Archive for the ‘ Auto Accident ’ Category

24
Sep

What Happens If I Get into an Accident in a Rental Car?

September 24, 2019

Most of us know what to do when our vehicle is involved in a car accident. However, the steps to follow may not be quite so clear if we get into an accident driving a rental car.

For the most part, many of the same things apply in a rental car as they do for your personal vehicle. For example, you will want to make sure that anyone injured is being taken care of, or that an ambulance is on the way to assist.

You will also want to make sure to move your rental car out of the way of traffic, take pictures of the damage, exchange information with the other driver, call the police, request an accident report and, if feasible, take down names and contact information of any witnesses present.

The At-Fault Party

As with any car accident, the at-fault party will be held responsible. Therefore, the at-fault driver’s insurance is required to cover the cost of the rental car’s repairs. The same holds true for any injuries resulting from the car accident. Whether or not you feel injured at the time of the accident, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible so that a doctor can confirm that you are okay.

It’s important to note that frequently the costs associated with car accident injuries exceed auto insurance caps. If this is the case, it is important to speak with a personal injury attorney right away. You may be eligible for compensation for any medical bills, lost wages and damages incurred in an auto accident. Even if you were injured while driving a rental car, if the other driver’s negligence caused your injuries, it may be in your best interest to initiate a personal injury claim.

Sometimes, the at-fault party is uninsured. That’s why it is important for every driver to carry uninsured/underinsured insurance. While Indiana requires a minimum of $50,000 for uninsured/underinsured insurance, car accident injury costs can easily exceed that amount. Talk to your insurance provider to see if it is a good idea to add more coverage.

Substitute Vehicle Coverage

Before renting a vehicle, it is important to confirm with your regular car insurance provider that you have substitute vehicle coverage. This will ensure that any rental vehicle you book has the same coverage as your personal vehicle.

Using the Rental Company’s Insurance

Even if personal insurance offers substitute vehicle coverage, it may be worth considering adding the rental company’s insurance options. This could protect you from having to pay large deductibles to your own insurance company in the event of an accident. Additionally, rental car insurance can keep your regular insurance premiums from spiking as a result of an accident.

Adding a Collision Damage/Loss Waiver

Occasionally, rental car companies are not able to rent out vehicles involved in accidents because they have to be repaired. To cover these costs, rental car and insurance companies offer damage and loss waivers to drivers. Without the waiver, the rental car company may try to hold drivers responsible for loss of revenue while the car is being fixed (this is known as “loss of use”). This may include charging a daily fee for the vehicle while it remains under repair. Fees can be as high as the normal rental rate.

Many people who have substitute vehicle coverage with their own insurance providers opt to take the collision damage waiver (CDW) or collision loss waiver (CLW) for the reasons described above. However, many recommend that drivers avoid taking the additional coverage of CDW/CLW. It is best to consult with your own insurance company before accepting or declining CDW/CLW coverage.

For more information about how an Indiana car accident attorney can help you with your case, contact Stewart & Stewart Attorneys at 800-333-3529 or visit our website.

17
Sep

Truck Accidents 101: Laws in Indiana

September 17, 2019

On average, 3,000 to 5,000 people die each year in vehicle accidents involving trucks. Over three-fourths of those injured in a truck accident are not truck drivers. In spite of stringent federal and Indiana state regulations, commercial vehicles remain the most deadly cause of fatal accidents in the country.

Indiana State Regulations

In the state of Indiana, the Motor Carrier Services Division (MCS) of the Department of Revenue (DOR) monitor and enforce commercial trucking laws and regulations.

The size and weight of the average truck pose a serious threat to the safety of non-commercial drivers. As such, all truck drivers must have an adequate amount of rest and steer clear of any substances that may impair their state of mind. These substances include alcohol, illegal drugs, and prescription drugs.

Additionally, those in charge of loading commercial trucks must adequately distribute the weight in a way that does not prohibit the driver from being able to maneuver the vehicle.

Lastly, not all roads allow commercial trucks. They must adhere to state traffic regulations, which restrict them to roads that give them adequate space.

Federal Regulations

Many federal regulations are similar to those in the state of Indiana. However, when injuries occur in a truck accident, the most strict laws will bear greater authority in a personal injury lawsuit.

Federal regulations address how often a truck driver must inspect all the equipment in their vehicle. Brakes, tires, hitches, and more must meet federal requirements. Those who manufacture the equipment parts must also maintain minimum quality standards to make sure they are not endangering the truck driver and other drivers on the road.

All federal regulations pertaining to commercial vehicles are moderated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration(FMCSA) within the US Department of Transportation.

Liable Parties in Commercial Trucking

If you or someone you love is injured in a truck accident, you should speak with a personal injury attorney right away. You are entitled to compensation for your injuries, but liable parties may try to coerce you into accepting responsibility for the truck accident.

In a traditional vehicle accident, only the drivers involved are potentially liable for injuries and property damage. In a truck accident, however, several organizations and individuals may share the blame for injuries and property damage. The truck driver may be liable. Both state and federal regulations place a greater burden of care upon them, and they are required to take adequate breaks and maintain their vehicle equipment.

The company that hired the driver may also be liable. They are ultimately responsible for the negligence of their drivers. The loaders may also be liable. Whether it’s a loading company or a few individuals, they are expected to follow state and federal regulations when it comes to weight distribution. Lastly, the vehicle parts manufacturers may be liable for defective parts.

There could be as many as four different individuals or organizations that share liability for your injuries. Because each of these groups knows the gravity of the situation, companies will be eager to put the issue to rest before having to present their negligence to a courtroom.

Seeking Compensation After a Truck Accident

Speaking with an Indiana truck accident attorney will help you take on personnel representing the truck driver. Also, your attorney can help you seek compensation for hospital bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.

For more information about how an Indiana truck accident attorney can help you with your case, contact Stewart & Stewart Attorneys at 800-333-3529, or visit our website.

22
Jun

What Are My Rights if I am in a Car Accident While Using a Ride Share?

June 22, 2019

Ride share apps like Uber and Lyft have made life easier for millions of Americans, who for a variety of reasons, choose or need to use a car service to get around.

Ride shares are convenient in areas where it’s not easy to get a taxi, cities without widespread public transportation and metro areas where the fare for an Uber or Lyft may be cheaper than a traditional cab.

However, the uncertainties of life apply to ride shares too – accidents happen. If you’re injured as a result of an Uber accident or a Lyft accident, Stewart & Stewart Attorneys is here to help.

Big Questions: Who’s Liable and Who Pays?

As with any driver working for a company, accidents involving Lyft or Uber drivers can be complex. If you do get into an accident while using one of these services, you should enlist the help of a qualified attorney to help with your claim. This is important whether you are a passenger that gets injured in an accident involving a ride share program or if your vehicle is in a collision with an Uber or Lyft driver.

For injury liability, the driver’s personal insurance will be the first place to go, but most personal insurance policies have provisions in them that exempt business use. Those companies won’t pay out for damages and injuries to passengers while the insured is on the clock even though the vehicle is not part of a fleet owned by Uber or Lyft.

The good news is that Lyft and Uber both carry third-party insurance that provides up to $1 million per accident for personal injuries and property damage. But this won’t kick in until all avenues regarding the driver’s personal auto insurance plan have been exhausted.

If another driver is at fault, there are two ways you can be protected.

First, as in any auto accident where the other party is at fault, you would seek damages from that person, either through his insurance carrier or a personal injury lawsuit.

If the at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance, doesn’t carry enough insurance to cover your injuries or is unknown (in a hit-and-run accident, for example), Uber and Lyft also carry uninsured/underinsured coverage. Similar to ride share companies’ third-party insurance, this policy also provides up to $1 million per accident.

In unique cases (such as when damages total more than $1 million), lawsuits against Lyft and Uber themselves can be filed, but this is a tricky avenue to pursue because ride share drivers are independent contractors; therefore, the legal responsibility of the company isn’t as cut-and-dry as it would be if drivers were employees with a commercial driver’s license.

If You’re a Driver: Document, Document, Document

It’s important to note that these $1 million policies are also in place to protect Lyft and Uber drivers and their property.

If you’re driving for a ride share and you’re involved in an accident, be sure to document everything so you’re protected as much as you possibly can be. Take photos of damage, get license plate and contact information of the other driver(s) and call your insurance. Lyft and Uber also have emergency hotlines that you can call in case of an accident.

Having the necessary documentation will get you back on the road faster, because Uber doesn’t allow drivers to pick up passengers while they investigate to determine fault in an accident. If your vehicle is damaged, you may not be able to work again until Uber inspects your vehicle and finds it satisfactory to pick up passengers again.

Uber and Lyft Accidents are Complex

If you have been injured or a loved one has died due to a crash involving a ride share driver, you deserve to be compensated. At Stewart & Stewart, we know what it takes to find the responsible parties and get our clients the money they deserve. We will work hard to get that for you. For more information, give your Indianapolis auto accident lawyer a call at 1-800-33-33-LAW or visit our website today.

15
Jun

Five Things Semi Truck Drivers Want Regular Car Drivers to Know

June 15, 2019

People driving cars can get easily frustrated at semi-truck drivers. Traveling at a slower speed in a passing lane, making wide turns and taking time backing up are things that many of us have been inpatient with at one time or another when we’re in a hurry to get somewhere.

Conversely, the opposite is also true.

Semi-truck drivers have plenty of complaints about the car drivers they share the streets and highways with. To avoid added stress on the roads, keep in mind these facts about semi-trucks and their drivers.

Semi-trucks can only go so fast

Some trucks, especially the larger and heavier ones, can’t go as fast as most cars on the highway. Some max out at 65 miles per hour, which is slower than the 70-mile-per-hour, speed limit found on highways in Indiana. Be mindful that the truck may not be able to go faster than it is, especially if it is passing another vehicle and temporarily slowing down the left lane.

If you pass, do it quickly (and on the left)

Car drivers know all about the blind spot. It’s that space near the rear of your car where the mirror won’t show an oncoming vehicle, and you also can’t see it by looking directly to your left or right.

Due to the size of semi-trucks (plus the fact that there is no rear-view mirror), the blind spot is lengthened, so if you’re going to pass a truck, do it quickly. Do not ride alongside a semi-truck since there’s a good chance the driver won’t be able to see you.

Also, only pass trucks on the left. Drivers are more accustomed to watch for passing vehicles in the left-hand lane rather than the right.

You might see a placard on the back of a truck that reads, “If you can’t see my mirrors, I can’t see you.” Heed that advice.

It takes longer for trucks to stop

Be careful not to cut off a semi-truck, especially if you’re approaching stopped traffic. Even an alert driver with a perfectly maintained truck requires more distance than your car to come to a stop. Also, consider the fact that many trucks on the road need service or, in some cases, may not be fit to be on the road. That could lead to worn breaks or total break failure. A driver may also be tired or looking at his GPS, which could slow his or her reaction time. The bottom line: give the truck enough space to come to a stop.

Don’t assume a truck will make a perfect turn

Even the most expert semi-truck driver is not in complete control of his trailer during a turn. This is called “off-tracking,” meaning the trailer will not follow the same path of the cab when it makes a turn. The back of a trailer can easily drift into a neighboring lane while the turn is taking place, so even if it requires you to stop for an extra moment, give a turning truck some extra space and time to complete the maneuver.

Truck drivers are people too

Regular car drivers should exhibit some patience when dealing with the shortcomings of these semi-trucks. Remember that some of the things a semi-truck can’t do isn’t the fault of the driver. Also, be mindful that the driver is likely on a tight deadline, puts in long hours and is away from his family for days at a time while he earns a living.

Given their size, truck accidents can be devastating, particularly for smaller cars that are involved. If you or a loved one is involved in an accident involving a semi-truck, call Stewart & Stewart. We know what it takes to find the responsible parties and get our clients the money they deserve. We will work hard to get that for you. For more information, give your Indiana Truck Accident Lawyer a call at 1-800-33-33-LAW or visit our website today.

4
Jun

Do Roundabouts Reduce Accidents?

June 04, 2019

Indiana is implementing roundabouts more and more as a way to reduce accidents and traffic congestion. According to the Department of Transportation, roundabouts also reduce fuel consumption, air pollution and construction costs, while increasing capacity and enhancing the aesthetics of an intersection.

At the end of 2016, more than 256 roundabouts were constructed in our state, with over 100 located in one town!

Get Familiar with the Roundabout

If you haven’t encountered a roundabout, or if you’ve seen one but had no idea about what to do, the state has provided this handy brochure.

Are Roundabouts Really Safer?

Roundabouts can be intimidating. Entering the circle, especially at times of heavy traffic, can be daunting. It leads to many opponents of roundabouts saying that they cause more accidents.

This is a myth.

Various DOT studies across the country show that crashes overall are reduced by 39 percent in a roundabout compared to a traditional four-way intersection.

Other safety statistics:

  • 76 percent reduction in crashes involving injuries
  • 30-40 percent reduction in pedestrian crashes
  • 90 percent reduction in a crash that leads to a fatality

What Makes Them Safer Over an Intersection?

In a typical four-way intersection, there are 32 points where vehicles can collide with each other. This is taking all the ways of travel into account–crossing through the intersection, making a right-hand turn and making a left-hand turn.

In a roundabout, the points of collision are reduced to eight. This is because cars are not crossing or turning left into a roundabout.

And when there is a crash in a roundabout, speeds are usually low enough to prevent serious injury or death. Most roundabouts are designed for cars to travel around 15-25 miles per hour in them, and the one-way, counterclockwise flow of traffic eliminates the possibility of a head-on collision.

Another key reason that roundabouts are safer than intersections is that they remove the variable of the red light or stop sign. There’s no instance of someone trying to beat a changing yellow light or running a stop sign when dealing with a roundabout.

They also cut down on traffic back-ups that red lights can cause. Due to the flow of traffic being more consistent and continuous with roundabouts, rear-end and chain-reaction accidents are virtually removed from the picture. A multistate study revealed that a roundabout reduced traffic delays by 89 percent and vehicle stops by 56 percent.

Why is There Opposition to Roundabouts?

Fear of the unknown is attributed to the roundabout’s lack of general popularity in the United States. A study in the state of Washington surveyed drivers’ opinions of a roundabout before it was constructed and after it had been in operation for a number of months. The first survey showed that only 31 percent of people favored a roundabout, while 41 percent strongly opposed it.

After those same people got to drive in the roundabout, the number of people in favor of it doubled to 63 percent. The amount who strongly opposed it also dropped sharply to 15 percent.

While roundabouts are generally considered safer for the public, accidents do happen, especially those involving bicyclists and pedestrians. If you have been injured or a loved one has died in an accident involving a roundabout, contact us for a free consultation. Stewart & Stewart is your Indianapolis Auto Accident Lawyer, and we know what it takes to get our clients the money they deserve. Give us a call at 1-800-33-33-LAW or visit our website today.

1
Jun

Four Ways a Delivery Truck Accident is Different from a Car Accident

June 01, 2019

Not all auto accidents are equal.

Naturally, the size of the vehicles involved will make a difference in damage and injuries, but did you know that it can even effect the way the law finds those responsible?

Delivery Truck Accidents on The Rise

With the increase in popularity of ecommerce sites like Amazon, along with big-box retailers like Target and Walmart increasing their online presence, there are more delivery trucks on the road than ever before.

And it’s not just UPS and FedEx. Food trucks, flower delivery trucks and many more are also sharing our local roads.

There are four major differences between regular car accidents and delivery truck accidents.

1. Driver Inexperience

Most large vehicles require some sort of Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). Some drivers may be on the road with very little training, or they may not have a CDL at all. Drivers need to compensate for the added weight of the larger vehicle, more stopping distance and dealing with trucks with only manual transmission.

Delivery truck drivers also may not be used to driving this different vehicle in rainy, snowy or icy conditions. Many are also going to unfamiliar places, so they may be paying more attention to their GPS than the current situation on the road.

Lack of experience in any of these areas can cause a crash, and many times, it is serious.

2. Greater Risk of Injury

Due to the size and weight of the vehicle, an accident involving a delivery truck will likely cause more damage than a standard automobile accident. If a pedestrian or bicyclist is struck, many times serious injuries or death will occur. More cars are totaled and passengers suffer debilitating injuries in accidents involving large trucks.

3. Maintenance History of the Truck

The U.S. Department of Transportation requires trucks to have documented maintenance history and companies that own trucks usually will keep detailed records as well. However, lack of maintenance (especially brake and tire failures) still account for a large part of truck crashes. Sometimes, the truck owner or operator has good intentions, but repairs made on the truck are faulty. There is a much larger paper trail when a truck is involved in an accident, especially if it is a fleet vehicle.

4. Truck Accidents Usually Bring Multiple Liable Parties

In a standard auto accident, legally-speaking, we are generally only dealing with the driver. In a truck accident where the driver is performing his job for an employer, liability becomes much more complicated. Potential responsibility falls on any of these parties:

  • Truck driver
  • Employer of the truck driver
  • Truck manufacturer and truck parts manufacturer
  • Truck maintenance company and mechanics

Delivery Truck Accidents are Complex

If you have been injured or a loved one has died due to a crash caused by a delivery truck driver, you deserve to be compensated. At Stewart & Stewart, we know what it takes to find the responsible parties and get our clients the money they deserve and we will work hard to get that for you. For more information, give us a call at 1-800-33-33-LAW or visit our website today.

27
May

10 Safe Group-Riding Tips to Avoid Motorcycle Accidents

May 27, 2019

Motorcycling is a passion for some people and many enjoy riding together in groups just for the journey, rather than traveling to reach a destination. Unfortunately, motorcycling can be a dangerous hobby. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that four out of every five motorcycle accidents result in a serious injury or death.

When motorcycling in a group, preparation and communication are essential for a successful, enjoyable ride.

Here are ten tips to ensure a fun and safe group ride.

1. Prepare Via a Pre-Ride Meeting

All riders need to be on the same page and a pre-ride meeting can ensure that. Start by going over your route, what the destination is, and what (if any) stopping points you have along the way. There should be no confusion among the drivers, since that could lead to problems on the road. Providing the address of the destination is also helpful, so riders can plug it into a GPS app on their phone in case they get separated from the group. Also, discussing how tolls will be handled if there are any that need to be paid on the route can prove to be helpful. In addition, at least one rider should carry a first-aid kit and a tool kit.

2. Follow the Leader

In your pre-ride meeting, designate a leader. This person should be an experienced rider and needs to know the limitations of the group so that he or she can set a safe pace and not perform any maneuvers that may be over the skill level of some riders. The leader also needs to relay hand signals to the rest.

3. Assign a Tail Rider

The tail (or sweep) rider is the last rider in the group. This person should also be one of the more experienced riders in your group. They can keep an eye on the entire pack in front of them, giving them a chance to help riders who get stuck or separated in traffic to safely catch up to the rest of the group.

4. Gear Up

Safety is paramount. Wear a full-face helmet, long pants and sleeves made of a thick, protective material (like leather), eye protection, and boots that cover your ankles. Add reflective pieces to your gear and bike, and always use your headlight (even during the day) so you give yourself the best chance to be seen by other motorists.

5. Stay Together

Now it’s time to hit the road! The leader will want to be sure to minimize the possibility of the group getting separated. This is especially important at traffic lights. If a light is about to turn red, slow down and stop at the light (if it is safe to do so) to keep your group together. If you’re the leader and you notice a light change just as you’re passing through the intersection, try to find a safe space to stop on the side of the road to wait for the rest of the pack to get the green light and catch up with you.

6. Ride in a Staggered Formation

You’ll want to be sure to ride in a staggered formation in order to keep a safe distance between you and your fellow riders. Staggered means the leader should be on the left side of the lane. The next rider should be behind the leader but on the right side of the lane. The next rider should be behind the second bike but back on the left side of the lane, and so on.

7. Keep a Safe Distance

The staggered formation helps with this point. But you’ll also want to keep a safe distance from vehicles ahead of the pack. Staying two seconds behind any vehicle or a fellow rider is a good rule of thumb.

8. Passing Vehicles

Riders should pass other vehicles one at a time. All motorcycles in the group should maintain their staggered position in case a situation occurs where the passing lane gets congested when only half of the group is able to make the pass. If this happens, the leader should keep the rest of the group behind him or her in the right lane until all members can safely make the pass.

9. Take Breaks

Find out how comfortable your most inexperienced rider in the pack is, and then determine when and where to take breaks. It’s important not to pressure a new rider out of their comfort zone. The most novice rider should also be placed in the middle of the pack. This way, they can follow veteran riders in front of them with confidence, and they also won’t have to worry about aggressive drivers or other potential pitfalls that the tail rider may have to deal with.

10. Don’t Succumb to Peer Pressure

If you are a novice motorcyclist and you feel that the ride is above your skill level, or you otherwise feel uncomfortable, safely leave the group. Signal to the tail rider that you’re pulling off. Since you will have the destination loaded into your phone, you can always meet the rest of the group there at your own pace. Thanks to the convenience of cell phones, the rest of the group won’t have to worry that you are lost or can’t find your way back home.

Unfortunately, even the safest motorcyclist can be the victim of an accident thanks to a driver who isn’t paying attention. Most studies find that 60 percent of multi-vehicle accidents involving motorcycles are the fault of the driver in a car or truck.

If you have been injured or a loved one has died in a motorcycle accident, contact us for a free consultation. The attorneys at Stewart & Stewart are experienced in motorcycle accidents in Indiana and know what it takes to get clients the compensation they deserve. Give us a call at 1-800-33-33-LAW or visit our website today.

25
May

Are Truck Drivers Receiving Enough Training?

May 25, 2019

There’s a major shortage of truck drivers in America. Due to that, there are many inexperienced drivers on the road. Deadly accidents involving trucks are also on the rise (up 11 percent from 2010 to 2015) and trucking transportation occupations accounted for more work-related fatalities than any other profession in 2015. Driver training programs have also come into question when looking at reasons behind these accidents.

How Large is the Shortage?

According to American Trucking Associations, the shortage at the beginning of 2018 was 51,000 drivers. That’s a significant increase from just two years prior, when the shortage was around 36,000 drivers. A changing economy and popular services like Amazon Prime that promise fast delivery are causing the issue. Employers are offering signing bonuses, wage raises, and other incentives (like giving drivers more opportunities to be at home), but many businesses fear that it won’t be enough to slow down the shortage wave.

Despite the shortage, the median pay for a heavy and tractor-trailer truck driver was $42,480 in 2017. That’s not a bad salary for a job that doesn’t require a college degree, and many experts believe that number will be closer to $50,000 by 2020. However, for an industry where the demand for drivers greatly outweighs the supply, a higher wage may be necessary to attract more drivers.

Are New Drivers Getting Adequate Training?

In an effort to try to get new workers on the road, a potential truck driver can pass the exam for a commercial driver’s license (CDL) with just three to four weeks of training. This can lead some to question whether it’s enough formal training. The leading causes of truck accidents are faulty equipment (mainly tires and brakes), distracted driving, driver fatigue and inadequate training.

As with any education, there are good and bad truck driver training schools. More reputable ones will allow you to stay past the three-to-four-week training period if students need work in a particular area before taking the exam. Others will also allow recruits to retrain with them if they fail the CDL test.

In addition, just like any other industry, there are good and bad truck companies. Many will hire a driver with a new CDL and put them through a paid, months-long, training period where they continue to work on maneuvers and shadow more experienced drivers until they feel they’re ready to head out on their own.

However, some schools and employers do not go to any of these lengths to make sure a driver is qualified to operate a truck before he’s put on the road alongside millions of Americans.

For example, one truck driver school in Florida was shut down by the state, with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles writing that the company’s “practices posed an immediate serious danger to…public health, safety, and welfare.” Some of the infractions that were found by the investigation included: ignoring difficult parts of the CDL test, tampering with CDL skills test score sheets and conducting fraudulent testing activities. The state forced 1,500 graduates from that program to retake and pass the CDL test or face a loss of license.

There are sure to be other instances of “schools” like this, so you need to protect yourself and get informed if you are the victim of an accident involving a tractor trailer.

If you have been injured or a loved one has died due to a crash caused by an inexperienced truck driver, you deserve to be compensated. At Stewart & Stewart, we know what it takes to get our clients the money they deserve, and we will work hard to get that for you. For more information, give us a call at 1-800-33-33-LAW or visit our website today.

14
May

How Do I Deal with an Insurance Dispute Following an Accident?

May 14, 2019

Let’s face it, car accidents are never pleasant, but most of us are bound to deal with at least one over the course of our driving career. Unfortunately, the insurance claim process that follows can sometimes be even worse. When the system works as it should, claimants get the settlement they deserve without too much trouble; but when it doesn’t, insurance disputes arise.

These disputes can manifest themselves in a number of different ways, but every one begins with the same fundamental issue: insurance companies don’t want to pay. At the end of the day, these companies are in business to make a profit, no matter what their commercials say, and will do whatever they can to keep their costs as low as possible. This could lead them to deny your claim, try to shift more blame your way, or offer you a settlement far below your expectation.

That’s why we’ve compiled this brief guide on how to deal with these disputes, so you can get the relief you’re owed, without losing your head along the way.

Don’t Get Pressured into a Bad Deal

It is more than likely that the first offer you receive will fall short of what you believe you deserve. Remember that you are not required to accept it. This first number likely represents the bottom range of what the insurance company is willing to pay, and they will probably reassess if you are willing to make them. Sure, they may stick with their initial offer, but there is no reason to accept it blindly on the first pass.

Don’t Panic

The second lesson, which really applies to the whole process from start to finish, is to keep a clear head. Whether we like it or not, insurance disputes happen all too frequently and can be incredibly frustrating. It is easy, even tempting, to get angry during these negotiations; try your best to stay calm. Chewing out the obnoxious insurance rep might make you feel better now, but it will only hurt your position in the long run. There is nothing to be gained and a lot to lose.

Get an Independent Appraisal 

Many drivers are not even aware that they can do this, and it will cost some extra cash up front, but it can seriously improve your chances of getting the outcome you deserve. Obviously, the insurance company will conduct their own appraisal, but they are almost universally low due to the aforementioned pressure to save their own skin. Taking the time to get an expert, independent appraisal is sometimes the only way to get a fair deal, especially if you feel that your insurance company is trying to pull the wool over your eyes.

Consider Hiring an Expert

Not every case requires legal representation, but if you’re dealing with an active insurance dispute following an auto accident, finding an experienced, trial-ready, law firm can be an excellent legal and financial decision. In the vast majority of cases, claimants recover significantly more when using an attorney than when self-representing—while avoiding a lot of unnecessary frustration and complication.  

Even if you have already begun dealing with an insurance dispute, it may not be too late to hire an auto accident attorney to help out. Indiana Accident Attorneys at Stewart & Stewart have handled hundreds of auto accident insurance dispute cases, and understand how to get the best possible outcomes for our clients. 

Visit our website for more information about auto accident insurance disputes, or contact us today to talk to one of our expert personal injury lawyers about your case.

21
Mar

What Can I Do if My Airbags Failed During an Accident?

March 21, 2019

You get into your car everyday with the expectation that you will arrive at your destination safely. You also expect that should an accident occur, the safety measures inside your car, specifically your airbags, will work to keep you and any passengers safe from increased harm. But what do you do if the airbags fail to deploy after an accident?Air Bag failure

When an accident occurs that is serious enough to cause harm, the airbags should deploy to stop a victim from flying through the windshield and experiencing serious injuries or death. When airbags fail to do this, it is often due to a defect. Makers and manufactures of airbags, along with the makers of the cars, are required to ensure that every product they make works efficiently. When their products fail, they should be held liable for any injuries or harm caused by their negligence.

After an accident, there are many steps one should take to ensure they are not only kept safe and out of harms way, but that they can also file a claim and get the compensation they need to return to a normal life. When an accident occurs, you should always remain calm and try to move out of the way of other cars or busy intersections, if possible. If you suffered injuries, make sure an ambulance is called so you can be treated as soon as possible. If you are able, you should also take pictures of the scene, any injuries you see on your body or the body of a passenger and get the information of the other driver or drivers. If your airbag didn’t deploy in addition to the accident, you should also follow these steps:

  • Take pictures of the interior of the car to prove that the airbag did not deploy
  • Have a medical professional write down all of your injuries and take note of ones that could have been avoided if the airbags worked properly
  • Contact an attorney as soon as possible

When airbags do not work properly, there are a few people who can be held responsible. During the creation of an airbag, there are many different stages of design where a defect can take place. Because of this, an attorney will need to determine at what stage the defect occurred and who is responsible for your injuries. The following could be responsible for injuries related to a defective airbag:

  • The airbag manufacturer
  • Installers, tasked with physically placing the airbag correctly into the vehicle
  • The distributor or transport service who may have damaged the airbags during transport or storage
  • Testers, tasked with testing the airbags before the vehicle is put on the market to be sold
  • The car manufacturer

Determining who is to blame can be tricky, as it can hard to pinpoint exactly where in the process things went wrong. An experienced attorney will be able to look at all the facts and determine who was negligent and who should be held responsible for your injuries.

After a car accident, victims are subject to serious injuries and harm. Without airbags, those injuries can be intensified and lead to lifelong suffering and even death. If you or a loved one was in a car accident where the airbags failed to deploy, contact the attorneys at Stewart and Stewart right away to learn more about how we can help you get the compensation you need and deserve. For more information, give us a call at 1-800-33-33-LAW or visit our website for more information.