CAR ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION

For most car accidents, the police officer responding will take the information and prepare a Motor Vehicle Accident report.  The report details the parties in the accident and provides an short description of what happened.  There are a number of codes that are filled out in the report.  These codes provide a lot of information including road conditions, the weather, how the drivers were driving and the condition of the vehicles in the accident.  There will also be a diagram depicting the accident and details of charges if any.  Usually the first driver listed in the police report is considered to be the at fault party.    Where there are very serious injuries sustained by a person involved in the accident, or a fatality, then the police will expand the investigating team to include accident reconstruction specialist to provide a more detailed and comprehensive report examining the accident and determining liability for the accident.  This report will provide a detailed review of skid marks, car damage, where the cars have ended up following the accident and other evidence of the accident.  The accident reconstruction specialist will be able to provide an estimate of speed from reviewing the car damage and other markings at the scene. They will also be able to provide what the sequences of events were that led to the accident.   It is important to consult with a personal injury lawyer as the assessment of liability is a crucial step in a personal injury claim.  The personal injury lawyer will obtain a copy of the police investigation report as soon as it is available.  In addition, a personal injury lawyer will consider bringing in an accident reconstruction specialist to critique the police report and prepare an independent report providing for a reconstruction of the car accident.

Understanding the Motor Vehicle Accident report

For most car accidents, the police officer responding will take the information and prepare a Motor Vehicle Accident report.  The report details the parties in the accident and provides an short description of what happened.  There are a number of codes that are filled out in the report.  These codes provide a lot of information including road conditions, the weather, how the drivers were driving and the condition of the vehicles in the accident.  There will also be a diagram depicting the accident and details of charges if any.  Usually the first driver listed in the police report is considered to be the at fault party.    Where there are very serious injuries sustained by a person involved in the accident, or a fatality, then the police will expand the investigating team to include accident reconstruction specialist to provide a more detailed and comprehensive report examining the accident and determining liability for the accident.  This report will provide a detailed review of skid marks, car damage, where the cars have ended up following the accident and other evidence of the accident.  The accident reconstruction specialist will be able to provide an estimate of speed from reviewing the car damage and other markings at the scene. They will also be able to provide what the sequences of events were that led to the accident.   It is important to consult with a personal injury lawyer as the assessment of liability is a crucial step in a personal injury claim.  The personal injury lawyer will obtain a copy of the police investigation report as soon as it is available.  In addition, a personal injury lawyer will consider bringing in an accident reconstruction specialist to critique the police report and prepare an independent report providing for a reconstruction of the car accident.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Criticized at Senate Hearing 

17safety2-master675According to a New York Times  story www.nytimes.com at a recent Senate subcommittee hearing, the nation’s top auto regulator encountered  severe censor when they failed to timely release the discovery  of  a fatal defect  in General Motors cars. David Friedman, the deputy administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, alleged  that GM had criminally  withheld important data from the agency. Click here to read more about this story.

The 5 Essential Legal Documents Everyone Needs

1. Will

A will is a legal document that lets you tell the world who should receive which of your assets after your death. It also allows you to name guardians for any dependent children. Without a will, the courts decide what happens to your assets and who is responsible for your kids.

2. Living Will

Living Will states your wishes regarding life support in the event that you cannot communicate your end-of-life wishes yourself. Your Living Will only comes into effect if you are in a persistent vegetative state or irreversible coma and can no longer make and communicate your own wishes. A Living Will spares your family the anguish of making life-support decisions without your input. A Living Will also ensures that your doctor understands your end-of-life wishes and treats you accordingly.

Any person over age 18 may (and should) create a Living Will. Common reasons that individuals create a Living Will include:

  • Declining health
  • The possibility of surgery or hospitalization
  • Desire to state your wishes so that it is more likely that they will be carried out
  • Diagnosis of a terminal condition with no hope of recovery

Living Wills can be very specific or very general. Living Wills that are too general may not provide sufficient direction and serve only to create confusion and conflict between medical personnel, your health care agent, and your loved ones. More specific Living Wills are preferred. These are shown to be most successful when they include informed, thoughtful reflection on your wishes and values supported by personal communication between you and your health care agent before a medical crisis occurs.

3. Designation of a Health Care Surrogate

What is a Health Care Surrogate?

Any competent adult may also designate authority to a Health Care Surrogate to make all health care

decisions during any period of incapacity. During the maker’s incapacity, the Health Care Surrogate has

the duty to consult expeditiously, with appropriate health care providers. The Surrogate also provides

informed consent and makes only health care decisions for the maker, which he or she believes the

maker would have made under the circumstances if the maker were capable of making such decisions.

If there is no indication of what the maker would have chosen, the Surrogate may consider the maker’s

best interest in deciding on a course of treatment.

The Living Will can incorporate  Health Care Surrogate in one document.

4. Durable Power of Attorney —

 This is a basic all purpose document to name someone to manage your financial affairs should you become unable to yourself. Financial affairs, like banking matters, retirement matters, insurance matters, and social security matters are anything related to your finances. It is very important to have this in place in case you are not able to manage your financial affairs either temporarily or permanently, and can give your family almost immediate access to your finances if they need it.

5. Revocable Living Trust.

A Revocable Living Trust allows your loved ones to retain control over their estate while making transfers of assets to beneficiaries. They designate what property (home, investments, jewelry, and so on) goes into the trust and to whom it will be granted. During their lifetimes, they act as executors of their own living trust. A revocable living trust has an important advantage: it allows their estate to avoid probate at the time of their deaths.

What NOT TO DO if you have an accident!

DON’Ts

  • Don’t panic. Remain calm and call for help.
  • Don’t leave the scene of the accident.
  • Don’t discuss the accident with anyone and blame anyone, including yourself.
  • Don’t forget to document and take pictures of all damages, especially your vehicle, if in a car accident.
  • Don’t wait. The longer you wait to get legal advice, the harder it is to prove your case.
  • Don’t speak to anybody from the at-fault person’s insurance company before consulting a lawyer. If you give a statement, it may be used against you in the future.
  • Don’t sign any papers given to you by an insurance company or agree to a settlement of your case until you get legal advice.

Remember to Call Mineo and Associates for legal advice at 727-712-8883

What to DO if you have an accident!

DOs

  • Do immediately call for medical help if someone is injured.
  • Do call the police. They will document the accident and gather facts for legal purposes. If you don’t call the police, it is your word against the other person’s.
  • Do report the accident to your insurance agent as soon as possible.
  • Do exchange information with the other parties involved, such as address and phone number. If it’s a car accident get the license plate number; make, model and year of the vehicle; driver’s insurance information; car registration number; driver’s license number.
  • Do get the names, addresses, and phone numbers of any witnesses. Keep in mind, if it was a car accident, any passengers involved in the accident are NOT witnesses.
  • Do keep a disposable camera handy (or use  your fully charged cell phone camera), to take pictures of the accident, damage to the vehicle, and the area around the accident.
  • Do collect any physical evidence that could have caused the accident.
  • Do gather details from the accident: draw a diagram of the accident; note the date and time; the type of weather; the location of the accident—including any landmarks.

Remember to Call Mineo and Associates for legal advice at 727-712-8883

Florida Motor Vehicle No-Fault Law

carcrashNOTIFICATION OF PERSONAL INJURY PROTECTION BENEFITS

YOUR PERSONAL INJURY PROTECTION RIGHTS AND BENEFITS UNDER THE FLORIDA MOTOR VEHICLE NO-FAULT LAW

The Florida Motor Vehicle No-Fault Law does two things:

(1) It establishes a limited exemption from liability for injuries caused to others in an automobile accident; and

(2) It establishes personal injury protection (PIP) benefits to pay for certain losses resulting from an accident.

LEGAL RESPONSIBILITIES AND RIGHTS
Who is covered?

(1) If you are a resident of Florida and own a motor vehicle, you are required to purchase PIP. You are covered by PIP if you are the named insured. You, the insured, are covered by PIP while driving your vehicle or when a passenger in another’s vehicle. You are also covered while outside a motor vehicle if struck and injured by a motor vehicle.

(2) Resident relatives who live with you, the insured, may be covered by your PIP benefits while they are driving your car, as passengers in your or another’s car, and while pedestrians if struck and injured by a motor vehicle.

(3) Others who are injured while driving your insured motor vehicle or who are injured while a passenger in your insured motor vehicle or who are injured as a pedestrian when struck by your insured motor vehicle may be covered by your PIP.

(4) If you or your insured relatives living with you are injured while outside Florida, and are in your insured motor vehicle, you and your insured relatives are covered under PIP as long as the injury occurs within the United States, its territories or possessions, or in Canada.

EXCEPTIONS

If your passengers or relatives living with you have a motor vehicle licensed in Florida or own a

motor vehicle required to be licensed in Florida, they are not covered by your PIP coverage.

They must purchase PIP for themselves to have coverage.

EXCLUSIONS

An insurer may exclude no-fault benefits:

(1) For injury sustained by any person operating the insured motor vehicle without your express or implied consent.

(2) To any injured person, if his/her conduct contributed to the injury under either of the following circumstances:

(a) causing injury to himself intentionally; or

(b) being injured while committing a felony.

(3) For injuries sustained by the named insured and relatives residing in the same household while occupying another motor vehicle owned by the named insured and not insured under the policy.

BENEFITS

The minimum limit for no-fault personal injury protection benefits is $10,000 per person for loss sustained as a result of bodily injury, sickness, or disease ($5,000-death) arising out of the ownership, maintenance, or use of a motor vehicle.

MEDICAL PAYMENTS

PIP pays 80 percent of medical benefits for all reasonable expenses for medically necessary medical, surgical, X-ray, dental, and rehabilitative services, including prosthetic devices, wheelchairs, crutches, slings, neck braces and splints. Medically necessary ambulance, hospital and nursing services are covered, and benefits also are paid for necessary remedial treatment and services recognized and permitted under the laws of the state for an injured person who relies solely upon spiritual means through prayer for healing because of religious beliefs.

Note: if you have medical payments coverage through your auto insurance policy, then the medical payments coverage will be secondary to PIP coverage. The excess medical expenses, the 20 percent not covered by PIP, and the deductible may or may not be covered by the additional medical payments coverage depending on your particular policy.

BILLING REQUIREMENTS

Florida Statutes provide that with respect to any treatment or services, other than certain hospital and emergency services, the statement of charges furnished to the insurer by the provider may not include, and the insurer and the injured party are not required to pay, charges for treatment or services rendered more than 35 days before the postmark date of the statement, except for past due amounts previously billed on a timely basis, and except that, if the provider submits to the insurer a notice of initiation of treatment within 21 days after its first examination or treatment of the claimant, the statement may include charges for treatment or services rendered up to, but not more than, 75 days before the postmark date of the statement. The insured has a responsibility to furnish the provider with the correct name and address of the personal injury protection insurer. Failure to do so may result in delayed reimbursements to the provider.

At your initial treatment or service provided you will be required to sign a disclosure and acknowledgement form stating that the services were actually rendered, it is your right and duty to confirm that those services were rendered, you were not solicited to seek services from the provider, the provider explained the services, and if you notify’ the insurer of a billing error you may be entitled to a share of the insurer’s savings.

DISABILITY BENEFITS

PIP pays 60 percent of disability benefits for any loss of gross income and loss of earning capacity from inability to work because of an injury sustained in an accident. Disability benefits also cover all expenses reasonably incurred for household services that, if not for injury, the injured person would have performed. Benefits must be paid not less than every two weeks.

DEATH BENEFITS

PIP pays up to $5,000 of available benefits per individual in death benefits. The insurer may pay such benefits to the executor or administrator of the deceased, to any of the deceased’s relatives, including those related by marriage, or to any person appearing to the insurer to be equitably entitled to the payment.

OPTIONAL DEDUCTIBLES AND LIMITATIONS

1. Persons subject to deductibles may be able to recover the amount of the deductible from a tortfeasor otherwise exempt from liability under Section 627.737, F.S.

2. Deductibles must be applied to the entire amount of any expenses and losses described under required personal injury protection benefits. After the deductible is met, each insured is eligible to receive up to $10,000 in benefits. Thus, for instance, an insured with a $1,000 deductible would have to incur $13,500 in medical expenses (assuming no disability or death benefits) in order to receive the entire $10,000 in benefits [($13,500- $ 1,000) x 80%].

3. Deductibles of $250, $500 and $1,000 must be offered but may not be required.

4. You may have elected that the benefits from loss of gross income and loss of earning capacity (disability benefits) be excluded from your PIP benefits.

COORDINATION OF BENEFITS

PIP benefits are primary over other insurance coverage, except that workers’ compensation benefits received will be credited against PIP benefits. This means that your PIP insurer is ultimately responsible for payment of your claim. How this works in a specific situation depends upon the contract language in the other insurance policy.

PAYMENT OF BENEFITS

PIP benefits will be payable as loss accrues and reasonable proof of the loss and the expenses are provided. Before PIP benefits are paid, an insurer may require written notice be given as soon as possible after an accident involving a motor vehicle.

PIP benefits are overdue if not paid within 30 days after the insurer is provided written notice of a covered loss and of the total amount of the claim. If a partial claim is made, that partial amount must be paid within 30 days after the insurer receives written notice.

Any part, or all of the remainder, of the claim that is later supported by written notice is overdue if not paid within 30 days after such written notice is furnished to the insurer. However, any payment shall not be deemed overdue when the insurer has reasonable proof showing that the insurer is not responsible for the payment even though written notice has been furnished to the insurer.

For the purpose of calculating overdue payments, payment is considered as being made on the date it was postmarked or, if not posted, on the date of delivery. All overdue payments will pay simple interest at the rate established in your policy, or pursuant to s. 55.03, F.S., whichever is greater.

WHAT DO I DO TO RESOLVE DISPUTES REGARDING PIP BENEFITS?

(1) In the event you are having a dispute with the insurer for PIP benefits, you may demand mediation of the claim before resorting to the courts by filing a request with the Department of Financial Services “Department” on Form DFS-H2-510 provided by the Department.

(2) Mediation is an informal process whereby a neutral mediator selected by the Office will work together with you and the insurer to resolve the dispute.

You may reach the Department at a local service office or call 1-800-342-2762.

PLEASE NOTE: This description of your rights contains general statements and should not be construed to enhance, alter, or amend your rights under your policy and Florida law.