If you’re one of the more than 2.35 million people in the United States to be injured in a car crash this year, you may run into more bumps on the road than just the crash. When it comes time to be compensated for your injuries, even when they were caused by a negligent party, your insurance claim may be denied.
The stress and burden of having your claim denied amid working through serious personal injuries are unfortunately common. Let’s take a look at some reasons why a car insurer may deny a claim, and what you can do if your car accident claim is denied.
Reasons Why a Car Insurance Claim Is Denied
After you’re seriously injured in a car accident where the other driver was at fault (or there were multiple negligent parties involved), you will hopefully have taken the following steps:
- Received medical attention
- Documented the scene through photos, including license plates and damage
- Gathered names, addresses, telephone numbers, insurance company names and policy numbers, witness statements and contact information
- Called the police and had a police report filed
When you return home after the scene, the next step is to contact your insurance company about the damage. You’ll give your insurer the information of the other insurance company. In the best-case scenario, the negligent party’s insurance company will compensate you for your injuries and damages. In other cases, they’ll give you a low-ball offer or will deny your claim completely. Here are some reasons why.
There Is No Police Report
A police report is usually crucial for securing adequate compensation. Without one, it’s one person’s word over the other’s, unless you’ve taken the time to gather witness statements and documented the scene and damage. In cases where an insurer believes your claim lacks merit, it could be denied.
You Didn’t Get Immediate Medical Attention
If you don’t get medical attention for injuries immediately after an accident, an insurer may suspect that any medical attention you received after may have been from non-accident-related injuries. It’s vital to get treatment immediately after and accept any emergency services that are offered.
You Incriminate Yourself
When you talk to your insurer in a stressed state after a car accident, you may unwittingly paint a guilty picture around your actions. For example, you might accidentally admit guilt, even though the accident wasn’t your fault, or you might say you weren’t too badly injured despite the future hefty medical bills to come. Because of this, you should never give a recorded statement to an insurance company.
If you’re not completely calm and sure about the details of your case, you may want to talk with a car accident attorney before talking with your insurer, though you should report your accident to your insurance company as soon as possible.
You Didn’t File a Claim in Time
Serious car accidents must be reported within a certain amount of time in order to be eligible for coverage. If the other party’s insurer isn’t notified in time, your claim may be denied.
Your Driving Wasn’t Covered
There are a few driving scenarios that might hurt your chances of coverage. For example, if you’re driving someone else’s car, or if you’re driving your own car for a side business that you never told your insurance company about, there may be complications with getting compensation.
The Cause of the Accident Is a Policy Exclusion
Some insurance policies will exclude certain reasons from being eligible for compensation. For example, natural events like heavy rain or a dust storm may be an act that is excluded. If this occurred during your accident, the insurer may say that the natural act caused the accident, not another negligent party.
The Other Party’s Policy Has Lapsed
Even if you see insurance information from a negligent party, it’s possible that their insurance coverage has lapsed due to a failure to pay insurance premiums. In this case, you may file an uninsured motorist claim. If you don’t have this type of coverage, you may choose to sue the negligent party.
Actions to Take After Your Claim Is Denied
After any accident, you should be keeping organized records of all medical attention you’ve received, including bills. Also, keep all evidence and witness statements intact, and make sure you have a copy of the police report from the accident.
Most personal injury attorneys, including the Birmingham car accident lawyer team at Pittman, Dutton & Hellums, will offer free consultations and will not take on your case if they don’t believe they can win. If your insurance claim is denied, you have nothing to lose by contacting a lawyer. You may be able to secure compensation and get what you deserve.
When you work with an attorney, the attorney may send a demand letter to the insurer. This is an action the insurer may take seriously, because fighting your case in court can be costly. At this stage, you may receive partial or full compensation. If an insurance company has a formal appeals process, your attorney may be able to negotiate a settlement.
In cases where it is suspected that the insurer denied the claim without conducting a reasonable investigation, the case against the insurer may strengthen, since the insurance company may be breaking the law.
If your attorney has contacted the insurer, and the insurer still denies the claim, the next step may be to file a lawsuit against the insurer. The more evidence you have, and the more serious the damages, the better chance a law team has to secure compensation. When you consult with an attorney, let them know all the information you have, so they can make a better decision about whether or not to pursue legal action.
Have Questions After a Serious Car Accident?
Even if you have insurance, the scary fact is that sometimes your claim will get denied, even when an accident wasn’t your fault. That’s why uninsured motorist coverage is so valuable, and why you should take care to document every detail of the accident for your protection.
If you’ve been in a serious car accident and had your claim denied, contact Pittman, Dutton & Hellums for a free consultation.
Generally speaking, the less sleep you get, the more likely you are to have an injury at work. According to the US National Health Interview Survey, when people get less than seven hours of sleep, injury incidence increases with each hour less.
- For workers who sleep 7 to 8 hours a night, annual injury incidence is 2.27 percent
- For workers who sleep 6 to 7 hours a night, annual injury incidence is 3.62 percent
- For workers who sleep 5 to 6 hours a night, annual injury incidence is 5.21 percent
- For workers who sleep less than 5 hours a night, annual injury incidence is 7.89 percent
Proper sleep is essential to all workers, especially those who operate heavy machinery, including cars and large trucks. In some cases, when an employee is driving while on the clock for work, an employer’s negligence may be to blame for work car accidents. Here are some things to be aware of.
The Dangers of Driving While Fatigued
Drowsy driving is a serious threat to motorists. A 2018 study by AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found drowsy driving is a factor in nearly 10 percent of serious car crashes resulting in injuries, airbag deployment or significant property damage. While the federal government reports up to 2 percent of all accidents occur because of drowsy driving, this recent study indicates the number is likely much higher.
When people drive while drowsy, the following risks occur:
- Drivers become less attentive
- Reaction time slows
- Drivers are less likely to make safe driving decisions
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports most adults need at least seven hours of sleep a day to stay safe. However, in some work situations, employers may negatively impact sleep time, putting their employees and others on the road in danger.
Fatigued Driving Risks in Work Situations
Any time an employee takes the wheel, there’s a risk that they’re doing so while drowsy, whether because of a personal decision or because of employer instructions. A 2017 study published in the medical journal Sleep reports work factors that influence drowsy driving incidence include:
- Working long and irregular hours
- Working multiple jobs
- Working night hours
The study reports factors like these are especially prevalent in the medical community. Extended work shifts increase crash risk by 9.1 percent, the study finds. Long shifts, which last more than 12.5 hours, increase drowsy driving incidence by double frequency. Nurses who only work night shifts are more likely to experience drowsy driving. The study reports any employee who experiences similar work situations may also be at risk for drowsy driving, not just those in the medical field.
The study also found drivers who drive through monotonous locales or drive on lengthy routes are particularly susceptible to drowsy driving dangers. These are the types of schedules and routes truck drivers typically encounter.
Safety + Health magazine reports workers in the oil and gas industries also face drowsy driving risks, since these types of workers often make lengthy trips between work sites and work extended shifts.
How Employer Negligence Contributes to Drowsy Driving
In any work situation, the employer is responsible for creating a safe working environment and keeping employees protected from harm. This relates to driving while on the job, too.
Proper precautions to keep employees who drive while on the clock safe include:
Self-Regulation for Fatigue
Employers should train employees on the warning signs of fatigued driving, which include yawning, frequent blinking, short-term memory loss or neglecting road cues, drifting, and hitting guard rails. If an employee is tired while driving, they should be empowered to stop the vehicle in a safe place and rest.
Employers should mandate frequent breaks when employees are driving for long stretches of time.
Only Mandate Driving When Necessary
If an employer can facilitate transportation for an employee where they are not driving, such as a flight or public transportation, the employer should do so.
These types of driving policies should apply to any worker who has to drive, not just truckers. For example, if an employee has been in an out-of-state business meeting all day and then is forced to drive an hour to an airport to catch a red-eye flight, the employer is putting that employee in danger of fatigued driving. An accident could occur on the way to the airport that was caused by employer negligence.
Employers can stay protected by creating thorough driving policies for employees that include guidelines for fatigued driving.
If an employee does experience a serious car accident, and fatigue due to employer negligence is a factor, the employee should contact a Birmingham car accident attorney. Legal action may be the right path to choose in order to not only secure just compensation, but also to help ensure other employees are protected and are not pressured to drive while fatigued.
It’s back-to-school season, and that means juggling school lunches, sports schedules and carpool routines. Collaborating with other parents on a way to get your brood and theirs off to school can save time and hassle. But if your kids or the kids you’re driving are in a serious car accident, the stress you tried to avoid can turn into something bigger – maybe even a lawsuit.
Carpools are common, and accidents happen. You may imagine horror stories of being sued if you’re the driver in an accident where someone else’s kids are involved, but there are ways to stay protected. You can keep the carpool going, take steps to stay safe, and make sure your finances are safeguarded even after a carpool accident.
First, Never Drive Without Insurance
Driving without insurance in Alabama is considered a misdemeanor and violates the Mandatory Liability Insurance Act. If you are a parent who is considering letting your kids ride in the car of another driver, you should make sure the driver has insurance first. As kids get older, and teenagers start driving, this becomes more of a consideration.
When you intend to drive others, liability coverage is essential. This helps cover the expenses of other passengers involved in a car accident where you are the driver. You should check that any driver who will drive your child also has liability coverage in case your child is injured in an accident.
If your child will be riding with another driver, underinsured motorist coverage also protects your finances. If the at-fault driver does not have liability insurance, you may have to pay the extra expenses to cover medical bills and damages that are not covered by the other driver’s insurance. In the case of a carpool, the underinsured driver may be the one driving your child, or another driver who causes a carpool accident.
Remove Distractions from Your Car
Distracted driving is a major problem with U.S. motorists, especially teenagers. Distracted driving is to blame for about 25 percent of all motor vehicle crash fatalities, reports TeenSafe. It’s responsible for more than 58 percent of teen crashes, and teens are the largest age group that has been distracted while driving in fatal crashes. Know these stats before you let your child carpool with a teenager. Take precautions to reinforce non-distracted driving standards for those who drive your kids.
In your own car, make sure you stay safe as a driver by barring distractions from your passengers. Do not allow kids to use electronic devices with sound on – and consider banning them from the car altogether. Make sure everyone is buckled up before you take off, so there’s no need to scramble once you’re on the road. You could even create some sort of quiet game that rewards passengers for staying calm during the ride.
What About Carpool Contracts?
Carpool contracts or liability waivers aren’t likely to mean much after an accident. A person who signs a waiver is not promising acceptance of negligence. Examples of negligence that may contribute to a carpool accident include:
- The driver is using technology while driving
- The driver is intoxicated or under the influence of drugs
- The driver is distracted in another way, such as by taking their eyes off the road to face a passenger
- The driver takes a call while driving
- The driver uses unsafe driving behaviors, such as speeding or aggressively driving
Someone who signs a waiver would not be granting the driver permission to act with negligence. A waiver is more of a sign of goodwill that in the case of an accident, an insurance claims process would be pursued, with damages being handled that way. But a waiver is never a guarantee, and it won’t be held up in court.
What Happens After a Carpool Accident?
Actions to take after a serious carpool accident depend on whether you are the driver or your child is the passenger.
If You Are the Driver
If you are the driver of a carpool, first consider extra steps to stay protected as a driver. If you intend on driving safely but want to protect yourself from being accused of negligence, you could use a body camera or car camera to record you while driving. If someone accuses you of negligence, you then have video proof of your safe driving behavior.
After a carpool accident where kids are your passengers, make sure kids are in a safe position, and call emergency services. All minors should get check out for possible medical issues, since some may not be able to fully express pain and injuries they have.
Give an honest statement to police, and ask any witnesses at the scene to remain to also talk with police. Document the scene by taking photos of the vehicles and any injuries the passengers have.
Exchange insurance and personal information with the other motorists. Call the parents of the children, let them know what happened, and share the insurance information you have gathered with them. Get a police report number you can share with other parents.
If You’re the Parent of an Injured Child
If you are the parent of an injured child, talk with the parent driver about everything that occurred with the accident. Document the details yourself. Ask for a copy of the police report. Make sure your child gets all adequate medical attention, and keep organized medical records. Ask your child for details about what they can remember that happened before the accident, and document what they say.
If your child is seriously injured or dies while in a carpool vehicle, you should contact a Birmingham car accident attorney. Carpool accidents can get complicated. Even if your friend was the one driving the car, their negligence may have contributed to a serious injury that results in great pain and suffering for your child, plus costly medical bills for your family.
In some cases, a carpool driver may claim it was a child’s fault for the accident, such as accusing the child of distracting them, throwing something on them, spilling something on them, etc. The driver in a carpool accident may even pursue compensation your own family if they want to protect themselves and claim your child was the cause of the accident.
Serious accidents involving your close contacts are rarely a simple, straightforward situation. When serious injuries or even death is involved, contact a lawyer to stay protected.
In Birmingham, it’s common for summer temperatures to climb past 90 degrees. While we might love the summer heat and sunshine, high temperatures like these can be dangerous and even deadly for those who work in them. Construction workers, landscapers and farmers are just a few types of professions whose employees perform intense work outside.
Most fatal work injuries due to exposure to environmental heat occur between June and September. In 2015, there were 2,830 nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses requiring time off work due to environmental heat, and 37 deaths, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. Those who work in transportation and material moving, production and protective service are the most likely to be injured due to environmental heat.
If you or someone you love works outside, here are some examples of personal injuries that can occur because of excess heat, how workers’ compensation helps people who have experienced injuries at work, things employers need to do to keep employees who are working in heat safe, and when an employee who has been in a heat-related accident may want to pursue legal action.
Injuries Caused by Excessive Heat
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heat stress can contribute to the following ailments that can result in serious injury or death:
- Heat stroke
- Heat exhaustion
- Heat cramps
- Heat rashes
- Sweaty palms
- Foggy safety glasses
Employees who are ages 65 years old and older are at a greater risk of heat stress. As well, those who have heart disease, are overweight, have high blood pressure or take medications that can be affected by heat face a greater risk.
Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness. Loss of consciousness, seizures, confusion and profuse sweating are all signs someone may be experiencing heat stroke.
When someone is seriously injured or dies because of excessive heat while on the job, workers’ compensation may be paid to the employee or the employee’s eligible dependents.
Workers’ Compensation: What Injured Workers Should Know
Workers’ compensation is insurance that provides employees who suffer on-the-job injuries or death to be compensated for medical bills, time missed off work and other costs. Regardless of who is to blame for the injury, workers’ compensation offers protection. This helps protect workers who might be involved with an accident, which the employer had nothing to do with causing.
After someone suffers a heat-related illness or injury, they should notify their employer, who should then file a workers’ compensation claim. A Birmingham workers’ compensation lawyer can also help with filing a claim.
Because workers’ compensation is essentially an insurance payment, some workers may not get the full benefits they are entitled to. It’s in the insurance company’s best interest to save itself the most money.
Additionally, victims or their families may be entitled to even more compensation when the employer played a direct part in causing the injury, by exhibiting negligent behaviors. Employers have a duty to maintain a safe working environment for their employees, especially in hot conditions.
How to Keep Employees Safe in Hot Conditions
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has created a heat-related safety campaign called Water. Rest. Shade. Some of the guidelines OSHA mandates to keep employees protected include:
- Give workers plenty of rest, water and shade. Water breaks should be taken at least every 15 minutes.
- Provide new or returning workers with the opportunity to get acclimated to the heat, with more frequent breaks and lighter workloads.
- Train workers about heat-related dangers.
- Have a heat emergency procedure in place.
- Monitor workers for indications of heat illness.
- Provide protective clothing.
- Have cool areas where workers can rest.
One of the most critical components is training. This enables workers and supervisors to recognize heat danger signs themselves and get help more quickly.
Employers must listen to workers about warning signs and provide help, never pushing an employee beyond their limits. Creating unsafe conditions may make the employer liable for negligence in the case of a serious injury or death.
Get Help from an Attorney with a Heat-Related Injury
Even when you look out for all the warning signs and follow all heat-safe procedures at work, accidents can still happen. The result of excessive heat, such as dizziness, can lead to serious injuries when someone is using heavy machinery or falls into an unsafe area. Employers should do everything possible to protect employees.
If you or a loved one has experienced a serious personal injury due to excessive heat, and the victim feels the employer’s negligence contributed to the accident, please contact an attorney. It’s important to document the conditions of the work area, as well as gather evidence showing an unsafe working environment.
You and your loved ones deserve to stay safe at work. Take steps to stay cool this summer, and consult with a lawyer for a free consultation if you’ve experienced a heat-related injury.
You board a cruise ship looking for a good time, you spot a game of cornhole, and you try your hand at throwing the beanbag into the wooden board across the way. Things come crashing down, literally, when you fall as you’re throwing and seriously injure yourself. Can you sue?
Yes, it’s possible, as seen by the lawsuit filed in May 2018 by Jeffrey J. Makuch, against Spirit Cruises LLC. In the lawsuit, Makuch alleged that a trip on the Spirit of Norfolk cruise ship two years earlier resulted in unspecified severe and permanent injuries. Makuch sought a settlement of $373,456 in damages.
Unfortunately, the day news of this lawsuit made national coverage in July 2018, Makuch also passed away. In this case, someone else may continue to pursue the lawsuit on Makuch’s behalf.
Let’s look at what led to this interesting personal injury lawsuit, what factors are important to prove the cruise line’s negligence, and how other businesses can avoid a no-slip-and-fall accident like this one.
Fall, But No Slip
No-skid flooring on a ship probably makes sense for business owners. With possible splashing from the water surrounding the ship, flooring could get wet at any time. As well, dinner cruises like the one Makuch attended are often filled with alcohol and other beverages. Installing a no-skid floor would mean if someone spilled their drink, other patrons wouldn’t fall from slipping on it. Patrons who get seasick or have a difficult time walking on boats might be less likely to fall with no-skid flooring, too.
At least, that’s what the cruise line may have been thinking when it installed that type of flooring on its deck. Makuch alleged that when he threw the beanbag, he was unable to properly shift his weight while stepping. That caused the fall.
In response to the lawsuit, the cruise ship line owners filed a reply stating that their flooring does not present a risk. In order for Makuch’s lawsuit to be successful, his personal injury lawyer team will need to prove negligence on behalf of the cruise line.
What Constitutes Negligence in Slip and Fall Cases?
Slip and fall cases, or, in this instance, no-slip-and-fall cases, occur in a wide variety of settings. They can happen at a store, when a spill isn’t cleaned up and a shopper falls down. They could happen while someone is making a delivery, and they accidentally slip on grease. They can happen at a restaurant, where slippery new flooring has just been installed and poses a danger.
A wide variety of causes are cited in slip and fall accidents. These can include:
- Poor lighting
- Changes in flooring
- Torn carpets
- Wet floors
- Narrow stairs
- Hidden potholes
In order to prove that another party’s negligence is to blame in a slip and fall case, the following factors are examined.
Did another party cause the accident?
In cases where someone creates the dangerous condition that causes a slip and fall accident, they must also take steps to protect those who may come into contact with it. However, in cases where the victim’s carelessness is to blame, negligence is harder to prove. For example, if there is a “Warning: Slippery Floor” sign up, but someone walks on the floor and falls down anyway, they failed to heed the warning in this case.
Did another party fail to prevent the accident?
Sometimes hazards appear, and a slip and fall accident occurs immediately after. If the responsible party had no way of knowing about or preventing the accident, negligence will be questioned. However, if there is a reasonable amount of time that has passed where the venue operator should have corrected the situation or warned others about it, they may be deemed negligent.
Slip and fall accidents can happen on public property, at businesses, at other people’s homes and on government property. Anyone who is involved in a slip and fall accident should document the scene to show evidence of the hazards. If a claim is filed, negligence will have to be proven.
How to Prevent Injuries from Falling
If you own a business, this type of lawsuit is a reminder to always do your best to keep patrons safe. Even if you are accused of negligence but are deemed innocent in a slip and fall lawsuit, the publicity surrounding these types of cases can hurt a business reputation.
Protect a business from slip and fall injuries by doing the following.
Regularly walk through business space to identify hazards, including flooring hazards, lighting hazards and hazards on stairs.
Log all inspections.
If you see a hazard, mark it with a warning sign, or restrict access to it to prevent others from being hurt by it.
Fix or remove the hazard as quickly as possible.
Document work done on potential hazards.
Finally, listen to customer feedback about your space. If someone on a cruise ship is complaining that they almost fell because of the no-slip flooring, it might be time to research other types of building materials that improve the safety for patrons.