January 9, 2019
As an attorney helping people seriously injured in car, truck, motorcycle and bicycle accidents for the past 17 years, I harbor no love for insurance companies. Most will do whatever they can to ensure that they are paying you as little as possible for your injuries. So by no means am I trying to make them more money or increase your premiums.
However, when you are seriously injured in a car accident, it is important to have the right insurance coverage to protect yourself and your family. Unfortunately, most people don’t even know what they have for coverage, let alone what they should have. So I wanted to take a few minutes to discuss some types of insurance that we believe everyone should have and the reasons why. I will start with the reason why.
The Horror Story
Imagine for a second that you are driving your motorcycle on beautiful sunny Spring day not two blocks from your house. You stop with traffic because a dog ran into the roadway ahead. All of a sudden you are struck from behind by a large pickup truck driven by a drunk driver. You become pinned under the truck and dragged for a distance. As a result, you suffer catastrophic injuries to both of your legs. You are taken to the local hospital, but the injuries are too severe so you are med-flighted to Boston. You remain in the hospital, unable to leave or work for three months.
After several more months, which include multiple surgeries and rehab, both legs have irreparable permanent damage. The medical bills are more than $500,000 and will continue to accumulate for years to come. It goes without saying, your life will never quite be the same again.
If all this wasn’t bad enough, the driver who hit you only had the State’s minimum insurance coverage of $20,000. To make matters worse, you didn’t have any additional insurance to help compensate you for this horrific loss.
I wish I were making this up. Unfortunately, I’m not. This is the story of one our clients from a few years ago. While no amount of money could ever make up for what happened to her, better insurance coverage could have made things a little easier.
What is truly unfortunate is that we see horror stories like this all the time. Please continue to reading to learn about some types of insurance which will help protect you and your family should this type of tragedy occur.
Medical Payments Coverage
Medical Payments (otherwise known as Med Pay) is optional coverage similar to the compulsory Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. Med Pay is an important benefit for you and your family because it pays for medical expenses incurred as a result of an accident, regardless of who is at fault. A typical Med Pay policy of $5,000 – $10,000 worth of coverage is usually $20 or less per year. You can get Med Pay coverage in higher amounts than this, but these are typical.
Why should you get Med Pay?
Private health insurers, like Blue Cross & Blue Shield, Tufts, Harvard Pilgrim, etc. often pay a portion of your medical bills when you are injured in a car accident. When these insurers make such payments, they are entitled to be reimbursed out of your settlement proceeds. They do this by asserting a lien on the case. When that happens, we are required to reimburse them for the medical expenses they have paid. In addition, certain public benefits like Mass Health and Medicare who pay any part of your medical bills are also required by law to be reimbursed. If you have Med Pay, a much smaller amount is paid by these public and private health insurers. More importantly, unlike these other insurers, you do not have to reimburse your car insurance company for payments made under the Med Pay portion of the insurance policy. Simply put, you are able to keep more of your settlement money in your own pocket.
Uninsured / Underinsured Auto Coverage
This type of insurance, also referred to as “U” coverage protects you, members of your household, and passengers in your car for injuries caused by an uninsured auto, by a driver with inadequate insurance, or by a hit and run driver. “U” coverage also protects you and members of your household from injuries sustained as a pedestrian or as a passenger in a vehicle you do not own. “U” coverage allows you to go back to your own insurance company for additional compensation after you have exhausted the insurance of the at-fault driver. Further, your own company cannot penalize or surcharge you for using this coverage. In addition, we are not required to pay back your health insurance company for medical benefits paid by them, when we settle this portion of your case. This means more money in your pocket!
Like Med Pay coverage, this additional insurance is very affordable. We encourage that you carry at least $100,000 / $300,000 in “U” coverage. For a small amount more each month, you can increase your coverage to $250,000 / $500,000 for even better protection. While the cost of “U” coverage will vary based on the amount of coverage sought; your driving history; the type of vehicle; age of the driver; and in city in which you live, for many the cost of this additional “U” coverage can be as little a $30 – $50 or less per year.
For the unfortunate victims of such tragic accidents, the financial devastation to them and their families can be lessened or avoided. Nobody expects to have an accident like the horror story described above to occur, but they do happen every day.
The Economy & Insurance
While there always have been a number of drivers on the road without the requisite car insurance, the current economy, coupled with the high unemployment rates have increased the number of drivers who have now dropped their insurance or carry only the legally required minimum. “U” coverage and Med Pay are there to protect you in these situations. With the increased rate of joblessness and, therefore, lack of insurance it is imperative that you protect yourself and your family in the event tragedy strikes.
Have Your Policy Reviewed
Insurance can be complicated. If you are not sure if you have the right type or amount of coverage, we will be happy to connect you with an insurance professional, such as our agent, Joshua Shotts at Ironside Insurance Group, who can evaluate your policy and make appropriate recommendations based upon your particular circumstances. Just give us a call to make an appointment.
December 9, 2018
The holidays are here again, and while it may be the most wonderful time of the year, ‘tis also the season for keeping our wits about us.
Unfortunately (and ironically), holidays see some of the highest rates of auto accidents and personal injuries throughout the entire year. Too many families end up spending their long-awaited Thanksgivings or Christmas Eves inside a hospital waiting room, and that’s something we don’t want anyone in our community to endure this year.
So which holidays are the most dangerous? And what can you do to protect yourselves?
According to U.S.A. Today, Memorial Day and the Fourth of July are the two most dangerous holidays for auto accidents in the United States.
Thanksgiving isn’t far behind, though, coming in at #3. Labor Day is at #4, New Year’s Eve at #5, and Christmas Day at #6. Reasons cited for the uptick in accidents during these times of celebration and remembrance include:
- Increased alcohol use
- Families traveling, often on unfamiliar roads
- Inclement weather conditions during the winter holidays
- Time off of work, resulting in a greater number of drivers on the roads
Of course, auto accidents aren’t the only yuletide concerns. Forbes lists a few other accidents that rear their ugly heads with surprising frequency around this time of year:
- House fires, often caused by overcooked turkeys or overly dry Christmas trees
- Electrical fires (holiday lights around the rooftop caused the Griswolds their fair share of problems, and they can do the same for you!)
- Winter sports injuries
We might also add that slip and fall injuries become a real concern in retail outlets during this time of year. With so many people rushing through so many stores, it is important that storeowners and managers exercise due care to keep their property conditions safe for all who enter.
The holidays are a special time, and they’re meant to be enjoyed safely. We wish you all a happy Thanksgiving and a festive season to come thereafter. If you have questions about any mishaps that might arise over the next couple of months, just know that we’re here for you. Until then, may your days be merry and bright!
November 9, 2018
Unfortunately, “bankruptcy” has a stigma attached to it that even the world’s biggest businesses and brightest stars can’t seem to shake. It is, in popular culture, a bad word — a signifier of financial failure. Those who have “gone bankrupt” have “lost everything,” or at least that is what one learns when listening to the latest reports on the subject.
On the contrary, though, bankruptcy is not the end of the world for the businesses or individuals who claim it. In fact, there are several different types of bankruptcy, and many of them allow filers to make the most of an otherwise disastrous situation, only to come out quite successfully on the other side.
That is, after all, why the United States allows bankruptcy to exist in the first place. It is a legal protection that saves those who are in over their heads from going under and allows them to achieve a “fresh start.”
In “Wheel of Fortune” or the game of Monopoly, going bankrupt simply means losing all of your money. In real life, filing for bankruptcy means asking the courts to protect you from the oppressive mountains of debt that might be standing in your way. It allows many people to rid themselves of this debt that has burdened them literally, figuratively and psychologically for many years. For many Chapter 7 filers this debt can be eliminated in a period of 3 to 5 months.
Even for other types of bankruptcy, like Chapter 13 (which requires a payment plan for between 3 to 5 years), the bulk of the debt for most people can be eliminated upon completion of the plan. Simply put, most plans repay pennies on the dollar for unsecured debt and upon successful completion the remainder of this debt is eliminated. Chapter 13 also has the added benefit of giving those people who have fallen behind on their home mortgage payments a chance to get caught up over a period of time. It is a very commonly used for people to save their home, when other options such as negotiation or modification have failed.
In addition, far from losing all their money, the average person filing for bankruptcy does not lose their possessions. The modern bankruptcy laws allow people to keep things like homes, cars, jewelry, bank accounts, retirement accounts, etc. in varying amounts. These amounts are generous enough so that the average person gives up very little or in many cases none of their current possessions.
Further, contrary to what most people think, bankruptcy does not destroy their credit for all time. It will be on their credit report for 10 years. However, it is but one mark on that report, which can be rehabilitated much sooner than 10 years. Many past clients have reported that with careful planning they have been able to rehabilitate their credit in as little as 2 years.
Many companies and individuals have enjoyed hugely successful turnarounds after a bankruptcy filing — comebacks that would likely have been impossible without federal bankruptcy protections in place. Indeed, as Reuters reports, popular retailer American Apparel, which filed for bankruptcy earlier this year, is on track to score the most profitable year in its history by next decade. Many individuals have seen similar salvation in their own personal finances after a bankruptcy filing.
Sadly, the American news media has very little time to stop and dive into the details of any given story. Likewise, comedy films exist to make us laugh, not to offer an erudite lecture on the finer points of financial strategy. So just know that the next time you hear a headline or a joke about the failings of those who’ve gone bankrupt, you might not be hearing the whole story. There’s a lot more to bankruptcy than a stereotype.
October 9, 2018
Birth injuries are among the most disturbing instances of medical malpractice. They rob the most precious and defenseless among us of a fair shot at a healthy, normal life. Unsurprisingly, courts tend to deliver swift and substantial justice to the families affected by astounding medical negligence.
Most recently, a federal judge in California handed down a $9.6 million verdict in favor of a 3-year-old girl who suffered permanent brain injury after her doctor waited too long to perform a C-section.
Additionally, the judge awarded $250,000 in emotional damages to the girl’s mother.
According to The Washington Times, the young girl’s damages include muteness, blindness, immobility, inability to dress or take care of herself, and occasional seizures. Her attorneys say she must be fed through a feeding tube in order to survive.
The judge ruled that the doctor waited too long to perform a C-section, despite the baby’s declining heart rate and the mother’s apparent difficulty in delivering vaginally.
Obviously, the damages in this case are particularly devastating, but C-section malpractice is more common in the United States than many may realize.
Doctors have a legal duty to promptly initiate a C-section in emergency situations, and the burden of knowing when to make that call falls on them, not on the mother. If they make errors during the procedure, or if they wait too long to start it, they can be held liable for the damages that result. Hospitals and nurses may share in the responsibility as well.
Juries are often stirred by these cases, and large verdicts are not uncommon. Nevertheless, victims and their families have a long and difficult road ahead of them. As Middlesex County personal injury lawyers, it’s our job to hold negligent doctors accountable and get our clients the compensation they need to travel that path.