Articles Posted in Auto Insurance

How Texans Are Harmed new-crash-pic-300x177

You assume that other drivers next to you are covered by liability insurance, right?

Not necessarily. We have 2.6 million uninsured drivers in Texas. And Texas insurance companies are allowed to sell “junk policies” that eliminate coverage to anyone who is not listed. As a result, many people buy them so they can exclude their reckless 16-year-old sons and spouses with histories of DWI’s and car accidents.

This means you won’t be able to collect any money for your medical bills, lost wages, and damages if one of these uninsured drivers crashes into you. Does that sound fair to you?

When the 1.2 million drivers with these junk policies are added to all those without insurance, there’s a 30% chance you won’t get paid back.

I’ve had to deal with this situation more often than I’d like as an injury lawyer for the past 37 years and I’m concerned that people are often placed in this unjust position.

Everyone loses: the injured driver who must file a claim with his own company and pay a big deductible (assuming he paid for uninsured motorist coverage), the at-fault driver left open to being sued, and doctors who are not repaid.

Since Texans are the worst drivers in the U.S., we need all the protection we can get on our roads.

I’ve advocated that our state leaders meeting in Austin keep motorists safer by passing laws which will ban texting while driving, lower the DWI limit, and preserve our economical way to prove medical services and bills that are needed for trials.

Requiring that ALL drivers be covered by liability insurance is another easy and sensible way our legislators should be safeguarding our rights. Continue reading

hand-shakeThe largest insurance company in the world, State Farm, spent a whopping $525 million dollars last year to gain your trust and convince you that it is your good neighbor.

Don’t fall for it. When you are in a car wreck, liability insurance companies are definitely not your friends. They pay you the least amount of money they can get away with to maximize their gargantuan profits.

Here are some of their most common ruses you should be aware of.

1. They call you immediately

You may still be recovering in the hospital or just be getting home after the collision. You may be on pain medications. They catch you off guard, make vague promises like “we’ll pay for your bills,” and rope you in before you have had time to consult with a lawyer to learn what your rights are.

2. They demand a statement

They ask you leading questions that can be used against you later. But you are not required to give a recorded statement. Only if one is absolutely necessary, a good personal injury attorney will review the facts, tell you the questions you can expect, practice with you, and require strict guidelines so the answers can’t hurt you in court.

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dreamstime_xs_28025363-300x200I regularly represent the parents of minor children who have been injured in car crashes. I was in court yesterday on a tragic collision where one teen died and her brother was seriously injured when the SUV driven by their father ran a stop sign, was t-boned, and rolled over. When the mother still had many questions, I thought it would be a good idea to blog about the unique challenges that parents should be aware of.

Let’s say your family was unfortunately involved in a car crash. Obviously a baby cannot talk about what happened. The law also recognizes that children and teens lack the maturity and experience to appreciate the full consequences of their decisions. Until a person is 18, he or she cannot make a legal decision. For these reasons, all states impose special protection on these minor plaintiffs.

How does being under the age of 18 affect the settlement process and the preservation of the damages awarded to your children? Continue reading

Automobile insurance companies make vast sums of money by charging high premiums, then delaying, lowballing or denying collision claims. ALvBa5xEPlj4AAAAAElFTkSuQmCC-300x76

State Farm has a staggering net worth of $87.6 billion. It paid its CEO $8 million last year. Its new regional headquarters in North Dallas cost over $500 million and will employ over 8,000 people. But just try to pry money from an adjuster’s hands without a tough fight – and a good lawyer.

What is one good way to make these companies pay you a fair amount of money after you’ve been crashed into by one of their lousy drivers?

One tool injury lawyers employ in Texas is the Stowers demand. Used properly, it forces automobile insurance companies to engage in good faith negotiations and pay off large trial judgments.

The Stowers doctrine dates back to a 1929 Texas Supreme Court decision in G.A. Stowers Furniture Co. vs. American Indemnity Co. when the court provided injured people a more level playing field.

Before then, an insurance company could just deny a claim. And if the injured person sued its driver, the company was willing to take its chances in court where it hoped to win the case or minimize the size of the verdict. If it lost, it would simply pay off the judgment after several years without penalty or pressure.

So how does the Stowers doctrine help you? Continue reading

dreamstime_xs_64308272-300x200If you’ve had the painful and miserable experience of being in an accident, you’ve got a lot of questions.

Like who is going to pay for my medical expenses and lost wages? How can I collect insurance benefits? What is available?

Here are come answers about a basic and extremely useful policy that you may be paying for and not even know it: Personal Injury Protection benefits or PIP.

What is PIP?

It is an optional coverage that the driver can get money from when he or she is injured. PIP is no-fault because a driver can recover money under the policy even if he or she caused the crash.

The $2,500 for every person in the vehicle amount is the lowest amount of coverage a Texas driver can buy, but for a few dollars more each month, you can purchase up to $100,000 in benefits. This large amount presumably will never be necessary, but you never know.  And even if you have health insurance, often these carriers refuse to pay if you were in a car accident. Or they pay some of your bills but subrogate, that is demand reimbursement of bills paid.

PIP pays in addition to the at-fault driver’s maximum of $30,000 for any one person injured and $60,000 for all people injured in a collision that most drivers have available under their liability policies and other insurance that may be available.

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dreamstime_xs_33224968Texas Farm Bureau (TFB) recently tried to trick Texans into giving up their constitutional right to a trial by jury.

The consumer watchdog of the Dallas Morning News, David Lieber, recently wrote about this outrageous attempt where in exchange for a 10% to 25% so-called discount, a customer would have given up his or her right to file a lawsuit. Instead, he would have to go to mediation and then arbitration if he disputed TFB’s appraisal of his damages.

But the mediator/arbitrator would be paid for/controlled by TFB. Care to guess who was going to win that dispute?

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Another deadly crash in North Texas

Early on Sunday morning, the life of a beautiful 21-year-old woman who had just moved to Dallas was cut short on Central Expressway. She was a passenger in a car driven by her best friend when they were struck by a driver, possibly drunk.

After they got out on the median, an Audi hit the young woman. That driver fled the scene but police found the abandoned Audi and arrested another 21-year-old. Here’s the article from the Dallas Morning News about this tragic intoxication manslaughter crash.

What happens if the family of the deceased woman has to file a lawsuit against driver to recover the estate’s damages and she refuses to cooperate with her insurance company or her liability carrier claims that she is excluded from coverage based on a technicality?

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dreamstime_xs_49819624An auto accident is not an everyday occurrence for you — thankfully — so you understandably may not know what to do next. But, the steps you take during the minutes and days following your car wreck can make a big difference in the amount of your damages recovery.

Based upon my 35 years of representing accident victims, I recommend avoiding these common mistakes:

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dreamstime_xs_37117254Car Wreck Victims Should Not Be Harmed A Second Time

To add to the unknown insurance company procedure I blogged about on Wednesday – how injured victims often have to repay their health insurance companies for their medical care after they have been crashed into – here’s another serious problem that affects any one crashed into in Dallas-Fort Worth.

What if you have to go to the nearest hospital to treat your pain and assess your injuries and it is

A. Out of network — and you are billed for its full rate of $5,000?

B. In network and bills your health insurance carrier the $5,000, but your Aetna plan only pays the reduced rate of $1,000,– and you are billed for the balance of $4,000?

C. In network, but the ambulance, emergency room physician, x-ray technician, radiologist, pharmacist and consulting doctors are all out of network — and you are billed for $10,000?

D. In network, but you haven’t met your deductible or can’t afford the co pays, often 20% or more?

We often see clients’ bills of $10,000 or more — just for that first day. The ambulance bill alone in Fort Worth is routinely $1,500 or more.

You won’t even know this until a month later when you receive “balance bills” — or worse, complete bills — leaving you with excessively high amounts. And the other driver’s insurance company won’t pay these until you or your injury lawyer settles the case or a jury awards you damages after a trial.

What should you do? Here are some useful tips.

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dreamstime_xs_39966338If you have a health insurance plan, you may assume it will pay all of your medical bills.  You may also think that that you can also make the at-fault driver’s liability insurance company pay you for your damages, including those same medical bills.

But frequently your Blue Cross or Aetna plan wants to be reimbursed from the money you recover in a personal injury settlement or trial. You may already have received its notice asking you for more information about your accident or even an official lien.

The concept is called subrogation and it can throw a wrench into an accident recovery — especially if you don’t have a good personal injury lawyer fighting for you.

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