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Five Ways to Avoid a Car Accident

Posted on Sunday, May 1st, 2022 at 7:04 pm    

After years of driving without incident, drivers might grow complacent about their ability to remain safe and accident-free on the road. But accidents can happen at any time to anyone. Sadly, there are approximately 98 fatal crashes every day in the United States, according to 2020 data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Here are five reasonable recommendations to keep driving accident-free.

Take Care of Your Car

Cars require routine maintenance to remain in tip-top shape. This includes oil changes, tire rotations, wiper blade replacements, tire pressure checks, headlight replacements, and coolant level checks. When you fail to properly maintain your car, you increase the risk of a part or system malfunction on the roadway. Not only can this result in your getting into an accident, but it could also cause an accident that involves other cars, putting other drivers and passengers at risk of injury or death.

Make sure you know the maintenance schedule for your car, which can usually be found in your car’s owner’s manual. Each car’s schedule will be different. For example, some cars may need an oil change more frequently than others. Follow the maintenance schedule with precision and keep good records of when each maintenance is completed.

Don’t Get Distracted

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,142 people were killed in accidents by distracted driving in 2020. Distractions while driving are ubiquitous. These include text messages, phone calls, passengers, the radio, apps on your phone, primping in the mirror, and anything else that takes your eyes, hands, or focus off the road. All it takes is a second of looking away from the road for an accident to occur.

To remain focused on driving, minimize all distractions in your car. Leave your cell phone in your purse or pocket. There are even apps on your phone that will silence it while you are driving. If the temptation to use your phone is too powerful, leave it in your back seat or trunk. If an urgent matter requires your attention, pull off the road before you pick up your phone. Ask your passengers not to disturb you while you are driving. With some passengers, like your children, this may not be easy or even possible. Whenever you need to attend to needy passengers like your children, pull off the road and come to a complete stop before doing so.

Do Not Drive Under the Influence

Never, under any circumstances, drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Even one drink can impair your ability to operate a vehicle. Not only does it put you at risk of injury or death, but it also puts others at risk, including your passengers, other drivers and their passengers, and bystanders.

Some medications can also cause you to be so impaired that you can’t drive safely. Check with your doctor or pharmacist before driving while taking medications, and certainly refrain from driving while taking any medication that expressly directs you not to.

Drive with Caution in Hazardous Conditions

Certain conditions are more hazardous to drive in than others. For example, inclement weather, such as heavy rain, snow, sleet, freezing rain, or a wintry mix, can cause slick roads and easily lead to a loss of traction. Take precautions and drive slower during inclement weather conditions.

Even on clear days, conditions such as heavy traffic or roadway construction can increase the likelihood of car accidents. Whenever you encounter a hazardous condition, however ordinary it may seem, slow down and proceed with caution.

Obey All Road Signs

Road signs are there for a reason: to keep you and other drivers safe. Whether it’s a speed limit sign, a stop sign, a school zone sign, a pedestrian crossing sign, or a no-U-turn sign, follow its instructions. It is there for your and your community’s protection.

Similarly, when approaching a traffic light, obey the traffic signals. According to the Federal Highway Administration, 3,274 traffic fatalities occurred in 2018 involving a signalized intersection, including 846 fatalities involving red-light running. When you see a red light, come to a complete stop. When you see a yellow light, slow down. A yellow light is not an indicator to speed up to make it through the intersection before the red light.

When Accidents Occur, Contact Us

Even if you follow all these recommendations, you may still find yourself in an accident with another driver who did not take reasonable measures to drive safely. If you are injured in an accident that was not your fault, contact the Cincinnati car accident attorneys of Lawrence & Associates Accident and Injury Lawyers, LLC at (513) 351-5997 to see how we can help you seek compensation from the negligent driver.

How Is Fault Determined in an Accident?

Posted on Friday, April 1st, 2022 at 5:35 pm    

When you’re injured in an accident in which someone else was to blame, you can take legal action against them to recover compensation for your accident-related losses. These losses can be financial or intangible, like medical bills or pain and suffering. You could be entitled to recover those losses if you can prove that someone else’s negligence caused your injuries.

A large part of your personal injury claim or lawsuit isn’t just determining who was responsible for the accident but also determining the amount of responsibility each of you and the other involved party had for the accident. In other words, what, if any, was your contribution to causing the accident? There are several reasons why fault is an important factor in a personal injury claim or case.

If you have pressing questions regarding your case, don’t hesitate to reach out to Lawrence & Associates Accident and Injury Lawyers, LLC today.

two men in accident

What Is Fault in an Accident?

More than one person could be to blame for an accident. It’s possible that in an accident, the fault might not solely lie with one responsible party. Fault could be attributed to any person who played a part in causing someone’s injury, including the injured party themselves.

In terms of personal injury matters, fault guides how liability is determined. Every state handles fault according to its own laws.

Types of Fault

States follow one of two types of legal doctrines pertaining to fault in personal injury cases: comparative fault or contributory negligence. These two legal doctrines are sometimes referred to as comparative/contributory fault or comparative/contributory negligence.

The contributory negligence doctrine states that if an injured party is found to share any fault in the accident that caused their injuries, they aren’t entitled to be compensated at all. Contributory fault laws are often referred to as pure contributory fault laws.

Contributory negligence is considered extremely strict when determining fault and is only followed in a handful of states when determining negligence in a personal injury matter.

The other type of fault or negligence is comparative negligence. Less strict than contributory negligence, there are two types of comparative negligence laws: pure and modified. With both pure and modified comparative negligence laws, an injured party’s compensation is reduced in proportion to the injured party’s fault in the accident.

States like Kentucky follow pure comparative negligence. Pure comparative negligence laws state that no matter what proportion of fault an injured party had in an accident, they can recover compensation for their injuries. For instance, imagine you were driving through an intersection with the green light, but you were texting when another driver hit you because he ran a red light. In this case, you’re partly to blame because you were texting and could not take evasive action. The jury might find that you were 20 percent to blame for the accident, so you could only obtain compensation for up to 80 percent of your accident-related losses. Even if the situation were reversed and you ran the red light while someone else was texting through a green light, and your portion of fault was 80 percent, you could still recover 20 percent of your losses.

Other states, like Ohio, have modified comparative negligence laws. Modified comparative negligence laws state that as long as the injured party is less at fault for the accident than the other party, they can recover compensation for their losses. However, under modified comparative negligence, if the injured party is more than 50 percent at fault for the accident, they’re not entitled to receive any compensation.

Both comparative and contributory negligence can be used to reduce or eliminate the at-fault party’s liability and the compensation that the injured party might otherwise be entitled to. Contact us today.

How Do You Figure Out Who Was at Fault?

When you hire a personal injury attorney, your attorney’s job is to help you build a strong personal injury claim or lawsuit. Your attorney will investigate the accident when building your case. During their investigation, your attorney will determine who is liable for the accident. The investigation will also reveal whether you shared any fault in the accident. This is helpful for several reasons. First, it will help your attorney arrive at a realistic, maximum amount of compensation that you might be entitled to. Second, because your attorney will know the full facts of your case, they will be able to prepare for any defense based upon fault that the at-fault party may try to use in the case.

two men in accident

Call Lawrence & Associates Accident and Injury Lawyers, LLC to Discuss Your Case

If someone caused you serious injuries because of their negligent actions, you have the right to take legal action against them to obtain compensation. The experienced Cincinnati personal injury attorneys of Lawrence & Associates Accident and Injury Lawyers, LLC can help you with your case. Call us today at (513) 351-5997, or contact us online to schedule a free case evaluation.

Why Posting on Social Media After an Accident Can Hurt Your Case

Posted on Monday, November 1st, 2021 at 12:11 pm    

The physical and emotional effects you may suffer as a result of being injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault can seriously alter your life for the foreseeable future. You deserve compensation for your injuries and the impact that they’ve had on your life.

To increase your chances of obtaining compensation for your accident-related injuries, there are several actions that you should take and some actions that you should refrain from taking.  For example, you should hire an experienced accident attorney. After your accident, however, you should refrain from posting on social media. Doing so could reduce your ability to get the compensation you deserve.

social media posts

The Claims Process and How You May Be Compensated

If you’ve been injured in an accident through no fault of your own, you have the right to seek compensation from the person who injured you. To initiate your pursuit for compensation, you or your attorney will have to file a claim with the insurance company of the person who caused the accident. If you purchased MedPay coverage on your own insurance policy, you may submit your medical bills through that insurance. Your attorney can explain the details.

In some cases, the insurance company may offer you a fair settlement for your injuries. In other cases, the insurance company may not be willing to compensate you fairly or they may deny your claim altogether. If this happens, a skilled and prepared accident attorney will file a lawsuit against the at-fault party on your behalf. This will initiate court proceedings and a trial to determine whether you will be awarded compensation for your injuries. If you are awarded compensation, the court will also decide the amount you’ll receive.

After the accident, insurance companies will likely try to contact you to gather a statement as part of their investigation into the accident. If you hire an accident attorney, which is advised, your attorney will also investigate the accident to determine what caused the accident. This information is vital to support your claim.

Before pursuing compensation, it’s important to understand the goal of insurance companies in accident claims.

Even though insurance companies are generally beneficial because they provide us with certain protections, they strive to maximize their profits. When you submit a claim to be compensated for your injuries, insurance company representatives will begin an investigation into the accident. Their objective is to find anything that they believe is evidence that you may share some responsibility for the accident. They use this evidence as an excuse to either significantly reduce the amount of compensation you may be paid or to completely deny paying you any sum of money.

Your Social Media Posts Can Hurt Your Claim. Why?

One of the primary pieces of evidence that insurance companies will try to use against you is any statement you provide to them. This is why you’re advised not to speak to insurance company adjusters – employees at the company who investigate your claim. Another piece of evidence that insurance adjusters will try to gather is information that you voluntarily provide on your social media accounts.

Insurance adjusters will search your social media accounts for any information that may contradict what you’ve stated in your claim. For example, suppose you are seeking compensation for severe leg injuries you sustained in an accident, and you claim that those injuries have affected your mobility and ability to walk. An insurance adjuster searches one of your social media accounts and finds that you made a post including a picture of you enjoying your day bike riding at the park. The insurance adjuster will use this evidence to show that your injuries are not as severe as you claimed, and they will question the veracity of your claim.

Or, suppose that you made a social media post about the accident. In that post, you say you’re feeling sorry that the accident happened. An insurance adjuster may view this social media post as evidence that you’re admitting guilt for the accident. This can seriously hurt your claim because they may reduce your compensation. In Ohio, if you are found to be more responsible for the accident than the other party, you won’t be entitled to compensation at all.

To preserve your right to obtain compensation for your accident injuries and to help ensure that your claim is strong as possible, you shouldn’t post anything on social media after your accident.

social media phone

Call the Highly Skilled Attorneys at Lawrence & Associates Accident and Injury Lawyers, LLC Today

If you’ve been seriously injured in an accident due to someone’s negligent actions, contact Lawrence & Associates Accident and Injury Lawyers, LLC. We’ve spent over 15 years helping accident victims pursue fair compensation for their injuries. Call us today at (513) 351-5997 or complete our contact form online for a free case consultation.

How to Request an Accident Report

Posted on Sunday, October 24th, 2021 at 4:00 pm    

Obtaining a copy of the police report following a car accident is crucial. If someone else’s negligent actions resulted in your injuries, you need proof of what they have done. An accident report could show that their misconduct contributed to the crash.

However, you might not know where to turn for a copy of the report. You should hire an experienced attorney immediately following the accident to assist you with the process.

accident report

What Is an Accident Report?

An accident report outlines the information associated with a traffic-related crash. When an officer arrives at the scene to investigate, they typically write a report to submit to the police department.

The details in an accident report often include:

  • Date, time, and location of the incident
  • Names and contact information for any party involved
  • Factors contributing to the crash
  • Brief description of events leading up to the collision and a diagram to show what happened
  • Any traffic citations issued to the drivers involved
  • Property damage and injuries suffered
  • Fault determined by the officer

The investigating officer might include their determination of fault. However, this isn’t necessarily fact. It is just their opinion about which driver they believe is responsible for the accident.

If they stated you were to blame, but you believe the other motorist should be liable, you could fight the officer’s claim. However, insurance companies often consider police reports solid evidence to determine whether the injured victim deserves compensation.

Filing a Report After a Car Accident

Some states require filing a police report, while others don’t. If law enforcement came to the scene to investigate the crash, they should be responsible for completing a report. Under certain circumstances, you only have to report an accident if there were injuries, fatalities, or property damage above a specific value.

It’s always best to call 911 to report a car accident, even if there are only minor injuries. If you’re in a state where the law requires reporting a crash and you choose not to, you could face an expensive fine.

In Ohio, you’re not required to file a police report unless there was injury, more than $400 in property damage, or if one of the drivers doesn’t have insurance.

The investigating officer can obtain your statement and determine who they believe caused the crash. Having physical evidence of what happened could improve your chance of recovering compensation in an auto insurance claim.

Requesting an Accident Report After a Car Crash

The only parties allowed to request a copy of the accident report include:

  • Individuals involved in the crash
  • Parents of a minor child in the accident
  • Insurance companies of the involved parties
  • An attorney representing someone injured in the collision

Typically, the police department has an online portal you can use to obtain the report. However, some law enforcement agencies don’t offer a digital method, so you might have to call them to ask how you can request a copy. Sometimes, you need to complete a form and drop it off in person.

You can also use a service called BuyCrash to submit your request. Whichever method you choose, you likely have to pay a fee.

You need specific information related to the accident to locate the report. It could include:

  • The date of the crash
  • The police report number
  • The state, city/town, or jurisdiction
  • The name of at least one party involved
  • The location of the collision

Accident reports usually aren’t available immediately after the officer files them. It can take up to a week or even longer before you can request a copy.

Why You Need to Hire a Lawyer

Although there are multiple resources to request an accident report yourself, you should seek legal representation. Your lawyer can submit the request on your behalf and review the information in the report to determine whether you have a case to pursue.

If the report states you were at fault and the insurance company denies your claim, your lawyer might be able to proceed with a lawsuit. Additional evidence could discount the officer’s claims in the report and show that another driver or party’s actions contributed and should be held liable for your injuries.

discussion over accident report

Contact Us

Lawrence & Associates Accident and Injury Lawyers, LLC has represented car accident victims since 2005. Our award-winning attorneys received recognition from prestigious organizations, such as Super Lawyers, the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, and The National Trial Lawyers. We also hold an AV Preeminent® rating from Martindale-Hubbell, the highest honor a law firm can achieve. Our reputation shows the level of service and dedication we provide to our clients.

We will advocate for your rights and fight for the maximum compensation you deserve when you hire us. We have the resources to obtain the accident report and determine a legal strategy to prove someone else should be financially responsible for your injuries.

If you were injured in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, do not hesitate to contact Lawrence & Associates Accident and Injury Lawyers, LLC. We can meet with you for a free consultation to review the circumstances and advise you about your legal options. Call us at (513) 351-5997, or reach out to us online today.

How to Read an Accident Report

Posted on Friday, September 24th, 2021 at 3:40 pm    

If you need to file an insurance claim or initiate a lawsuit, an accident report is a vital document following a motor vehicle crash. An officer investigating the accident often includes information related to the cause and events leading up to it. They might offer their opinion about which party they believe was at fault and notate whether they issued any traffic citations.

Accident reports can be confusing to read, especially if you’re not familiar with them. Below is a detailed outline of the information you could find in an accident report, so you understand what you’re reading.

read accident report

Basic Details

Most accident reports begin with basic information regarding the crash, such as:

  • Accident date
  • Time of the crash
  • Street, road, intersections, and city or town where the accident occurred
  • Accident report number
  • Name of the police officer writing the report

Driver Information

Another section includes details about each driver involved in the crash. If there are multiple drivers, the report lists each one by number. The driver section can include details, such as:

  • Name of the driver
  • Driver’s address and phone number
  • Name of the vehicle owner
  • Vehicle owner’s address and phone number
  • Driver’s license number and the state where it was issued
  • The vehicle color, year, make, and model
  • Vehicle license plate number
  • Vehicle identification number
  • Auto insurance information, including the name of the carrier and policy number

Additional Occupants and Non-Motorists

Sometimes, accidents involve pedestrians or bicyclists and passengers in the motor vehicles involved. Another section will list these individuals and details, including:

  • Name of the occupant and their position in the vehicle
  • Name of the non-motorist
  • Addresses and phone numbers of the individuals

accident report

Accident Information

One particular section provides details about the crash itself. The information it contains might include:

  • The direction the vehicles were moving at the time of the collision
  • Point of impact, such as front or side collision
  • Contributing cause of the accident, such as speeding or failure to yield the right of way
  • Events associated with the crash, such as impacting a wall, pedestrian, or another vehicle
  • Any defects with the cars, such as a worn-out tire or malfunctioning brake system
  • Actions of any pedestrians involved
  • Conditions of the road
  • Weather conditions
  • Whether it was light or dark outside
  • Traffic violations issued, including the name of the violator and charge against them

Additional Details

Other sections might contain additional information that could be relevant to a case the injured party pursues. Common details include:

  • Type and location of vehicle damage
  • The estimated cost of the vehicle damage
  • Injuries suffered by the involved parties
  • Whether an ambulance showed up at the scene
  • Whether the ambulance transported anyone to the hospital and the name of the hospital
  • Skid marks, debris in the road, and other relevant information

Narrative and Diagram

Almost all accident reports have a page where the investigating officer can write a brief description of how and why they believe the crash occurred. The information can indicate what each driver was doing just before the accident, such as turning at an intersection or slowing down for a red light.

Law enforcement typically obtains these details by discussing the circumstances with everyone involved in the collision. They might also talk to eyewitnesses who saw what happened.

There is also a diagram the officer can use to reconstruct the events leading up to the accident. The diagram can show the direction of travel for the vehicles and include lines or other markings to indicate the driver’s moves prior to the crash.

The Importance of an Accident Report

Interpreting the information on an accident report can be a challenge. The aftermath of a car crash is often confusing, scary, and overwhelming. Pursuing a case against the at-fault driver while trying to heal your injuries can become a significant source of stress.

It’s crucial for you to understand the details contained in a crash report, so you can proceed knowing how to handle the legal process. If the report mentions that you were at fault, it’s unlikely you will receive compensation from the at-fault driver’s auto insurance company.

However, the accident report isn’t the only evidence you can present during your case. Many of the details the investigating officer includes in the report are their opinions. It isn’t necessarily a fact that one person’s actions contributed to the crash over someone else’s. Law enforcement uses the information presented to them to interpret the sequences of events leading up to the accident.

Contact Us

If you were involved in a car accident and believe someone else’s negligent actions were to blame, do not hesitate to contact Lawrence & Associates Accident and Injury Lawyers, LLC. We can meet you for a free consultation to discuss the incident and determine whether you have a case to pursue. You can depend on our legal team to advocate for your rights and fight for the justice and compensation you deserve.

Call us now at (513) 351-5997, or reach out to us online. Our award-winning attorneys believe in helping accident victims hold people and companies liable for the harm they cause.

Your Attorney Cannot Take Attorney Fees from PIP Benefits in Kentucky – It’s Illegal!

Posted on Thursday, September 24th, 2020 at 2:48 pm    

In Kentucky, all automobile insurance policies default to having at least $10,000 of Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits. These are also called no-fault benefits or, in some policies, basic reparations benefits (BRB). It’s possible to waive these benefits, but you must sign waivers with some strongly worded disclaimers. Very few drivers execute such a waiver, so if you’re a Kentucky resident, the odds are that your car insurance has between $10,000 and $50,000 in PIP coverage.

PIP coverage is unique because it is paid as you go, regardless of who was at fault. It pays for medical bills and up to $200 per week of lost wages. There are no co-pays, and only some plans have a deductible. Usually you do not have to go to an independent medical exam to access PIP benefits, and the carrier is not allowed to deny coverage upon only a paper review of your medical records. In the world of auto insurance, where most adjusters are trained to fight you on your claims – or even convince you not to file a claim – PIP benefits can be a real life saver.

Unfortunately, because most adjusters are trained to fight you on a claim for bodily injury from automobile insurance, you’re likely to need a lawyer at some point during the claim. Trying to resolve the claim without one is usually a big time sink, a big headache, and a big shot in the dark. We frequently tell clients that hiring a lawyer is like hiring a plumber – both are service industries where hiring someone with more knowledge and better tools than you makes a job easier than doing it yourself would be. Since personal injury lawyers get paid by taking a percent of the money you get from an insurance policy, it would be easy to assume a lawyer gets a percentage of the PIP payment from your auto insurance. But they don’t.

Kentucky has a statute that controls when an attorney can take a fee from PIP: KRS 304.39-220. This statute says that attorneys can take a fee when PIP benefits are unreasonably overdue and recovered by the attorney. The attorney must have either filed the case in court or at least sent a letter to the insurance company telling them a lawsuit over the overdue PIP benefits was coming. However, the statute is very clear that “[n]o part of the fee for representing the claimant in connection with these benefits is a charge against benefits otherwise due the claimant.” In other words, the attorney fee must be in addition to the PIP benefits owed to you. The attorney fee doesn’t get deducted from the PIP benefits owed to you. This is different from every other kind of insurance coverage, where the insurance policy pays one amount that the attorney fees come out of.

If your attorney is taking a fee from your PIP benefits, you have every right to question it. An attorney taking a fee from the PIP owed to you is doing something illegal. In fact, this is a big red flag that the attorney may be incompetent to handle your case. If you call Lawrence & Associates Accident and Injury Lawyers, LLC one of our attorneys will review the PIP paperwork for you at no charge and advise whether the attorney fee is appropriate. If an attorney takes a PIP fee inappropriately, we will give you guidance on how to report this to the Kentucky Bar Association so you can get the money back. On the other hand, if the attorney took the fee appropriately, you’ll at least have the peace of mind in knowing you were treated fairly under the law. Speaking up might not only benefit you, but also benefit other clients who will fall into the same trap.

Hit by a DoorDash driver? Here’s what to do.

Posted on Monday, June 1st, 2020 at 1:48 pm    

A motor vehicle collision is a stressful, unhappy time no matter what. Even the most minor of crashes can cause property damage and injuries, and that leads to missed time from work, missed bill payments, pain, and frustration. The good news is, we have insurance and our insurance is supposed to take care of all this quickly and easily, right? But what if you can’t figure out which insurance is supposed to cover the collision? That’s the problem we are seeing more and more with the rise of the “gig economy” and services such as Uber Eats, DoorDash, and Grubhub, not to mention the original gig jobs of driving a taxi for Uber or Lyft. When you’re hit by a driver working as an independent contractor for one of these companies, you can find yourself in a confusing situation where every insurance carrier is pointing the finger at someone else.

Determining Which Insurer Should Pay

Let’s start with the basics. In a normal motor vehicle collision where the other driver is at fault, your insurance steps in right away with no-fault benefits. In Kentucky the minimum no-fault benefits are $10,000 of PIP and in Ohio the minimum no fault benefits are $5,000 of med pay. Kentucky’s PIP goes toward medical bills and up to $200 per week in lost wages, while Ohio’s med pay only goes toward medical bills. After that, your insurance policy is done for a while. That is when the at-fault driver’s policy should step in. (If you have underinsured motorist coverage, your insurance might step back in at a later time, but that’s beyond the scope of this post.)

The problem with someone driving for a gig job is that you don’t know whose auto insurance policy should cover, at least not right away. Let’s use DoorDash as an example. Assume you were hit by a driver whose job was to take food from your local McDonalds to a DoorDash customer. This driver should have personal auto insurance to cover driving when that person isn’t working for DoorDash. After all, this is the at-fault driver’s personal vehicle and there are plenty of times when he or she is picking kids up from school, going to the grocery, or maybe going to another job. All of those things are personal to the driver and don’t involve DoorDash. But DoorDash also has its own insurance company that provides coverage for injuries caused by their employees while driving. Usually that insurance is through a California company called Assurant, even if you’re hurt in Kentucky or Ohio (the two states where Lawrence & Associates Accident and Injury Lawyers, LLC is licensed). So while the at-fault driver is working for DoorDash, the driver has two insurance policies covering their negligent driving: one personal, and one professional.

At first, having two different insurance policies at hand sounds great. Double the coverage, and almost no chance of running out of insurance while you still have medical bills to pay! What could go wrong? Unfortunately, the devil is often in the details. Here, that devil can be reduced to one question: Who has to pay first? Continuing our example above, let’s assume the at-fault driver for DoorDash has a personal auto insurance policy through State Farm and then DoorDash’s professional policy through Assurant. The driver caused the collision while going to pick up the food, but before actually getting to the restaurant. State Farm has an exclusion in all its policies that says they will not pay any money for a driver that is using the personal car in a professional job. Let’s further assume Assurant has an exclusion that says it only provides coverage from the moment the driver picks up the order to the moment the driver delivers it. If the crash occurs while the driver is picking up the food but before the food is picked up, it leaves the insurance coverage in a no-man’s land where nobody wants to pay. And that leaves the injured person who is not at fault with few good options.

What are your options after being in an accident with a delivery driver?

What should you do if you find yourself in this situation? This will seem a little cliché when coming from an attorney’s website, but the first thing to do is call a lawyer. At law firms specializing in automobile accidents, attorneys should get a lot of training on how to unravel this type of contractual snarl. Not every insurance claim requires an attorney, but if both adjusters deny payment and each points the finger at each other, you’ve reached the point where paying an attorney is worthwhile.

Second, take a deep breath. While the resolution won’t necessarily be quick, you are likely to receive a resolution that causes insurance payments to go toward your medical bills, lost wages, the diminished value of your car, and you and your spouses pain and suffering related to the accident. In both Ohio and Kentucky, the law absolutely hates a lack of insurance coverage. Judges are instructed to try to find coverage from someone, somewhere, unless there’s just no way to do it. So in our example above, it’s most likely that you’ll get coverage from either DoorDash’s Assurant policy or the driver’s personal StateFarm policy.

Third, don’t let the confusion make you take less than you’re due just to get rid of the headache. It can be tempting to do that but this money is supposed to cover medical bills and replace missing paychecks. Your doctor and your mortgage company aren’t going to forgive your obligations out of sympathy for the tough situation you’re in, so you can’t take one red cent less than what you need to cover what you’ve lost.

Whose insurance will pay?

Which insurance company should provide the coverage for the collision in the example above? DoorDash and Assurant are probably holding the bag, regardless of whether you use Ohio or Kentucky law. One of the first things we’d look at is whether the at-fault driver was logged into the DoorDash app when the collision occurred. If not, that points to the driver not being on the job and the driver’s personal insurance covering. But if the driver was logged in, that indicates the driver was on the job regardless of whether the driver had picked up the delivery food. State law has a lot of effect here, but often state law draws the line at whether the driver is furthering the employer’s interest (i.e. by getting food for delivery after a fee was paid on the app, which is how DoorDash makes money). If the driver is doing what the employer hires the driver to do, the employer can be liable. DoorDash isn’t likely to leave itself completely exposed with no insurance coverage at all, so even if the Assurant policy doesn’t have to cover the crash, DoorDash may have some other policy that will. DoorDash might even lean on Assurant to provide coverage for you, just to avoid a lawsuit. Solutions aren’t always straightforward and sometimes require arm twisting, but arm twisting is sort of what lawyers are for.

Discuss Your DoorDash Accident with a Lawyer

If you’ve been in a wreck like this one and all the insurance policies are telling you they won’t pay for the bills – or won’t pay enough – do yourself a favor and set up a free consultation with an attorney. Most attorneys charge contingency fees, so it won’t break your bank. And on top of that, good attorneys almost always move cases along more quickly and for better results than what you would see without the attorney. If you’ve got any questions about an accident like the DoorDash scenario in the example above, please give us a call at (513) 351-5997. Lawrence & Associates Accident and Injury Lawyers, LLC is Working Hard for the Working Class. We’d love to help you.

Can a Lawsuit Settlement or Award Be Taxed By The Federal, Ohio, or Kentucky Governments?

Posted on Friday, August 24th, 2018 at 10:42 am    

The following post is part of our Law Student Blog Writing Project, and is authored by Jennifer Tressler, who is pursuing her Juris Doctorate at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.

You have been injured. You have no idea how you are going to pay for your medical bills. You are not able to work right now because of your injuries, so your family has lost your income and is struggling financially. It is such an overwhelming time that you file a lawsuit, and—great news—you win a settlement large enough to cover all of your medical bills and allow you to provide for your family until you are able to get back to work.

dollarHowever, now you have new worries. You have won this large amount of money—but will the money from your injury settlement be taxed and taken away from you? Does this money constitute income in the eyes of the IRS? The answers to these questions are dependent upon the facts and circumstances of your specific case.

Generally, though, the IRS will not interfere with the allocation of funds provided that they are consistent with the substance of the claims in your settlement. Different types of claims are treated differently by the IRS, however, and how you should deal with the settlement money from these different types of claims will be briefly outlined here. If your settlement included multiple claims, the amounts pertaining to each claim will be treated accordingly with the rules for that individual amount. This means that if you receive $50,000 for personal physical injury and $50,000 for emotional distress, $50,000 will be regarded under the rules for personal physical injury or physical sickness and $50,000 will be regarded under the rules for emotional distress or mental anguish.

Personal Injury and Emotional Distress Lawsuits

If your settlement is for personal physical injuries or physical sickness and you did not take an itemized deduction for medical expenses related to the injury or sickness in the past, the full amount is non-taxable. You should not include this money in your income reporting. You must, however, include any portion of the settlement that is for medical expenses that you deducted in the past that resulted in a tax benefit. If part of the proceeds is for medical expenses you paid over more than one year, it must be allocated on a “pro rata” basis, or in proportion to the amounts paid each year. Talking to an experienced lawyer at Lawrence & Associates Accident and Injury Lawyers, LLC can help you figure out how to calculate the amount to report and fill out the correct forms.

If your settlement is for emotional distress or mental anguish originating from a personal physical injury or physical sickness, it is treated in the same way as a settlement for personal physical injury or physical sickness, which is listed above. If the emotional distress or mental anguish settlement you receive does not originate from personal physical injury or physical sickness from the accident, it must be included in your income reporting. This amount reported is reduced by the amount paid for medical expenses attributable to emotional distress or mental anguish not previously reported and by previously deducted medical expenses for emotional distress or mental anguish that did not provide any tax benefit. A lawyer can help you attach a statement showing these deductions to your return and fill out the necessary forms to document this.

Employment or Property Damage Lawsuits

If you receive your settlement in an employment-related lawsuit, the portion of your proceeds that are for lost wages is taxable and subject to the social security wage base, as well as the social security and Medicare tax rates in effect for the year the settlement is paid. They are subject to employment tax withholding, and a lawyer can help you report these in the appropriate places on your returns. If you run your own business and your settlement is for lost profits for your own trade or business, those proceeds are considered net earnings subject to self-employment tax and must be reported. A lawyer can help you navigate this more complex reporting and help you select the correct IRS forms.

If your settlement is for loss in value of property and is less than the adjusted basis of your property, it is not taxable and generally does not need to be reported on your tax return, although you must still reduce your basis in the property by the amount on the settlement. If your property settlement exceeds your basis in the property, the excess is considered income. A lawyer can help you determine if this applies to you and, if so, how much excess you must report. In addition, any interest on any settlement is generally taxable and needs to be reported.

The Different Treatment for Compensatory and Punitive Damages

Most of the money awarded to you in your settlement is considered compensatory damages, meaning that the money is intended to pay you back for your injuries. Compensatory damages compensate the injured party for their direct suffering (i.e. medical bills, lost wages, resulting health problems, etc.), and you had to prove that you suffered some type of monetary loss, how much the loss was, and that the other party was the cause of this loss. In contrast, punitive damages are intended to punish the wrongdoer, as well as serve as a warning or lesson to the rest of society. They exceed simple compensation. Punitive damages are only available in cases where the defendant is considered reckless or negligent. For example, in a car accident, punitive damages could be available if the defendant was driving drunk at the time of the crash. Punitive damages are always taxable and must be reported as income, even if they were received in a personal physical injury claim. Some settlements containing punitive damages require the recipient to make estimated tax payments on said settlement. A lawyer can help you determine if this applies to you, and if so, how much your estimated tax payments should be.

If you have questions about how your settlement will be taxed, please call Lawrence & Associates Accident and Injury Lawyers, LLC today for a free consultation at (859) 371.5997. We’re Working Hard for the Working Class, and we want to help you!

Cincinnati Area Tips and Tricks for Dealing with Insurance Companies After A Car Accident

Posted on Thursday, August 16th, 2018 at 4:07 pm    

The following post is part of our Law Student Blog Writing Project, and is authored by Dayna Wilson, a law clerk at Lawrence and Associates, who is pursuing her Juris Doctorate at Chase College of Law.

Getting into an accident is frightening. You may feel alone and unsure how to proceed after such a terrifying event. Who should you talk to? What should you say? Who is on your side? All these questions may be scattered in your head as you question who you should turn to. The first call you might get is from an insurance adjuster who wants to question you about your accident. At this point, you need an experienced attorney who can help you handle communications with the insurance adjuster to protect your rights. Insurance adjusters for liability insurance policies get annual training on the best ways to interrogate people in car accidents to avoid or minimize damages payable under the policy. Don’t be one of their statistics!

Should You Talk To Your Insurance Company After an Accident?

crashThe goal of your insurance company is to make the other driver’s insurance pay for damages to the vehicle. Although your insurance company is on your side, they are not paid or trained to pursue your claim against the at-fault driver the same way an attorney will. Your retained attorney will work on your behalf with your insurance company and the other driver’s insurance company to maximize your settlement. This is why it is important after an accident to contact an attorney so your rights can remain protected.

In addition, your insurance company has an obligation to pay for related medical bills after a car accident. These payments are called PIP payments in Kentucky, and Med Pay payments in Ohio. However, the adjuster often lives outside the Cincinnati area, and therefore doesn’t have the expertise to help you choose a doctor from the confusing army of medical professionals in the Tri-State area. In a similar vein, many primary care physicians are part of hospital networks that are pressured to refer within the hospital’s network, rather than to the doctor best equipped to treat your injury. One benefit of retaining an attorney early on is that an experienced personal injury attorney knows every doctor in the area, and has seen the outcome of their treatment on hundreds of patients. We know who to refer you to, and take pride in referring to the best medical professional for your condition!

Can An Insurance Adjuster Trick You Into Saying Something To Hurt Your Case?

When you are injured in an automobile accident, one of the first things that will happen is an insurance adjuster will contact you about the car accident. The adjuster may begin with some simple or innocent questions. Although the questions may seem innocent, the adjuster’s motives are not in your favor. Adjusters questions often include:

“Have you been involved in a previous car accident or other accident?”
“Are you the registered owner of the vehicle?”
“Was the weather a factor in the accident?”
“What happened?”
“Were you using a cell phone or any other electronic devices?”

The purpose of an insurance adjuster is to investigate and evaluate insurance claims. Adjusters decide whether an insurance company must pay and if so, how much. They conduct interviews, inspect property, and review police reports. The goal of the adjuster is to obtain valuable information to use during the claims process. While the information may seem reasonable, often any data collected is used against you to lower the value of your claim.

There are good reasons to limit your phone conversations with insurance adjusters when an adjuster calls you after an accident. Many adjusters will call frequently in an attempt to get you to settle quickly. In this case, if your injuries are minimal or nonexistent, it is permissible to talk to the other driver’s insurance company. The police report may place liability on the other driver. If this has occurred, communication with the other side may speed the claims process along.

Often, insurance adjusters will ask the victim to make a recorded statement. Remember an important rule: you should not provide an insurance company a recorded statement concerning the motor vehicle accident without having an attorney present. Simply put, the other side’s insurance company is not on your side, no matter how friendly or approachable they may seem. You can be completely honest about everything. However, later at trial, the insurance company may attempt to use any inconsistent statements between the recorded statement and the testimony at trial against you. Often, such inconsistent statements occur because your memory will fade between the recorded statement and trial, or because you won’t have known an important fact at the time of the recorded statement that you later learn before trial. Despite such reasonable explanations, the lawyer representing the insurance company many attempt to use this contradiction to make the jury question your credibility so that the jury will find for the defendant and not the victim. Having adequate representation will help prevent you from accidentally saying the wrong thing, or speaking about facts that haven’t been adequately investigated.

In addition to attempting to extract information to use against the victim and to get a recorded statement, the insurance company may also try to get the victim to sign a medical release form. These medical release forms allow an adjuster to get all of your medical records from every provider you have ever had. That is an enormous invasion of your privacy, and unjustified by any provision of Kentucky or Ohio law! It is important to keep the goal of an adjuster in the back of your head. They are there to reduce or eliminate your claim and protect their profits. If you provide recorded statements or sign medical releases prior to consulting with an attorney, there is a high chance that your claim will be significantly decreased.

How Can I Protect Myself If an Adjuster Wants to Take My Recorded Statement?

Individuals who have been injured in an automotive accident cases may choose to consult with personal injury lawyer. If you are seriously injured in an accident you should consult an attorney. An attorney can also help you if your own insurance company denies payment of your PIP or Med Pay benefits. Here at Lawrence & Associates Accident and Injury Lawyers, LLC we can handle the process of communicating with insurance companies so that you will not make a mistake that will negatively impact your case. We will handle the proper negotiations with the insurance company in order to pursue just compensation. If there’s even a small chance you could have significant injuries or damages, or the question of who caused the accident is in dispute, it’s probably smart to not speak with the other driver’s insurance company without legal representation.

Call our attorneys today for a free, confidential consultation if you need help. We’re Working Hard for the Working Class, and we want to help you!

Have You Been in a Car Accident?

Posted on Wednesday, August 8th, 2018 at 8:31 am    

The following post is part of our Law Student Blog Writing Project, and is authored by Jennifer Tressler, who is pursuing her Juris Doctorate at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.

Learn How Damages Are Calculated in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky Car and Truck Wreck Claims

Imagine for a moment that you are Maria. Maria was driving through an intersection when her car was struck by another vehicle. Maria suffered several severe injuries that required a significant amount of medical treatment. However, Maria’s insurance company would only cover a portion of her medical treatment costs.

Maria was at a loss for what to do, when someone told her to talk to a reputable personal injury law firm that might be able to help her. She was hesitant, thinking that filing a law suit might make create additional problems for her during what was already a very stressful and expensive time, but by choosing Lawrence & Associates Accident and Injury Lawyers, LLC, she realized she would not have to pay up front for her personal injury case! Her Lawrence & Associates Accident and Injury Lawyers, LLC personal injury attorney explained to her that her personal injury case would operate on a contingency fee, meaning that she would not have to pay any attorney’s fees or case expenses unless she won her case. Although Maria still had plenty of questions, her personal injury attorney was happy to answer them. The most important question for her, and maybe for you if you find yourself in a similar situation, was how much money she could expect to receive and when she would receive it.

How does a Greater Cincinnati area lawyer calculate or estimate how much money I get from my personal injury claim?

accountingThe first thing for you and your personal injury attorney to consider (because you are a large part of the settlement process!) is what a reasonable sum of money for you to give up your legal claim looks like. This varies from person to person, from situation to situation, depending on circumstances. Most insurance companies use mathematical formulas to calculate the amount of money they are willing to let go in the settlement, and your personal injury attorney will look at this formulaic process on the other side during the negotiations process. This is true regardless of what type of personal injury case you are bringing forward. This formula does not actually determine how much compensation someone receives, however. It is more of a tool that insurance adjusters use to begin the process of determining how much a claim is worth. Other factors must be considered before a final determination about compensation is made.

Once the settlement formula is applied, the insurance company will look at other legal and practical issues that affect your case. Some of these issues could include whether there is any shared fault for the accident, how organized and calm your demeanor is in relation to the claims and settlement process, whether the other side is credible or sympathetic, and any witnesses that may bolster your case. Because there are so many factors that go into how much your case will settle for, it is dangerous for attorneys to promise a high dollar settlement amount to their clients. Attorneys are held to very stringent ethical standards, especially regarding the handling of money and the representation of clients. Do not be afraid to check out your potential attorney on the state bar association’s website where the attorney is located to see if there are any ethical complaints or malpractice suits filed against them.

What is the damages formula and how does it work?

It is important to have a damages formula because, while it is usually fairly simple to add up money spent and money lost, there is not a precise way to put a dollar amount onto pain and suffering and missed or lost opportunities. The latter is what the damages formula calculates. The person found liable for an accident must pay the victim for medical care and its related expenses, missed work and other lost income, pain and other physical suffering, permanent physical disability or disfigurement, loss of family, social, and educational experiences, and emotional damages resulting from any of these losses.

To begin the original offer, an insurance adjuster will add up the total medical expenses relating to the injury, which are referred to as “medical special damages” or “specials.” To figure out how much to pay for emotional damages, permanent disability, and pain and suffering, which together are referred to as “general damages,” the insurance adjuster typically multiplies the amount of special damages times one-and-a-half to three times for relatively minor injuries and up to five times for especially painful, serious, or long-lasting injuries. Any lost income is then added to this number. This is usually the number where settlement negotiations with your personal injury attorney begin.

Two important things to remember about the damages formula are that, first of all, the figure arrived at is only the starting point for negotiations toward a final settlement amount. Other important factors about your accident and your injuries come into play as well. Secondly, because the starting formula can have a multiplier anywhere from one-and-a-half to five, or possibly even higher, considerably different numbers can be produced depending on where your case falls on the multiplier scale. Factors that influence where your case falls on the multiplier scale can include how painful your injury is, how invasive and long-lasting your medical treatment was, how obvious your medical evidence is, how long your recovery period is, and how serious and visible the permanent effects of your injury are.

Sometimes, your target settlement needs to be adjusted for your own fault. Kentucky is a pure comparative negligence state, meaning that the dollar amount of your award is reduced by your percentage of fault with no limits. Ohio is a modified comparative negligence state, meaning that your award is reduced by your percentage of your fault, and if your own fault is greater than fifty percent, you cannot win any damages, so the settlement value of your case is much less than your actual damages.

The last factor an insurance company looks at is whether you have retained a competent attorney. Injured people who have not retained counsel are often looked at as “not serious” about pushing the value of their claim, or unable to successfully push the value of their claim once litigation becomes necessary. This theory often bears true, because unrepresented injury car accident victims don’t know how to file and pursue a lawsuit in court. This means those unrepresented people are stuck with whatever the insurance company decides the value of the case ought to be, not what the injured person or a jury of his or her peers decides the value of the case ought to be. This is the reason that getting counsel as early as possible is important.

If you are overwhelmed by your personal injury accident, contact Lawrence & Associates Accident and Injury Lawyers, LLC today. We can help you navigate through settling with your insurance company to get you the award you deserve! Call today for a free consultation at (859)371.5997. We’re Working Hard for the Working Class, and we want to help you!

Last Updated : February 22, 2019
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