When you are the victim of a hit and run accident, you likely feel angry and confused, and it can be unclear how to get compensation for your damages and injuries. However, there are steps you can take to create a smoother experience, should you be in this unfortunate situation.
Gather as much information as you can to help police and your car insurance company identify the other vehicle. Try to find and get contact information for any witnesses.
If you have uninsured motorist (UM) coverage and/or collision coverage, your provider may cover the damage in a hit and run and compensate you or any of your passengers for any injuries.
What Is a Hit and Run Accident?
A hit and run accident is any accident in which a driver intentionally leaves the scene without providing contact information.
Examples of hit and run accidents include:
A car hits you and speeds off.
A driver hits your unattended parked car and leaves no contact information or way of collecting damages.
What to Do After a Hit and Run Accident
While you’ll likely be feeling immense stress if you’re a victim of a hit and run, it will help to stay as calm as possible and gather as much information as you can.
Having more information:
Increases the chances that the police will catch the driver who hit you.
Helps your car insurance company make decisions about your claim.
First, get as much information as you can about the car that hit you, such as:
License plate number.
Finally, take the following steps before leaving the scene:
Write down the time and location of the accident.
Take pictures of the accident scene.
Take pictures of your car, especially if another car’s paint is visible on it. (This will help you prove that you are not attempting to defraud your insurance company.)
If the hit and run occurred when you wereaway from your parked car, jot down as much information as you can, such as:
Who Pays for Hit and Run Damage and Medical Care?
This depends on certain factors, including whether the fleeing driver was identified and what state you live in.
Payment for hit-and-run claims usually comes through your own car insurance. In most states, the coverages in question are uninsured motorist bodily injury and uninsured motorist property damage, which essentially act as the at-fault (in this case, hit-and-run) driver’s liability coverage. Uninsured motorist bodily injury helps pay for injuries caused by a hit-and-run accident, while uninsured motorist property damage covers damages to your car.
The good news is that these coverages are relatively affordable, and they offer significant financial protection from the uninsured (or hit-and-run-committing) drivers up to the limits you select.
Isn’t it wonderful that fall has finally arrived? With cooler air and beautiful, sunny days here finally, many of us are opting to get out our bicycles and head out for a ride after work or on the weekends. This is a great way to spend healthy time with friends and/or family. Bicycle safety is a main concern for these rides as a report released last year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that Florida has the highest rate of bicycling deaths of any state in the nation, 0.57 per 100,000 people, more than double the nationwide rate of 0.23 per 100,000.
HOW BIG IS THE PROBLEM?
Deaths and Injuries
In 2013 in the U.S., over 900 bicyclists were killed and there were an estimated 494,000 emergency department visits due to bicycle-related injuries.
Data from 2010 show fatal and non-fatal crash-related injuries to bicyclists resulted in lifetime medical costs and productivity losses of $10 billion.
You always need a helmet wherever you ride. You can expect to crash in your next 4,500 miles of riding, or maybe much sooner than that!
Even a low-speed fall on a bicycle trail can scramble your brains.
Laws in 22 states and at least 201 localities require helmets, although few cover adults.
Make sure your helmet fits to get all the protection you are paying for. A good fit means level on your head, touching all around, comfortably snug but not tight. The helmet should not move more than about an inch in any direction, and must not pull off no matter how hard you try.
Rear stabilizers do not substitute for careful strap adjustment.
Pick white or a bright color for visibility.
Common sense tells you to avoid a helmet with snag points sticking out, a squared-off shell, inadequate vents, excessive vents, an extreme “aero” shape, dark colors, thin straps, complicated adjustments or a rigid visor that could snag or shatter in a fall.
The answer is yes. Even after a minor accident, a police officer can help you sort things out, and document what happened in case that becomes important in the future. As nice as the other driver might seem, their story may change and it will be difficult to prove without the backup of a police report, as recently happened to one of my clients. Having an accident report cuts down on the he said/she said at the get go.
A police officer’s presence at the scene — and any resulting police report — may be crucial to your claim. A trained police officer can be an invaluable source of help and information in such a confusing situation. A police officer can:
provide or call for emergency medical care (of course, if there are injuries, someone should call 911 as soon as possible, before calling the police)
protect the accident scene, and
investigate and document the cause of the accident.
In cases involving injuries, substantial damage to the vehicles, or significant motor vehicle law violations, the officer will write a police report of a car accident. Make sure to get the name and badge number of the officer and the police agency that the officer represents so you can get a copy of the accident report after it’s written. Also get the report number if it’s available. There will probably be a small charge for the police report, but it’s worth it. The police accident report is a critical document which is relied upon fairly heavily by everyone involved in the claims process.
If You Have a Fender-Bender With No Injuries
Should you still call the police even if your accident is just a minor one? The answer is usually yes. Even after a minor accident, a police officer can help you sort things out, and document what happened in case that becomes important in the future. However, in many metropolitan areas, the police probably won’t come to the scene of your minor fender-bender. They will simply tell you to exchange information with the other driver. The police will not prepare a report in this situation.
If the Police Tells You to Just Exchange Information
If you do call the police, and they tell you to just exchange information with the other driver, what information should you exchange? At a minimum, make sure you get from the other driver(s) — and that the other driver(s) get from you — the following information:
Name of car insurance company
Name, address and telephone number of insurance representative that you should contact about this accident.
License plate number (and state in which the car is registered)
Ask to see documents from which you can copy this information, such as a driver’s license and an insurance verification card. Why? Sometimes, drivers — such as those who don’t have insurance — will give false information if you don’t verify what they are telling you. If they won’t verify their information, call the police and insist that the driver stay until the police arrive.
If you are suspicious about the information you are getting, call the other driver’s insurance company from the scene of the accident to verify for yourself that the other driver has given you accurate information. But only verify coverage. Don’t give accident details to the other driver’s insurance company. Not yet. You’ll do that later, after you’re away from the scene of your accident and have calmed down.
If the Police Are On Their Way
If you call the police, and they do send an officer to the scene of your minor accident, they may give it a low priority. It could take up to one hour for an officer to arrive after you call the police. Wait for them. What should you do while you are waiting for them to arrive?
Assess the situation
Help anyone who is hurt
Protect the scene against further damage
Don’t make any agreements with the other driver at the scene
Document the scene with your cell phone or camera, and
Contact your own insurance company to notify them and see if they have anything they want you to do while there.
Once the police officer arrives, speak only with him or her about the specifics of your accident. Provide the information that the officer requests, but be careful what you say, even to the officer.
If you have any questions about what you should do, contact your local accident attorney for a free consultation. My office is always happy to answer your questions!
Savage Stallion is not only a great name for a rock band, but a common cause of injury here in Horse Country. Recently we represented a woman who was bitten by a passing stallion on a local trail. Negligence on the part of the owner often plays a role in a dog bite or animal attack. Laws vary by county, so if you have been bitten or attacked, it’s important to seek legal advice right away. If there is an injury, seek immediate medical attention. It’s not always possible to know just by looking at the animal if it is sick, and you want to guard against the chance of infection and other disease from a bite or related injury. If you have been bitten by a dog or injured by a vicious animal, do not admit fault.
According to www.webmd.com, animal and human bites may cause puncture wounds, cuts, scrapes, or crushing injuries. Most animal and human bites cause minor injuries, and home treatment is usually all that is needed to care for the wound.
Most animal bites occur in school-age children. The face, hands, arms, and legs are the most common sites for animal bites. Since most bites occur in children, be sure to teach children to be careful around animals and that an animal could hurt them. Young children should always be supervised around animals.
Dog bites occur more than any other animal bite and are most frequent in the summer months. The dog is usually known to the person, and most injuries result from the dog being teased or bothered while eating or sleeping. Boys are bitten about twice as often as girls. The arms, head, and neck are the most likely areas to be bitten in children.
Cat bites usually cause deeper puncture wounds than dog bites and have a high risk of bacterial infection because they can be hard to clean adequately.
Exotic pet bites, such as from rats, mice, or gerbils, may carry illnesses, but rabies is not usually a concern. The bites from some pets, such as iguanas, are at risk for infection but do not carry other serious risks.
Livestock, such as horses, cows, and sheep, have powerful jaws and can cause crushing bite injuries. Infection, tetanus, and rabies are possible risks.
Wild animal bites may occur while hunting, camping, or hiking. Infection, tetanus, and rabies are possible risks.
Adult bites that cause a wound to the hand can be serious. A clenched fist striking another person in the mouth and teeth can cut or puncture the skin over the knuckles. This is commonly called a “fight bite.” Underlying tissues may be damaged, and an infection can develop.
Bites from children are:
Usually not very deep.
Not as forceful as adult bites.
Not too likely to become infected.
Not damaging to underlying tissue.
When you have a bite:
Stop the bleeding by applying direct pressure.
Determine if other tissues, such as blood vessels, nerves, tendons, ligaments, joints, bones, or internal organs, have been injured.
Determine if treatment by a doctor is needed.
Clean the wound to prevent bacterial infections, tetanus (“lockjaw”), and viral infections, such as herpes simplex virus and cytomegalovirus (CMV).
Determine the risk for rabies and the need for treatment to prevent the disease.
Determine if you need a tetanus shot.
Have you been the victim of a dog bite or animal attack as a result of someone else’s negligence? It is important that you contact legal counsel as soon as possible. The preservation of evidence needed to prove your claim is of utmost importance and may be lost or destroyed if not preserved immediately.
Heading out for a trip to see the fall foliage? Make sure that you check out the condition of your tires before you leave. For many drivers, there is nothing more frightening or potentially dangerous than a tire blowout at almost any speed. While the number of tire-related crashes has dropped dramatically since 2008, when all new vehicles were required to have automatic tire pressure monitoring systems, these numbers still remain high. The stats do not lie, as tire blowouts and flats result in nearly 11,000 collisions and 200 fatalities each year.
With all the advances in safety standards and technology, why are tire blowouts still such a significant safety issue? According to Traveler’s Insurance, one reason may be that since blowouts are now a rarer occurrence, when they do happen, drivers are less prepared to handle them and react properly. When a tire blows out, it can take about ¼ second before your ride suddenly becomes a struggle to avoid an auto accident. How you react can make all the difference in how the situation resolves itself. The first step is staying calm and in control of your vehicle.
What Does a Tire Blowout Sound Like?
Expect to hear three key sounds that may vary depending on your specific situation. First, you may hear a loud boom or bang of the tire popping reverberating through your car. You may then hear a whooshing sound or the sound of the air quickly escaping from the tire, and finally, a repeated flapping or flopping of the deflated tire hitting the road.
What Does a Tire Blowout Feel Like?
When a tire explodes at speed, first you will feel the vehicle slow down, then it will pull strongly to the left or right depending on which tire burst. If it was a front tire that burst, you will feel the force mostly within the steering of your vehicle. With a rear tire, you will feel it more in the seat or body of the car. Whether the blowout occurred in the front or back, your response should be the same in either situation.
How to Drive Through a Tire Blowout
According to the National Safety Council and other safety experts, there are some important tips and best practices to remember if you experience a tire blowout.
Keep a firm grip on the steering wheel.
Do not slam on the brakes.
Let your car slow down gradually.
Pull to the side of the road once you have slowed to a safe speed.
After a blowout, only exit your vehicle if you are certain you are safely off the road and out of harm’s way. Turn your emergency flashers on to alert other drivers, and put out reflective cones or triangles if you have them. If it is not safe to change the tire where you are, or you are unsure how, call for roadside assistance.
Also keep in mind that a spare is only recommended for emergencies and should not be driven for long distances or at high speeds. Take the time to read your owner’s manual to learn where your spare tire and necessary tools are located. Your manual may also provide instructions on how to change a flat tire. It is a good idea to be familiar with these procedures before you get stuck on the side of the road.
How to Prevent a Tire Blowout
The good news is that many tire blowouts are preventable with the proper effort and attention. Most occur from May through October when the road surface is the hottest, resulting from an underinflated tire, excessively worn treads, or an overloaded vehicle. A simple, routine inspection of your tires to check for slow leaks, wear and tear, and proper pressure is important. Keeping your load light, within your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations (found in the same spot as the recommended tire pressure), can help too.
So head on out for a great fall adventure, and stay safe out there friends!
My office often gets calls from accident victims that felt fine immediately after the accident and by a week later are in some serious pain. Vehicle accident injuries can be late-appearing. Here’s how to protect your health and your legal rights.
Almost any car accident is a traumatic event. From catastrophic collisions to fender-benders, there is a lot of force involved when a vehicle hits (or is hit by) something. Often, when people are in a car accident that seems minor, they do not notice any injury symptoms right away. This happens for a variety of reasons. In this article, we’ll help you understand the importance of monitoring your injuries following a car accident — for your physical well-being and to protect your legal rights.
Shad Withers, writing in the legal blog Nolo.com, had some really good advice that I would like to pass on to my friends.
CAR ACCIDENTS ARE EXCITING
Not “exciting” in the fun sense, more from a physiological perspective.
Sometimes athletes get injured during a game, and they continue to play without noticing the injury until the game is over. That is because their bodies are generating adrenaline and endorphins. These two chemicals operate to super-charge our bodies and even block pain.
Most car accidents will create a similarly heightened level of excitement. Your body will generate adrenaline and endorphins, which means you feel increased energy and (possibly) a lack of pain. Just because you feel fine immediately following a car accident, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you are fine. Once the release of those chemicals subsides, the pain from any car accident injuries could start to set in.
SOFT TISSUE INJURIES AFTER A CAR ACCIDENT
A soft tissue injury refers to damage done to parts of the body other than bone. Muscles, tendons, and ligaments are considered “soft tissue.”
Car accidents, even low-speed ones, generate a lot of force. Drivers and passengers often come to a sudden stop right along with the vehicle in a car accident; or they may get thrown around the passenger area. This places a lot of stress on joints and other vulnerable areas of the body.
Perhaps the most common — if not the most recognized — type of soft-tissue injury is “whiplash.” This refers to an injury to the neck muscles when the head is suddenly, and forcefully, thrown forward and then back.
Soft tissue injuries typically result in pain, swelling, and reduced mobility, but these symptoms may not show up immediately. They can take days, even weeks, to manifest. In addition, soft tissue injuries are not visible on an X-ray. This makes them more challenging to diagnose and document. Getting proper medical treatment is the key first step, at or even before the first sign of pain or discomfort (more on this below).
CONCUSSIONS AFTER A CAR ACCIDENT
Your brain is well-protected by your skull and the fluid inside of it. However, if you strike your head, or your body is violently jolted, your brain may strike the inside of your skull with great force. If this happens during the course of a car accident, you may sustain a concussion.
Concussions can be very serious, and the symptoms do not often show up immediately. Sometimes the symptoms are obvious (such as disorientation or even loss of consciousness), but they can also be more subtle. Here is a list of concussion symptoms:
inability to concentrate
difficulty remembering new information
lack of energy, and
abnormal sleep patterns (sleeping more than usual or less than usual)
If you exhibit any of these signs following a car accident, you may have a concussion; and you should seek medical attention.
SEE A DOCTOR AFTER A CAR ACCIDENT
Following a car accident, you should see a doctor if you feel any level of pain and discomfort. It may even be a good idea to get checked out even if you feel fine. Your doctor will be in the best position to determine whether you sustained any serious injuries in the accident. Your doctor can also give you advice on monitoring symptoms of potential injuries, including the sorts of red flags to watch out for.
If you end up making any sort of injury claim after the accident, it’s crucial to be able to document the fact that you sought medical treatment within a reasonable amount of time. If you wait too long to see a doctor, the insurance adjuster is going to argue that you couldn’t have been all that injured.
DO NOT SETTLE RIGHT AWAY
Following a car accident, the other driver’s insurance company may contact you and try to get you to sign a release of any claims you might have. The insurance company may even offer you a sum of money to entice you to sign the release.
You should wait until you have been fully evaluated by a medical professional before signing anything the adjuster puts in front of you. You should also wait long enough to make sure all injuries from the car accident have fully manifested themselves. Your doctor can help you determine how long this needs to be. If you sign a release, and an injury shows up later, you cannot then go back to the insurance company and ask them to pay for your medical treatment. You waive your legal right to pursue that compensation when you sign the release.
A great many drivers on the road represent threats to your safety and well-being. But there are numerous ways of minimizing your chances of having a collision with an unsafe driver. Defensive driving is a big part of car safety and you should always be practicing it, until it becomes second nature.
A cardinal rule that will help you stay out of collisions is: Don’t tailgate. Tailgating is the cause of innumerable accidents, many of them serious. No matter how fast you’re going, you should be able to stop safely if the car in front of you were to slam on its brakes. Any closer than that and you are in a danger zone. So the faster you’re traveling, the more room you’ll want to leave between your car and the one in front of you.
More space gives you:
More time to react and brake or steer if something unexpected happens;
Better visibility around the vehicle ahead;
More room to maneuver and lane change if there is a delay or obstruction in your lane;
A smoother ride because you no longer need to brake abruptly;
Better fuel economy and reduced vehicle wear because you are now driving more smoothly.
Keep a safe distance. While it is never safe to tailgate any vehicle on the highway, following too close is particularly dangerous around large trucks and buses because the size of these vehicles prevents you from seeing the road ahead and having sufficient time to react to slowing or stopped traffic or another obstacle.
Following too closely is always the cause of multi car pileups on freeways and other roads. Besides, it’s illegal. So don’t tailgate. And if you’re being tailgated take action to get the tailgater off your back. If possible, move to another lane. If you can’t do that safely, slow down gradually. Don’t hit the brakes – you could cause an accident involving yourself, and you could also trigger a bad case of road rage. Just gradually slow down until the driver behind you takes the hint and decides to either back off or go around.
What is GAP Insurance and why should I add this coverage to my automobile policy?
GAP insurance or “guaranteed auto protection” is a coverage that you may purchase for your already existing automobile insurance policy. This coverage will pay for the difference between your vehicle’s actual cash value and the amount that you still owe to the bank or finance company at the time of loss. Insurance companies will only pay what your vehicle is worth at the time of loss (actual cash value) and if the vehicle is depreciated they will deduct that amount. Therefore, you could end up paying for the difference of the amount you owe on your car loan and the car’s current estimated value. As a result, you may want to purchase GAP insurance in order to protect your investment.
Over the years I have had many clients who were injured in auto accidents in Florida and time and time again my clients assumed that their comprehensive and collision insurance will pay for their vehicle damage. These clients were surprised to find out that at the conclusion of the case they did not receive full compensation in their property damage because they did not purchase GAP insurance. So do your research and contact your insurance company and request a quote for GAP insurance coverage before you really need it!
Hot time in the city? Heading out for a weekend at the lake? I don’t blame you, when the weather starts to heat up and summer hits, it seems as if everyone descends upon the lake at the same time. Fishing boats, speed boats, jet skis, swimmers, and others take to the water to keep cool during the hot months. While hanging out at the lake can be an enjoyable American pastime, it can turn dangerous if people behave recklessly or are inattentive while on the water. Knowing the safety risks of jet skis can help to keep you and your family safe this upcoming summer season.
Here are some safety tips from wwwsafetyresource.org and Emily Abbate of The Stir to help you stay safe out there friends:
You need a life jacket. I don’t care if it’s not stylish and you can swim as well as Michael Phelps. I also don’t care about your vice against wacky tan lines. That’s what spray tans are for, my friends.
Use the vehicle’s safety precautions.For some jet skis, that means a lanyard that is placed around the wrist, attaching you to the handlebars of the watercraft. Often referred to as a kill cord, the string operates a kill switch when the operator goes overboard, deactivating your ride. Without a kill cord, your jet ski could continue to operate without you in control, and hurt someone else in the process.
Stay alert.It’s easy to get caught up in the moment once you get a hand of handling the jet ski. But other boats, skiers, divers, or swimmers could be in your general area.
Don’t drink and jet. This should be obvious, but it’s not always the case. I understand that taking a ride after a few beers may seem like a good idea, at the time. But the possibility of injury just isn’t worth the risk. Of course, the same rules apply while being a passenger, too. Intoxication for anyone involved is just a distraction.
Don’t get cocky. So you’ve noticed a passing motor boat and the waves that it has left behind. Using these waves as a ramp or launching point could send you and your jet ski flying in a bad direction, or even worse, upside down.
And a tip of my own: Different models make a difference. Get familiar with the specific jet ski you’re riding, and take it for a test spin with someone who knows what’s up. Never just assume that you’ll “get the swing of it.” Because the scary truth of it all is that one assumption could cost you your life.
According to the Smart Motorist, in the next 20 years the number of elderly drivers (persons 70 & over) is predicted to triple in the United States. As age increases, older drivers generally become more conservative on the road. Many mature drivers modify their driving habits (for instance to avoid busy highways or night-time driving) to match their declining capabilities. However, statistics show that older drivers are more likely than younger ones to be involved in multi-vehicle crashes, particularly at intersections.
Research on age-related driving concerns has shown that at around the age of 65 drivers face an increased risk of being involved in a vehicle crash. After the age of 75, the risk of driver fatality increases sharply, because older drivers are more vulnerable to both crash-related injury and death. Three behavioral factors in particular may contribute to these statistics: poor judgement in making left-hand turns; drifting within the traffic lane; and decreased ability to change behavior in response to an unexpected or rapidly changing situation.
If you or your loved one is an older driver, there are many ways for you to stay safe on the road and continue to drive for many years. Much of it has to do with knowing your physical limits and capabilities. Here are some tips from AARP.
Monitor your health. Be aware of any health changes such as vision, hearing, memory and concentration. Keep up with regular checkups and exercise.
Keep a safe driving distance. Use the three-second rule when following another car, so you have time to react to any potential hazards.
Avoid distractions. Anything that takes your eyes off the road is a distraction and that includes cell phone use, eating, using a GPS, and adjusting the radio.
Adjust your fit. AARP is a member of the Car Fit program, where a team of technicians can help set up your vehicle to make sure it “fits” you for comfort and safety. Go to Car Fit to find a location near you.
Self-regulate. Avoid driving during rush hour, at night, or in challenging weather conditions. Keep running your errands and appointments, but try to choose daylight and less busy times to travel.
Go right. Lee says instead of making a left-hand turn, make three right turns instead to get to the same place instead of crossing traffic in a busy intersection.
Don’t forget to stop. At stop signs, scan before proceeding and look for pavement markings. If you are behind another car, wait two seconds until they proceed through the sign before you move forward.
Check your meds. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if medications you are taking could have an affect on your driving.
Be aware of others. Bikes, motorcycles, and pedestrians can add more challenges to driving. Be extra vigilant in intersections and when merging.
Keep a buffer. Have enough space around your vehicle so you have room to maneuver whether it is on the road or in a parking lot.