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.

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.

What Should I Know About Hiring A Personal Injury Attorney?

As more and more lawyers and law firms utilize TV commercials, billboards and internet ads to attract clients, it is important for consumers to know how to select an attorney that is right for their case. Flashy TV commercials and catchy slogans promising large monetary settlements may be enticing, but the consumer who needs to hire a personal injury attorney should consider and discuss three key areas before hiring a personal injury attorney. These areas are: 1) the fee for services, 2) the attorney’s experience and knowledge with similar cases, and 3) the resources the attorney has for your claim or case.

CONTINGENCY FEES

Most people now know that attorneys who represent personal injury victims do so under a contingency fee contract. (The attorney fee is a percentage of the money recovered by the attorney.) Yet the percentage or contingency amount can vary greatly between lawyers. Also, the consumer should know exactly how the contingency fee is going to be calculated. When discussing attorney fees and representation costs, there are two areas for inquiry by the consumer. The actual fee amount to be charged and how the expenses related to the claim or case will be handled. One question for consumers to ask is whether the contingency fee is going to be charged against the property damage recovery and/or medical payments (med-pay) benefits from your own insurance carrier. Many experienced attorneys do not charge fees related to property damage claims or med-pay benefits. The second area for inquiry is the amount of expenses related to the claim and/or case.

Under Alabama law an attorney can advance expenses related to a client’s claim or case such as medical record expenses, filing fees, deposition expenses, etc. However, the client is responsible for reimbursing those expenses from their portion of the settlement proceeds. Most contingency fees for simple motor vehicle accident liability claims authorize a fee percentage of around one-third (33 1/3%) plus expenses.* It is important for the consumer to know how much the expenses will be for their particular claim and/or case. Sample questions that consumers should ask about a lawyer’s contingency fee: Does your contingency fee apply to property damage? Does your contingency fee apply to benefits recovered from my own insurance, such as med-pay benefits and/or health insurance benefits? How much do you think the expenses will be for my claim and/or case? How will the expenses be handled? Do you have a sample distribution schedule for a similar case? Will I get a copy of the fee contract? * For more complicated and expensive cases involving defective products, contingency fees generally range from 40 to 50% of the net recovery (the amount after reimbursement of expenses).

EXPERIENCE AND KNOWLEDGE

You should not be afraid to ask the lawyer about his or her trial experience in handling similar legal matters. The goal in handling a personal injury claim or case is to resolve the matter for a fair amount without having to subject the client to the stress, strain and uncertainty of a trial. While it is true that most civil claims and cases settle without a trial, trial experience is critical when hiring a personal injury attorney. Insurance adjusters know and rate the experience level of the attorney representing a claimant. This is a factor in their evaluation of a claim. Talk with people in the community about their recommendations. Many healthcare professionals who treat injury victims have knowledge about the skill and trial experience of local attorneys. Sample questions that a consumer should ask about a lawyer’s trial experience: How many cases similar to mine have you actually tried in Court? Tell me about the results of those cases. How many cases have you litigated involving this insurance company? What attorney or law firm does their insurance company use? And, how many cases have you tried against that lawyer and/or law firm?

You should also listen to the attorney as he or she explains the various issues related to your claim or you case. Does the attorney know and explain issues in a way that makes you feel confident in his or ability to handle the matter? Sample questions would include: How does the injury claim process work? What factors are important when valuing my claim or case? What can you tell me about how insurance companies use computer assisted claim evaluation programs when reviewing and evaluating claims?

RESOURCES

When hiring a personal injury attorney you should also consider the resources of that lawyer and law firm. This includes the financial resources necessary for the expenses of the claim or case and the general resources such as personnel and technology. A lawyer’s commitment to having skilled and qualified support personnel is reflective of an attorney who wants the best for his or her client. Likewise, attorneys who want to be efficient and effective for their clients utilize current technology and state of the art office equipment. Simply put, if the lawyer does not want to, or can not afford to, invest adequate resources into his or her own practice, what makes you think he or she will invest adequate resources in a claim or case? Sample questions a consumer should ask about the lawyer’s resources: Do you have the financial resources to adequately prosecute my claim or case? Who else in your office will be working on my case and what will they be doing?

CONSULTATIONS ARE FREE

So why not talk to several attorneys. Consumers should be cautious of attorneys who push too hard to have a representation agreement signed immediately. Most personal injury attorneys do not charge for consultations and this allows consumers the opportunity to talk with several different lawyers or law firms before deciding which lawyer or law firm to hire. When consulting with an attorney ask for copies of material and information they have available for potential clients. NOTE: There are situations and times when immediate legal intervention may be necessary, but the attorney should fully explain such a situation.

CONSUMER ALERT: BEWARE OF MISLEADING ADS BY TV LAWYERS!

READING THE FINE PRINT ON LAWYER TV ADS. Recently there have been numerous TV commercials for lawyers where someone brags about how much money the lawyer recovered for them. These people generally appear fine and gush about what a financial windfall the lawyer got them for their injury claim. The problem is the fine print disclaimers that accompany the commercials usually scroll across the screen so quickly, or are so small, you can’t read them. Many people don’t even see them let alone read them. Here’s a compilation of some of these disclaimers from some TV lawyer ads:

– Not an actual client testimonial or based upon a specific case.
– Dramatization: Not an actual case. Your results may vary.
– Fictionalized account for advertising purposes only
– Actor portrayal, not a real client.
– The monetary result referenced is not from an actual case.
– The monetary recoveries referenced are not typical of most injury claims and [law firm name omitted] in no way guarantees or promises similar results for specific injury claims. – Not a typical injury case recovery.
– [Lawyer name omitted] will not be the lawyer responsible handling your claim or case and the financial recoveries referenced herein are generalizations of atypical injury cases. No warranty or guarantee of a specific monetary result is made herein.
– Not a real client or real case result.
– Not an actual case result or recovery. [Law firm name omitted] processes claims and cases via a referral to an affiliate law firm. Referral law firms are solely responsible for claim and case presentation and remit a portion of the attorney fees to [law firm name omitted.]
– Actor and/or spokesperson is compensated for services and any reference to financial recoveries are of non-typical personal injury matters.
– Actual results may vary. Not licensed to practice law in Alabama.

Legal? Maybe. But doesn’t this smell of deception? A commercial runs with a “client” boasting of a huge financial recovery but hidden in the commercial is a “fine print” disclaimer stating the results are not true or not typical. Seems like the old bait and switch sales tactics used by shady salesmen of days gone by. Trust between an attorney and his or her client is critical to a good relationship. Clients must rely on and trust their attorney to help them through a difficult time. If the initial basis for that relationship is based upon deception, can the client really be confident that the attorney has the client’s best interest at heart?

At Boteler Richardson Wolfe we’ve been helping car crash victims present and prosecute their insurance claims for over 30 years. We know and understand Computer Assisted Claim Evaluation Programs better than most attorneys. We can help you. Give us a call today: 251 433-7766 or email Mark Wolfe at mark@brwlawyers today for a free consultation.

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.

Using Your Smart Phone at the Accident Scene

by Personal Injury Attorney Mark Wolfe, mark@bfw-lawyers.com

After you have notified authorities of the accident you can use your smart phone to document important details about the accident. This information can be critical and is often not adequately captured by a simple written accident report.

Photograph the Following at the Scene: -Property damage, including interior photos of deployed airbags or other interior damage such as structural damage to a seat. Take lots of photos from multiple angles.smartphone image – Other driver’s proof of insurance card, registration and driver’s license. This is much easier than trying write down the information! – The accident scene including where the vehicles ended up after the collision and any skid marks or road gouge marks. Also, if there is a traffic sign such as a stop sign that is important, i.e., the other driver ran a stop sign, get a photo or two of it also. – Take photos of your injuries.

Video the Following at the Scene: – Video statements from witnesses. Make sure they give their full name, address and telephone number in addition to stating what they observed. If they are camera shy, ask them if they’ll at least give you a recorded statement via the audio recorder on your phone. – If a traffic light is part of the accident scene, you may want to video the sequence of the traffic light to show it was functioning correctly. – If the other driver is acting strange or suspicious at the scene or you suspect they have been drinking or under the influence, you may want to capture video of them at the scene. WARNING: Use good judgment with this suggestion. You do not want to elevate an already stressful situation into a confrontation with the other driver.

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.

New Study Offers Distracted Driving Insights

a recent study on distracted driving revealed new statistics on teen driversAlabama Public Radio recently reported on some disturbing findings in a well-publicized New England Journal of Medicine study about teen driving habits. While the findings might not surprise you, they should definitely give you pause about sharing the road with hormonal, inexperienced drivers. A Short But Blessed Grace Period First, here’s the good news: Teen drivers are model road citizens for the first several months of their driving careers. Before they develop an innate familiarity with the rules of the road, they’re extra-careful about signaling early, looking both ways, respecting speed limits and avoiding dangerous passing maneuvers. Over time, however, these good habits start to fall by the wayside. Within six months, teens are just as reckless as their adult counterparts. It’s possible that teens don’t fully absorb the good habits that their teachers impart. Alternatively, they may acquire dangerous behaviors by mimicking role models like older siblings and college students. Eating and Driving: Better for Adults? Eating and driving is a classic example of such a dangerous behavior. Surprisingly, this act poses relatively little risk for adult drivers who can successfully keep their eyes from wandering during the maneuver. By contrast, teens who eat while behind the wheel are involved in accidents at far higher rates than teens who refrain from the practice. Practice Makes Perfect Although the study’s conclusions weren’t crystal clear on this point, it seems likely that teen drivers engaged in risky maneuvers as a result of general overconfidence in their driving abilities. After six months of driving, the study found that teens drove distractedly at the same rate as adults in their 20s and 30s. While these drivers were no longer novices, they still hadn’t gained enough experience to react to external hazards while distracted. “It takes thousands of hours of practice to get good at driving,” notes the study’s co-author. Cell Phones: The Great Equalizer Teens aren’t solely responsible for distracted driving accidents. According to the study, adults and teens alike struggle to maintain focus while operating a mobile phone’s keypad. Although accidents in which texting is a factor occur at dismally high rates, even dialing a 10-digit phone number before completing a call can be hazardous. These findings reinforce the need to educate drivers about the dangers of using hand-held phones on the road. This requires a collective effort. While you can personally avoid texting, eating, applying makeup or performing other dangerous tasks during your commute, you can’t control what nearby drivers are doing. Fortunately, you’re not alone out there. If you’ve suffered injury or property damage in an accident that may have been caused by distracted driving, you could be entitled to compensation. To learn more about your options, contact our Mobile, AL attorney’s office at 866-975-7766 or visit our auto accident resources page.

REMINDER FOR TEEN DRIVERS

JUST A REMINDER: May is National Youth Traffic Safety Month.

The National Organization for Youth Safety (NOYS) is reminding parents and teens that May is National Youth Traffic Safety Month. NOYS encourages and promotes youth led safe driving initiatives in high schools through out the United States. This year over $100,000 in funds are available from NOYS to support safe driving programs and projects for youth. If you have teenage drivers in your household, we hope you will take a moment in the next few days to remind them about the importance of safe driving.