In this video, Justin Lawrence describes and defines Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage as it relates to Kentucky drivers, and talks about the types of bills that PIP should cover after a motor vehicle accident. Justin also describes the process for receiving PIP benefits, and talks about warning signs that your automobile insurance carrier may be ready to cut off your ability to access this important, post-injury coverage.
Justin Lawrence recently wrote an article for the Advocate, Kentucky’s trial lawyer community’s premier publication, about what needs to be done when a person who is injured by an automobile accident, slip and fall, or workplace injury files for bankruptcy while their lawsuit is still pending.
Justin regularly advises other attorneys on the best course of action to take when personal injury, workers’ compensation, social security disability, and bankruptcy claims come together, so injured men and women get the best results possible.
Attorney Justin Lawrence writes here about the liability for drunk drivers who cause automobile accidents when the drunk driver gets behind the wheel immediately after a work event. Kentucky law has a surprising loophole for employers that allow their employees to get drunk at company functions and drive home.
If you’ve been in a car accident with a drunk driver, get the facts to know your rights. Call the experienced attorneys at Lawrence & Associates for a free consultation to determine whether you should sue.
The attorneys at Lawrence and Associates have helped many drivers who were hurt in a hit-and-run collision. These claims can be simple – for example, when the hit-and-run driver is found by the police and has alcohol in his or her system – or complex – for example, where the hit-and-run driver is never found at all. In almost every case, our attorneys can recover money from an insurance policy to fairly compensate our clients for their damages. However, in many cases the insurance carrier will initially refuse to compensate the injured driver. Depending on the exact circumstances of each case, there are several ways to get paid for your injury.
What Happens When the Hit-and-Run Driver is Found?
In cases where the hit-and-run driver is found and identified by the police, our attorneys will file a claim for damages with the hit-and-run driver’s policy first. In that situation, the insurance claim is no different from any other car wreck on the road. The injured driver looks to the hit-and-run driver’s policy first, filing a lawsuit in court if necessary. If the hit-and-run driver’s policy has to pay the limits of the policy for the injury (or close to the limits), then Lawrence & Associates helps its injured clients recover money from their own policy. However, there are certain legal requirements that come into play – such as notice requirements to the injured driver’s own insurance carrier – that can cause major problems for anyone that tries to go after insurance money without a lawyer. Injured Northern Kentucky drivers should tread cautiously!
What Happens If the Hit-and-Run Driver is Not Found?
It is tougher – but not impossible! – when the hit-and-run driver is never found, but the wreck caused an injury and property damage. In that scenario, Kentucky law states that the injured driver’s insurance policy has to pay first using the uninsured motorist coverage portion of the policy. However, in doing so the injured driver’s insurance carrier becomes adversarial, meaning the insurance company wants to save its money by not paying for the injury! Insurance companies often delay or deny claims by requiring proof in painstaking detail for each and every dollar the injured driver needs for fair compensation. Often, a different, more hostile adjuster is assigned to the case and the injured driver expecting the customary friendly service from his or her carrier is taken by surprise. In Northern Kentucky, most injured drivers without counsel are never aware that they receive less than full compensation because of these factors.
What Happens If Another Driver Causes the Accident but Never Hits My Car?
The most difficult scenario occurs when hit-and-run driver is avoided, but still causes an accident. For example, Lawrence & Associates has represented drivers who struck a tree or telephone pole when swerving to avoid a negligent driver, only to see the negligent driver flee the scene without stopping to help. Although getting money in this situation is not always impossible, it is extremely difficult to recover when there is no contact between the vehicles and no identification of the other driver. Nevertheless, good legal counsel improves your chances of recovering. At the very least, good legal counsel can give you the finality of knowing that a recovery is not possible.
Can Attorneys at Lawrence & Associates Help Me Get Money?
Lawrence & Associates is Working Hard for the Working Class, and we would be happy to help you. Our lawyers are licensed in Kentucky and Ohio, and have experience in helping all kinds of car accident victims recover fair compensation for their injuries. If you’ve been injured in a hit-and-run accident, let us help you!
Posted on Wednesday, December 9th, 2015 at 8:24 am
Rumor has it that tort reform will be on the legislative agenda in Kentucky in 2016, based on leaks from Matt Bevin’s transition team meetings. Tort reform is great for insurance companies, but hurts average state citizens. To get an idea of how much it can hurt an average citizen, Lawrence & Associates is going to share a current case study (with the identifying data removed or rounded) that compares how an injured person can be compensated in Ohio for medical bills, and in Kentucky for the same medical bills.
Lawrence & Associates’ Client, His Injuries, and His Medical Bills
Our client, Mr. W, was injured while driving his car. He had a leg amputated and a hip fractured, and had extensive therapy so he could re-learn how to walk. After a thorough police investigation, the other driver was found to be at fault. Fortunately, the other driver had excellent automobile insurance, with policy limits high enough to cover all of Mr. W’s medical bills.
Mr. W has over $850,000.00 in medical bills. He had health insurance that paid about $100,000.00 of the medical bills, leaving the other $750,000.00 to be written off. In Ohio, they have enacted tort reform. As part of that tort reform, Ohio’s case law Robinson v. Bates states that the automobile insurance policy for the at-fault driver only has to pay the $100,000.00 that was paid by the health insurance company. In Kentucky, there is no tort reform. Kentucky’s case, Baptist Healthcare v. Miller, says that the at-fault driver has to pay the full $850,000.00 in medical bills. (Bear in mind that, in any event, there is enough insurance coverage to pay all the medical bills, so the driver himself would not be on the hook for hundreds of thousands of dollars). What happens to the $750,000.00 when you cross the border from Kentucky to Ohio is the essence of tort reform.
Who Profits from Tort Reform?
How can two neighboring states reach such totally different positions on such a simple issue? It would seem obvious that the medical bills should be paid by the insurance policy. That is, after all, why we have insurance. However, years of lobbying dollars by insurance companies has muddled that logic and created a huge windfall for these multi-billion dollar businesses.
Kentucky adheres to the “common law,” developed over the centuries from the founding of America, while Ohio uses statutes passed within the last decade. In Kentucky, the logic of the common law is that someone that does something wrong should have to pay to fix what they did wrong. Thus, someone that causes $850,000.00 in medical bills should have to pay the full amount. If the injured person has health insurance that takes care of the medical bills, then the injured person gets the benefit of both policies. If there is a windfall, then Kentucky says Mr. W should get the windfall as part of his compensation for losing his leg.
Ohio’s statutes, on the other hand, were passed with the goal of limiting anyone’s right to recover in court, and most especially seriously injured people like Mr. W. Ohio says that the person who did something wrong only has to pay for that wrong to the extent that the injured person has to re-pay his or her insurance company to cover the bill. So if Mr. W’s insurance policy covers $100,000.00 and Mr. W has to pay that back, then automobile insurance company for the person who hurt Mr. W only has to pay $100,000.00. In Ohio, the windfall goes to the insurance company that has cleverly avoided paying $750,000.00 in damages.
Is Tort Reform Right for Kentucky?
All of us who drive on the road have the potential to be Mr. W. That is an ugly fact, but a true one, so we all must ask ourselves whether Kentucky or Ohio is right. When one person hurts another person, does the first person have the duty to pay the second person for the full amount of the damages? Put another way, should the other driver’s automobile insurance company have paid for all the medical bills Mr. W received when he lost his leg? Tort reform says no, that the car insurance company should keep the money. At Lawrence & Associates, we respectfully suggest that everyone in Kentucky should call their state legislator and express serious concern about Mr. W’s case happening again and again, right here in Kentucky.
If you have been involved in an accident, please contact us. We’ve helped thousands of people recover for their injuries, and our testimonials reflect the quality of our work. We are working hard for the working class, and we want to work for you. Call today!
Posted on Wednesday, November 4th, 2015 at 10:24 am
Lawrence & Associates sees many clients after a car wreck, and we see many misconceptions about how insurance coverage should pay medical bills and repayments for lost wages. If you are unfortunate enough to suffer injuries in a motor vehicle accident, you’ll want to know what insurance to use and when to use it. Using insurance incorrectly – or wrongful denials by the insurance company – delay treatment and impede recovery. Make sure all the premiums you have paid count for something! Use your insurance wisely and get all the benefit you deserve.
Priority of Insurance Coverage
Insurance contracts and state law determine the order in which insurance policies have to pay. After a car accident, most insurance policies pay benefits in the following order:
PIP or Med Pay coverage from your own car insurance policy
PIP or Med Pay coverage from the car insurance policy of the owner of the car you were in when hurt
Health Insurance coverage
Liability policy of the at-fault driver
Underinsured motorist coverage from your own car insurance policy
We’ve discussed PIP insurance several times in the past. PIP is car insurance that covers medical bills and a certain amount of lost wages. Med Pay coverage is similar, but covers only medical bills. Generally Kentucky drivers get PIP and Ohio drivers get Med Pay.
It is important to get a PIP or Med Pay claim number immediately after an accident by filling out an application for PIP benefits! These benefits are no fault, so they should not raise your premium. This claim number should be presented to each and every medical provider until the PIP or Med Pay benefits are exhausted. You’ll be glad you did this instead of using regular health insurance right off the bat, because regular health insurance is far harder to deal with when you are getting money from the liability policy of the at-fault driver.
The Other Driver’s Policy Does Not Pay First!
Every once in a while, we see Northern Kentucky car accident victims that are convinced that the at-fault driver’s automobile insurance policy should pay their medical bills or lost wages as they go through treatment. These people send bills to the liability carrier as the bills come in, expecting them to be paid. This is not how car insurance works, and if you do this the bills will go unpaid! Unpaid medical bills often go to collections and result in lawsuits against you. Don’t add to your problems by failing to get medical bills paid on time!
Although the at-fault driver’s liability insurance policy is ultimately responsible to pay these bills, this insurance company is allowed to wait until all the medical treatment is finished to determine the full amount it may have to pay. This is allowed because the at-fault driver’s policy pays more than just medical bills and lost wages; it also pays for pain and suffering and for loss of consortium, as well as the loss of your car’s value and other damages. The other driver’s liability insurance can – and will – wait until the end to resolve a claim.
Your insurance coverage, whether auto insurance or health insurance, is there to pay these medical bills or lost wages as they come in. Neither they nor you are getting cheated by using the coverage for its intended purpose. Further, your insurance companies are multi-billion dollar enterprises with teams of lawyers in their employ. They know how to get their money back from the liability policy, and they will take care of that on their own.
Make Your Insurance Work for YOU
The attorneys at Lawrence & Associates are well versed in insurance law, and we love helping people just like you get the full benefit of your insurance. If your Med Pay or PIP coverage is denying treatment, or if the at-fault driver’s liability policy is refusing to reasonably resolve your claim, we can help. Our attorneys have won millions in damages for our clients related to car accidents, and we’d be proud to work for you. Lawrence & Associates is Working Hard for the Working Class. Call us today!
Posted on Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015 at 11:21 am
Everyone in Kentucky is required to have a minimum of $25,000 in liability automobile insurance by state law. Despite that common knowledge, very few Northern Kentucky drivers seem to have a good understanding of exactly what their insurance policy covers, and why it is a good idea to buy more than the bare minimum. In this post, your local Northern Kentucky personal injury attorneys will briefly explain what the different types of coverage within your automobile policy mean, and how they can help you.
Remember that the words in your full insurance policy matter. The policy is a contract between you and an insurance company such as State Farm, or Allstate. While the Kentucky statutory system is the outline for the contract, and sets the minimum duties for the insurance company, the policy is what fills in all the details. Therefore, for specific information about your rights under your insurance policy, always start by getting a copy of the policy itself.
What is Liability Coverage, and How Is It Different from Full or Collision Coverage?
When Kentucky law requires you to have $25,000.00 in automobile insurance coverage, that refers to liability coverage. Liability coverage does two things in the event that you cause a car accident: first, it requires the insurance company to provide a lawyer for you, generally free of charge, and; second, it requires the insurance company to pay up to the liability policy limit toward the other driver’s damages. Many Northern Kentucky drivers are confused about the attorney requirement, and try to hire a lawyer to defend themselves after a car wreck. This is not necessary, so don’t waste your money!
Liability Coverage does not require your insurance company to cover your damages, regardless of who caused the car wreck. PIP coverage does (more on that below), but this is why getting liability coverage only is generally a bad idea. Yes, it is nice to save money each month, but if a car accident occurs, you will be completely out of a car! It’s worth a little more each month to make sure the damage to your vehicle is covered.
PIP is commonly referred to as no-fault benefits, and Kentucky is commonly referred to as a no-fault state. Our clients often confuse these terms to mean that they cannot recover money from another driver in Kentucky, even if the other driver is at fault, because they believe “no-fault” means that it doesn’t matter who is at fault. This is not true! PIP benefits are used to cover your medical bills and a portion of your lost wages – regardless of whether or not you were at fault for the automobile accident – but they do not take away your ability to sue for your damages if the other driver is responsible. Please follow the links to our other blog posts on PIP for more information, and remember: PIP is cheap and you may want to buy more than the state minimum of $10,000. Most insurance companies will sell policies with up to $50,000 of PIP.
How are UM Benefits and UIM Benefits Different?
UM stands for Uninsured Motorist Coverage, and UIM stands for Uninsured Motorist Coverage. Uninsured Motorist Coverage applies when the other driver was at fault for the wreck, but did not have any insurance coverage. It stands in the place of the liability coverage that the other driver should have had, and covers injuries or damages you have related to the accident. UM coverage applies in hit-and-run situations.
Underinsured Motorist Coverage is additional coverage for you if the other driver was at fault and you have injuries or damages that require more money than the upper limit of the other driver’s policy can provide. Typically, the UIM portion of your policy will kick in only after you have finished getting money from the other driver’s liability policy.
Usually, UIM and UM coverage is fixed at the same amount as your liability coverage. Raising limits for UM and UIM coverage along with the liability coverage helps protect you in the event of a crash. While UM and UIM generally cost more than PIP, consider raising these limits if you can!
How are Collision, Comprehensive, and Full Coverage Different?
There is no such thing as “full coverage.” This simply refers to a policy that combines liability coverage with collision. Collision coverage covers the physical damage to your vehicle in the event of a wreck. Comprehensive coverage covers physical damage to your vehicle even if there was no wreck involved.
How Can a Lawyer Help Me?
Insurance policies are contracts, and lawyers know contracts. An experienced personal injury attorney can look at your insurance policy and tell you what your policy will cover in the event of a car accident. We help Northern Kentucky car accident victims every day. If you have questions about your insurance policy, please call today! Lawrence & Associates is Working Hard for the Working Class, and we want to work for you!
A distracted driver can be worse than a drunk driver. As more and more car crashes happen on Northern Kentucky roads, we all need to be more aware of the dangers of driving while distracted. Alcohol consumption and medical conditions are not the only things that should keep people from taking the wheel!
How Bad is Distracted Driving Really?
Texting and driving is more dangerous than drinking and driving. In studies, drivers who are reading email or texting while behind the wheel take longer to stop than drivers who have been drinking.
Here are the results of one study:
Unimpaired: .54 seconds to brake
Legally drunk: add 4 feet
Reading e-mail: add 36 feet
Sending a text: add 70 feet
Thus, texting while driving impairs your ability to stop 17.5 times more than drinking and driving. That is an amazing difference. While other studies have shown less deterioration in one’s ability to stop while texting and driving, all studies agree that texting and driving impairs you worse than drinking and driving.
How Does This Affect Me Legally?
In Kentucky it is illegal to text and drive. It is punishable by a fine, just like speeding.
Lawrence & Associates files a great deal of claims related to car accidents, and we can safely say that anyone texting and driving will be found liable for an accident by a jury in a civil trial as well. While jurors don’t have the same sense of outrage over texting and driving as they do over drinking and driving, they also have little patience for anyone that attempts to justify texting and driving or reading email and driving. The general consensus is that, frankly, no one is that important or that pressed for time. Whatever it is, it can wait.
If you have been involved in an accident where the other party was drinking and driving, texting and driving, or reading email and driving, please contact us. We would be proud to help you receive justice from insurance carriers that try to justify such behavior, or who try to pass the blame onto the victim. We are working hard for the working class, and we want to work for you. Call today!
Lawrence & Associates tried the first civil trial in Boone County court this year and walked away with a complete victory. The case, Webster v. Whalen, involved a motor vehicle accident with injuries and associated workers’ compensation claims. Appeal time is running for the other party, and we don’t know yet whether an appeal is pending.
In this trial, liability was admitted for a fender bender. The person claiming injuries filed for, and received, Workers’ Compensation benefits for a back injury. The Workers’ Compensation employer then filed a claim for subrogation benefits against the driver that rear ended the person claiming injuries.
Causation, meaning the link between the bad driving and the injuries, looked very bad. It was clear that the injured person had worked heavy manual labor for years before the accident, with associated complaints of back pain. Then the employer made him go back to the same heavy duty job, with mandatory overtime, for four months following the accident. Only after all that did the person seek further medical treatment for his back.
Lawrence & Associates represented the man sued by the employer, although we usually represent injured people. We felt that the man being sued did not cause the injuries, and had been sued frivolously. At the end of the trial, the jury agreed with us and returned a verdict against the employer. The injured man still receives his workers’ compensation benefits – after all, it appeared that his years of heavy duty work were the most likely cause for his bad back – but the employer does not get that money back from someone who is not responsible for the injury.
At Lawrence & Associates, we fight to win, and our clients are better off for it. We represent Kentucky and Ohio clients in all forms of automobile collision litigation. We’re Working Hard for the Working Class, and we’d be proud to represent you. Call today!
Kentucky passed the Motor Vehicle Reparations Act (MVRA) in 1974. Among other things, the MVRA requires all Kentucky drivers to have liability auto insurance, and requires all such auto insurance to have no-fault benefits, which is often called Personal Injury Protection (PIP). PIP benefits must be at least $10,000.00 per person covered by the policy, and can go to pay any medical treatment related to an automobile accident or lost wages related to the automobile accident up to $200 per week. If you look at the itemization of your auto insurance premium, you will see that part of your premium goes to support your PIP benefits.
Kentucky’s main purpose for passing the MVRA law was to make sure Kentuckians injured in car wrecks got prompt medical treatment and rehabilitation by ensuring that money was set aside to pay for whatever treatment was necessary. Although $10,000 does not stretch nearly as far today as it did in 1974 – especially where skyrocketing medical bills are concerned – PIP payments are still a crucial first link in a long chain of medical payments for most car accident victims in Kentucky.
How Does Your Medical Treatment Get Denied By The PIP Carrier?
Northern Kentucky residents have started seeing more and more denials of PIP benefits in recent years. Where car accidents are concerned, Lawrence & Associates mostly represents victims in Boone, Kenton, Campbell, Grant, and Gallatin counties, and in those counties we have mostly observed Allstate and Geico challenging treating doctors by refusing to pay PIP.
Typically, Allstate or Geico will challenge the treating doctor by sending medical records off to a “peer review” or a “utilization review.” These are both bogus terms for “hiring a doctor who has never treated you to second guess your doctor.” The insurance company will send you a formal letter that typically does not address you by name, advising you that your treatment cannot be approved until the “peer reviewer” has given a decision. To make matters worse, your health insurance company will often refuse to cover the bills because, by law, the PIP insurance company is “primary” which means the PIP carrier has the duty to pay before the health carrier does. For this reason, your medical treatment stops entirely, even if you are in pain or getting worse.
Your PIP carrier then sends a “review,” which is the peer reviewers report. It will either accept the treatment as being necessary and related to the car accident, deny the treatment, or recommend an “independent medical exam” (IME). An IME means you have to allow the insurance company to pick a doctor for you and go see that doctor. The trick of an IME is that IME doctors are not truly independent; they are paid by the insurance company and nearly always claim that future treatment is unnecessary. (If they cost the insurance company money, why would the insurance company continue hiring them?) Regardless of whether the treatment is accepted, denied, or referred to an IME, it is rare for the PIP carrier to put the review letter in language that a layperson will understand.
The end result? You pay premiums for PIP coverage and never see the PIP money that you paid for. In the meantime, your untreated injury keeps hurting and keeps getting worse.
How Can An Attorney Help Make Your Auto Insurance PIP Benefits Pay For Your Medical Treatment?
The worst thing about the process above is that the MVRA doesn’t allow it. The MVRA states that a PIP carrier like Geico or Allstate must file a claim in court if it wants to deny PIP payments for your medical treatment. These insurance companies can’t ship all your medical records off to some hidden doctor in a backroom, with no transparency as to why medical treatment is being denied! Rather, the law requires the insurance companies to challenge a treating doctor (and you!) in open court, with full transparency. Auto insurance PIP carriers only get away with this because the average person in Northern Kentucky doesn’t know the rights that come with their auto insurance premiums.
If a PIP carrier wrongfully denies you the payment of your PIP benefits, you are allowed to sue that company in court and get 18% interest on all overdue payments. Further, if the PIP carrier didn’t have a “reasonable foundation” for denying your PIP benefits, you can force the insurance company to pay for your attorney’s fees. However, forcing the PIP carrier to relinquish your insurance benefits to you will necessarily involve filing the case in court and proving the insurance carrier is wrong. The insurance carrier will hire attorneys to represent it. That means you’ll need an attorney to represent you too.
Don’t Give Up On Your Right to Kentucky PIP Benefits
At Lawrence & Associates, we are Working Hard for the Working Class. We take great pride in representing Northern Kentucky residents who have been injured in car accidents. We can’t fix broken bones or heal cuts, but we can make sure no one takes advantage of you while you are hurt. PIP carriers that ignore the law to line their pockets with your money should be brought to justice. We can help. Call us today.
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