesticides, fungicides, plant growth regulators, residual solvents, heavy metal contamination.  

What Does Full Spectrum CBD mean?

Full Spectrum CBD Oil is usually sold in the form of a tincture which is also labeled as an oil. CBD oil is most commonly labeled as either a CBD isolate or a full-spectrum CBD oil. Full spectrum CBD contains less than .3% of THC favored  by those who want the inclusion of plant terpenes for better therapeutic results. CBD isolate is a pure isolated cannabidiol with plant material removed and is a lower cost per milligram and considered by most to be less therapeutic.

IS CBD LEGAL?

In all CBD products, THC content cannot be  over .3% in order to be legal and not considered to be a schedule one narcotic.    

If you have a question about CBD or products containing CBD, please don’t hesitate to call our office.  In addition to handling auto accident and injury cases, The Law Offices of Laura Payne Hunt is available to consult with businesses regarding the sale and manufacture of CBD products.

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 is the difference between CBD and Marijuana

FIVE POINTS ABOUT CBD

  1. CBD and Marijuana come from the same plant.
  2. CBD and Marijuana do not contain the same chemical compound.
  3. Marijuana has THC and is only legal in some states.
  4. CBD has less than .3% percent THC
  5. CBD products with less than .3% THC are legal in all states.

The 2018 Farm Bill greatly expanded the legalization of the Hemp industry.  It allows hemp cultivation broadly and explicitly allows the sale and distribution of hemp-derived products across state lines for commercial or personal uses. It also lifts any restrictions on the sale, transport, or possession of hemp-based products,  as long as these products meet the legal requirements. The Bill places certain restrictions on Hemp production including the following:

First, as referenced, CBD cannot contain more than 0.3 percent THC, per section 10113 of the Farm Bill. Any cannabis plant that contains more than 0.3 percent THC would be considered non-hemp cannabis—or marijuana—under federal law and would thus face no legal protection under this new legislation.

Second, there will be significant, shared state-federal regulatory power over hemp cultivation and production. Under section 10113 of the Farm Bill, state departments of agriculture must consult with the state’s governor and chief law enforcement officer to devise a plan that must be submitted to the Secretary of USDA. A state’s plan to license and regulate hemp can only commence once the Secretary of USDA approves that state’s plan. In states opting not to devise a hemp regulatory program, USDA will construct a regulatory program under which hemp cultivators in those states must apply for licenses and comply with a federally-run program.  This system of shared regulatory programming is similar to options states had in other policy areas such as health insurance marketplaces under ACA, or workplace safety plans under OSHA—both of which had federally-run systems for states opting not to set up their own systems.

Third, the law lists actions that are determined to be violations of federal hemp law (including such activities as cultivating without a license or producing cannabis with more than 0.3 percent THC). The law details fines and jail sentences for such violations, but also outlines pathways for violators to become compliant.  The law also lists which activities qualify as felonies under the law, such as repeated offenses.

Although the Farm Bill legalizes hemp, it doesn’t create a system in which people can grow it as freely as they can grow tomatoes or basil. However, many states haves systems in place.   Hemp will be a regulated crop in the United States for both personal and industrial production but if you are interested in growing it, consult your state department of agriculture. In most states where Marianna is legal, getting a hemp (non-THC) growing license is not that difficult.

So now that we’ve established these come from the same plant, what is CBD?

CBD is one of the many chemical compounds in a class called “cannabinoids” that naturally occur in cannabis plants. While THC has been the long known form of cannabinoids due to its ability to get us high, CBD is a rapidly rising star for its capacity to deliver mental and physical benefits without the munchies, paranoia, or legal consequences.

Although the FDA has not approved CBD for a specific use with the exception of an epilepsy drug recently approved,  users of CBD reported benefits including relief from anxiety, joint pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, menstrual cramps, insomnia, nausea, seizures, bowel inflammation, and plain old moodiness. Today, adults in more than half of US states (and 16 countries worldwide) have legal access to marijuana for medical purposes, and it’s been legalized for recreational use in nine states, plus Washington, DC. As marijuana continues making its’ way into the mainstream, CBD has emerged as an easy entryway for those who want to take advantage of the wellness benefits of plant, without the effects of THC.

CBD has come out in many forms in recent months.  It’s come out in lotions, oils, bath bombs, edibles, gels and almost any form you can think of for use. The methods of consuming CBD are unlimited.  CBD also comes in soft gel capsules, droppers, and sublingual sprays.  In more than 20 countries outside the US, one such spray is prescribed to multiple sclerosis patients who suffer from muscle spasms and stiffness.

How CBD works

“Yu-Fung Lin, an associate professor of physiology and membrane biology at the University of California-Davis School of Medicine, teaches a course on the physiology of cannabis. She says although CBD is not considered to be psychotropic—meaning it won’t alter our perception of reality or produce a feeling of euphoria—it’s still working on our brains. CBD doesn’t activate our brains’ cannabinoid receptors in the same manner as THC, but it does target a wide variety of proteins in the brain and nervous system that regulate cell activities all over the human body. By interacting with the brain’s signaling systems in various ways, it can provide relief from pain, anxiety, and nausea. Beyond our brains, says Lin, CBD may benefit our bones and immune systems and work broadly throughout the body as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, which may help protect cells from damages associated with neurodegenerative diseases.”               

With these sorts of benefits, there’s an increasing market for CBD—and readily willing suppliers promising miraculous results. “CBD can be used to relieve multiple symptoms,” says Lin. “But you need to know what you are getting.”

https://health.ucdavis.edu/physiology/faculty/lin.html

CBD vs. Marijuana

CBD products made from industrial hemp, which contains almost no THC (less than 0.3% in the US), are legal in all 50 US states. While many users report benefits of hemp-derived CBD—not the least of which is legality—some experts say a little THC helps CBD work in the body; that cannabis’ chemical compounds work better in tandem than in isolation.

This is often called the “entourage effect,” or as Lester Grinspoon, a psychiatrist and professor emeritus at Harvard Medical School calls it, the “ensemble effect.” “It’s a mixture of CBD, cannabidiol, THC, and the phytochemicals, the terpenoids,” Grinspoon tells High Times. “You need all three of them to get the best therapeutic effect.” For this reason, Grinspoon, Lin, and many others say that the best source for therapeutic CBD is a plant with all of its cannabinoids intact. https://www.safeaccessnow.org/cannabinopathic_medicine_lester_grinspoon_m_d_s_new_coinage

Hemp research remains important

 

One of the goals of the 2014 Farm Bill was to generate, promote  and protect research into hemp. The 2018 Farm Bill continues this effort. Section 7605 re-extends the protections for hemp research and the conditions under which such research can and should be conducted. Further, section 7501 of the Farm Bill extends hemp research by including hemp under the Critical Agricultural Materials Act. This provision recognizes the importance, diversity, and opportunity of the plant and the products that can be derived from it, but also recognizes an important point: there is a still a lot to learn about hemp and its products from commercial and market perspectives. Yes, farmers—legal and illegal—already know a lot about this plant, but more can and should be done to make sure that hemp as an agricultural commodity remains stable.

https://www.agriculture.senate.gov/2018-farm-bill

If you have a question about CBD, please don’t hesitate to call our office.  We work with clients that manufacture high quality CBD products. We can discuss the legalities of the product and advise where to purchase.

If you or a loved is involved in an accident with someone who is under the influence of Marijuana, 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.

Drug testing in the work place where Marijuana is Legal

If your company drug tests employees, now is a good time to evaluate how the expanding legalized use of marijuana will impact your policies and your business. More employees will inevitably test positive for marijuana. By taking time to evaluate the consequences of this, you and your HR team will have strategies in place and be better positioned to respond on a legal and operational level.

In the states where marijuana has been legalized, enforcing drug-free workplace policies can be a significant challenge. Of the 31 states allowing marijuana use for medicinal purposes, 11 states (Arkansas, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island) have statutes that explicitly prohibit employment discrimination against medical marijuana users.

In several states — including Connecticut, Maine and Massachusetts —  an employee who tests positive for marijuana but is legally allowed to use marijuana for medical purposes has a viable claim against an employer for enforcing drug-free workplace policies without accommodations or other considerations.

Related: To Drug Test or Not to Drug Test? https://www.greenentrepreneur.com/

An emerging trend in employment law 

According to the American Bar Association, cases in which employees sued for discrimination resulted in favorable verdicts for them. One federal court in Connecticut recently reasoned that the federal Drug-Free Workplace Act, https://webapps.dol.gov/elaws/asp/drugfree/require.htm  which many employers including federal contractors relied upon for policies on drug testing, does not specifically require drug testing and does not prohibit federal contractors from employing people who use medical marijuana outside the workplace and in accordance with state laws.  The Department of Labor ended the drug-free workplace program in 2010.  Accordingly, it does not currently administer a “Workplace drug testing” advisory web page.

Further complicating the matter for multi-state employers, state statutes pertaining to the legal use of marijuana vary, and while certain states have sanctioned marijuana, its possession is still a federal crime. To confuse matters even further, court rulings have offered an inconsistent roadmap for companies that want to determine if they should drug test for marijuana, and what to do with a positive test result.

For example, while some courts have ruled in favor of employees as noted above, the California Supreme Court in Ross v. Ragingwire  174 P. 3d 200, 70 Cal. Rptr. 3d 382, 42 Cal. 4th,Cal: Supreme 2008 reasoned that because the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) does not require employers to accommodate illegal drug use, the employer could lawfully deny employment to individuals using medical marijuana, since it is illegal under federal law.  No state law could completely legalize marijuana for medical purposes because the drug remains illegal under federal law (21 U.S.C. §§ 812, 844(a)), even for medical users (see Gonzales v. Raich, supra, 545 U.S. 1, 26-29, 125 S.Ct. 2195, 162 L.Ed.2d 1; United States v. Oakland Cannabis Buyers’ Cooperative, supra, 532 U.S. 483, 491-95, 121 S.Ct. 1711, 149 L.Ed.2d 722).

What, then, should your business do to adjust or modify drug testing policies relative to the legal use of marijuana?  Here are some basic considerations:

1. Evaluate Your Policy

If medical and recreational marijuana use is allowed in states where your employees work, it’s time to examine the core motivation behind your drug testing policy.  Some companies, such as those that do business with the federal government, may be required to test certain employees. Safety-sensitive positions, such as drivers, equipment operators, and pilots, are subject to alcohol and drug screening, as well.

Perhaps your company is not legally required to test employees, but instead has decided to establish a drug-free environment, with testing as a component.  Ultimately, you need to determine the overall temperament of your organization for medical marijuana use when it is legally allowed and consider interactive accommodations for certain workers. Some employers have gone as far as eliminating testing for marijuana altogether while maintaining other drug testing requirements, reasoning that testing for marijuana automatically excludes too many otherwise qualified employees in the current challenging hiring environment.

Related: Here’s How You can Weed Out Risks At Work With Drug Test Screening

2. Understand the Specific Legal Requirements

It is possible that the specific medical marijuana laws in your state (or states, if you operate in multiple regions) require you to discuss possible accommodations for the use of medical marijuana.  You also need to consider the impact of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Based on the law, you may need to revise your drug testing policy to include an accommodation process; you will also need to determine when discipline or termination may be appropriate for medical marijuana users.

Finally, for safety-sensitive positions, determine what standards apply relative to medical marijuana use. In the end, zero-tolerance drug policies in the workplace may be enforced as long as they do not violate state law.  Currently, a majority of state statutes include certain employer exemptions as well as policies that ban marijuana use on-the-job or on the premises.

As more states legalize marijuana use, your organization should prepare for a rise in positive test results, and for challenges from employees who have failed drug tests or who claim they were not impaired while working.  To ensure you are in compliance, consult an employment law expert or an experienced HR consultant who can provide guidance and help you navigate through the maze of federal and state statutes.

If you have a question about Marijuana laws in Nevada, 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.

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.

WHAT IS TREASON AND IS TRUMP GUILTY OF IT?

A word I haven’t heard much of since law school is treason. With all the recent headlines of Donald Trump and the Mueller probe, it is a question on people’s minds and a question I have been asked by strangers at baseball games seeing me read deposition transcripts on more than one occasion. Since Donald Trump’s face to face meeting with Putin in Helsinki has come to light, it has been tossed around the media.  The president appeared to side publicly with the former KGB agent over US interests regarding Russia policy in trying to sway the 2016 election. In fact, even Donald Trump is throwing around the word on twitter:

Donald J. Trump ✔ @realDonaldTrump

….There is a lot of explaining to do to the millions of people who had just elected a president who they really like and who has done a great job for them with the Military, Vets, Economy and so much more. This was the illegal and treasonous “insurance policy” in full action!

123K

4:29 AM – Feb 18, 2019

Trump was speaking out on Twitter against former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.  In his recent book, McCabe states details supporting his concerns about potential foreign influence concerning the president.  Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein initiated special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Trump also stated McCabe and Rosenstein “look like they were planning a very illegal act, and got caught.”   During an interview on CBS’s “60 Minutes,” McCabe, described Rosenstein as “having raised the prospect of invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office.”  Jeff Sessions fired McCabe from the FBI last year, hours before McCabe was set to retire.

A large part of the Mueller investigation is focused on “campaign collusion.” The question is, did Russia help get Trump elected, and did the Trump campaign knowingly accept this help.  Or at worst, did the Trump campaign actively participate in collision to get Trump elected.  It has been alleged that campaign manager Paul Manafort gave polling data to a Russian agent.  It can be surmised that the relevant use of this information was to assist Russia with their social media efforts to sway the election

A New York Times report claimed that collusion was only part of the story. The relationship between Trump and Putin not only involved their mutual interest in Trump winning the election, but seems to show a some stronger connection.  Mueller is not only looking into crimes, but also the basic loyalties of the President of the United States.

 

If this is in fact true, the question is “Is it treason”? Although it is politically damaging, and although it may be grounds for impeachment, historically and technically the answer would be no, this is not treason.  So what is treason? The traditional definition of treason is a crime betraying one’s country.  This dictionary definition is very simplistic. The legal definition was codified at 18 US Code Section 2381 and it states as follows:

 

Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.” Published June 25, 1948.  https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/2381

 

There is also a statute known as misprision of treason which is codified at 18 US code section 2382 which states as follows:

Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States and having knowledge of the commission of any treason against them, conceals and does not, as soon as may be, disclose and make known the same to the President or to some judge of the United States, or to the governor or to some judge or justice of a particular State, is guilty of misprision of treason and shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than seven years, or both.” https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/2382 

 It is important to note that aside from treason, there are numerous federal statutes along these lines including conspiracy statutes, and insurrection statutes.   Insurrection is codified at 18 U.S. Code § 2383 and states as follows:

Whoever incites, sets on foot, assists, or engages in any rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States or the laws thereof, or gives aid or comfort thereto, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.

 

 

Enlisting a person to serve against the United States is an allegation for which Donald Trump could be investigated for by the Mueller probe.

 

Former CIA director John Brennan called Trumps remarks “nothing short of treasonous, and former FBI director James Comey has stated that President Trump “sold out our nation.“

 

There are prominent law professors who have remarked in interviews on national television that the case could be made to see Trumps acts in a treasonous light.  Speaking from a legal perspective, treason has generally been narrowly defined and is difficult to prove. In fact, there have only been a handful of Americans ever convicted of treason and no one has been convicted of the same since 1952. The last person to be charged with treason was Adam Yahiye Gadahm, an American who joined Al-Qaeda in the early 2000s. Although Al-Qaeda is not a state and Washington never officially declared war, the U.S. was in a virtual state of war with the Islamic organization.

The founding fathers of this country created a very narrow definition of treason because they were sensitive to the possibility that it would be used to harm political opponents. It is important to point out that the founding fathers themselves were accused of treason against their own British rule.

 

Article 3, section 3 of the United States Constitution states as follows: “treason against the United States shall consist only in living war against them, or adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or confession in open court. “

 

The legal definition of “enemy“ means a country on which the US has declared war or is actively fighting. Russia does not exactly fall into these categories. It could be argued that North Korea does because there has never been an official end to the Korean War.  Even the former USSR was not legally defined as an enemy because there was no state of war between us. Not a single American citizen has been indicted on charges of treason since the Cold War.

 

As difficult as it is to stomach, saying bad things about the government, or an enacting harmful policies and even choosing the interests of other nations ahead of the US can be legally permissible. For instance some international treaties which have been signed by US president are more beneficial to other countries and even arguably detrimental to American interests. Some legal scholars such as highly respected and recognize Lawrence tribe contend that the US could be construed to be at war with Russia if old-fashioned definition is reinterpreted to include “cyber war“ since Russians are accused of hacking US electoral systems and stealing data in the tent to disrupt the vote. However this is a longshot on a good day.

 

In light of the turmoil of our political system on this day, I felt compelled to write about this issue.  Please check our blog weekly for information on current topics and injury related matters. 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.  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.