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Homeowner’s Insurance for Injuries

Posted on Monday, September 28th, 2015 at 6:12 pm    

house-insurance-419058_640Last week, Lawrence & Associates posted about automobile insurance coverage. In a sense, that’s the easiest type of coverage to understand from the perspective of someone who has been injured. If you were in a car accident, it’s obvious that you’d look into coverage from your car insurance policy and/or the other driver’s policy. The devil is in the details, but at least everyone knows where to look for coverage.

Homeowner’s insurance (or its commercial cousin, general liability premises insurance for business owners) is an often overlooked source of insurance coverage for many types of injuries, and most of our Northern Kentucky clients don’t know they have the option of accessing homeowner’s insurance for an injury unless we bring it up first. Again, the devil is in the details and the exact language used in your homeowner’s policy can alter the availability of money for any particular injury.

There are several types of injuries that are usually covered by homeowner’s insurance:

Injuries Due to Slips or Falls on Property

The most common type of injury covered by homeowner’s insurance is a slip or fall. In Kentucky, slip and Fall injuries are divided up based on: 1) whether the injury happened to you, a member of your family who lives in the home, or someone invited to the home that does not live there, and; 2) whether the slip happened because of some artificial reason, natural reason, or for no reason at all.

If it is you or a member of your family living in the home, your homeowner’s policy probably doesn’t cover the injury. Homeowner’s policies are meant to cover your for liability to others, not liability to yourself. If you fall and injure yourself on your own property, health insurance should cover the medical bills and any disability policy may cover lost wages.

For anyone else that slips and falls on your property, the insurance company will investigate whether the injury was due to any liability on the part of you, the homeowner. A fall that happens for no reason at all does not mean you are liable for it (although many homeowner’s policies will have approximately $5,000 in “medpay benefits” that are no fault and designed to go toward medical bills for the injured person). A fall that happens for an “artificial” reason – meaning some manmade change to the land or structure – can result in liability if the manmade change was made negligently, or if the guest was not warned and could not have foreseen the danger of the manmade change. The traditional example of a manmade change that can lead to this type of liability is a well that has been covered up and which cannot be seen until stepped on, at which point the guest falls through.

Injuries caused by natural changes, such as the accumulation of snow and ice in the winter, used to be routinely denied by insurance companies. Recently, however, they became treated more like artificial changes in Kentucky law. In 2015, the Kentucky Supreme Court issued a ruling that said juries should determine whether falls due to these changes at businesses should result in liability based on a number of factors, such as warnings and foreseeability. Since this is effectively the same way artificial changes are treated, it is reasonable to assume that natural changes will also be covered by homeowner’s policies more frequently in the future.

Injuries that Occur Away from the Home

Some types of injuries are covered by homeowner’s insurance even if they don’t happen on the homeowner’s property. This is generally because some personal property of the homeowner was misused and this caused an injury. For example, dog bites are generally covered regardless of where they happened. If a gun misfires and strikes a pedestrian, the homeowner’s policy will cover. Many ATV accidents are covered under homeowner’s policies because the ATV is personal property that is generally not otherwise insured.

The most important thing to remember is that the insurance company has to be told what personal property is in the house – or at least have a reasonable expectation that a certain type of personal property is in the house – before the policy will cover the injury. For example, if you tell the insurance company that you don’t have a dog and don’t have a gun, the dog bite and gunshot will not be covered. This area of coverage is fraught with denials and many times the insurance company doesn’t cover a dime simply because they aren’t asked to, or because their initial denial isn’t followed up on. Remember to ask an attorney for help if your insurance company refuses to pay.

Attorneys and Friendly Lawsuits

Anything beyond the most basic of homeowner’s insurance injury claims often requires an attorney, because insurance companies love to deny these things. The insurance policy is a contract, and attorneys are required to become familiar with contracts during the course of their training. If the insurance company won’t cover you, make sure you have an attorney look over your policy before you give up.

Also, insurance companies often don’t have to pay out on these claims because friends feel bad for making a claim against friends. Think about it: if someone was injured at your house, odds are it is a friend or family member. You rarely invite total strangers over. But if you are paying an insurance company a premium every six months for homeowner’s coverage, and this coverage doesn’t apply to your live-in family members, who do you expect it to apply to? It is supposed to cover friends and extended family! If they don’t make a claim when they are hurt, who will? There is a such thing as a friendly claim or lawsuit, and two friends or family members should not feel guilty if one has to make a claim against the other’s policy.

At Lawrence & Associates, we know insurance policies and how to make them work for you. We are Working Hard for the Working Class, and we want to work for you. Call today for a free consultation!

What Does My Car Insurance Cover?

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?

that-hurt-1450455-639x461When 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.

What Is PIP Coverage?

We’ve previously written about PIP coverage, how PIP coverage applies to medical bills, and how PIP can affect your right to file a lawsuit. In short, this is one of the most important and most misunderstood parts of the typical Kentucky automobile insurance policy.

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!

Choosing an Attorney in Kentucky – How Organization Membership Helps You Choose

Posted on Monday, September 7th, 2015 at 12:53 pm    

We’ve written previously about some common sense tips for selecting the right attorney for your case. That article, while general, received good reviews. We’re going to revisit the issue here to help people in the Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati areas get all the information they need about a new attorney before hiring him or her.

Go to the Bar Associations

hand-on-keyboard-1241214-639x852We mentioned previously that all Kentucky attorneys are required to be registered with the Kentucky Bar Association, which handles disciplinary matters (such as bar complaints) for Kentucky attorneys. But there are many other organizations for attorneys in this area, and many of those include specials CLEs (continuing legal education) in various practice areas that attorneys can go to. For this reason, you can sometimes feel comfortable with an attorney by knowing he or she takes part in voluntary attorney organizations.

For example, in addition to the Kentucky Bar Association, there is a Northern Kentucky Bar Association and a Cincinnati Bar Association, both of which offer CLEs and host meetings that allow attorneys in the same practice areas to get together and talk about the latest developments in the profession. Both groups also offer attorney referral services that vet an attorneys basic qualifications for each practice area before they make a referral. These are great places to start looking for an attorney!

The local and regional bar associations can tell you something else very important about an attorney as well. If you see an advertisement for an attorney in Covington, but cannot find him or her in the Cincinnati or Northern Kentucky Bar Associations, check further abroad. Is the attorney a member of the Louisville Bar Association instead? If so, you’ve just discovered an out of town attorney masquerading as a local attorney to pick up business. For obvious reasons, you don’t want an attorney that you can’t visit without making a three hour round trip. Pass the out of town attorney up and get someone local, who is familiar with the lay of the land.

Other Attorney Organizations

In addition to the bar associations, there are many other voluntary organizations you may want to call to get the scoop on your new attorney before you retain him or her:

  • Kentucky Justice Association – this statewide group focuses on the art of the jury trial, and its members are often regarded as the best of the personal injury attorneys in the state. Most members work with clients who have been in car wrecks, or who have products liability or medical malpractice cases.
  • Ohio Association for Justice – this is the Ohio version of the Kentucky group, above.
  • National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys – this organization includes many attorneys that file Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy for average debtors.
  • Avvo.com – this is not an attorney organization exactly, but it attempts to rate attorneys by allowing clients and other attorneys to give feedback. Attorneys have a profile, which must be claimed. If an attorney does not claim his or her profile, or has not put any work into developing this profile, it may be an indication that the attorney is too overwhelmed with work. There is also a question and answer area where potential clients can pose questions to attorneys.
  • Justia.org – this website is similar to Avvo.com.

There are many, many more organizations out there. No attorney can be a member of every single one, so don’t visit just one and give up on an attorney because he or she doesn’t have a membership. Look around a bit, and you should find out what you need to know.

Referrals from Attorneys

If you have used an attorney in the past, and were happy with that attorney, go back to him or her! Even if you need a different kind of attorney, chances are that your old attorney will know a new one who can help. Never underestimate the power of a word-of-mouth referral to get the right attorney for you.

If you’ve never used Lawrence & Associates before, we’d be happy to work with you. If you have but need a new kind of attorney, we’d be happy to refer you to someone new. We are working hard for the working class, and we want to work for you. Call today!

Does a Back Injury Qualify You for Social Security Disability Benefits?

Posted on Monday, August 10th, 2015 at 2:40 pm    

A spinal disorder can cause chronic back pain and limited mobility. Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati residents with a spinal disorder may be eligible for disability benefits. Figuring out whether your back pain qualifies you for social security disability requires a multi-step process. The most important step is the determination of whether or not your back pain meets a “listing” as determined by the Social Security Administration.

What Are the Most Common Back and Spine Conditions that Lead to Disability?

backpainIn the Greater Cincinnati area, the most common spine disorder diagnoses that lead to back pain are:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Herniated Discs
  • Osteoporosis
  • Tumor
  • Arachnoiditis
  • Sprain or strain
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Spinal stenosis (narrowing of the canals through which nerve roots travel)
  • Scoliosis (abnormal curvature of the spine)
  • Kyphosis
  • Osteomyelitis (bony growths on the spine)

Northern Kentucky residents with one of these conditions should keep in mind that many of them are the natural process of aging, so there is no need to prove that you were hurt in an accident in order to get disability benefits. Also, bear in mind that the condition causing your pain has to show that the condition and its debilitating symptoms are going to last more than one year. Thus, a lumbar sprain is less likely than a herniated disc to result in disability benefits. Sprains resolve over time, while herniated discs do not. If you have one of these conditions, please call Lawrence & Associates’ Northern Kentucky office or read more from this resource.

How Can an Attorney Help Me Get Disability for Back Pain?

There are three main ways that an attorney can help get disability. The first is by proving that you meet a listing for spine disorders under the Social Security Administration’s regulations. If you do, then you get benefits. Meeting a listing usually is not straightforward, and requires interpretation of both your medical records and the applicable law.
If you do not qualify for a listing, you can still get benefits if your residual functional capacity. Again, this requires a medical, and sometimes an expert, opinion that is best solicited from a doctor or vocational expert and filed by an attorney. It also requires an in-depth knowledge of the rules and regulations promulgated by the Social Security Administration, and it is best to have an experienced attorney research and argue these issues to the Administrative Law Judge.

At Lawrence & Associates, we help Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati residents just like you get disability every day. We are Working Hard for the Working Class, and we can help you. Call us today!

What You Should Do If Your Auto Insurance Carrier Refuses to Pay for Your Medical Treatment With PIP Benefits

Posted on Monday, July 6th, 2015 at 11:11 am    

This post discusses the PIP benefits that are available on all Kentucky automobile insurance policies for people who live in Kentucky at the time they take out insurance.  If you have an Ohio motor vehicle policy or lived in Ohio when you got car insurance, you can check this page of our blog to find out more about Ohio’s no-fault benefit, Med Pay.

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.

How the Supreme Court’s Decision on Marriage Equality Affects Our Clients

Posted on Tuesday, June 30th, 2015 at 4:22 pm    

A few weeks ago, a Lawrence & Associates blog discussed the interplay between marriage and bankruptcy. At the time, Kentucky and Ohio were two of only four states in which courts had upheld bans against same-sex marriage, and we noted that a case before the United States Supreme Court could change the status of same-sex married couples in a bankruptcy:

At this time, same-sex couples are not allowed the right of marriage in either Kentucky or Ohio and therefore do not get the benefit of filing together. They do not get the cheaper filing rates of opposite-sex married couples, although the rules regarding household income are the same. The United States Supreme Court is currently considering this issue, so that rule may change. If so, we’ll update this blog in a different post to reflect that change.

supremecourtLast week, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that same-sex couples have a right to marry under the United States Constitution. This landmark decision, similar to Brown v. Board of Education decades ago, advanced the goal of equality for all American citizens.

What Does this Mean for Bankruptcy Filers?

What this means for you depends on who you are. If you are not in, or about to enter, a same-sex marriage, then this ruling has no effect on your rights whatsoever. However, if you live in the Northern Kentucky or Southern Ohio areas, are in, or about to enter, a same-sex marriage, and are considering filing bankruptcy, then you have gained rights that had been previously denied to you. Insofar as it relates to a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you now have the right to file together, with only one filing fee. (This applies to both attorney fees and court costs.)

You will also be recognized as one household by the bankruptcy court once you have been married. By contrast, couples that are just dating are treated the same as roommates in the same household. Married couples, however, must list their spouse’s income on their bankruptcy, even if the spouse is not filing. This has no effect on the spouse’s credit, but it does affect one’s ability to file for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. A Chapter 7 debtor must be under median income for his or her household size in the state in which he or she lives. Household income includes a spouse’s income regardless of whether the spouse files. Thus, a same-sex couple may be forced to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy where before they could have filed separate Chapter 7s.

What Does this Mean for Those with an Injury?

In Workers’ Compensation, spouses of an injured worker do not have a claim for damages, so nothing will change for Workers’ Comp filers. In Personal Injury claims, however, a spouse historically has a right to damages called loss of consortium. This is the loss of the injured person’s household services, affection, ability to have sex, etc. Same-sex married couples are now going to be afforded the same loss of consortium rights that other married couples have enjoyed for centuries. Loss of consortium is a small factor for small injuries (and in fact can be worthless in many small injury claims), but is a major factor for major injuries, sometimes totaling millions of dollars. The adopted children of same-sex couples also enjoy a version of loss of consortium based upon the loss of a parent’s affection, or vice versa.

In disability claims, married same-sex couples will likely enjoy the same spousal benefits that opposite-sex married couples enjoy.

Find Out How the Supreme Court’s Ruling Affects You Personally Before Filing Bankruptcy

Being recognized as a same-sex couple can have beneficial or negative effects on any court action. At Lawrence & Associates, we give free consultations on all our cases. Please call us to get more information on how the Obergefell v. Hodges case applies to your legal proceeding. We take pride in representing Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati couples. If you are getting married and have questions about bankruptcy, please give us a call today!

Can a Kentucky Doctor Tell the Person That Hurt You About Your Medical Treatment?

Posted on Tuesday, June 16th, 2015 at 12:57 pm    

If you’ve been injured due to someone else’s negligence, such as in a car accident, Kentucky law now gives the person that hurt you the right to contact your doctor about your medical treatment. The question is whether your doctor is required to talk to the person that hurt you, and what your doctor is allowed to tell that person.

In Caldwell v. Castro, the Kentucky Supreme Court just decided that Kentucky law does allow someone else to contact your doctor without you or your attorney present, and without being in a courtroom or without a licensed court reporter present. That person is then allowed to ask the doctor all kinds of questions about your personal medical treatment, both before and after the accident that hurt you, even if that person is the one that hurt you in the first place. Talk about an invasion of your privacy!

doctor-patientHowever, there is always fine print to read and this fine print is very important. The Kentucky Supreme Court said that HIPAA is a factor here. HIPAA is the law that makes all your medical information private. Even though another person is allowed to contact your doctor and ask all kinds of personal questions about you without getting in trouble, that doesn’t mean your doctor is required to answer those questions. On the contrary, both HIPAA and the Kentucky Medical Licensure Board’s code of ethics requires a doctor to keep a patient’s information confidential. Thus, before a doctor can release your medical information to the opposing party in a lawsuit, the doctor must have either a) an authorization signed by you, or b) an order from the Court specifically requiring the doctor to disclose protected medical information.

The Caldwell opinion is probably going to create a problem: people liable for injuries but desperate to get out of their duty to pay for their bad actions are going to call the injured person’s doctors looking for something to give them a get-out-of-jail free card. Doctors need to know that they are not allowed to give this information away freely! Make sure you tell your doctor that you do not feel comfortable with him or her discussing your medical history with someone else, and specifically instruct them not to do so without your permission. That is your right, and it should be protected.

At Lawrence & Associates, we represent Kentucky and Ohio clients in all forms of personal injury claims, from car accidents to product liability claims. We’re Working Hard for the Working Class, and we’d be proud to represent you. Call today!

Lawrence & Associates Help a Guest of a Hotel Who Was Attacked on Their Premises Get Surgery

Posted on Friday, April 10th, 2015 at 4:34 pm    

At the firm of Lawrence & Associates in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky, we fight for the rights of people who have suffered serious injuries and the families of fatal accident victims. We work tirelessly to help our clients get compensation and deal with the medical, financial and emotional effects of serious accidents. We will supply as many details as possible while still respecting our clients need for privacy.

The Situation

While our client was staying at a hotel, he was attacked. The attack severely injured the client’s neck. Hotel employees witnessed the attack, but did not want to get involved. The owner of the hotel denied responsibility for the injury, and refused to pay for the client’s surgery.

What We Did

Lawrence & Associates filed a lawsuit against the hotel to enable our client to get surgery.

The Result

Lawrence & Associates obtained a recovery for our client and he was able to get all the necessary medical treatment he needed.

What is the Statute of Limitations for Car Accident Cases in Northern Kentucky?

Posted on Tuesday, March 17th, 2015 at 4:26 pm    

Gavel and old clockMany people understand the importance of seeking an attorney after they have been involved in a car accident. One of the reasons for this is due to the fact that a licensed attorney will be able to tell a person exactly how much time they have to file or settle their accident related claim. This is known as the Statute of Limitations, and if a claim is not filed within the allowed time frame, then in most situations, it will not be heard by the Kentucky Courts.

2 Years From the Date of the Accident or No-Fault Medical Payment

The Statute of Limitations in Kentucky for car accident cases is two years from the date of the accident, or two years from the date the last no-fault medical payment (or no-fault PIP payment) was paid by your car insurance company. However, the maximum time allowed is four years from the date of the accident, regardless of the date of the last no-fault medical payment.

Statutes of Limitation Vary From State to State

Statute of Limitations can even vary depending on the type of accident a person was in or who the lawsuit is being brought against. In Kentucky, the Statute of Limitations is different for different types of claims. The Statute of Limitations for an auto defects or product liability claims is one year, as opposed to the Statute of Limitations for a contract, which can be up to 15 years (depending upon the type of contract).

When Does the Statue Begin to Run

There can also be a question as to when the statute begins to run. For example, the Statute of Limitations for filing a professional malpractice claim, including medical malpractice, must be commenced within one year of the date of the act or omission giving rise to the claimant’s injury. If the malpractice cannot reasonably be discovered within that time, the lawsuit may be filed at a later time not to exceed five years after the date of the act or omission giving rise to the injury.

If you were in a car accident but are afraid that your Statute of Limitations has already run or is about to expire, contact an attorney Northern Kentucky Personal Injury Attorney. Lawrence & Associates will be able to tell you with certainty whether or not you may still file a claim in Kentucky.

Contact Us at (513) 351-5997 for a Free Consultation

How Much of My Injury Settlement Goes To Pay Case Liens? It Depends on the State and Your Attorney

Posted on Wednesday, March 4th, 2015 at 11:51 am    

Claim LienMost people think that a lawsuit ends when the case is settled or the jury gives its award following a trial. Even many lawyers believe this, and that is how you spot an attorney that doesn’t have any business practicing personal injury law. In truth, a great deal of negotiating with lienholders follows the jury’s verdict or case settlement. In the last twenty years, many laws have been passed that favor insurance companies at the expense of injured American citizens, and some of these laws sharply reduce the net amount of a settlement or judgment. Case liens can come from a great many sources, but the vast majority are related to medical bills in one way or another. The amount of money that has to be paid to these medical lienholders varies by state and by the kind of company asserting the lien. Differing state philosophies is most easily shown by looking at the Greater Cincinnati area.

Greater Cincinnati Case Lien Process

If you get injured in Southern Ohio, you fall under the Ohio state rule. That rule says that you can only recover medical damages in a lawsuit up to the amount that your insurance company actually paid to the medical provider. This is a bad rule, because it requires the injured person to go the trouble of proving liability and recovering the money, but allows a free-riding insurance company to get all the money back. In the meantime, the person or company that was liable gets a break by not having to pay the full amount of the medical bills!

Northern Kentucky Case Lien Process

Kentucky allows you to claim the full amount of your medical bill at trial and, after proving the other party liable and collecting the damages, you only have to pay the insurance company the exact amount they paid toward the bill. The injured person keeps the rest. The Northern Kentucky rule decides that a liable person or company should not get a break on the amount of damages they caused, although it does still allow most insurance companies to free-ride. The Northern Kentucky rule also wisely reasons that any extra money kept by the injured person is justly due, because the injured person paid the premiums to the insurance company in the first place!

The Type of Organization Issuing the Lien Matters

The type of company putting a lien on the case is a big factor is how much the lien can be reduced. Government agencies like Medicare and Medicaid absolutely must be paid back, but they are often willing to negotiate a much lower payback than 100%. On the other hand, health insurance plans created under ERISA (which basically includes every health insurance plan that comes through your or your spouse’s employment) must also be paid back and they are generally unwilling to reduce their lien by more than a token amount. Actual medical providers, such as hospitals and ambulance companies, should be paid out of a lawsuit although it is more of an ethical rather than a legal requirement. (Still, if you don’t pay them they will likely sue you for the payment.) Medical providers do not have the same legal protections that insurance companies do, and they generally charge uninsured patients at an inflated rate compared to what they would charge an insurance company. Therefore, medical providers are generally willing to take a big reduction on their lien to ensure getting paid.

A Good Personal Injury Attorney Will Look at the Whole Picture When Working Toward a Settlement

A good Northern Kentucky Personal Injury Attorney will determine whether your case should be settled or go to trial and should include not only the client but all the lienholders as well. A Personal Injury Lawyer should make everyone agree to reduce their liens by a certain amount based on whatever settlement offer is on the table. That way, you will always know exactly what to expect out of a given settlement, and never get an unpleasant surprise after the settlement negotiations are over. Some Northern Kentucky attorneys don’t give their clients this “whole picture” approach to a settlement, and their clients should justifiably be upset if they find out their settlement netted less money than they expected.

At Lawrence & Associates, we have negotiated thousands of liens and recovered millions of dollars for our clients. We’re Working Hard for the Working Class, and we’d be proud to represent you.

Contact Us (859.371.5997) for a Free Consultation

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