Don’t Be Afraid of Litigation

If you have been injured in a car, motorcycle or truck accident, it is important to recognize that insurance companies have become very sophisticated in handling claims and managing accident victims. These companies know that many accident victims are ill-prepared for the financial hardships that can arise when an injury interrupts their income stream.

Recognizing the Signs of a Traumatic Brain Injury

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), an estimated 1.7 million people sustain traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) in the United States every year. Over 50,000 of these people die as a result of their injuries. Roughly 80 percent of people who sustain TBIs seek treatment in emergency rooms. The remaining 20 percent might never even realize they’ve been seriously injured. The symptoms of TBIs are varied and not always immediately apparent to the injured party. In some cases they can take days or weeks to appear. That’s why it’s essential for people to seek treatment any time they’ve sustained a head injury, even if it doesn’t seem very serious at the time. It’s also important for people to educate themselves about the signs and symptoms of TBI so that they can recognize them in the event that they or a loved one has a head injury. According to the CDC, TBI symptoms typically fall into one of four categories. Cognitive After sustaining a TBI, you may have difficulty concentrating or thinking clearly. You may also have trouble retaining new information. Many people report a general feeling of mental “sluggishness” when trying to think and reason after sustaining a TBI. Physical Nausea and vomiting soon after a head injury are tell-tale signs of a TBI. Later on, headaches, blurred vision and increased sensitivity to light can manifest as symptoms as well. Dizziness, balance issues and lack of energy are also fairly common physical TBI symptoms. Emotional These symptoms can be […]

The Most Dangerous Time of Year for Teen Drivers

A few weeks ago, millions of Americans came together to observe Memorial Day with friends and loved ones. Burgers were grilled, pools were opened and the sacrifices of the brave men and women of the armed forces were commemorated. In addition to being the unofficial start of summer, Memorial Day marked another important annual milestone as well – the beginning of the 100 deadliest days for teen drivers. Statistically speaking, the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day is the most dangerous time of year for teens to be on the road. During this period, when the weather is nice and schools are closed for the summer, teens tend to spend more time behind the wheel, increasing their risk of getting in an accident. On average, about 1,000 people die every year in accidents involving teenagers during these 100 deadliest days. The Most Dangerous Time of Year for Teen Drivers With this in mind, it’s imperative that parents of teenagers remind them about the additional risks associated with driving this time of year. According to AAA, distracted driving is the most common cause of accidents involving teen drivers. Cell phones, in particular, tend to be especially dangerous distractions for teens behind the wheel. Parents should set clear safety expectations for their teenage drivers, and do their part to practice what they preach as well. If your teenager sees you checking text messages while you drive, they’re more likely to do the same when they get behind the wheel. You can […]

If I make a Claim Against my Insurance Company, Will My Rates Go Up?

People pay hundreds and in some cases thousands of dollars a year on car insurance and when they get in an accident are afraid to use it! If that’s your thought process, don’t buy the insurance. You wouldn’t buy a new car if you had no intention of using it – why buy the insurance? Rather than think like that, I have a much better answer for the motorists of Arizona. We have a law in place that makes it illegal to raise your rates if you file a claim when the accident is not your fault. For you legal eagles the specific statute is Arizona Revised Statutes 20-263 which reads in part: Vehicle insurance; prohibited act by insurer; hearing; penalty A. No insurer shall increase the motor vehicle insurance premium of an insured as a result of an accident not caused or significantly contributed to by the actions of the insured. Subsection B is even better, B. The director, after a hearing, shall order an insurer that has raised the premium of an insured in violation of subsection A to refund the amount attributable to such premium increase and shall impose a civil penalty not to exceed three hundred dollars. Therefore, if you are hurt as a result of the negligence of an uninsured motorist use your uninsured motorist coverage. If the negligent driver has liability insurance but not enough to fully compensate you for your injuries, use your underinsured motorist insurance. That’s what it’s for and now you […]

Should I settle or hire a lawyer?

This is a great question that should always be asked before accepting any offer made by an insurance company in a personal injury case. In fact, this is the number one question I am asked. So, how do you find the answer? Unless you have been through this before, you should call an experienced personal injury attorney. Nearly all of them offer a free consultation, which should include a ballpark evaluation of your case. When you compare the value with the adjuster’s offer you must factor in the lawyers’ fee to see if it makes sense to hire an attorney. For example, the adjuster offers you $12,000 to settle your case. As a result of the free consultation you learn your case is worth about $15,000. If the lawyer can get you the $15,000, but charges one third of the value of case, you end up with less. That’s simple arithmetic. Try to make the decision analytically based on finances rather than emotion. The settlement amount is not the only factor The amount of the settlement is not the only reason to hire a lawyer. In many cases, the lawyer will find doctors that will await payment so you don’t have to front money for your medical treatment. Also, when the case is over most lawyers will negotiate with the doctors and hospitals to reduce their bills, resulting in more money to you. I’ve even had cases where the medical bills were far more than the insurance coverage. Making sure […]

Federal Study Reveals Most Dangerous Driving Distractions

We’ve all been guilty of it at some point — fiddling with the radio while we change lanes, taking our eyes off the road to gaze at the passing scenery. Even professional drivers aren’t perfect. Distractions happen, and sometimes they can be deadly. Recently, the U.S. Congress funded the Strategic Highway Research Program Naturalistic Driving Study (SHRP 2 NDS) to find out just how dangerous distracted driving is. The study was conducted by scientists from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. Rather than using a controlled testing environment, data was collected from 3,500 volunteer drivers over a three year period travelling in real-world conditions. The volunteers’ vehicles were outfitted with a series of radar units, cameras and sensors that allowed the researchers to record and analyze their driving behavior. By the end of the study, the participants had been involved in more than 1600 incidents. The researchers assessed accident causation based on a number of factors including speed, fatigue, sobriety and distraction. After analyzing the data, the research team concluded that distracted driving was nearly as dangerous as drunk driving. But Which Distractions Were the Most Dangerous? Some distractions that the researchers expected to be particularly dangerous were actually fairly uncommon. These included things like applying makeup while driving, and interacting with children in the back seat. In fact, the researchers found that people tended to drive more carefully with children in the car. Other well-known distractions – texting while driving, for example – were found to be very dangerous. Generally, […]

What’s My Case Worth?

The most common question I am asked by my personal injury clients is, “what’s my case worth?” In this article I will spell out the factors that influence the value of a bodily injury claim. Assuming you have established that someone else is 100 percent at fault and the injuries sustained were directly related to that negligent conduct, Arizona law now permits you to present evidence of your loss or damages. Damages are generally classified as either special or general. Special damages are those that have actually been incurred like medical expenses, lost income (past and future), prescriptions, mileage to and from the doctor and any other expense authorized by a doctor that resulted from the accident. General damages are quite a bit more subjective. We have all heard the term ‘pain and suffering,’ which is a general damage component of all personal injury claims. Other general damage components include emotional distress, inconvenience, lifestyle disruption and loss of enjoyment or consortium. We will save loss of consortium for another day. Because of the subjective nature of general damages, the majority of cases that end up in litigation are there due to a disagreement over general damages. I am sure you have heard the old saying, “three times the medical bills equals the value of a personal injury case.” Rest assured, nowhere in Arizona law will you find this mathematical formula. Instead, the computation for general damages is done on a case-by-case basis. Here are some of the actual factors used […]

Don’t Be Afraid to File Suit

In the 35 plus years I have practiced law I have never encountered a client that looked forward to our filing suit against the at-fault party or their insurance company. Granted there is a delay in resolving the legal problem and a certain degree of uncertainty as to the result, but the method of operation or M.O. of insurance companies these days has dramatically increased the number of lawsuits we have to file on behalf of our clients. Years ago, perhaps one in four or five cases resulted in a lawsuit. Today, roughly 40 percent require filing suit due to unreasonable positions taken or low offers of settlement. Some insurance companies routinely make offers so low that the claimant receives little or no compensation for pain and suffering. In the case of those insurance companies we usually file lawsuits almost 100% of the time. Getting back to the title of this blog, “Don’t be afraid to file suit,” allow me to cite some statistics that will take some of the fear out of filing suit. The attorneys at Phillips and Lyon keep detailed statistics on all cases that result in a lawsuit. After all, I do not wish to recommend filing suit unless our client is likely to win. Looking at statistics for December, 2015 we note the following: On average the litigation award was more than double the highest offer made by the insurance company. The average length of time from the date of filing the lawsuit until the […]

Driverless Vehicles and the Future of Accident Liability

Earlier this month, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk made waves in the automotive industry when he announced that his company was just two years away from releasing its first fully autonomous vehicle. Prior to this announcement, even the most optimistic industry forecasters estimated that it would be about five years before driverless cars hit the consumer market. Coming from anyone else, Musk’s estimate might sound like a desperate grab for media attention. But in light of the fact that his other company, SpaceX, just successfully landed a rocket upright after returning from orbit for the first time in history, his prediction about driverless cars doesn’t seem quite so outrageous. Whether or not Musk’s estimate will prove to be accurate, there’s little doubt that sooner or later driverless vehicles will become commonplace on America’s roadways. Once this day does come, the questions surrounding accident liability could get a whole lot more complicated. Automakers, legislators and insurance providers are already working to hammer out the details of how fault will be established in car accidents that involve autonomous vehicles. Let’s take a look at a few of the hot-button issues surrounding accident liability and driverless cars. Joint Liability Between Man and Machine At least initially, autonomous vehicles will still need to have a driver behind the wheel. In California, legislation has already been passed that requires a licensed driver behind the wheel of any partially or fully autonomous vehicle. So let’s say one of these vehicles gets in an accident. Is the […]

Uninsured Motorist Coverage

According to the Insurance Research Council, one in seven drivers in the United States is uninsured. At Hirsch & Lyon Accident Law, we are unable to handle a case unless there is either liability or uninsured motorist coverage. If an uninsured driver causes you injury or property damage, your recourse will be to sue them personally in order to recover your expenses. Good luck with that! A much better option is to purchase along with your mandatory liability coverage, uninsured motorist (UM) protection. In the event of an accident involving an uninsured automobile, this coverage will cover you, your passengers and anyone in your household that is a blood relative for: Medical expenses, pain and suffering, emotional distress and lost wages. It does not cover the damage to your automobile. Collision coverage would be required in order to reimburse you for damage to your car. Uninsured motorist coverage will also cover you if you are involved in a hit and run accident or whenever the at-fault driver is unknown. This coverage can also protect you outside your car. If an uninsured motorist strikes you while walking down the street or riding your bike, you will be covered as long as you can prove the uninsured motorist was at fault. While purchasing UM, you will need to decide how much to buy. Under Arizona law, your insurance company must offer you an amount no less than your liability limits. The limits start at $15,000.00 coverage per person and can exceed $1,000,000.00 […]

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