Category Archives: Accident Litigation

WHAT EXACTLY IS A SOFT TISSUE INJURY

Four most common types of soft tissue injuries
1) Sprains
2) Contusions
3) Strains
4) Whiplash

One of the most common types of injuries sustained in an auto accident is referred to as a soft tissue injury. A soft tissue injury is considered an injury to a muscle or tendon. The term “ soft“ refers to areas of the body that typically become injured after undergoing some trauma such as an auto accident or other types of personal injury accidents. When a victim is involved in a serious car accident, there is generally some type of soft tissue injury as a result. When you are involved in a car accident, your body is subjected to an extreme amount of trauma. Because of the rapid change in direction that your body undergoes and the force that is absorb by the muscles and tendons, the result is a reaction known as muscle splinting. Many people involved in automobile accidents sustain a soft tissue injury as a result of the accident. One of the most common types of injury is often referred to as whiplash. However, other injuries occur in auto accidents such as sprains, contusions, and strains. Below is the definition of each of these type of injuries.

     Whiplash— The most common occurrence of whiplash is from a forceful rear end   automobile impact. When you are involved in a collision where the vehicle is struck from the rear with great force, your neck and head move forward and back in a violent motion. The most common symptoms that we are hear from clients involved in rear and motor vehicle accidents include stiffness, neck pain, back pain, and in many instances loss of memory and concentration. Sometimes the symptoms are felt immediately following the collision. However, it is important to note that you may not feel pain at the scene of the accident and your symptoms can occur several days or a week after the accident. These type of soft tissue injuries cause pain, soreness, stiffness and swelling and sometimes even bruising. Drivers and passengers of motor vehicles involved in a serious car crashe experience pain from the violent forces involved and being thrown around the vehicle in the collision.


Sprains — a sprain occurs when a ligament is stretched or torn and these are a common injury as a result of automobile collisions. Ligaments are a strong band of connective tissue and they connect one bone to another. Our ligaments stabilize and support the joints in our body. Often the violent forces of an automobile collision cause these to be sprained or torn.

Contusions –The word bruise is the common term for what doctors usually referred to as a contusion. Contusion injuries are often caused by a force, a direct trauma, a blow, or some type of blunt impact causing the underlying muscle fibers to be crushed. A contusion is the result of fibers and connective tissues that are under the skin to break without breaking the skin. However, this type of trauma usually causes discoloration and blood pooling in the affected area which can be seen visually as a light or dark colored bruise often even red and purple in color.

Strains — people often use the term strain and sprain interchangeably but they are different injuries. Strains are injuries to the muscles and tendons of the body. As referenced, tendons are made of fiber chords of tissue and they attach our bones to our muscles. Although strains are similar to sprains, a strain occurs when your tendons are stretched or you tear a tendon or a muscle. Strains can cause cramping, muscle weakness, pain, swelling and spasms sometimes. Although a lot of these terms are used to interchangeably these injuries are different and generally result from trauma, often trauma from car accidents.  

What should you do if you sustain soft tissue injury?

The most important thing to do when you sustain a soft injury is to seek medical attention and follow the doctor‘s advice. Often doctors will recommend several methods for pain management often referred to as the RICE method or the no HARM protocol.

RICE – this is an acronym generally used to describe a treatment protocol for soft tissue injuries.  It stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Often medical providers may suggest that you take a break from your activities to rest in order to let your injury heal. Unfortunately, this is not possible for many people in the busy lives that we lead. Doctors may also recommend that ice be placed on and off the affected area in 20 minute intervals, but avoiding direct contact of ice with the skin. Many commercial ice packs can be purchased or you can put ice in a plastic bag and wrap a towel around it to avoid direct contact of the ice with your skin.

HARM- A second method of treatment for soft tissue injuries often recommended by doctors to be used within the first 48 to 72 hours of sustaining injury.  The method is also recommended to help speed recovery. The HARM method stands for heat, alcohol, re-injury, and a massage. Doctors may recommend that a patient who sustains a soft tissue injury apply heat to the injured area within 48 to 72 hours after the injury. Applying heat to the area can cause blood to flow and the swelling to decrease. Doctors may also recommend avoiding alcohol following injury because alcohol can inhibit the ability to feel and if the injury is becoming more aggravated it could increase the swelling and cause the injury to get worse.  Following an accident, like rest, doctors will advise to avoid any activities that could re-aggravate the injury and cause further damage. Finally, massaging an injured area can promote blood flow and swelling and potentially cause more damage if done too early following the injury

Although these are some at home tips to deal with the pain following an automobile crash accident, if pain persists after the first 24 hours, the personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices Of Laura Payne-Hunt, Esq.  urge you to consult with a medical professional who can help diagnose and implement a treatment plan to speed your recovery. In addition, in the State of Nevada, you cannot make a claim for personal injuries if you did not obtain any medical care. Therefore, it is imperative that you seek medical attention to substantiate and prove the injuries that you sustained as a result of a motor vehicle collision.

Recovery time

Soft tissues can take anywhere from 2 to 8 weeks to heal depending on your general health, prior injury status, severity of the injury, and age.  In very severe soft tissue cases, a splint or even surgery can be recommended which can take an substantially longer time to heal. Often time’s anti-inflammatory medications will be prescribed to help but these are not suitable for all people.  Sometimes, injuries initially seem to present as soft tissue injuries and as time goes on and they do not heal. In those cases, additional medical intervention is needed to determine the extent of the injury including diagnostic studies like MRI or CAT scan. At the time of the collision, the pain that you are feeling may be soft tissue or may be more extensive injuries. That is why it is extremely important to consult with a medical professional following any personal injuries sustained in an auto accident.

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

         At the Henderson and Las Vegas Accident injury Law Offices of Laura Payne Hunt, PC we are here to help you and your family in the event that accidents and tragedies occur.  For any of your legal needs, do not hesitate to contact our Henderson and Las Vegas Accident injury Henderson offices. The Law Offices of Laura Payne Hunt is a boutique, family owned law firm in Henderson that specializes in helping injured people and the community with legal issues involving auto accidents, wrongful deaths, slip and falls, truck accidents, injuries to children, bicycle accidents, dog bites, and all types of injury claims.  Please do not hesitate to call us anytime you have a legal question or you or a loved one has sustained an injury at 702-450-(HUNT) 4868 and text 24/7 at 702-600-0032.

WHAT HAPPENS IF I HAVE AND ACCIDENT WHILE I AM ON VACATION?

BEFORE YOU GO ON VACATION, TAKE THE FOLLOWING PHOTOS WITH YOUR PHONE:

  1. Your Family health insurance cards
  2. Lists of any family allergies
  3. Your auto insurance card

DON’T LET A CAR ACCIDENT RUIN YOUR VACATION

Vacations are best for getting away from everything stressful. You can enjoy the sun and the beach or get away the snowy slopes and fireside hot chocolate, or anything that your family enjoys.  Often on vacation, you may try new adventures like jet skiing, snorkeling, snowboarding, or any other type of vacation fun. Unfortunately, we don’t often consider that accidents can happen anywhere, even on vacation.  Armed with information and a few necessities like your family health insurance cards, your auto insurance card (whether you are driving your own car or renting a car) along with shorts and sun block, can reduce stress in the event of an accident. It’s also a good idea to have the name of an experienced and trusted local attorney in your contacts.  At the Law Offices of Laura Payne Hunt, PC, we are Henderson Accident Attorneys with over 20 years of experience, 10 of those representing insurance companies.

It’s not something we want to think about when packing for a vacation.  It’s likely last thing we want to think about. However, a couple clicks of your phone and you will not have to think about it again unless it happens. It is important to know your rights and responsibilities while traveling any time, including on vacation.  One call to Henderson Accident Attorney Laura Payne Hunt can put into motion all of the steps needed to preserve your rights and claims without losing sleep on your vacation.

Summer is a great time to take a trip to more open, cooler, prettier places like the beach or the mountains, or a visit with family in old hometowns or living it up on the Las Vegas Strip. Road trips are exciting, and air travel can get us their much quicker, and renting a car can save time.

An accident is likely the last thing on your mind as you prepare for your trip, and not something you want to think about.  However, a little bit of knowledge can make a stressful situation, easier and not end a great vacation. I hope to answer the most important questions you will have if you find yourself in an accident while on vacation. Whether you are driving your own car or renting a vehicle for an out-of-town vacation, the following is a list items you will want to know to be prepared in the event of an accident:

  1. Make sure the police or on-site security is called to the scene immediately.  This will likely be your only opportunity to gather critical information.
  2. Take pictures of everything including the people themselves involved, the weather, the cars, the road, driver’s licenses, insurance cards, license plates, witness’s and their vehicles, any traffic signals or signs in place, the location of the accident, any article like a ride that caused injury, the floor in a slip and fall, all signs in the area.
  3. If anyone is injured, get medical help at a hospital or quick care and if you have your own health insurance, use it.  Provide the medical provider all of your information and make sure to obtain any records you can while you are there.
  4. Take photos immediately of any injuries sustained such as bruising and lacerations.  

TYPES OF CASES HANDLED BY HUNT LAW OFFICES

  • Swimming pool and spa drowning accidents and slip and fall accidents.
  • Injuries due to violence caused by negligent security or inadequate security.
  • Acts of crime by employees leading to injuries including sexual assaults and assault and battery.
  • Vehicle accidents involving transportation companies or rental cars.
  • Accidents on busses and/or public transportation accidents.
  • Accidents resulting from the use of personal watercraft, jet-skis, and water ski accidents.
  • Accidents involving amusement parks, theme park rides and attractions, equipment failure or maintenance accidents at theme parks.
  • Accidents involving hotel escalators and/or elevator accidents and slip and fall accidents.
  • Scuba diving and parasailing accidents resulting from faulty equipment.

Business owners, hotel owners, rental companies, and theme parks owners who cater to vacationers have a responsibility to keep their premises safe for visitors and their attractions working properly. They must provide a safe premises, and protection from dangers. Rides and rental equipment must function as intended.  Unfortunately, some vacation destinations and resorts do not pay attention to the safety measures that they are required to implement for the protection of their guests. Due to this type of negligence, an attorney is often needed to protect your rights. Laura Hunt, Esq. is dedicated to helping tourists and vacationers injured in accidents, find justice, while visiting Las Vegas and California.  To tell us about your case or concern, please email lhuntlaw@cox.net or call 702-600-0032 24 hours a day and on weekends.

ISSUES OF VACATION ACCIDENTS

Wherever your flight, drive or voyage may take you, an attorney can you help if you’re injured on your journey.  The following is important to keep in mind:

  • State Law in Different States– An attorney can Laura Hunt, Esq. can answer questions regarding laws that vary by state including traffic laws, statutes of limitations, helmet laws, floatation device laws, etc.
  • How Does Insurance work Out of State– What happens if you’re in an auto accident in a different state – or country for that matter? What state’s insurance laws do you follow? The answer is usually yes on your own policies with certain exceptions.  An experienced attorney can answer these important questions.
  • Rental Cars — With a rental, you will likely need to deal with additional paperwork. As soon as you can, you should contact the rental company and inform them of what happened. Most rental cars are equipped with a sticker in the glove box that has emergency information on it. You will usually be covered on your own auto policy and you also need to contact your own insurance company as soon as possible

WHAT ABOUT GETTING THE CAR FIXED?

To help make things easier, here is are few issues you may be faced with dealing with:

  • Your insurance may advise you to fix your car locally. An insurance company will not want to pay to have your damaged car towed to your home town. If the car is drivable, take the vehicle home for repairs.
  • The body shop may not perform quality work, so double check the work before leaving the shop. If the body shop knows you are not local, they may not give your vehicle the treatment you would receive at your local repair shop.  This is why you may want to wait for repairs until you get home. Don’t let a dent ruin a vacation.
  • You will be responsible for picking up from the shop when repairs are done. It is not likely that the insurance company will deliver your repaired vehicle back to your home town.
  • Obtain a police report. Find out from the officer where the records office is and request it as soon as you get home.  It usually takes 10-14 days for them to have the report ready anyway.
  • If repairs are necessary, find a facility with a nationwide warranty plan. If you have to have your car repaired before you can drive it home, look for a body shop that has nationwide warranty coverage. By using a body that has nationwide locations, you can avoid a problem when you get home.
  • If anyone calls you to take a recorded statement besides your own insurance company, do not provide a recorded statement to them.  Sometimes the at fault company will try to call you right away and ask slanted questions and get you to give information that you have not received yet.  They will take advantage of your stressed state.

Being in an automobile accident is never headache free and being in one while away from home and on vacation is even worse. Hopefully with this information, you will be able to avoid some of the headache that people experience and continue enjoying your getaway.  

An accident is frightening and more difficult when you are far from home. If injuries happen, it complicates your vacation and adds stress to the entire family.  If you or one of your family members is seriously injured, an attorney can take care of paper work associated with medical bills as well as all the paperwork associated a repair the vehicle.

If you or a loved one have been injured any type of accident while on vacation, an accident that was caused by the negligence of someone else, you should contact an experienced attorney about your case in addition to your insurance or rental car company.

Free Initial Legal Consultation – and We Aren’t Paid unless you collect

Hunt Law Offices has handled hundreds of auto accident, slip and fall cases, catastrophic injury cases, personal injury cases, and have recovered millions of dollars for our injured clients. Henderson Injury Accident Attorney Laura Payne Hunt’s consultation with vacation accident and resort accidents clients is free. If we take your case, we are only paid fees and costs of suit if we are successful in obtaining money for you. We advance the costs of your case, too, so there’s no cost to you of bringing your claim. To tell us about your case or concern, please email us at lhuntlaw@cox.net or call or text  702-600-0032 24 hours a day and on weekends.

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

THREE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT RENTAL CAR COVERAGE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PROTECT YOURSELF AND YOUR FAMILY

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

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

         At the Henderson and Las Vegas Accident injury Law Offices of Laura Payne Hunt, PC we are here to help you and your family in the event that accidents and tragedies occur.  For any of your legal needs, do not hesitate to contact our Henderson and Las Vegas Accident injury Henderson offices. The Law Offices of Laura Payne Hunt is a boutique, family owned law firm in Henderson that specializes in helping injured people and the community with legal issues involving auto accidents, wrongful deaths, slip and falls, truck accidents, injuries to children, bicycle accidents, dog bites, and all types of injury claims.  Please do not hesitate to call us anytime you have a legal question or you or a loved one has sustained an injury at 702-450-(HUNT) 4868 and text 24/7 at 702-600-0032.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

         At the Henderson and Las Vegas Accident injury Law Offices of Laura Payne Hunt, PC we are here to help you and your family in the event that accidents and tragedies occur.  For any of your legal needs, do not hesitate to contact our Henderson and Las Vegas Accident injury Henderson offices. The Law Offices of Laura Payne Hunt is a boutique, family owned law firm in Henderson that specializes in helping injured people and the community with legal issues involving auto accidents, wrongful deaths, slip and falls, truck accidents, injuries to children, bicycle accidents, dog bites, and all types of injury claims.  Please do not hesitate to call us anytime you have a legal question or you or a loved one has sustained an injury at 702-450-(HUNT) 4868 and text 24/7 at 702-600-0032.

What You Need to Know About Auto Insurance Coverages

FIVE MOST COMMON COVERAGES ON YOUR POLICY

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

One of the most frequently asked questions I get  from friends and family members as an insurance attorney handling peoples injury and property claims is “what kind of insurance do I have?”  At the Henderson Auto Accident Injury offices of Laura Payne Hunt, PC, we have over 20 years’ experience dealing with insurance policies and coverages.

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

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

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

Liability Coverage (often called bodily injury coverage).  

The first coverage that you purchase, which is required by law, is called liability coverage (often called bodily injury coverage).   What that means is the amount of money that your insurance company will pay for property damage and bodily injury for the adverse driver and passengers ( a.k.a. third-parties) in the event you cause an automobile accident. In Nevada, state minimum is 15/30/10. Most people do not know what that means either. When there are three numbers, the first number is the amount your insurance company will pay per person for bodily injury and the second number is the amount your insurance company will pay per accident for bodily injury. For example if you get into an automobile collision and it is your fault and there’s one person in the other vehicle they can only obtain $15,000 from your insurance company. If there were two people in the vehicle they could obtain $15,000 each. However if they were three or more people in that vehicle, the $30,000 would be split between those people if they were injured. It is not rocket science to know that in today’s exorbitant world of medical billing, $15,000 does not go very far. The third number is the total amount your insurance company will pay for property damage to the other vehicle or property such as a damaged road sign as a result of the accident. If you purchase a minimum insurance policy you could wind up being personally exposed. Meaning, if there’s not enough insurance coverage, the other driver could sue you and obtain a judgment against your personal assets to recover their damages. For this reason, it is extremely important to insure yourself and your family as high as you can afford to in order to protect your personal assets. Meaning if you own your home, and you have savings accounts, you want to make sure that you have enough insurance. I often recommended umbrella policy to people which is usually a cost of approximately $12-$15 per month and will protect your assets.  An Umbrella policy provides a higher layer of coverage for your auto, home, boat, etc. on top of your limits, usually in the amount of a million dollars.

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

Collision Coverage

The second type of coverage which most people consider to be “full coverage” is collision coverage. Collision coverage means that payments will be made to fix your vehicle in the event that your car is damaged in an accident. If you purchase collision coverage, that coverage will cover damage to your automobile. It is extremely important to know what your deductible is. Often times, changing your deductible from $1000.00 down to $500.00 is as little as $8.00 to $10.00 on your overall premium. It is important that you check what you’re paying for and what you could get for just a little bit more. When you go to Target, you can see all the items on the shelf and you can see what all the items cost and their value so you can choose accordingly. Unfortunately, with buying insurance, they don’t make it that simple.   You have to ask these questions either of the agent or when you’re buying online you need to change the deductibles and change your coverages and see how it affects your premium.

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

Medical Payments Coverage

A little known coverage that many agents don’t even mention or offer is called Medical Payments coverage and this can be extraordinarily important for you if you are in an accident. Medical Payments Coverage is usually a fixed amount anywhere from $1000.00, or $2,000.00, or $5,000.00 on up. It means that your insurance company will pay your medical bills regardless of whether you have health insurance if you are in an automobile accident and you’re injured. Medical payments coverage can be very important because often times you may have large co-pays, especially for ambulance bills, from an accident. Health insurance often will not cover things like physical therapy as much as you need or you may have large deductible on your health insurance policy. Medical payments coverage is generally an inexpensive coverage which will protect you from out of pocket medical expenses if you are in an accident. It’s important to know that even if it is not your fault, it can take months or years to recover from the other driver. Your medical providers, (hospitals, ambulances, quick cares, etc.) will not wait until the claim is final to send you to collections. When purchasing insurance always look at what medical payments coverage is available and the cost. If it fits your budget, you should purchase medical payments to protect yourself. Another important issue to know about medical payments is that it is not an at fault coverage, meaning if you use your medical payments coverage on your policy,  it is not counted as a claim against you for your rates.

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

UM/UIM Coverage

Another extremely important coverage that people often drop to save money is called UM/UIM. This means uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. Uninsured is self-explanatory, it means that if someone without insurance hits you, you have coverage for your medical bills and injuries. Underinsured coverage means that if someone with a small policy, like the state minimum of $15,000 hits you and you are seriously injured, you can recover against your own policy after the $15,000.00 is paid from the other driver. In the state of Nevada, it is estimated that 13% of all drivers on the road do not have car insurance.  It is extremely important to protect yourself and your assets from reckless and illegal drivers. In the state of Nevada, when you purchase insurance, the insurance company is required to offer you UM/UIM benefits and if you reject the same they must have you sign a waiver. Think carefully before you reject these benefits because if you are in a serious accident these benefits could protect you and your loved ones from undue financial burden. https://www.insure.com/car-insurance/uninsured.html

Rental Car Coverage

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

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

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

         At the Henderson Auto Accident and Injury Law Offices of  Laura Payne Hunt, PC we are here to help you and your family in the event that accidents and tragedies occur.  For any of your legal needs, do not hesitate to contact our offices. The Henderson Auto Accident and Injury Law Offices of Laura Payne Hunt is a boutique, family owned law firm in Henderson that specializes in helping injured people and the community with legal issues involving auto accidents, wrongful deaths, slip and falls, truck accidents, injuries to children, bicycle accidents, dog bites, and all types of injury claims.  Please do not hesitate to call Henderson Auto Accident Attorney Laura Payne Hunt, Esq. anytime you have a legal question or you or a loved one has sustained an injury at 702-450-(HUNT) 4868 and text 24/7 at 702-600-0032.

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

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

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

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

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

How the Subrogation Process Works

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

Notice of Subrogation Notice Letters

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

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

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

Why do you have to worry about subrogation?

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

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

Your lawyer will obtain a copy of your insurance policy

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

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

An Attorney Can Often Obtain a Reduction for Attorneys’ Fees

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

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

         At the Henderson and Las Vegas Accident injury Law Offices of Laura Payne Hunt, PC we are here to help you and your family in the event that accidents and tragedies occur.  For any of your legal needs, do not hesitate to contact our Henderson and Las Vegas Accident injury Henderson offices. The Law Offices of Laura Payne Hunt is a boutique, family owned law firm in Henderson that specializes in helping injured people and the community with legal issues involving auto accidents, wrongful deaths, slip and falls, truck accidents, injuries to children, bicycle accidents, dog bites, and all types of injury claims.  Please do not hesitate to call us anytime you have a legal question or you or a loved one has sustained an injury at 702-450-(HUNT) 4868 and text 24/7 at 702-600-0032.

DO I HAVE TO FILE A LAWSUIT AFTER MY ACCIDENT?

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

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

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

Article 1, Nevada Constitution –

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

A CLAIM VERSUS A LAWSUIT

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

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

Step 1: File a Complaint

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

Step 2: Serve the Complaint on the Defendant

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

Step 3: The Defendant Files an Answer

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

Step 4: Discovery

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

Step 5: Trial

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

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

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

         At the Henderson Auto Accident and Injury Law Offices of  Laura Payne Hunt, PC we are here to help you and your family in the event that accidents and tragedies occur.  For any of your legal needs, do not hesitate to contact our offices. The Henderson Auto Accident and Injury Law Offices of Laura Payne Hunt is a boutique, family owned law firm in Henderson that specializes in helping injured people and the community with legal issues involving auto accidents, wrongful deaths, slip and falls, truck accidents, injuries to children, bicycle accidents, dog bites, and all types of injury claims.  Please do not hesitate to call Henderson Auto Accident Attorney Laura Payne Hunt, Esq. anytime you have a legal question or you or a loved one has sustained an injury at 702-450-(HUNT) 4868 and text 24/7 at 702-600-0032.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PERSONAL INJURY; AGGRAVATION OF PREEXISTING CONDITION

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

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

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

NEV. J.I. 10.06

BAJI 14.65

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

         At the Law Offices of Laura Payne Hunt we are here to help you and your family in the event that accidents and tragedies occur.  For any of your legal needs, do not hesitate to contact our offices. The Law Offices of Laura Payne Hunt is a boutique, family owned law firm in Henderson that specializes in helping injured people and the community with legal issues involving auto accidents, wrongful deaths, slip and falls, truck accidents, injuries to children, bicycle accidents, dog bites, and all types of injury claims.  Please do not hesitate to call us anytime you have a legal question or you or a loved one has sustained an injury at 702-450-(HUNT) 4868 and text 24/7 at 702-600-0032.

Fatal accident investigation. What really happens?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tape off the scene

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

Take Measurements of Skid Marks

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

 

Calculating drag factor

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

 

Interviewing all Witness

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

 

Testing for Impaired Drivers

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

 

Look for Mechanical Failures

 

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

 

Careful Site Inspection

 

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

 

Check for Possible Surveillance Video

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

 

Autopsy of Victims

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

 

Further review of Evidence

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

 

Criminal Charges

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

Safety Features Matter


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

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

         At the Law Offices of Laura Payne Hunt we are here to help you and your family in the event that accidents and tragedies occur.  For any of your legal needs, do not hesitate to contact our offices. The Law Offices of Laura Payne Hunt is a boutique, family owned law firm in Henderson that specializes in helping injured people and the community with legal issues involving auto accidents, wrongful deaths, slip and falls, truck accidents, injuries to children, bicycle accidents, dog bites, and all types of injury claims.  Please do not hesitate to call us anytime you have a legal question or you or a loved one has sustained an injury at 702-450-(HUNT) 4868 and text 24/7 at 702-600-0032.

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

FIVE THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT A TOTAL LOSS VEHICLE

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

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

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

NRS 487.790  “Total loss vehicle” defined.

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

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

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

             (1) Painting any portion of the vehicle;

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

             (3) Towing the vehicle.

      2.  The term does not include:

      (a) A nonrepairable vehicle;

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

             (1) The hood;

            (2) The trunk lid;

             (3) A fender;

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

                   (I) Doors;

                   (II) A grill assembly;

                   (III) A bumper assembly;

                   (IV) A headlight assembly; or

                   (V) A taillight assembly; or

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

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

             (1) Painting any portion of the vehicle;

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

             (3) Towing the vehicle; or

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

             (1) Has no structural damage; and

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

         At the Law Offices of Laura Payne Hunt we are here to help you and your family in the event that accidents and tragedies occur.  For any of your legal needs, do not hesitate to contact our offices. The Law Offices of Laura Payne Hunt is a boutique, family owned law firm in Henderson that specializes in helping injured people and the community with legal issues involving auto accidents, wrongful deaths, slip and falls, truck accidents, injuries to children, bicycle accidents, dog bites, and all types of injury claims.  Please do not hesitate to call us anytime you have a legal question or you or a loved one has sustained an injury at 702-450-(HUNT) 4868 and text 24/7 at 702-600-0032.