Life Insurance Claim? Three Things You Need to Know.

GUIDE FOR LIFE INSURANCE CLAIMS©
By: Mark Wolfe, Attorney at Law
Boteler Richardson Wolfe – Injury Lawyers*
mark@brwlawyers.com

*The firm handles denied life insurance claims in Alabama, Mississippi and Florida

 

While most of us hope that a life insurance claim arising from the death of a loved one will be a simple and hassle free process, the fact is some life insurance claims are initially denied. These denials can be for many reasons. Some times the reasons for such a denial are legitimate, but many times they are wrong. In fact many insurance industry experts say that up to 40% of life insurance claim denials are done so wrongly. This guide will help you with some basic information about life insurance claims and locating policies. Then it reviews common reasons why life insurance claims are initially denied and concludes with important information for claimants if the claim is denied. Note from the author: If you are reviewing this publication or link during a time of loss, please accept my condolences and sympathy for your loss. I pray that you find comfort and understanding for your loss and that the passage of time will replace the sorrow of your loss with the joy and blessing of the memories of your time shared together. – Mark 

 

I. THE FIRST STEP

Notify the Company of the Claim. While this is a very basic step it can be a little difficult if the policy is older. Mergers and acquisitions of life insurance companies can make locating the correct successor or remainder company a little difficult. However, internet searches can usually help you quickly identify the correct company name and location for claim notification. Also, many life insurance agents or attorneys who handle life insurance claims have this information available or access to the correct resources to help identify where and how the claim should be submitted.

What You Need to Do. Once you’ve contacted the company you must complete the claim form. Many of these claim forms can now be downloaded from the company’s web site. At the very least you will have to submit a copy of the death certificate and the company may require additional records related to the claim. Always reference the claim number or policy number (or both) on all documents or material submitted. Until the claim is paid in full: Keep copies of all correspondence and documents sent to the life insurance company. Keep all letters and material sent from the life insurance company. If a claim is denied, make sure you understand and comply with the requirements for an appeal. (IMPORTANT: Please make sure to read more about appealing a denial below.)

II. LOCATING OTHER LIFE INSURANCE POLICIES

Locating Additional Policies. It’s a fact, many life insurance benefits go unclaimed because beneficiaries do not realize a policy exists. Below are some tips for locating additional life insurance policies.

1. Review the decedent’s check book or bank statements looking for premium payments,

2. Review the decedent’s tax returns for the last several years to see if interest or cash dividends from a life insurance policy were listed. There should be a corresponding 1099-INT from the life insurance company. These payments will be reported directly on form 1040, 1040A and 1040EZ or on Schedule B if an itemized tax return was filed,

3. Contact the decedent’s employer and/or former employers to see if any type of life insurance was offered through the company’s group benefit programs and if the decedent purchased a life insurance policy or was provided a life insurance policy through employment,

4. Review all disability policies for the decedent to see if death benefits are also provided,

5. Review any known life insurance policy to see if additional benefits such as double indemnity for accidental death may apply,

6. Check with the decedent’s auto insurance company or homeowner insurance company. Many of these companies will also offer life insurance policies for their customers,

7. Check with the decedent’s bank or financial institutions to see if life insurance benefits or policies were offered in connection with a checking or savings account or in connection with a brokerage account.

III. DENIAL OF LIFE BENEFITS AND APPEALS

Many times if a basic life insurance claim is denied, it is done so based upon a process known as “retroactive underwriting.” This usually occurs if the insured dies while the policy is the “contestability” period (usually 2 years from date of issue). This is a claim investigation technique that allows the insurance company to more fully and completely examine the deceased’s prior medical history. These prior medical records are reviewed thoroughly to see if the deceased left out or failed to disclose a pre-existing medical condition when completing the life insurance application. This “failure to disclose” is then used as grounds to deny the life insurance benefits. However, most claimants are not aware that such a denial must have materially affected the underwriting risk associated with issuing the policy. Simply put, the company must be able to legitimately argue that “but for” the undisclosed prior medical condition, the policy would not have been issued or the rates for the policy would have been significantly different. The issue of “material risk” is a complex issue that is often legally debatable.

Accidental death or double indemnity benefits. Some companies issue stand alone accidental death life insurance policies or some standard life insurance policies have a “double indemnity clause” which pays twice the face value of the policy if the death is caused by an accident. Yet the policy language concerning the term “accidental death” is often drafted so vaguely that it gives the company lots of “wiggle” room to initially deny accidental death benefits. Terms like “sole and only proximate cause of death” often involve complex medical and legal analysis but give the company a very legalistic sounding reason not to pay.

BEFORE YOU FILE AN APPEAL OF A DENIAL OF LIFE INSURANCE BENEFITS. If you have questions about the denial of any life insurance benefits, make sure you fully understand your rights and obligations under the policy. Most life insurance policies allow claimants to file an appeal of the decision to deny benefits. Yet many times claimants are unaware of the potential consequences of simply “appealing” the denial without knowing the exact appeal protocol set forth in the policy. Generally, once a company has denied the life insurance claim, the claimant has the burden of identifying specific reasons for the appeal and providing supporting documents or records to support the appeal. If the life insurance policy in question has been provided through the decedent’s employment or through a group plan, the failure to comply with the appeal requirements can be extremely detrimental. In one recent example a Federal Court determined that the claimant’s failure to submit any “new evidence” during the appeal process provided for in the plan, precluded the claimant from presenting that new evidence at trial. [See Hancock v. MetLife, 590 F.3d 1141 (10th Circuit 2009).]

NOTE: If the claim is denied consider consulting immediately with an experienced life insurance claims attorney in your State. Note: Most attorneys who handle life insurance claims for beneficiaries do not charge for a consultation and work on a contingency fee (no benefits = no fees). Also, many times an experienced attorney can help resolve a denied claim before having to resort to filing a lawsuit.

IV. CONCLUSION

While life insurance claims should be simple and easy, they can often times become arduous and legally complex. The simple fact is insurance companies do not like to pay claims and have tremendous resources to fight claims. With many claimants of life insurance benefits in a state of grief and mourning, the insurance company knows it has the upper hand and this often results in the wrongful denial of life insurance benefits. If you believe your claim for life insurance benefits has been wrongfully denied, please consider consulting with an experienced attorney who knows and understands this area of the law.  AT BOTELER RICHARDSON WOLFE* CONSULTATIONS ARE FREE.  Call 251 410-7761 to speak directly with Mark Wolfe or send him an email: mark@brwlawyers.com (include “Life Insurance” in the subject line.)  * Prosecuting denied life insurance claims in Alabama, Mississippi & Florida

 

REQUIRED DISCLAIMERS: Alabama Rule of Professional Conduct 7.2: No representation is made that the quality of legal service to be performed is greater than the services provided by other lawyers. The Mississippi Supreme Court advises that a decision on legal services is important and should not be based solely on advertisements. Free background information is available upon request to a Mississippi attorney. The listing of any area of practice by a Mississippi attorney does not indicate any certification of expertise therein. See Mississippi Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 7.2(d), Rule 7.4(a), Rule 7.6(a) (1997). Statement in compliance with Florida Bar Advertising Rules: “The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements. Before you decide, ask us to send you free written information about our qualifications and experience. [Florida Rule 4-7.2(d)]. General Disclaimer: This information is posted for general information purposes to help those interested parties or persons with potential civil claims better understand their rights and potential causes of action. If readers are currently represented by an attorney on the subject matter of this post then they are encouraged to continue with said representation. No attorney-client relationship is established by this post.

 

Car Crash Insurance Claim Questions? We have the answers.

Car Crash Insurance Claim Questions? We have the answers.

The Guide for Auto-Crash Insurance Claims – Ala edition is a comprehensive 16 page booklet that provides car crash victims all the information they need to know about their auto-crash insurance claims. This consumer booklet was written by an attorney with over 30 years of experience in presenting and prosecuting auto-crash insurance claims. This free guide covers the following areas:

– What to do at the accident scene,
– The two types of auto-crash insurance claims and how the claim process works,
– The various insurance coverages that may be available,
– Property damage claims,
– Personal Injury and Wrongful Death claims,
– How insurance companies use computer programs to help evaluate claims (and what you need to know about these programs!),
– Information about consulting with and/or hiring a lawyer for your claim, AND
– What you need to know about giving a recorded statement to the insurance company.

This guide was written by Mark Wolfe of Boteler Richardson Wolfe – Injury Lawyers and has been distributed to over 5,000 people. When asked about the purpose of the guide Wolfe said, “the main purpose is to educate consumers about the auto-crash insurance claim process because it’s not as simple as people may think.” He also said, “over the years I have seen too many claims that were compromised because the claimant was trying to handle the claim without an attorney AND without knowing how the process worked or knowing their rights.”

When asked about the public’s biggest misconceptions about the auto-crash insurance claim process he said, “There are really three main misconceptions or misunderstandings. First, most people don’t realize the process is adversarial. This means the insurance company has no duty or obligation to help you present your claim. Second, most people do not know or understand the various insurance coverages that may be available to them and how to effectively utilize those coverages, and finally, many claimants do not know that they have the burden of proving every aspect of their claim pursuant to the applicable legal standards.” Wolfe says these problems can often result in the denial or underpayment of a claim and that’s the main reasons he wrote the guide.

“Not every car crash insurance claim requires the hiring of an attorney, but if you’re not going to get a free consultation with an attorney after your crash, you should at least know your rights,” said Wolfe.

The publication can be downloaded for free from the BRW web site: brwlawyers.com or a hard copy can be ordered by calling their office at 251 433-7766 or emailing Mark directly at mark@brwlawyers.com or send him a text at 251 533-9548.   CONSULTATIONS ARE FREE

 

REQUIRED DISCLAIMERS: Alabama Rule of Professional Conduct 7.2: No representation is made that the quality of legal service to be performed is greater than the services provided by other lawyers. The Mississippi Supreme Court advises that a decision on legal services is important and should not be based solely on advertisements. Free background information is available upon request to a Mississippi attorney. The listing of any area of practice by a Mississippi attorney does not indicate any certification of expertise therein. See Mississippi Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 7.2(d), Rule 7.4(a), Rule 7.6(a) (1997). Statement in compliance with Florida Bar Advertising Rules: “The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements. Before you decide, ask us to send you free written information about our qualifications and experience. [Florida Rule 4-7.2(d)]. General Disclaimer: This information is posted for general information purposes to help those interested parties or persons with potential civil claims better understand their rights and potential causes of action. If readers are currently represented by an attorney on the subject matter of this post then they are encouraged to continue with said representation. No attorney-client relationship is established by this post.

The insurance adjuster wants to take a recorded statement from me. What do I need to know?

5 Things you Need to Know BEFORE Giving a Recorded Statement to the Insurance Company.

by Mark Wolfe

NUMBER ONE: Set up the recorded statement for a time and date that is convenient for your schedule and get a transcript or copy of your statement. As you will see below you will need to do some basic preparation before your give your recorded statement so make sure you schedule the statement in advance so you can prepare. Also, make sure you have enough time for the statement so you are not rushed or hurried. Most recorded statements do no last more than fifteen to thirty minutes, but you may want to allow up to an hour just in case it runs longer. Ask if you will be given a chance to review the statement or at least be given a transcript or copy of the statement. [Most legitimate insurance companies will provide a copy but you must ask for it.] If the adjuster wants to know why you want a copy you can explain it is simply to make sure the transcript is accurate and that you would like to have a chance to correct any misstatements, inaccurate responses or mistakes you may have made. If the company agrees to give you a transcript or copy, verify this in a written communication. Some companies such as Omni Insurance Company now require the claimant to pay $15.00 for a transcript of the recorded statement. Even if you have to pay for the copy or transcript, it’s worth it to make sure it is correct.

NUMBER TWO: Prepare for the recorded statement: 1) Review the accident report before giving the statement. If you do not have the accident report, get a copy or ask the adjuster to furnish you with a copy before scheduling the statement. [Again, most legitimate insurance companies will mail, fax or e-mail you a copy of the accident report but just as with getting a transcript of your statement, you have to ask for it.] 2) Make sure you know your direction of travel and the name of the road you were on. You will also need to be able to identify the direction of travel for the other driver and what road he or she was on. 3) Make sure you know the time of the collision. 4) Review in your mind your route of travel and be able to tell the adjuster where you were going and the purpose of your trip. 5) Know the names of all passengers and if possible their contact information, especially if you believe they can help validate your account of how the collision occurred. 6) You will need to know the weather conditions and if safety belts and/or child restraints were being used by you and your passengers. 7) You will need to be prepared to describe the property damage to your vehicle and the other involved vehicles as well as describe the post-collision position of the vehicles. 8) You will need to have the contact information for any witnesses known to you. 9) You will probably be asked for information about your employment such as how long you have been employed, the type of work you do and your job’s physical requirements, your pay rate and the name and telephone number of your immediate supervisor. NOTE: If you are making a lost wage claim or loss of revenue claim, you can anticipate a more detailed inquiry into these areas. 10) If you were injured, even slightly, you need to be prepared to describe your injuries with specificity and in detail. Your description of your injuries should always be honest and never exaggerated but you need to make sure all injuries are mentioned. Bruises and small contusions from seat belts are often forgotten or not mentioned as are small cuts or abrasions. If you have received medical attention, or are still receiving medical care for injuries from the collision, be sure you have the healthcare providers name, address and telephone number available and be prepared to tell the adjuster about the number of visits and what you have been told about your injuries. Also, if you were injured in the collision and making a bodily injury claim for medical bills and related damages, be prepared to answer questions about your past medical history, i.e., other similar injuries, other prior accidents or incidents, etc.

NUMBER THREE: What to do when giving the statement: 1) Relax and try not to be nervous. 2) Be polite and use yes or no instead on unghn-hughn or ungh-ungh’s. The later responses can be very difficult to discern and transcribe and are easily transcribed incorrectly. Also, remember this may be your only chance to interact directly with the insurance company. For the remainder of the claim process, you are primarily just another claim number to the insurance company. You want to make a good impression. See Claimant Profiling information in Suggestion Five. 3) Answer the question. Many times people go into a long narrative in response to a simple question. Try to be concise and accurate in your response. 4) Confirm on the record that you will be getting a transcript or copy of the statement. Many companies will now send you a digital sound document of your statement by e-mail. 5) If you were injured in the collision and anticipate making a bodily injury claim, ask the adjuster on the record and at the end of the statement if he or she has a preferred healthcare provider or doctor you need to go see to verify or validate your injury. Most of the time at the end of the statement the adjuster will give you an opportunity to say or add anything to the statement and this is the perfect time to ask the adjuster about a preferred healthcare provider. WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT. Most companies do not have preferred healthcare providers for you to see and most will not ask you to see a doctor of their choice to validate the claim, but by offering to do so, you are telling the adjuster early on that your injury claim is legitimate and meritorious because you are willing to allow them to “independently verify” the truthfulness of your injury claim. Obviously in catastrophic injury situations or broken bone claims, this offer is not as important, but if you have a soft-tissue injury such an offer can help establish in the adjuster’s mind that your claim is legitimate and you are not trying to present a fraudulent or exaggerated claim.
NUMBER FOUR: What not to do when giving the recorded statement: 1) Do not exaggerate or overstate any aspect of the collision or your injuries. Be honest and candid in your account of the collision and your injuries. 2) Do not speculate. If you do not know an answer it is OK to say you do not know; however, try to give an estimate if at all possible. NOTE: Excessive use of “I don’t know” is often considered by adjusters as being deceitful or not completely honest or candid. 3) Do not give out personal information such as your date of birth and your social security number during the statement. You can confirm the last four digits of your social security number but in this day and age of identity theft it’s better not put your personal information into a statement that will be transcribed by someone you do not know. Understand the adjuster will need this information to process your claim. We are not advocating that you not provide said information, we just do not believe the recorded statement is the appropriate place to disclose said information. Often times this information can be confirmed with the adjuster after the statement is over and the recorder turned off. 4) Do not agree with any commentary or suppositions asserted by the adjuster about your actions or details of the collision. In other words, do not let the adjuster “put words in your mouth.” NOTE: Most legitimate insurance companies do not allow adjusters to do this, but some companies encourage, or do not strongly discourage, this type of gamesmanship by their adjusters. Some examples: “So you’re saying you’re really not hurt that bad and aren’t going to need medical care.” – “OK, if I understand what you’ve said, you’re not really really 100% certain the accident was our insured’s fault.” – “Based on what you’ve told me so far, wouldn’t you agree that you could have avoided this collision if you would’ve swerved just a split second sooner?” – “So based upon what you’ve told me about your work requirements, wouldn’t you agree you could probably be working even though your doctor told you to stay off work for two to three weeks.” If you find yourself confronted with this situation, you can simply tell the adjuster you are not going to agree or disagree with any of his or her characterizations. Also, if you do not believe the adjuster is being fair to you because of these type of forced questions, stop the statement. Giving a recorded statement is a courtesy and if the adjuster is going to abuse that courtesy then you have a right to stop or cancel the statement. NOTE: If you stop or cancel the recorded statement for whatever reason, send a written communication to the adjuster documenting why you felt it necessary to cancel or adjourn the statement. If you do not believe the adjuster was being fair or if he or she was rude and/or ugly, describe the adjuster’s behavior in detail.

NUMBER FIVE: A few last things to consider. 1) While the adjuster’s main job in a recorded statement is to gather information related to the claim, he or she will also be gleaning notes for your “Claimant Profile.” Most major insurance companies now use some sort of “claimant profile” in the claims process. A claimant profile can be very detailed and complex or it can be something very simple but the main idea is to bring into the claims process some sort of general assessment about the personality and background of the claimant. We live in the information age and information is power. The more information about you an insurance company can gather the more accurate their profile of you will be. This profiling can be very complex and include personality traits, such as “likelihood to consult an attorney,” “easily discouraged,” “financially distressed, “ ”very anxious and impatient for claim resolution,”etc. The company will have also reviewed your past insurance claims history and may bring that into your claimant profile: “Past bodily injury litigant.” Your driving history will also be pulled in to your claimant profile. How you handle yourself during the recorded statement may also find it’s way into your claimant profile: “Claimant was polite and well spoken during statement. High credibility assigned.” So remember to be polite and courteous during the recorded statement. 2) Try to be understanding of the adjusters job and position. While most adjusters handle themselves in a professional and civil manner please remember because of continued cut-backs by insurance companies, most adjusters are overworked, underpaid and mostly unappreciated by their company. Sometimes the stress of their job is reflected in the way they communicate with claimants. So even if the adjuster is having a bad day, try not to react in-kind. Stay calm and polite. Finally, 3) if the insurance company sends you a transcript or digital recording of your statement, take time to review it as soon as possible. Send a written communication to the adjuster with any corrections. Also, if you think one of your responses may need further explanation or more details, make the additions in the written communication.

If you would like a free consultation with Mark (or any of our attorneys) about your insurance claim, please email him at mark@brwlawyers.com or send a text to 251 533-9548 (cell). You can also call Mark directly at 251 410-7761.

REQUIRED DISCLAIMERS: Alabama Rule of Professional Conduct 7.2: No representation is made that the quality of legal service to be performed is greater than the services provided by other lawyers. The Mississippi Supreme Court advises that a decision on legal services is important and should not be based solely on advertisements. Free background information is available upon request to a Mississippi attorney. The listing of any area of practice by a Mississippi attorney does not indicate any certification of expertise therein. See Mississippi Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 7.2(d), Rule 7.4(a), Rule 7.6(a) (1997). Statement in compliance with Florida Bar Advertising Rules: “The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements. Before you decide, ask us to send you free written information about our qualifications and experience. [Florida Rule 4-7.2(d)]. General Disclaimer: This information is posted for general information purposes to help those interested parties or persons with potential civil claims better understand their rights and potential causes of action. If readers are currently represented by an attorney on the subject matter of this post then they are encouraged to continue with said representation. No attorney-client relationship is established by this post.

Hurt on the job? Ten things you need to know about Alabama workers compensation laws.

INJURED WORKER’S RIGHTS IN ALABAMA

by Mark Wolfe – Attorney at Law

Boteler Richardson Wolfe – Injury Attorneys

1. You can not be terminated by your employer solely because you make a claim for worker’s compensation benefits.

2. You have a right to receive wage compensation benefits within 30 days after the benefits are determined to be due.

3. You have a right to have all undisputed medical bills paid by your employer, and/or its insurance carrier, within 25 days of submission.

4. Depending on the nature and extent of your injury, you have the right to vocational retraining or vocational rehabilitation if necessary.

5. You have a right to a second medical opinion at the employer’s expense. Upon request, the employer, or its worker’s compensation insurance carrier, must provide you with the names of four other doctors for you to choose from for your second medical opinion.

6. You have a right to have any settlement for wage or medical benefits approved by Court. In most instances, court approval is required.

7. You have a right to free assistance on your worker’s compensation claim from the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations via the Omsbudman Program: 1 800 528-5166.

8. You have the right to prosecute your worker’s compensation claim in Court.

9. You have a right to hire your own attorney to assist you in the presentation and/or prosecution of your claim based upon a limited contingency fee. The contingency fees in worker’s compensation claims is limited to 15% plus expenses and is only paid if wage benefits are recovered.

10. You have a right to bring a liability claim or case against a third party responsible for causing your on the job injury. Third party meaning someone other than your employer and/or a co- worker who may have caused your work related injury.

Download our free guide to Alabama workers compensation claims: https://brwlawyers.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/BFW-Workers-Comp-Guide_rev4.pdf

If you would like a free consultation with Mark (or any of our attorneys) about your workers compensation claim, please email him at mark@brwlawyers.com or send a text to 251 533-9548 (cell). You can also call Mark directly at 251 410-7761.

REQUIRED DISCLAIMERS: Alabama Rule of Professional Conduct 7.2: No representation is made that the quality of legal service to be performed is greater than the services provided by other lawyers. The Mississippi Supreme Court advises that a decision on legal services is important and should not be based solely on advertisements. Free background information is available upon request to a Mississippi attorney. The listing of any area of practice by a Mississippi attorney does not indicate any certification of expertise therein. See Mississippi Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 7.2(d), Rule 7.4(a), Rule 7.6(a) (1997). Statement in compliance with Florida Bar Advertising Rules: “The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements. Before you decide, ask us to send you free written information about our qualifications and experience. [Florida Rule 4-7.2(d)]. General Disclaimer: This information is posted for general information purposes to help those interested parties or persons with potential civil claims better understand their rights and potential causes of action. If readers are currently represented by an attorney on the subject matter of this post then they are encouraged to continue with said representation. No attorney-client relationship is established by this post.

Be a Safe Driver This Holiday Weekend!

SAFE DRIVING REMINDER
by Attorney Mark Wolfe

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association there are over 6 million vehicle crashes per year in the United States. Those crashes will result in 3 million injuries and almost 37,000 deaths. Driving is dangerous. The highways are even more dangerous during holidays.

The Memorial Day weekend is considered one of the most dangerous for vehicle crashes. That’s because so many people are on the road traveling for the long holiday weekend. According to AAA more than 41.5 million Americans took to the roads over Memorial Day weekend in 2018. If you are going to be traveling this holiday weekend commit to being a safer driver before you start your journey. No texting and driving, limit distractions while driving, use your turn signals and cooperate with other drivers AND no driving under the influence! Be safe!

Here’s a quick reminder from our Guide for Auto-Crash Insurance Claims on what to do at the accident scene if you are involved in a crash.

WHAT TO DO AT THE ACCIDENT SCENE
Having a motor vehicle crash is never a planned event. Accident scenes can be chaotic with high levels of anxiety and worry. Yet being prepared and knowing what to do at the scene can make a big difference in how easy or difficult your insurance claim will be. Here are some important tips and reminders:

Stay calm. Getting upset only makes a bad situation more difficult. Maintain your composure even if the other person doesn’t.

Check for injuries and call the police. Even if the accident is minor call the police. Notify them of injuries so that they can call for medical assistance.

Don’t move an injured person – unless they are in immediate danger.

Don’t leave the scene of an accident. Even if the other driver says its okay. They could later file for injuries or you could be accused of a hit and run. Wait for the police to arrive and let them tell you when you can leave.

Try to protect the scene of the accident. Don’t move your vehicle unless it impedes traffic or it’s necessary to prevent further damage. (Have a kit with emergency cones, triangles or flares.)

Don’t blame the accident on anyone — including yourself. Even if you might be at fault, don’t say so to anyone. Give your full description of the accident only to the police officer.

Exchange information with the other driver. This includes:
-the license plate number, make, model & color of other vehicles
-names & addresses of all drivers/passengers
-drivers license numbers (note if driver is different from vehicle owner.)
-insurance company information.
-name and address of witnesses.

Use your smart phone. Capture the following if possible:
– take photos of the scene including any skid marks or gouge marks
– take photos of the damaged vehicles including, if possible, any interior damage
– take a video or audio statement from witnesses, get their contact information
– take photographs or video of any related traffic lights to document their function

Ask the officer how you can get a copy of the police report. Get the accident report as soon as possible and review it for accuracy

If you would like a free consultation with any of our BRW lawyers about your potential insurance claim call our office 251 433-7766 or send an email us at mark@brwlawyers.com or send a text to 251 533-9548 (cell). You can also call Mark Wolfe  directly at 251 410-7761.

REQUIRED DISCLAIMERS: Alabama Rule of Professional Conduct 7.2: No representation is made that the quality of legal service to be performed is greater than the services provided by other lawyers. The Mississippi Supreme Court advises that a decision on legal services is important and should not be based solely on advertisements. Free background information is available upon request to a Mississippi attorney. The listing of any area of practice by a Mississippi attorney does not indicate any certification of expertise therein. See Mississippi Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 7.2(d), Rule 7.4(a), Rule 7.6(a) (1997). Statement in compliance with Florida Bar Advertising Rules: “The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements. Before you decide, ask us to send you free written information about our qualifications and experience. [Florida Rule 4-7.2(d)]. General Disclaimer: This information is posted for general information purposes to help those interested parties or persons with potential civil claims better understand their rights and potential causes of action. If readers are currently represented by an attorney on the subject matter of this post then they are encouraged to continue with said representation. No attorney-client relationship is established by this post.

When Should I Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?

When Should I Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?
by Mark Wolfe , Personal Injury Attorney

When Should I Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer? This is probably the most common question personal injury victims ask when they’ve been hurt by someone else. To really provide a meaningful answer, there are two things you should keep in mind. First, the more serious the injury the more benefit you will get from hiring the right personal injury attorney for your claim or case and second, there’s a difference between talking or consulting with a lawyer and hiring a lawyer. We’ll review these two topics in reverse order.

Many victims of a personal injury are reluctant or hesitant about hiring a personal injury lawyer right after their injury. Some victims think they can handle the claim themselves without having to share a portion of the recovery with a lawyer. Some victims believe hiring a lawyer will make them appear greedy or opportunistic. While these are valid concerns, personal injury victims need to understand the difference between “hiring” a lawyer and simply “consulting” with a lawyer. Not every victim of a personal injury will need or benefit from hiring a personal injury lawyer; HOWEVER, every personal injury victims should at least know their rights and have some basic legal information about their claim. The sooner a personal injury victim has that information, the better informed he or she will be about all the critical decisions related to the insurance claim. Almost every personal injury attorney in America offers “free consultations.” Many personal injury lawyers even offer free downloadable guides for automobile accident injury claims or on the job injury claims. If you’ve been the victim of someone else’s carelessness or recklessness, you should consult with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Most legitimate personal injury lawyers will also explain whether or not you’ll need to hire a personal injury lawyer for your claim and the benefit of hiring the right personal injury attorney for your claim.

As stated above, the more serious the injury the more you will benefit from hiring the right personal injury lawyer. But why? The simple truth is insurance claims are complex. Even non-catastrophic injury claims are subject to the insurance company’s rigorous claims processing and analysis protocol. The insurance company’s goal on EVERY claim is to pay as little as possible. The insurance industry is a profit driven industry and not a charity. The complex procedures they use in analyzing and evaluating a personal injury claim are designed for the simple purpose of paying as little as they can on a claim and making sure all claims are paid at an equally low rate. It’s not the insurance company’s job to help you get the maximum benefits that are owed to you! Also, almost all personal injury claims involve a secondary claim for repayment from the victim’s proceeds. Hospital liens, Medicare/medicaid lines and health insurance subrogation claims all can impact a personal injury victim’s financial recovery from a claim. A qualified and experienced personal injury lawyer can help make sure all appropriate value drivers for your claim are identified and presented to the insurance company and he or she can favorably resolve any secondary issues related to your claim. Even in smaller personal injury claims, an experienced and qualified personal injury attorney can significantly and legitimately increase the benefits you recover.

When you consult with an experienced and qualified personal injury attorney he or she will be able to give you a meaningful opinion, based upon the factors discussed above, as to when it would be beneficial for you to hire a personal injury lawyer to present and prosecute your claim with the insurance company.

If you would like a free consultation with Mark about your potential insurance claim, please email him at mark@brwlawyers.com or send a text to 251 533-9548 (cell). You can also call Mark directly at 251 410-7761.

REQUIRED DISCLAIMERS: Alabama Rule of Professional Conduct 7.2: No representation is made that the quality of legal service to be performed is greater than the services provided by other lawyers. The Mississippi Supreme Court advises that a decision on legal services is important and should not be based solely on advertisements. Free background information is available upon request to a Mississippi attorney. The listing of any area of practice by a Mississippi attorney does not indicate any certification of expertise therein. See Mississippi Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 7.2(d), Rule 7.4(a), Rule 7.6(a) (1997). Statement in compliance with Florida Bar Advertising Rules: “The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements. Before you decide, ask us to send you free written information about our qualifications and experience. [Florida Rule 4-7.2(d)]. General Disclaimer: This information is posted for general information purposes to help those interested parties or persons with potential civil claims better understand their rights and potential causes of action. If readers are currently represented by an attorney on the subject matter of this post then they are encouraged to continue with said representation. No attorney-client relationship is established by this post.

What is Business Interruption Insurance? Does it Apply to the Covid 19 Shutdowns?

Mark Wolfe, Attorney at Law
mark@brwlawyers.com

Business Interruption Insurance or also known as Business Income Insurance is an added coverage found in a business property insurance policy or as part of a comprehensive business operations policy.  Business interruption insurance can compensate businesses for lost revenue, rent and lease payments, mortgage payments, other loan payments and taxes. Employee payroll may be covered, along with costs of having to relocate temporarily or permanently to new premises.

The key is that this coverage is derivative from a covered loss under the insurance policy and it is an “add-on” coverage that is paid for in the premium package. It is generally not a stand alone coverage. The business must suffer a covered peril that results in an interruption to normal operations so as to trigger this coverage, if it is part of the policy.

A similar example of a derivative coverage that can be “added on”can be found in your automobile policy. As part of the collision coverage or comprehensive coverage you may have added “rental car insurance” for an additional premium cost. If your car is damaged in an accident (collision coverage) or burns up in a fire (comprehensive coverage), your rental car insurance will pay for a rental car until the property loss is adjusted and paid.  If your car becomes un-driveable for some other reason not covered under the auto-insurance policy you can not use your car rental coverage.

This is also the way business interruption insurance works. If it has been added-on to the policy, the loss must be derived from a covered loss. Herein is the problem for many business owners suffering under the Covid 19 business shut down, the loss is most likely not from a covered peril. In fact, some business insurance policies have specific exclusions for damages related to or caused by a communicable diseases or pandemic.

However, if you are not sure whether or not you have this type of coverage or even if you don’t think you have a viable claim, you may want to consult with an experienced insurance claim lawyer. Business insurance policies are complex and they vary greatly from business to business. They can often be vague or ambiguous in definitions of covered losses and benefits. These uncertainties under a policy may work to the claimants advantage so as to allow a business interruption claim.

If you would like a free consultation with Mark about your potential insurance claim, please email him at mark@brwlawyers.com or send a text to 251 533-9548 (cell). You can also call Mark directly at 251 410-7761.

REQUIRED DISCLAIMERS: Alabama Rule of Professional Conduct 7.2: No representation is made that the quality of legal service to be performed is greater than the services provided by other lawyers. The Mississippi Supreme Court advises that a decision on legal services is important and should not be based solely on advertisements. Free background information is available upon request to a Mississippi attorney. The listing of any area of practice by a Mississippi attorney does not indicate any certification of expertise therein. See Mississippi Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 7.2(d), Rule 7.4(a), Rule 7.6(a) (1997). Statement in compliance with Florida Bar Advertising Rules: “The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements. Before you decide, ask us to send you free written information about our qualifications and experience. [Florida Rule 4-7.2(d)]. General Disclaimer: This information is posted for general information purposes to help those interested parties or persons with potential civil claims better understand their rights and potential causes of action. If readers are currently represented by an attorney on the subject matter of this post then they are encouraged to continue with said representation. No attorney-client relationship is established by this post.

LawChat247.com

Boteler Richardson Wolfe – Injury Lawyers are sponsors for LawChat247.com. The web site allows people to submit legal questions and get a response from an attorney in 24 hours. It’s free and 100% confidential. Then every Tuesday night at 7:00 on FM Talk 106.5 , BRW attorney Mark Wolfe and co-host Marian Boteler will review and discuss some of the most interesting questions and topics received through the web site. Lawchat247.com You can listen live each Tuesday night through the FM Talk 106.5 web site.

 

 

Zantac Cancer Claim Information

ZANTAC CANCER CLAIM INFORMATION.

On September 13, 2019 the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) issued a public warning concerning Zantac and other similar ranitidine medicines (generics). The FDA reports that some ranitidine medicines, including some products commonly known as the brand-name drug Zantac®, contain a nitrosamine impurity called nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA).

NDMA (the contaminant identified in Zantac) is classified as a probable human carcinogen which means that it is more likely than not to cause cancer in humans. Recent studies have raised the specter of an association between NDMA and liver toxicity which can lead to the development of liver cancer and other related conditions brought about by an NDMA-induced “insult” to the liver.

Cancers that are linked to NDMA exposure include: Liver Cancer, Colorectal Cancer, Intestinal Cancer, Colon Cancer, Stomach Cancer and Kidney Cancer (Renal Cancer). Other possibly related cancers include: Lung Cancer, Pancreatic Cancer, Ovarian Cancer, Testicular Cancer and Esophageal Cancer. 

BRW Injury Lawyers are investigating these claims. If you or a loved one developed any of the above cancers after using Zantac (or other ranitidine medication) for a few months, you may have a claim. For more information call BRW Injury Lawyers at 251 433-7766 or email BRW: web_inquiry@brwlawyers.com    Please share this important information.

ZANTAC is a registered trademark of Warner-Lambert Company, used under license. In the United States, 75- and 150-mg tablets are available OTC. Zantac OTC is manufactured by Sanofi Consumer Healthcare.

REQUIRED DISCLAIMERS: Alabama Rule of Professional Conduct 7.2: No representation is made that the quality of legal service to be performed is greater than the services provided by other lawyers. The Mississippi Supreme Court advises that a decision on legal services is important and should not be based solely on advertisements. Free background information is available upon request to a Mississippi attorney. The listing of any area of practice by a Mississippi attorney does not indicate any certification of expertise therein. See Mississippi Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 7.2(d), Rule 7.4(a), Rule 7.6(a) (1997). Statement in compliance with Florida Bar Advertising Rules: “The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements. Before you decide, ask us to send you free written information about our qualifications and experience. [Florida Rule 4-7.2(d)]. General Disclaimer: This information is posted for general information purposes to help those interested parties or persons with potential civil claims better understand their rights and potential causes of action. If readers are currently represented by an attorney on the subject matter of this post then they are encouraged to continue with said representation. No attorney-client relationship is established by this post.

Reasons Life Insurance Claims Are Denied & What to do Next.

There are several reasons why life insurance claims can be denied. Knowing those reasons and how to appeal or challenge a denial of benefits can be critical for families in their time of need. The following information from Life Insurance Claims Specialist and may be helpful to you or a family member. Mark’s Number One Rule: Do Not Try to Handle the Denial of Benefits on Your Own! (See the last section of this article for important information.) For a free consultation please email your life insurance benefit questions to Mark Wolfe at mark@bfw-lawyers.com. Please put Life Insurance Question in the subject line. Or call him at 251 410-7761.

_____________________

I have been helping families and clients for many years with legal issues related to life insurance benefits. Most specifically with contesting or challenging the denial of life insurance benefits. Some times a lawsuit is required to secure benefits and some times the benefits can be recovered through a pre-litigation request for reconsideration. If you’ve been the victim of denied life insurance benefits, I think the most important thing is for you to fully understand why the benefits were denied and how you may contest or challenge the denial of benefits. What follows are the most common reasons life insurance benefits are denied with some general legal information about the basis for the denial.

1. DEATH OCCURS DURING THE CONTESTABILITY PERIOD.

Most life insurance policies have a contestability period. This is a period of time, usually two years, after the policy has been issued where the insurance company can take a look back at the application and conduct an investigation to make sure all “relevant and material information” was disclosed on the application. This is sometimes called “retroactive underwriting” and is most likely to apply to policies with no formal medical examination before the policy is issued.  An example of this type of denial would be if the applicant says his or her weight is 300 lbs but then the insurance company finds medical records right before the application was submitted showing the applicant’s weight to have been 325 lbs. If this weight is higher than the underwriting guidelines for the policy, then the company may deny the claim and refund the premiums claiming had they known of the higher weight, they would not have issued the policy. Even a minor undisclosed medical condition on the application such as high blood pressure can be deemed a material misrepresentation and be grounds for denial. In general, the undisclosed information does not have to be a contributing factor to the death to support a denial of benefits and it does not have to have been an intentional misrepresentation. Simply forgetting to disclose material information or even an inadvertent mistake can be enough to support the denial of benefits.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: Insurance rules and regulations vary greatly from State to State and some life insurance policies are even governed or controlled by Federal law. The legal definition as to what is or is not “relevant and material information” on an application can be different from State to State. Before accepting the denial of benefits and cashing the premium refund check, consider consulting with a Life Insurance Claims Specialist or an experienced Attorney to have the denial of benefits reviewed. Also, even if you have cashed he premium refund check, some State laws will still allow you to contest the denial of benefits.

2. DECEIT OR FRAUD.

This covers a number of different situations and may extend past the contestability period. This basis for denial covers more than an inadvertent mistake on the application such as mistakenly putting the wrong weight. It would apply to situations were the intent of the applicant was intentionally misleading or deceitful. For example a person is diagnosed with terminal cancer and then buys a life insurance policy and intentionally and knowingly does not disclose the cancer diagnosis.  Even if the death occurs outside the contestability period, the insurance company may deny the benefits claiming the policy was secured by the fraudulent suppression of material information. This can also apply to beneficiaries if they secure a policy for a loved one under fraudulent or unscrupulous circumstances.

3. THE CAUSE OF DEATH IS EXCLUDED OR
NOT COVERED UNDER THE POLICY.

Most life insurance policies exclude coverage for suicide. However, some policies only exclude suicide during the contestability period. Some life insurance policies exclude benefits if the death occurs “related to or while engaged in a dangerous activity” such as scuba diving or sky diving. Accidental Death (AD) benefit policies often exclude coverage if the accidental death is contributed to by any number of conditions or even pre-existing conditions.  A very common exclusion under AD policies or clauses is if the decedent was intoxicated at the time of death.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: Exclusion clauses in life insurance policies can be legally and/or medically difficult for the insurance company to prove; however, they will often send the beneficiaries a denial of benefit letter referencing complex medical and/or legal terminology. Even if you think the exclusion sounds legitimate, you should have the denial of benefits reviewed by a Life Insurance Claims Specialist or an experienced Attorney.

4. PREMIUM PAYMENTS WERE NOT MADE.

When premium payments are not made in accordance with the terms of the policy the policy lapses and no benefits are owed. Some policies have a short grace period for late payments. Some policies have reinstatement provisions that allow for past due premiums to be paid and the policy to be “reinstated;” however, the reinstatement provisions often require a new reinstatement application and establish a new contestability period. Some times the “reinstated” policy is basically a new policy with new exclusions and conditions. One of the most common causes for non-payment of premiums is when an automatic payment withdraw is not increased periodically as premiums increase. For example, person takes out a Universal or Whole Life policy that builds cash value over time. The policy has a 10 year level premium and for the first 10 years the premium is paid timely via an automatic withdraw from a bank account. After 10 years the premium for the policy increases but the automatic payment remains the same. The accumulated cash value is then used to make up the premium difference until it is used up. Once the cash value is depleted the policy will lapse for non-payment of premiums.  Unfortunately, many Universal and Whole Life Insurance policies were sold with the representation that the cash value would accumulate at such a high rate that the premiums would always be covered or even diminish or go way at some point in the future. This has led many people, especially elderly people, to inadvertently disregard notices and information from the insurance company about premium increases and/or premium payments made via the accumulated cash value of their policy.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: There have been several class action lawsuits against insurance companies for misrepresenting or misleading consumers about the viability and achievability of “diminishing premiums” or “vanishing premiums.” You can Google those terms and the Company to see if you may be a class member or have any rights under a related class action settlement.

5. DISPUTE AS TO BENEFICIARIES.

While not necessarily a denial of benefits, a life insurance company may delay the payment of benefits if there is a dispute as to the beneficiaries under a life insurance policy. In some cases, the life insurance company may require a legal determination as to who is entitled to the benefits. As a simple rule of thumb, life insurance benefits are paid to the named beneficiary of record. This could be the person or persons identified on the application or someone identified on a legitimate change of beneficiary form on record with the company. However, issues can arise if a former beneficiary challenges the legitimacy of a change of beneficiary form. Also, if there are no contingent beneficiaries listed and the primary beneficiary is deceased, then legal action may be required to determine who is entitled to the life insurance benefits. Finally, some States have provisions that automatically remove a named spouse as beneficiary upon divorce.

DO NOT TRY TO HANDLE THE DENIAL OF BENEFITS ON YOUR OWN! 

Life insurance policies are complex legal documents that contain lots of defined terms and conditions. How those terms and conditions stand up against the laws and regulations of your State requires knowledge and expertise. Many policies have guidelines and rules for how to appeal the denial of benefits but those may or may not be binding or required. However, some life insurance policies are subject to Federal laws and regulations which require strict adherence to procedures for how appeals must be presented. In those situations, failure to properly file the appeal can prevent any further legal action to obtain benefits. Some times the denial of benefits is blatantly wrong and may entitle the victim to additional compensation over and above the policy benefit amount. If you are the victim of denied life insurance benefits, in the very least you should consult with a Life Insurance Claims Specialist or an experienced Attorney as soon as you are notified that the benefits are denied and before responding or appealing the denial of benefits. He or she should be able to give you an overview of your rights and explain the legal issues you are facing and provide you with a strategy to try and recover the benefits.

About the author: is a licensed and practicing attorney in the State of Alabama. Through his law firm he has handled denied life insurance cases in Alabama and Mississippi. He has also been a consultant on life insurance claims and cases in other States where he works with local attorneys to help secure life insurance benefits for clients and customers. He has helped families recover over one million dollars in denied life insurance benefits with the average policy value being $50,000.00. Mark provides free consultations for people who have questions about life insurance policies or benefits. Please email your life insurance benefit questions to Mark Wolfe at mark@bfw-lawyers.com for a free consultation. Please put Life Insurance Question in the subject line. Or call him at 251 410-7761.

REQUIRED DISCLAIMERS: Alabama Rule of Professional Conduct 7.2: No representation is made that the quality of legal service to be performed is greater than the services provided by other lawyers. The Mississippi Supreme Court advises that a decision on legal services is important and should not be based solely on advertisements. Free background information is available upon request to a Mississippi attorney. The listing of any area of practice by a Mississippi attorney does not indicate any certification of expertise therein. See Mississippi Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 7.2(d), Rule 7.4(a), Rule 7.6(a) (1997). General Disclaimer: This information is posted for general information purposes to help those interested parties or persons with potential civil claims better understand their rights and potential causes of action. If readers are currently represented by an attorney on the subject matter of this post then they are encouraged to continue with said representation. No attorney-client relationship is established by this post.