Is Driving With Snow on Your Car Illegal?

Car with Snow on Top and On Road

Last week’s snowstorm and subsequent 48-mile backup that stranded thousands of motorists for up to 20 hours on I-95 in Virginia brought to mind the many ways that driving in inclement weather can go very bad very quickly. Another just-as-serious hazard is the sheet of ice or hard-packed snow that can go flying from the rooftop of a fast-moving car and shatter on the windshield of the car behind it.

In addition to temporarily blocking the windshield of the driver behind you, flying debris may also damage the car body or windshield. A Pennsylvania woman was killed on Christmas Day 2005 when a 10-inch chunk of ice flew off a trash truck and smashed through her windshield. Such occurrences are entirely preventable if drivers would take the time to properly remove snow from their cars. But is it illegal not to?

Automobile snow removal regulations in Maryland

The Maryland Driver’s Manual contain several recommendations that can help drivers avoid dangers posed by flying snow:

  1. Remove all ice and snow from your vehicle before driving
  2. Slow down – cars traveling at a high rate of speed are more likely to have ice/snow dislodge from their rooftop
  3. Keep a safe distance from the car in front of you, giving you more time to react in the event ice/snow flies towards your car

Maryland law states that a person may not operate a vehicle if snow or ice obstructs the driver’s view of the front, sides, or back of the vehicle. All windows must be clear and fines can be imposed if falling ice/snow hits another car.

Is snow on top of your car legally required to be cleared?

In Maryland, no. While you will be pulled over and fined if you have excess snow on your hood or windows that obstructs your view, your rooftop does not need to be free of snow. Five years ago, the Maryland State Legislature introduced a law imposing fines for cars operating with snow on their rooftops, but it was never passed because lawmakers claimed it would be too difficult for drivers of vans, SUVs and minivans to clear the roofs of large vehicles. However, other states including Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania have laws making it illegal to drive your car with snow on the roof.

Just because it’s legal doesn’t mean you’re not liable

Whether it’s required by Maryland law or not, removing all snow from your car, rooftop included, makes the road safer for you and everyone driving around you. As a driver, it is your responsibility to operate your car with common sense and in accordance with the conditions. This means taking extra care in cases of snow and ice. A driver who does not and causes an accident, injury, or death, can be found negligent and liable. While you may not have set out to cause an accident, the careless or thoughtless act of leaving snow on your car when a reasonable person would have cleared it could lead to a liability lawsuit.

Uncleared snow/ice on your car can lead to an accident, injury, or death in a fraction of a second. It’s worth taking five or ten additional minutes to properly clear your car to make sure this never happens. 

Anybody who has been in an inclement weather-related auto accident should consult a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Contact the Law Offices of Nicholas Parr in Baltimore, MD today to schedule your free consultation. We don’t receive a fee unless we win.

Self-Driving Cars in Maryland

Self Driving Tech on Tesla Model 3 Registered in Maryland

When it comes to the safety of self-driving cars, also known as “autonomous vehicles” or AVs, the pro and con camps remain somewhat divided. In a recent Motional Consumer Mobility Report, 50% of survey respondents said they expected AVs to be readily available in their communities within five years, and right around 50% felt that these vehicles will lessen the dangers posed by drivers who are distracted, fatigued, intoxicated or aggressive. Conversely, automobile safety experts stress that AVs incorrectly lead drivers to think their car is more capable than they think. This in turn leads to increased instances of distracted driving when operators assume their car can handle any dangerous situation that arises.

While the self-driving car market is growing at a rate of 16 percent a year and is expected to be worth a trillion dollars by 2025, studies show that 57 percent of people familiar with self-driving cars are not eager to ride in one.

So before you leave the driving to someone, or something, else, consider these thoughts…

Just how autonomous are autonomous vehicles?

Not there yet. By definition, an autonomous act is something that is undertaken or carried on with no outside control. The auto industry classifies current AVs as Level 2 vehicles, whereas cars that can operate completely autonomously at all times would be Level 5. It’s going to be a while before that is achieved. As of 2022, G.M., Ford Motor Company, and other automakers recommend that their self-driving GPS and software systems only be used on divided highways where there are no stop signs, traffic lights, or pedestrians. Similarly, Tesla owners’ manuals warn customers not to use their Autopilot feature on city streets.

Yes, current AVs employ extremely high-tech cameras, radar, and software, but they still occasionally fail to recognize other vehicles, stationary objects, and other road hazards. Look at it this way: when an advanced satellite navigation software program like Waze or Google Maps has a glitch, you get temporarily lost. If your AV has a hiccup and you’re not paying attention, the result could be injury or death. 

What are the cost benefits & drawbacks of AVs?

AVs cost more than traditional cars and always will. The hardware and software necessary for autonomous driving add to the cost of the vehicle, and while those costs will come down, non-self-driving cars will always be less expensive. While statistics show that autonomous vehicles can reduce fuel use by up to 10%, insurance rates for self-driving cars are higher. Some theories hold that your self-driving car won’t be tempted to speed, run red lights or commit other moving violations, which would cut down on expensive tickets.

Who is liable when an autonomous vehicle is in an accident?

Hard to say right now. Given that autonomous vehicles and their technology are still in their infancy and largely unregulated, there’s not much case law to consult. Maryland, for example, has taken a “business first” approach towards regulation, favoring automakers and dealers by not imposing additional safety rules on AVs. At the federal level, Congress has yet to pass any legislation addressing self-driving cars as of late 2021.

When it comes to AV accidents, liability could rest with the vehicle’s owner, the driver, or the manufacturer. Lawmakers, regulators, and courts may eventually determine that if a self-driving car is in an accident that occurred because of the car and not the driver, the manufacturer may be open to a liability claim.

As it stands, exactly who is liable in the event of an AV accident is undecided and likely to remain so until lawmakers issue formal guidelines or courts hear a case that establishes a precedent.

Anybody who has been in an AV accident should consult a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Contact the Law Offices of Nicholas Parr in Baltimore, MD today to schedule your free consultation. We don’t receive a fee unless we win.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage in Maryland – What to Know and How to Protect Yourself

Car Accident In Maryland with UnInsured Motorist

Ever had your morning commute ruined when the person behind you suddenly rear-ended your car? Or maybe you’ve gotten sideswiped by an overzealous driver while trying to navigate a busy parking lot. Most of us have been involved in a car accident at some point in our lives. Assuming no one is seriously hurt, these types of car accidents are a nuisance and a hassle – but if the other driver is clearly at fault, then insurance will cover the costs and you can get on with your life. Right?

Not necessarily. What if the person who hits your car doesn’t have any insurance, or their policy limit isn’t enough to cover the damage? Or what if you’re the victim of a hit and run? Car accidents are stressful enough without feeling like you have to assume financial responsibility for damage that isn’t your fault – which is a very real possibility, given that almost 13% of American drivers don’t have auto insurance. That’s where uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage come in.

UM and UIM: the Basics
Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage is car insurance that helps to pay for damages caused by drivers who don’t have any auto insurance. Underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage helps to pay for damages caused by drivers who have some insurance, but not enough to cover all costs. Maryland is one of 22 states and the District of Columbia that require that drivers have UM/UIM coverage in their insurance policies, so if you’re an insured Maryland driver, your policy includes protection against these situations (including hit-and-runs).

Bodily Injury vs. Property Damage
UM and UIM coverage are broken down into two different components: bodily injury, which covers costs related to any physical injuries you and/or your passengers suffer in an accident, and property damage, which covers the damage to your car.

So, what should you do if you’re involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist? Let’s walk through the steps.

Get Medical Help if You Need It
The first thing you need to do after you’ve been in an accident is to make sure you and your passengers are okay. Don’t hesitate to call for help if you think you’re in need of any medical attention – it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Exchange Information
Even if the other driver doesn’t have insurance info, you should still make sure to get their name, number and email address. Take pictures of any damage to your car and theirs. If they don’t stick around, try to at least catch a glimpse of what kind of car they were driving. Any information you can provide to your insurance company is helpful.

Call Law Enforcement
It’s always a good idea to call the police after a car accident, especially if the person who caused it doesn’t have insurance. Doing everything by the book (and having a third party on the scene to witness the damage) will help your case when the time comes to determine what compensation you’re owed.

Understand Your Coverage
You may not know offhand what your insurance policy includes for UM and UIM coverage. If that’s the case, take a close look the policy and familiarize yourself with the limits. Maryland law requires that your insurance policy include at least $30,000 for bodily injury per person ($60,000 bodily injury per accident) and $15,000 property damage. Your insurance company is also required by Maryland law to lower your deductible to $250 if you’re the victim of an accident with an uninsured, underinsured or hit-and-run driver.

Don’t Miss the Deadline
Contact your insurance agency and let them know you’re filing your uninsured motorist claim with them right away. Some agencies have pretty strict deadlines on when to report an accident, and you don’t want to risk losing out because you didn’t move fast enough.

Contact an Expert
An experienced lawyer will talk you through all of your options with regard to filing a claim – especially if the damages from your accident exceed your UM or UIM policy limits. A lot of insurance companies have a bad habit of lowballing their policyholders on settlements; with an attorney in your corner, you can minimize the likelihood of getting paid less than you deserve.

Need legal help? Contact the Law Offices of Nicholas Parr in Baltimore, MD today to schedule your free consultation. We don’t receive a fee unless we win.

Steer Clear of a Holiday DUI, But Know What To Do If Pulled Over

Red & Blue Police Lights On Top of a Police Car During a DUI Arrest

The holidays are here, bringing parties, merriment, and for some, maybe a drink or two. Or three. Which occasionally leads to the ill-advised decision to drive after drinking.

Don’t do it. If you’re lucky enough to avoid an accident, odds are you will be pulled over. A recent illustration of how a DUI can ruin your life comes to mind in former New York Mets General Manager Zack Scott. After spending nearly 20 years building a career as a respected baseball man, he ascended to the extremely exclusive, and well-paid, position of Major League Baseball GM. There are only 30 such jobs in the world, and he had one of them. But all of it, the job, salary and hard-earned reputation, vanished as a result of a single DWI arrest in early September.

Reading about this, I found myself asking how, in the era of Uber and Lyft, not to mention good old-fashioned cabs, would a guy making nearly a million dollars a year not opt for what was probably a 50- to 100-dollar ride service over risking everything? The fact is good people make bad decisions, and the alcohol impairment that led to him getting pulled over played a significant role in his decision to drive in the first place.

The best bet is to not get behind the wheel if there’s any question whatsoever. But if you end up being one of those good people who’s made a bad decision, here are a few things to know that might help mitigate the damage.

Stay Calm

You’re at the wheel and colored lights suddenly flash behind you or you spot a sobriety checkpoint ahead. In the latter case, drivers in Maryland can legally turn their car around to avoid a checkpoint. Furthermore, officers cannot stop you when turning unless you do something that justifiably compels a traffic stop.

In the event an officer has flashed his lights behind you, use your turn signal, slowly pull to the side of the road when it’s safe to do so and come to a complete stop.

Be Camera Ready

Everything you do and say is being recorded, both on the officer’s body camera and the one mounted to the cruiser’s dashboard. Anything you say or do is admissible in court so help yourself out by being cooperative. Address the officer as “sir” or “ma’am” and avoid being confrontational. You’re not going to talk your way out of anything, so be unfailingly polite, even if, especially if, you think you’re in the right.   

Admit Nothing

Here’s what you have to do by law when pulled over: Provide your name, driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance. You do not have to answer any further questions, e.g., “have you had anything to drink tonight?”. The best thing you can do is stay silent. Remember, you’re on camera, so admitting to having drinks, even just one, can be used against you in court.

Never Submit To a Test

You are not legally required to agree to a field sobriety test. Such cognitive and balancing exams are difficult by design. Even if you’ve had one drink or nothing at all they can be tough to pass if you have poor balance or are nervous due to the situation. The same goes for breath, blood and urine tests, which can produce unreliable results for many reasons. When requested to take any sort of test, be firm but polite in your refusal. A simple “my lawyer advised me to never submit to a test” will do. However, there are repercussions for refusing a field test in Maryland, such as loss of license, mandated use of an expensive ignition interlock device and more. You can read more about this here.

Call for Help

If you’re arrested, remember rule #2 above all else. Stay camera-ready. The officer’s body cam and dashcam are still rolling, so everything’s on the record and fair game in court. Remain calm and cooperative, whether you’re in the wrong, right or somewhere in between. Belligerence has never helped anyone.

Contact a criminal defense lawyer the second you’re permitted. It’s best to have at least one name and phone number handy. Nobody expects to be arrested, but immediate access to a good attorney makes all the difference in the world.

Maryland has some of the toughest DUI laws in the country. A first offense can bring a $1,000 fine and up to one year in jail. Twelve points will be assessed to your driving record, and your license may be revoked for up to six months. Beyond the official consequences, personal costs include higher insurance rates, potential job loss and more.

The best defense is taking full advantage of any number of driving alternatives – even a $300 Uber hit is infinitely less expensive than a DUI conviction. But if worse comes to worst, make sure you know what to do until you can bring in an attorney to help.

What Makes Personal Injury Lawyers Different?

two people working together with their own macbooks and some papers in between them

Lawyers are there to help everyone, no matter what kind of case, the goal is to win and prove innocence. But in personal law, it is different. 

Personal law is one of the most complicated fields of law to understand. If you happen to be involved in any personal law violations or injuries, do not represent yourself, but find a personal law lawyer who can help you with the case.

Before we discuss why personal lawyers are different from other lawyers, here are the different types of lawyers.

 

Business Lawyers – They can be transactional or litigation attorneys that deal with businesses and the laws that govern them.

Civil Litigation Lawyer – also known as a trial lawyer, is usually hired if their client was sued for any reason. They will represent you to dispute the claims against you and try to avoid sending you to jail.

Criminal Defense Lawyer – They will defend you in court even if you are the defendant until you are acquitted of any claims against you.

Family Lawyer – legal disputes that involve a family is what these lawyers handle. They are also called divorce lawyers or domestic relations attorneys.

Personal Injury Lawyers – handle cases involving accidents and physical injury caused by another person’s negligence for safety. We often call for cases involving vehicular accidents, medical malpractice, slip and fall cases, animal attacks, and many more. In hiring a personal injury lawyer, it is vital to find someone who specializes in tort law.

Real Estate Lawyer – They handle matters that involve real estate legal matters.

Traffic Lawyer – They handle driving-related offenses like DUI.

Trust and Estate Lawyer – people who want to ensure that their money and property are adequately handled before their demise hire trust and estate lawyers.

 

What makes a Personal Injury Lawyer different from others?

One of the main distinctions of a Personal Injury Lawyer from other types of lawyers is that they are knowledgeable and experts in ‘tort law.’ Personal injury lawyers govern them. The laws are designed to protect every individual’s rights when they become victims of someone’s wrongful actions. 

 

Basics of Personal Injury

Accidents – personal injury applies to situations where someone acts in a negligent manner that causes harm to a person.

Intentional Acts – Personal Injury laws apply in situations where the defendant’s deliberate conduct caused harm to other people.

Defective Products – If a defective product became unreasonably dangerous and caused harm, you can file a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer.

Defamation – Personal Injury Law applied when someone gave you a defamatory statement.

 

Why should you hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?

  • They can manage an entire case from beginning to end, which includes gathering evidence to support the claim.
  • They can evaluate how an accident affected the physical and emotional aspects of the client. They qualify the damages and injuries to assess the potential compensation claim.
  • They will safeguard interests and rights and ensure that their client will obtain just compensation for injuries or damages to property.
  • They can and need to prove that the accident or injuries were not their client’s fault. 

This is what sets them apart from the rest. An experienced tort lawyer can establish proof to ensure that the client’s claim withstands.

 

Lawyers have different expertise; thus, they handle other cases. A Personal Injury Attorney is a specialized legal professional who handles cases of people who claim to have sustained injuries or damages due to negligence from another party. They primarily practice in the field of personal law, or known as the ‘tort law.’

Motor Deaths rose 6% in Maryland, What You Can Do to Stay Safe

Someone driving a car with one hand on the wheel.

When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the country last year, previously crowded highways around major urban centers became quiet as countless workplaces shifted to a work-from-home model. The number of miles driven nationwide dropped by 13.2% compared to 2019. But while there were less drivers on the road, these drivers engaged in riskier behaviors, resulting in the deadliest year for US traffic accidents since 2007.

 

The National Safety Council (NSC) says deaths from motor vehicles rose 8% last year, with as many as 42,060 people dying in vehicle crashes. When comparing traffic deaths to the number of miles driven, the rate of fatalities rose 24% — the highest spike in nearly a century, per the NSC.

 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration identifies speed as the top factor contributing to the trend. However, tests of trauma center patients involved traffic accidents show increased use of alcohol, marijuana and opiods as well. Experts have no doubts that distracted driving, mainly caused by cellphone usage, had contributed to the trend as well.

 

There is also little doubt that decreased enforcement played a role as well. One police chief in Pleasant Ridge, Michigan noted that his department cut down its shifts to limit its exposure. “There was a full-blown hiatus on stopping (motorists) unless they did something really egregious.” Perhaps the most disturbing trend of all is a surge of street racing, which has been noted by police departments all over the country.

 

But these trends have not been confined to America’s major urban centers. Here in Maryland, fatalities were up 6% and crashes were up 9% on smaller roads. “Sadly, some drivers saw empty lanes and open roads, resulting from the pandemic lockdowns as an invitation to behave irresponsibly and dangerously behind the wheel,” said Ragina C. Ali, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs. “Far too many drivers engaged in speeding, aggressive and reckless driving, drinking alcohol and not buckling up, putting themselves and others in danger.”

 

Now that traffic has returned to pre-coronavirus levels, it appears that the risky behavior on the roads is continuing. Preliminary data from the first few months of this year indicates that 2021 will be even worse. Motor vehicle fatalities surged by 23.5 percent in May. The NSC notes that May numbers mark the third-straight month that U.S. motorists were at a higher risk of dying from a crash.

 

The NSC is now calling for “equitable enforcement of traffic laws, infrastructure improvements, mandatory ignition switch locks for convicted drunken drivers, reducing speed limits to match roadway designs, and laws banning cellphone use while driving,” among other recommendations to reduce fatalities

 

But what can you, as a driver, do to stay safe on the roads?

 

Follow speed limits

Give yourself sufficient time to reach your destination without having to feel rushed. Since you will be sharing the road with thousands of other cars, and perhaps even encountering adverse weather conditions, the speed limit is your best bet to avoid a collision.

 

Wear a seatbelt

Seatbelts reduce the risk of death by 45% and the risk of injury by 50%.

 

Put the cellphone and other distractions away

Send your texts, set your music, and program your GPS prior to driving or while stopped. Consider how much ground your car may cover in the few seconds during which you are looking at your phone. During these moments, your vehicle is nothing less than a missile in the middle of traffic. If you really need to operate your phone, ask a passenger perform tasks for you, if possible.

 

Recognize the risk of driving under the influence

The country has witnessed an increase in drug and alcohol abuse over the course of the pandemic. If you plan on drinking, appoint a completely sober driver. If that is not possible, then call a ridesharing service. Additionally, you should recognize the impacts of prescription medications and other drugs have on your ability to drive.

 

Last but not least, drive defensively.

Defensive driving allows you to defend yourself against collisions caused by bad drivers, drunk drivers, and poor weather conditions. How does one drive defensively?

  • Look ahead and keep your eyes moving (you will spot potential hazards, such as wild deer, more easily).
  • Once you have identified a potential hazard and decided what to do, act immediately.
  • Plan ahead for the unexpected.
  • Be able to control the speed
  • Be prepared to react to other drivers
  • Do not expect the other driver to do what you think he or she should do
  • Respect other users of the roadway.
  • Be aware of driving in special road and weather conditions
  • Be alert and avoid distractions, e.g., cell phone use, eating

 

 

 

Traffic Apps for Your Phone that You Need!

Traffic Apps for your Phone

Your phone can save you from a traffic jam. There are plenty of applications in your phone that you can use to determine which areas are having a traffic jam and provide alternative routes.

These are some of the traffic apps for your phone you can use.

 

Waze

One of the most useful apps when it comes to determining traffic jams next to Google Maps. Waze is a community-based traffic and navigation app that features real-time updates to map routes and traffic patterns.

Features:

  • Gas price tracker
  • Traffic conditions
  • Road issue alerts such as construction

 

Total Traffic

A great choice in dealing with heavy traffic on a daily basis. 

Features:

  • Extensive traffic camera network
  • Gives updated statistics
  • Accident coverage

 

Google Maps

One of the most popular navigation apps known to men. 

Features

  • Automatic rerouting
  • Lane guidance
  • Transit information
  • Traffic information
  • Real-time updates

 

Apple Maps

They may be late to the traffic-app party but now became a worthy rival to other apps.

Features:

  • Improved maps, Satellite imagery, city guides, and cycling navigation. 
  • Provides recommendations for travel times and routes
  • Maps also provides Yelp reviews and informational links for points of interest

 

Sygic

Provides typical navigation app features and search functions full of add-on perks.

Features

  • Great turn-by-turn navigation.
  • Additional features are priced individually, so you only pay for what you want.
  • Global user base and offline capabilities

 

MapQuest

A program from the 1990s that has improved over time.

Features:

  • Access to traffic cameras to see road conditions.
  • Turn-by-turn directions and alternative routes based on live traffic conditions.
  • Customization for icons and frequent destinations

 

HERE WeGo

A go-to for city navigation especially if access to maps is needed when offline. 

Features:

  • Downloading maps to work offline keeps you in the know even when you’re on a subway or running out of data.
  • Choose from options like shortest distance or fastest in selecting your route.
  • Public transportation information, including fares.
  • Live traffic and public transit information
  • Fare information for public transportation

 

ETA

In using this app, you will see the travel time to your favorite places. Integrates with Messages, Siri, and Today View in providing a gorgeous way to remain punctual.

Features:

  • Beautiful user interface.
  • Estimates travel time for driving, walking, and transit.
  • Includes Apple Watch complication.

 

Traveling is fun but it becomes a hassle if you are stuck in a traffic jam. By using a traffic app, you can be more productive and spend less time sitting in the middle of a traffic jam. These apps are useful especially if you are always running late. In choosing the best traffic app for you, consider the features of each app and which of them is useful for you.

What if Your Pet Gets Injured in a Car Crash?

There are times that we bring along with us our pets when we are traveling. Unfortunately, accidents can happen, affecting the pets we carry with us on a car ride. When we have our pets with us, we often have them in the back seat and let them wander around. Having pets, such as dogs, on the backseat without a leash is risking serious injuries in case of an accident.

Putting your pets inside a kennel or a cage while traveling is also not a guarantee, as they can still suffer injuries in a collision. Injuries are inevitable in an accident, and pets are at risk when in the vehicle with their owner. 

Injuries on pets can add to their owner’s expense. Fortunately, if a pet is injured in a car crash, the owner can compensate for the insurance claim.

 

Pets are Considered the Property of the Owner

When it comes to financial responsibility for car accident damages, the state of Maryland is an at-fault state or the person who has caused the accident is the one who is liable for damages. The at-fault party will eventually turn to their car insurance to compensate for the victim’s injuries.

In Maryland, it requires drivers to be liable for property damage. Liability coverage will pay for the victim’s medical bill, and the property damage insurance will cover the costs of the victim’s car and other personal property.

Many would consider pets as part of the family, and for insurance purposes, they are classified as personal property. It means that the at-fault driver’s property damage insurance will cover the costs of any injuries the pet sustained due to the accident.

 

What About Filing a Claim with My Own Insurance Company?

Filing a claim with your own insurance company is not possible. If you have purchased more than your minimum coverage, it will not cover injuries to your pet. 

 

How Much Would Insurance Cover?

Insurance coverage becomes complicated because some insurance policies have limits of coverage for pets. Some would ask if insurance can cover the veterinary treatment or the pet’s market value and only cover what the owner has paid for the animal. It means the insurance company will only cover the value of the pet when it was purchased.

Some important things to keep in mind about insurance policies are that some insurance only covers injuries to common pets like cats and dogs; meanwhile, insurance does not cover exotic animals like birds or snakes.

It is important to review insurance policies to know if they can cover pet injuries. To have an insurance policy, policyholders need to know important details other than what the company tells them with the help of a licensed lawyer. Some insurance companies take advantage of crash victims who seek compensation. 

 

What About Pet Insurance?

There are insurance companies that offer pet insurance. If it’s available for you, they would strongly suggest you avail one, especially if something unfortunate happens and your pet is in the car with you. It can cover the cost of treatment for injuries after an accident since veterinary treatments and animal hospitalization can be very costly. Besides injuries from accidents, pet insurance also covers regular visits to the vet and management of chronic illnesses and other conditions the pet may suffer from. 

Insurance policies have limits to their coverage, and this also applies to pet insurances and would likely be deductible. If pets get seriously injured, the pet insurance may allow you to get your pet the treatment it needs to heal and help improve the quality of life of your pets.

 

Pets are part of the family and having them with you while on the road, you as the owner are liable for your pet’s life and safety. For unfortunate instances like accidents, having pet insurance helps save your pet’s life and save your pockets from spending.

What to Do If You Trip and Fall on a City Sidewalk

Walking on the sidewalk when all of a sudden you trip, slip, and fall? Damaged property? Felt pain after the fall? You can do something about it. 

If the slip and fall accident happened on a city or municipality sidewalk, the victim could file a lawsuit against the city government. To do so, the victim should be able to prove or show evidence that the government acted intentionally or showed “conscious disregard” for the safety of others. This is referred to as willful and wanton conduct.

There are some cities and municipalities with sidewalks that are in a state of despair. Small cracks or level changes that cannot be seen immediately under snowy conditions can pose a serious hazard to children, adults, and the elderly. When night comes, it becomes more dangerous as individuals can be victims of falling on unmaintained sidewalks.

If you ever trip and fall on a sidewalk, here are some important things you need to do to protect your claims.

 

Find Out Who Owns the Sidewalk

Before pursuing a claim, find out the owner of the sidewalk where the victim fell. You may need a lawyer’s assistance to locate the owner. A privately-owned sidewalk will have a different case than a government-owned one. The standard of proof is higher if the case is against the government, compared to pirate entities.

 

Know the Statute of Limitations

If a person got into a trip and fall accident on a sidewalk and decided to file a lawsuit, the person has 2 years (3 years in some states) to file the case from the date of injury. If the government is at fault, the statute of limitations is applicable for one year. It is important to know that one-year statute of limitations and quickly act on it to protect the victim’s rights. Once the statute of limitations expires, the victim is barred from bringing any lawsuit to recover from their injuries.

 

Call 911 or Get Medical Attention

Accidents like trips and slips and falls can be catastrophic. The victim can have concussions, broken ankles or legs, broken wrists and arms because of this accident. If this happens, immediate medical attention should be provided to maintain the health and recovery of the victim. Calling 911 will also ensure that a report will be made and document the accident and the circumstances surrounding it. If there is more documentation, it will be easier for the victim to prove their case.

 

Take Photographs and Measurements

Part of the documentation process is taking photographs and measurements of the accident. This will avoid the De Minimis rule argument from the government. If the victim can measure defects of the sidewalk where the accident happened, it can be used to determine whether there is negligence on the part of the government or none. The lawyer and engineers, and architects can help determine if there are changes in the original measurements and when the accident happened. Measurements should be taken before defects can be repaired after a person is injured.

 

File a Report with Your City or Municipality

Notify the government of the dangerous condition that caused the victim to fall. It will force the government to bring out an entity to inspect the area where the victim fell and perform repairs so as not to cause any more harm to other people. Also, the documentation created from the report can be used to prove the victim’s case.

 

Consult with a Lawyer

Lawyers who have experience handling cases involving falls on sidewalks, including cases involving the government or other private entities, can help the victim file the necessary lawsuit and do additional investigation to prove the case.

 

Laws Involved in Trip, Slip, and Fall Cases

If you have been in a slip and fall accident on someone’s property, it is a good idea to look into options for you to get compensated for your losses. It’s true if it is proven that the property owner has shown negligence that has caused the accident.

As the accident victim, you can decide whether to file for an insurance claim or take the matter to court through a personal injury lawsuit. Keep in mind that some laws and legal rules will affect the case. Two important laws that may arise are the statute of limitations deadline for filing a slip and fall lawsuit and harsh “shared fault” rules that can wipe out the person’s right to recover compensation if proven that they bear some amount of responsibility for the accident.

 

The Slip and Fall Statute of Limitations

As discussed earlier, the statute of limitations is a law that puts a time limit on the right of the victim to have a lawsuit against the state’s civil court system. If a person attempts to file a slip and fall lawsuit after the deadline has passed, the property owner can use that to get the court’s attention, and as the victim, your case will undoubtedly be dismissed.

The accident victim has 2 or 3 years (depending on the state) to file for the lawsuit. The “clock” starts running on the date of the injury. In a rare situation where the death occurred, a family representative can file a wrongful death lawsuit, and the “clock” starts on the date of the person’s death.

The same principle applies if the accident incurred property damage, such as valuables like an expensive watch. The victim can ask the court for the property owner to pay for the damage or repair or replacement of the property.

The success or failure of the case depends on the ability of the victim to prove that the property owner, whether the government or a private entity, failed to take reasonable steps in keeping the property safe and preventing an accident.

 

Contributory Negligence

If you have been a victim of a slip and fall accident from someone’s property, and you are trying to make an injury claim against the property owner, you need to hear the other side’s argument against you. They will insist that you bear some amount of responsibility for what happened. If you want to win the case, you and your lawyer need to shoot down this kind of argument with solid evidence of your own. If the property owner can pin any amount of the legal blame for the accident on you, you will most likely go home without any compensation at all.

Some states follow a different rule known as comparative negligence. It means that the person bringing the lawsuit also bears some amount of legal fault for the accident. Under this rule, any damages award that the person (plaintiff) receives will be reduced according to the percentage of their responsibility. 

In the contributory negligence rule, if the plaintiff is found to have a responsibility or amount to blame for the underlying accident, the plaintiff cannot recover any damages (compensations) from any other at-fault party. This instance can lead to harsh results for personal injury plaintiffs.

In attempting to pin some amount of legal liability on you, the property owner could claim that:

  • You were trespassing on the part of the property.
  • You were wearing inappropriate or unsafe footwear at the time of the accident.
  • You were not paying attention to where you were walking.
  • You weren’t paying attention to where you were walking (you were using your phone, for example).
  • The dangerous condition should have been evident to you.
  • The dangerous condition was cordoned off by cones and signage (reasonable steps were taken to protect visitors, in other words).

If all of these can be proven against the plaintiff, the person will walk away with nothing. So to win the case, you need to make a strong case and show the property owner’s negligence as the sole cause of the accident.

 

A slip and fall may seem like a minor accident, but it can also be fatal, primarily if the victim has incurred personal injury, they can file a lawsuit. But to be able to win the case, they need to have solid evidence against the property owner and study the rules that may apply in filing cases connected to a slip and fall accident.

How Settlement Negotiations Work in Medical Malpractice Cases

Medical malpractice is more common than people realize. Medical malpractice happens anywhere around the globe. In the U.S. alone, 10% of deaths are caused by medical errors or mistakes. It is one of the most challenging trial cases to win, and it often ends up in settlement negotiations. Less than 1% is favored to the victim or the patient.

For this case, an experienced lawyer needs to have the resources to properly investigate the incident and collect evidence that can support a claim for medical malpractice. The lawyers need to fight hard to ensure that clients are fairly compensated for their losses. They have to negotiate effectively and litigate aggressively when they need to.

 

Starting Settlement Negotiations—Proving Negligence and Causation

In medical malpractice cases, the value of losses is what clients want to know. But before this, two crucial things need proof:

  • The doctor or medical professional was negligent
  • The medical professional’s negligence directly resulted in your injuries and losses.

These requirements are pretty straightforward, but proving them is complicated. You know that something has happened, but proving that it happened is what makes it more difficult.

 

Proving Medical Malpractice Negligence

In proving the doctor’s negligence, it requires evidence that will show that the doctor or a medical professional has indeed failed to act with “due care.” It needs to be proven that the medical specialist has not provided the standard of care that a responsible doctor with the same training, experience, and education could have done. 

The proof needs to indicate the specific and generally accepted medical practices done to the locations and the time that the malpractice has happened. For example, a doctor is not liable and cannot be found negligent for conducting a procedure that is not generally accepted medical practice until after the injury was made.

 

Proving Causation in Medical Malpractice

Proving causation is a more complicated subject.

For instance, a patient may have an existing medical condition that the negligent medical practitioner did not diagnose. The doctor can be found liable for medical malpractice because of prolonging the situation.  

Contributing factors may arise and give the victim more problems. For example, a medical practitioner has failed to diagnose a condition that would have required an operation. Still, that practitioner cannot be held liable if the patient had a bad reaction to the anesthesia provided. For it to have a valid claim, the injury must be related to a misdiagnosis.

 

Superseding Causation in a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

Superseding causation happens when the contributing factors have caused the injuries. The doctor’s conduct is so far removed that the injuries would have occurred regardless of the doctor’s negligence.

For example, if a doctor failed to diagnose and caused the delay in surgery by an hour, there was no change in the patient’s prognosis than what they would have an hour earlier. The patient’s only injuries were the underlying condition and surgical anesthesia – which the doctor has not failed to diagnose. The doctor will not face any legal responsibility for the injuries and will have no legal obligation to compensate the patient.

 

Negotiating the Value of a Medical Malpractice Claim

If it is determined that the doctor or medical professional is liable for the injury, the value of the medical malpractice claim can be negotiated. The value may include compensation for the losses sustained by the patient due to inadequate medical care, such as:

  • Prolonged pain and suffering, both mental and physical, more than what was caused by the original condition.
  • Loss of wages for the patient for its inability to work because of negligence and not because of the existing medical condition.
  • Loss of futures earning capacity as a result of the permanent injury.

 

Value for Wrongful Deaths Caused by Medical Malpractice

If a wrongful death has happened, the patient’s estate can be compensated for all the wages that can be expected the patient would have earned if it was alive.

The surviving spouse or children can file a claim for loss of consortium after a wrongful death. This will compensate the family for the loss of companionship and protection that they could have if the patient were alive.

 

Dollar Amount for a Medical Malpractice Case

Medical malpractice losses have no defined dollar value, the reason determining its value can be tricky and hard to predict.

Because the values are indefinite, the bulk settlement negotiations would often focus on the hypothetical values of the patient’s all-too-real losses. This undefined value becomes a target for political opposition. 

Without a bill supporting the “non-economic” losses for every medical malpractice, a plaintiff will not be awarded more than $250.00 for non-economic damages incurred by the malpractice. 

 

Medical Malpractice Settlement Amounts

An approximately $242,000 is the national average payout for a medical malpractice case. This can vary significantly depending on the facts of the case. This brings up the question of who determines the settlement amount: the jury or the negotiating parties?

 

The formula to determine how much a medical negligence case is worth is:

Economic Damages (past & future) + Noneconomic Damages (past & future) = Value of Case

 

Settlement Payments Issuance

Once the settlement is determined, the issued payment for the patient’s losses can be collected in two ways:

Structured payment – The payment is awarded in cases that involve minor or birth-related injuries. The court makes sure that the victim will have money for long-term medical treatment.

Lump-sum payment – This is the payment preferred by victims as it is less complicated and allows more options to set up funds to cover the past, future, and current medical expenses of the victim.

Settlement payments are sent to the victim’s lawyer, who will deposit them into an escrow account. After any outstanding balances are paid off, including legal fees and costs, the victim is paid.

 

Reach Out for Legal Help

If you have been a victim of medical malpractice or know someone who was a victim of an injury that was caused by negligent treatment, some lawyers are willing to help you and get what you deserve. Medical malpractice will have a lifelong effect on its victims. Thus, acting now and reaching out for help can change the life of the injured patient.