What to Do If You Are Hit by a Drunk Driver – St. Louis Car Accident Attorney

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If you have been involved in any sort of automobile accident, the first thing to do is to immediately seek medical care, if it’s necessary. Next, it would be a good idea to speak with an experienced St. Louis car accident lawyer ASAP to make sure your legal rights are protected. Missouri is a comparative fault state, which means that both parties in an accident can be found at fault, and therefore liable for injuries and damages.

If you are hit by a drunk driver, then they are typically going to be found at fault. This means it is really just a matter of ensuring that you are okay and then either dealing with the insurance company to have your injuries and damages compensated, or escalating the case to go in front of a judge and jury if a settlement cannot be reached.

Most insurance companies want to settle drunk-driving cases quickly and without having to go to court. The problem is that compensating you for your injuries is not their number-one priority. Their job is to minimize their losses, so they will almost always offer you less money if you are not represented by an attorney. If they assume that you don’t know what you are eligible for, they will often minimize what is fair and what you deserve to be compensated for.

Understanding Damages

In an accident, you are generally eligible for two types of damages: noneconomic and economic. Economic damages are damages that are concrete and can be calculated, like a doctor or hospital bill and lost wages from work, so they are often pretty easy to figure out. However, noneconomic damages are those damages that aren’t always easy to calculate because they aren’t concrete. Noneconomic damages include things like emotional distress and pain and suffering.

Since no two people experience pain and emotional distress in the same manner, it can be difficult to put a price on how much your suffering is financially worth. A St. Louis car accident attorney can help you calculate how much you should reasonably get, based either on the multiplier method or the per diem method. These are formulas that insurance companies and lawyers often use to figure out how much someone’s pain and suffering should be compensated with monetarily. It’s not a precise number, so without an experienced party on your side, it is difficult to understand if you are being offered a fair settlement or not.

When you are hit by a drunk driver, determining who is at fault is usually easy. What you are eligible for financially, however, is not always easy to calculate and fight for. The best way to ensure that you get all that you legally deserve both in noneconomic and economic damages is to speak with an experienced attorney ASAP.

7751 Carondelet Ave #601
St. Louis, MO
63105
Phone: (314) 361-4242
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What is Vicarious Liability? – St. Louis Car Crash Attorney

handing over car keys

In automobile law, there is something called “vicarious liability.” Vicarious liability is the idea that if someone has your permission to drive your vehicle, should they be at fault in a car accident, then you – as the vehicle owner – should be held liable for any resulting damages or injuries. Vicarious liability does however, have some limitations. Knowing what those limitations are and what they mean to you is very important before you hand your keys over to another driver.

Vicarious liability and employees

If you lend your car to an employee and give them permission to use your car under the scope of their employment duties, and they are in an at-fault accident, then you (the employer) would likely be held liable for any damages and injuries. For vicarious liability to apply, however, the employee must be acting within the scope of their employment. Just because they were driving your car does not automatically make you liable.

For instance, if they were driving your car to make a delivery and were in an at-fault accident, then you would be generally be held liable for those damages and injuries. If, however, they completed their delivery and stopped off to run a personal errand, then you may not be liable for any damages or injuries. So if your employee is in an accident, before you assume that you are liable through vicarious liability, it is important to speak  with a qualified St. Louis auto accident attorney to ensure that they were performing under the scope of their employment.

If you lend your car to your child

If you lend your car to your minor child and they are in an at-fault accident, then you would likely be liable to cover the costs of any damage or injuries sustained. If they had your permission to use the vehicle, those costs generally become your responsibility.

Rental car exceptions

An exception to the law of vicarious liability is when you are driving in a rental car. When you drive a rental car in Missouri, then the Graves Amendment takes precedence over the state’s vicarious liability laws. The Graves Amendment is a federal law that says that rental car companies cannot be held liable if those who rent their vehicles are in an at-fault accident. If the renter is liable for the accident, then they are responsible for any damages and injuries to the other driver, as well as to the rental car. That is why, if you are going to rent a car, it is imperative that you check your auto insurance policy to ensure that you have coverage when you rent a car. Don’t just assume that you will be covered.

Vicarious liability or respondeat superior is a law that states that if someone is driving your vehicle with your express consent, then you are (in most cases) liable to pay for any damages or injuries if they are at-fault while in an accident. Although there are exceptions to the rule, it is important to understand how lending your car keys to someone else can affect you. If someone has been in an accident in your car, it is imperative that you seek the advice of a qualified attorney to protect your legal interests.

7751 Carondelet Ave #601
St. Louis, MO
63105
Phone: (314) 361-4242

 

Third Parties That Can Claim a Share in a Auto Crash Settlement – St. Louis Attorneys

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A person who is injured in a car accident may succeed in getting a settlement after a lot of negotiation. But they may be surprised to learn that a major part of it has been paid to third parties and not much has come to him directly. This is due to the numerous liens on a settlement. All the liens should be taken into account when the settlement is being negotiated so that the settlement amount exceeds the person’s debts. Our St. Louis auto accident attorney will discuss this in detail.

Liens on a Car Accident Claim

A lien is the right of a person to possess the property of another person until he repays a debt. A lien holder can claim a share in the person’s car accident settlement. However, he has to get the approval of the court to do so.

Some of the parties which generally file claims for a car accident settlement are doctors’ offices, hospitals, health insurance and auto insurance companies.

Healthcare Providers

Doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers are often some of the lien holders in a car accident settlement. Some of them may place a lien on the settlement while others may agree to a partial payment.

Hospitals and doctors bills may have to be paid from the settlement. Often, a doctors’ office or a hospital refuses to submit their billing through the person’s health insurance carrier. They prefer to issue a ‘claimed lien’ against the car accident settlement and wait for the full payment from the settlement when it is received. However, there are certain limits for the amounts that healthcare providers can claim from such settlements.

Health Insurance

The health insurance company takes up the responsibility for taking care of the person’s medical treatment and pays the medical bills for him. So it can request that the repayment is made from the car accident settlement. This depends on the kind of coverage. For instance, if the health insurance is via employment the person may have an ERISA protected plan. In such a situation, an ERISA lien could be placed on the car accident settlement.

Auto Insurance

If the person has medical pay in his auto insurance plan, some of his medical bills are paid by his auto insurance carrier. Therefore an auto insurance company can ask for a share in the settlement proceeds. But in many places, auto insurance carriers are not allowed to claim a share in a car accident settlement.

The plaintiff files a claim for a settlement in order to compensate for his losses. But, the lien holders have to be paid before he gets the settlement proceeds. If a major part of the settlement is used for paying the lien holders the claimant may not get enough reimbursement for his damages. In order to get a favorable outcome for him, it is essential to ensure that the claims made by the third parties are legitimate and have been taken into account during the negotiations for the settlement. An experienced St. Louis car crash lawyer can help get the compensation that you deserve.

 

7751 Carondelet Ave #601
St. Louis, MO
63105
FREE consultation: (314) 361-4242

What to Do After a Car Crash – St. Louis Lawyer

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Car accidents can happen to anyone, at any time. Those who have been in an automobile accident – minor or major – know that everything, right from dealing with injuries to insurance companies and the law is neither pleasant, nor easy.

While notifying the authorities is the first thing that most accident victims should do, it is not necessarily the first thing that comes to their minds. At that very moment, not everyone might have the ability or the presence of mind to always do the right things first. However, it is definitely important for everyone – accident victim or not – to understand what they should do in the event of an accident.

 

Get medical attention

Often, accident victims who do not have significant injuries do not seek immediate medical attention. Certain injuries, especially internal injuries can at times take more than 24 to 48 hours to show their effects. Injuries such as internal bleeding, internal damage to organs, closed head injuries like whiplash, etc. can cause severe damage and even cause permanent disabilities if left unchecked.

Not seeking medical attention immediately after an accident can also have repercussions on a civil suit. Most car accident lawyers recommend an examination to their clients, inquire if medical treatment was sought after the accident, and ask for a report even if the medical examination shows nothing.

Contact the police

However minor the accident may be, it is imperative to notify the police. Once contacted the police officer on duty will survey the scene of accident, interview those involved in the accident, issue a ticket if necessary and write an accident report.

The police report is an important document that is required in cases that result in a suit. Moreover, any experienced lawyer will ask to see the police report filed.

Contact an accident attorney

It is essential to make sure that accident victims contact a professional, experienced and qualified St. Louis car accident lawyer, before contacting their insurance company.

One can never ascertain how an accident case can unravel. Notifying a lawyer, right from the beginning can help in easing out the entire process, right from dealing with legal authorities and insurance agents to generating correct reports that help in identifying fault.

Call the insurance company

Many accident victims fear the negative if they call their vehicle insurance companies, and often prefer to sort out the issue with a handshake. One can never know the extent of damage that has taken place, and neither can they be sure that a verbal promise of payment for damages will be kept. In such cases, not reporting the accident to the insurance company might wipe out any chances of claim recovery later on.

It is thus wiser to follow protocol and file a claim for damages with the car insurance company.

Consult with your attorney before accepting any settlements

Insurance companies will obviously try to settle for as little as they can. A qualified St. Louis auto accident attorney should always be consulted before entering into any agreements, to ensure that a fair settlement is made.

Once in a car accident, there are a number of laws and legal procedures that need to be followed and that are often time bound. A car accident lawyer can assist with these and ensure that victims get what they are entitled for.

Call (314) 361-4242 for a FREE and private case evaluation.

https://www.hoffmannpersonalinjury.com/

Lost Wages After a Auto Accident – St. Louis Attorney

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There are times when injuries are so severe in a car accident that a person is unable to perform in the same capacity as they did prior to being hit. If you are unable to return to your former position at work for an extended period of time due to your injuries related to the car accident and the need for medical treatment, and your employer lets you go, you might have recourse for your lost wages. If an employer can’t go the extended time without your services and needs to hire someone to take your place, then it might be possible for you to get compensation.

If you lose your job because of the injuries you sustained from an accident, then you may be able to pursue a claim against the other driver. If you should lose your position at work, you can claim special damages. Special damages typically include things like loss of wages, income, benefits, business opportunities and profits. You will probably be awarded the amount that you would have received if you didn’t have to take time from work. A loss in special case claims is calculated from the date your medical condition is stable, and you can return to gainful employment, to the date of your injury.

See: Reimbursement for Lost Income: Unable to Work Due to Car Accident

It is also possible for you to claim general damages. They are things like future loss of earnings and whatever capacity to earn money you had prior to the accident. To recover for these types of future losses, you have to show that you would have had the potential to make the earnings you are claiming. A more subjective amount, the court will decide how much earning potential you had before you were injured in the accident. They will likely compare how much you will earn after your disability versus your capacity if you weren’t injured.

If you want to sue for your lost job, you will need to provide proof that your medical condition was the result of your not being able to return to work and the subsequent loss of your job. That will entail a physician’s note, a disability slip, and any other medical proof that you have related to your condition and injuries. The letter should generally state specifically that your loss of job was directly related to your injuries.

There is something called a damages cap, however. It is the maximum amount that you can collect on any lawsuit that you initiate. In Missouri, there is a cap related to non-economic damages which is what job loss would typically fall under. So, before you sue, make sure that you weigh what it will cost to go through a potentially long court case versus the maximum you can be awarded due to your non-economic damages if you win.

If you lose your job due to an St. Louis auto accident injury, you might be able to recoup for your loss earnings and wages both during your recovery time, and if you are disabled, into the future. To ensure that you are compensated fairly, it is imperative to have the help of a St. Louis car accident attorney to help you through the complexities of a court case. Call (314) 361-4242 for a free consultation.

5 Things Insurance Companies Don’t Want You to Know – St. Louis Auto Injury Lawyers

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If you have been involved in a St. Louis automobile accident, your first instinct may be to call up the insurance company and get your claim sorted as quickly as possible. You may reason that they have your best interests at heart and you simply do not want the headache of dragging out your claim. However, it is vital that you speak with an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible after an accident. Simply put, there are things the insurance company DOES NOT want you to be aware of.

Top 5 Things Your Insurance Company Doesn’t Want Your to Know

  1. They are NOT on your side. The claims adjusters and insurance attorneys are working for their shareholders, not for you. Keep in mind that they are paid to minimize the money that is paid out to claimants.
  2. If you’ve been in an accident, a claims adjuster or attorney working for the insurance company is at the scene of the accident gathering evidence to minimize the amount of compensation you receive or deny your claim altogether. It is therefore, important to contact a personal injury attorney ASAP, so they can begin gathering evidence and witness testimony to support your claim for compensation.
  3. Insurance companies often ask confusing questions in an effort to have you admit to something you do not fully understand and that can be used against you in court at a later date. Do not give any statements to the insurance company without the representation of an experienced attorney on your side.
  4. If the person who caused your auto accident does not have sufficient coverage to cover your claim, and you have underinsured motorists coverage that exceeds their coverage, you may be entitled to compensation from your own insurance company. Our attorneys can help you make this determination.
  5. While insurance companies will do anything they can to discourage you from speaking with an attorney, it is important to realize that they have high-powered attorneys protecting their interests. This is why it is so important to have an experienced attorney on your side, protecting your interests.

If you have been involved in a St Louis car crash, it is very important that you speak with an attorney as soon as possible to gain a more than even footing with the insurance company and ensure your interests are protected.

At The Hoffmann Law Firm, L.L.C. our attorneys are here to help. We have over 15 years of experience and work on a contingency basis. This means we only get paid if you do.

Call (314) 361-4242 for a free and private consultation today.

Why Elderly Victims Take Longer to Heal From Car Accident Injuries – St. Louis Attorneys

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With Baby Boomers aging, the number of elderly drivers is rapidly increasing in the United States. According to the US Census Bureau, there will be close to 10 million people aged 85 years or older by 2030. This means an increase of 73 percent from the elderly population today. As of today, there are over 30 million drivers over the age of 65 on US roads. Older drivers make up almost 15 percent of licensed drivers. Experts are of the opinion that around the age of 65, drivers start facing a higher risk of causing an accident. Moreover, their chances of surviving a crash-related injury also reduce significantly. For this reason, older drivers are considered among the worst victims of car accidents. There are studies to prove that elderly victims often recover slowly, if at all they do, from car accident injuries. In this post, our St Louis auto accident attorney will discuss results of one such study.

Elderly victims of St. Louis car accidents

It is a known fact that recovery time for various types of car accident injuries varies, however, a recent study has shown that there is at least one that can slow down a person’s ability to heal, and this factor is the victim’s age. Researchers have found that elderly drivers tend to report pain for much longer periods of time after an accident compared to their younger counterparts. The study was published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, and it was reported that more than 50 percent of the senior citizens, who suffer serious injuries in car accidents admit to using pain relievers for as long as six months after the crash.

The study data also showed that doctors gave these elderly victims a prognosis of being completely healed in a period of 30 days. Researchers found that around 72 percent of the participants complained of moderate to severe pain after the crash. After six months, a quarter of patients still reported moderate to severe pain. These patients also reported other health complications. Those suffering from severe pain after six months of the crash reported a decline in physical function. Also, 23 percent of these patients reported having to change their living situation in order to receive more help.

Legal help for elderly victims of car accidents

Even minor injuries can cause significant pain and lead to complications. Serious injuries such as spinal cord or brain injuries could shorten the life span of an elderly car accident victim. They also require more time to recover from injuries, even if they are seemingly minor. If the car accident was caused by another driver’s negligence, you may be able to recover compensation. A competent and experienced St. Louis accident lawyer can help recover adequate financial compensation to cover medical costs and other losses including pain and suffering.

Call (314) 361-4242 for a free consultation with an experienced St. Louis car accident attorney.