Jun 21 2019

Insurance Companies and Prolonged Treatment After Car Accidents

As anyone who has been through this situation will know, the process of obtaining proper compensation from an insurance company after a car accident can be arduous and stressful. Insurance companies, whether your own or that of a liable party in your case, are always looking for loopholes and excuses that will get them out of paying major funds, and they’ll often go to great lengths here.

At the Law Offices of William Rawlings & Associates, we’re proud to offer you quality car accident injury attorney services that will help balance the scales here. We’ve spent years dealing with both liable parties and their insurance companies, with many former insurance adjusters in the fold who understand exactly how these companies work – and how to fight against some of the tactics they’ll use.

One particularly stressful area in some auto accident injury cases is what’s called prolonged recovery. Lucky car accident victims may recover quickly from physical injury, or may even have very little such injury to begin with, but many less fortunate people will suffer back pain, neck pain or other symptoms that linger on for weeks or months after the accident. In these cases, insurance companies will try a few specific tactics to avoid covering this prolonged care – let’s look at each of these tactics and how we’ll help you fight back against them.

insurance prolonged treatment car accidents

Issues of “Malingering”

Insurance companies often like to put a sparkly bow on even some of their most negative behaviors, and this area is a good example. Representatives are obviously instructed never to tell someone outright that they’re faking or exaggerating an injury – instead, they’ll use the term “malingering.”

Really, though, you know what they mean. This is often the first argument made against providing compensation for treatment that comes weeks or months after an accident, one where the insurance provider claims you don’t actually need the treatment and are exaggerating.

Pre-Existing Conditions

If the malingering excuse doesn’t work, many insurance companies will next move to pre-existing conditions. As the term suggests, they’ll go out of their way to try and prove that your current physical symptoms are not a result of your vehicle accident – rather, that they’re due to a previously present condition of some kind. They’ll dig deep into medical records, even going years back to previous physical therapy or any other evidence that might suggest the injury came from somewhere else.

Unrelated to Accident

Finally, if both of the above are unsuccessful, the insurance company may just argue that the treatment you received wasn’t relevant for accident-related injuries. They may ask why you didn’t go to the ER directly after the accident, for instance, and then use that fact to claim that future treatments are not connected because you clearly weren’t in pain right after the accident (a straw man argument our attorneys can quickly poke holes in, as not all accident injuries are immediately visible).

For more on ensuring you have the proper compensation for prolonged treatment after a vehicle accident, or to learn about any of our personal injury attorney services, speak to the staff at the Law Offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

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Jun 14 2019

Getting Just Compensation After Motorcycle Accidents

For those who ride motorcycles as a primary form of transportation, safety is vital. Motorcycle riders are eight times more likely to be injured in an accident than passengers in a vehicle, and these injuries are often severe due to limited protection for those riding them.

At the Law Offices of William Rawlings & Associates, LLC, we’re here to help if you have a motorcycle accident injury and believe you may have a case for damages against a liable party. Unfortunately, there are a few strange misconceptions out there that may impact the way your case goes – let’s clear these up and look at some common statistics and case values for motorcycle accidents, plus how you can get your just compensation.

just compensation motorcycle accidents

Motorcycle Injury Statistics

There are a high number of motorcycle accidents in the United States each year, and while precise figures vary based on the source, there’s no question that over 5,000 drivers die each year due to motorcycle collisions. Nearly another 90,000 will be injured in such accidents.

As we noted above, these accidents often come with major injury risks. Even minor motorcycle collisions pose significant such risks to those riding them, especially if any safety equipment is lacking at the time.

Common Prejudice Against Motorcyclists

Unfortunately, there’s a common prejudice that may make its way into certain folks’ opinion of motorcycle-related accidents. Like it or not, some people view motorcycles as inherently dangerous or flashy, and thus will attempt to pin the blame for any accident involving them on the motorcycle driver – even if the incident clearly was not their fault in reality.

Speaking of reality, it doesn’t line up with this perception. A high percentage of motorcyclists are at least 40 years old, not the daredevil youths some are imagining, and well over half of all collisions involving motorcycles are actually caused by drivers of other vehicles. An experienced personal injury attorney will be able to highlight these important realities to all necessary parties during your case.

Case Value Potential

Per information form Jury Verdict Research, motorcycle injury verdicts are often quite high, with a median approaching $75,000 per case for years in the early 2000s (amounts that have gone up since due to inflation and other factors). Know that if you’ve been injured in such a situation, you could potentially have a claim for a high dollar value.

Dealing With Insurance Companies

Unfortunately, like with other car accident formats, your insurance company is not actually always trying to help you here. Rather, they’re trying to find reasons not to pay out compensation for an accident, such as attempting to prove you were at fault when this isn’t the case. Luckily, our attorneys are here to represent your interests to these bodies and get you the compensation you deserve, whether through a fair settlement or even a trial process.

For more on motorcycle accidents and liability, or to learn about any of our personal injury lawyer services, speak to the staff at the Law Offices of William Rawlings & Associates, LLC today.

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Jun 07 2019

Understanding Passenger Van Accident Liability

While certain car accident injury cases are relatively straightforward when it comes to assigning blame and liability, many others are not. There are numerous situations that lead to and cause car accidents, possibly including multiple parties and liability areas, and it can sometimes be more complex to determine precisely who was at fault or is liable.

At the Law Offices of William Rawlings & Associates, our auto accident injury attorneys are here to help no matter the complexity of your case. One area that may require a careful hand? Passenger claims, or cases where passengers in a given vehicle type have liability claims against the driver of either their own vehicle or others involved. One such issue is when a passenger van is involved in an accident – here are some important facts and themes to understand for these cases.

passenger van accident liability

Passenger Van Definition and Risks

Passenger vans are defined as those that can accommodate between 12 and 15 occupants, or sometimes even more. They’re commonly used by many different groups, from resort and tour companies to airport shuttles, church groups and many others. They’re also regularly used for daycare, senior care and similar areas.

Passenger vans, by definition, are larger than other vehicle types. They’re longer, taller and wider, meaning driving them requires different skills than most other cars. Side mirrors are required more often for changing lanes, for instance, and braking needs to be applied more liberally during all situations.

And unfortunately, passenger vans are also at greater risk for collisions. Rollover risk are much higher due to the weight of people in the van, and other factors like negligence or improper maintenance may play a role as well.

NHTSA Areas

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is an overview body that helps govern several related areas here, and it treats passenger and commercial vans as something of a gray area vehicle. While the NHTSA recommends that passenger vans have commercial driver’s licenses, this is not a legal requirement in most areas.

The NHTSA has other areas it recommends as well, but again, no hard requirements. It highly advises checking tires for proper inflation levels to prevent rollover issues, especially on longer trips. It also recommends proper cargo placement within these vehicles – too much reliance on roof-top luggage racks will increase rollover risks. Finally, passenger vans should never tow anything, and all passengers should remain seated with their seatbelts on at all times while in these vehicles.

Getting Proper Compensation

If you’ve been part of a passenger van accident that left you injured, you could have a case for compensation from the party liable for the accident. Our attorneys are here to go over the details of your case and advise you on your next steps.

For more on passenger vans and liability, or to learn about any of our personal injury attorney services, speak to the staff at the Law Offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

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May 03 2019

Understanding Common Forms of Distracted Driving

There are several potential causes to vehicle accidents on the road, and one of the most common and dangerous is distracted driving. Distracted driving is a broad category that can refer to several specific types of distraction, from visual ones to manual or even cognitive issues.

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, LLC, we’re here to tell you that regardless of which type of distraction was the cause, you could be owed damages if you were injured in a car accident caused by a distracted driver. Here are some basics on defining this term, how an auto accident injury attorney can help, plus an investigation into a few specific examples of distracted driving – including a couple that some people mistakenly think don’t put them at risk for liability if they cause an accident.

common forms distracted driving

Defining Distracted Driving

Simply put, the law defines distracted driving as any behavior or activity that turns the driver’s attention away from the task of driving. Many of the basics here come back to simple science: Even a single second spent looking away from the road in front of you will cause you to be unaware for a huge amount of ground covered, particularly if your vehicle is traveling at a high rate of speed.
For this reason, anything that causes this sort of diversion of attention could be considered a distraction. While we’re about to lay out a few specific examples of the most common forms of distracted driving, know that a far greater number of potential actions or distractions could also fit the bill, and you should be aware of them at all times when operating a vehicle.

Cell Phones and Texting

In today’s modern day, texting on cell phones is considered the single most dangerous type of distracted driving facing US drivers. It is responsible for literally thousands of deaths on the road every year, plus untold additional thousands of injuries. This is extremely straightforward: Not only does texting require a driver to move their eyes from the road to a phone, it takes at least one hand off the wheel and uses it for another purpose.
In addition, several other phone behaviors outside texting may cause distraction. Talking on the phone can apply if you aren’t using fully hands-free devices, and even voice commands may distract the brain. Those looking to fully avoid distractions will not use their phones at all while driving.

Daydreaming or Preoccupation

This is a bit more of a nebulous category, but distraction can also be easily caused by our own mental picture. Daydreaming or distraction are particularly common for tired drivers, part of the reason you often see reminders to pull over and rest if you feel tired while driving.

Rubbernecking

It’s often used as the butt of jokes due to it’s silly-sounding name, but rubbernecking – or slowing down and losing focus on driving so as to view accidents or other things happening on the side of the road – is extremely dangerous. It’s the cause of numerous additional accidents, in fact, and is a form of distracted driving that is not viewed favorably by courts.

For more on the common types of distracted driving, or to learn about any of our car accident or personal injury attorney services, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

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Apr 05 2019

Sporting Events and Personal Injury Liability Concerns

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, we’ve seen virtually every variety of personal injury case out there. While the most common in this category are car accidents and those involving other vehicle types, we also handle cases involving various other injuries, dog bite claims and even trampoline-related injuries.

The moral of the story here: You can be injured in many situations, and just because yours isn’t one of the most common for a personal injury case doesn’t mean you can’t receive compensation if another party was at fault for your injuries. One great example of this is with injuries sustained at a sporting event – let’s go over when you may or may not have liability claims in these relatively unique circumstances.
sporting events personal injury liability

Assumption of Risk

It’s important to note that when you attend a sporting event, particularly one put on by a professional-level team like the Utah Jazz or Real Salt Lake, there’s a legal element known as “assumption of risk” that you are taking. This assumption will generally be expressed in several areas: On your tickets themselves, plus at multiple locations within the arena or stadium. They will also generally be repeated by a public service announcer at some point before the event begins.
Generally speaking, these assumptions cover the reasonable, inherent risks presented by whatever sport you’re viewing. If you’re at a baseball game, then, it’s reasonable to expect that baseballs may fly into the crowd at some point, and you have to be watching for them – if you’re hit by one and weren’t paying attention, you won’t have a claim against the ballpark, for instance. This same level of reasonable assumption applies to any sport based on the basic rules, fields and materials used during play.

Exceptions to Risk Assumption

Now, assumption of risk is not a cover-all rule for arenas or the groups putting on these events. There’s also a reasonable expectation that the venue provide the adequate protections that should be in place.
Take a hockey rink, for example, which in recent decades have all installed protective nettings behind each goal to stop speeding pucks from flying up into the crowd and hitting spectators. If this netting is faulty in a rink you attend and results in a puck injuring you, you very well might have a liability claim against the venue.

Unforeseeable Events

There are other cases where events no one could have predicted lead to injury cases. Often these are incidents between fans, such as fights or similar events. If you’re unsure whether such an event qualifies, ask one of our personal injury lawyers, who can clarify for you.

Safe, Secure Facility

Finally, as we touched on above, it’s the venue’s responsibility to provide a safe and secure facility. This means well-maintained premises, including proper lighting and a maintenance staff that keeps walkways and other public areas clear. It also means hiring and maintaining proper security – certain personal injury cases involving sporting events related to issues where non-adequate security was present to prevent an incident.

For more on whether or not an injury sustained at a sporting event might leave you with a personal injury claim, or for information on any of our personal injury attorney services, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

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Mar 08 2019

Staying Safe As a Winter Driver in Utah

Negligence is one of the top causes of auto accidents that lead to personal injury cases, and this is particularly true during the winter in places like Utah. Snow, ice, and various other winter conditions make roads much riskier during and after storms, but not all drivers are conscious of this and many take a risky approach on the roads.

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, there’s always a car accident attorney available to help if you’re involved in an incident with one such driver. We can ensure you get the proper compensation if your accident was caused by winter-related negligence by the other party, and we’re also here to provide some tips to keep yourself safe from this happening to begin with – driving safely isn’t only about you, but also about protecting yourself from the possibility of poor driving by others sharing the road. Whether you’ve been involved in such a case in the past or not, here are a few important areas for staying safe on the road during winter.

safe winter driver Utah

Clean Vehicle

Both for your own safety and that of others on the road, you should not drive your vehicle if it’s full of snow and ice accumulations on the windshield, windows, rear windows or even the roof. Slabs and chunks may fall off as you drive and make things less safe for other vehicles, especially trucks. There are even situations where you can be fined or cited for driving with roof or other snow accumulation on the vehicle, even if no damage is created. You may also be liable in civil court if these issues cause you to be responsible for an accident.

Speed Concerns

While speed limits for given areas are there for a reason and should always be respected, they may not go far enough when you’re dealing with winter driving conditions. They’re meant for optimal road conditions, not those with significant hazards present.
In these cases, you can absolutely be driving unsafely even if you’re doing a speed well below the limit. The National Safety Council recommends at least a three-second following distance during good driving conditions – you should at least double that when there’s snow or ice on the ground, and you should limit your speed with turning as well.

Passing Snowplows

Never attempt to pass a snowplow on your side of the road for any reason. Stay at least six car lengths behind it and move away from the center line if one is approaching from the opposite side.

Understanding Brakes

The kind of brakes you have in your car should dictate how you use them in snow or ice. If you have antilock brakes, you should maintain steady pressure while braking and never pump for any reason. If you have standard brakes, though, you can pump them to avoid skidding. If the car starts to fishtail in any situation, steer in the direction you want to go, not the opposite one.

For more on staying safe on the road during winter, or to learn about any of our auto accident or personal injury lawyers and what they can do for your case, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

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Dec 13 2018

Rideshare Accident Liability, Part 2

In part one of this blog series, we went over some of the basics when it comes to rideshare companies like Lyft and Uber when their drivers are involved in accidents. Liability can be tough to necessarily place in some of these cases, and the auto accident attorneys at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates are always here to help if you’re involved in such an incident.

Today, we’ll go into a few more details when it comes to this process. There are, in fact, several current lawsuits in place based on gaps in liability in these areas, and these may play a huge role in how these sorts of incidents are litigated in the future. Let’s go over some important liability areas for drivers, rideshare companies, and even third parties involved in accidents.

rideshare accident liability

Possible Driver Liability

If you’re hit by a negligent or reckless driver employed by a rideshare company, and you’ve suffered a permanent injury or one that exceeds your no-fault insurance policy, the driver may be liable even if they were not on the clock for Uber or Lyft at the time. There’s an issue here, though: Many drivers only carry state minimum insurance required by law and Uber.

This means that you may not be able to recover enough to pay for your injuries in these cases. Plus, if the insurance company was unaware that their driver was contracting to carry passengers, the driver’s own insurance company might reject the damages from an accident.

Possible Rideshare Liability

As we noted above, there are some lawsuits currently in play or recently completed in this area – and they relate to parties who feel Uber and Lyft should be more responsible for these gaps in liability. In 2015, Uber settled a case where one of their drivers struck and killed a young girl in a crosswalk while logged into the Uber app and waiting to accept a ride.

Multiple other similar suits have been brought through recent years, including incidents where rideshare drivers have run red lights, T-boned cars in intersections, or even those where the plaintiff was the passenger in an Uber itself. Some have alleged that Uber does not provide adequate safety and training procedures.

The main point to take away here is this: Even if you’re in one of these accidents and it appears standard insurance coverage won’t help you recoup all your injury damages, there’s a good chance a separate suit can bring you the results you want if you have a strong case.

Possible Third Party Liability

Just like in any accident situation, third parties could also be at fault here – or fault itself could be impossible to place. Road conditions may contribute to crashes in some cases, and vehicle inspections for ridesharing companies are another big crux point. Finally, if a third party driver causes an accident with an Uber or Lyft driver, that party will likely bear liability.

For more on handling liability claims after an accident involving a ridesharing vehicle, or to learn about any of our personal injury attorney services, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

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Dec 03 2018

Rideshare Accident Liability, Part 1

Over the last several years, companies like Uber and Lyft have become wildly popular based on their convenience and the ability for anyone to both utilize and work for them. At the same time, these companies have had to deal with significant issues when it comes to their drivers and any accidents they’re in – who is liable in these cases, for instance?

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, LLC, we can help answer questions like these if you’re involved in such an auto accident. In this two-part blog, we’ll go over everything you need to know about how claims work when it comes to these incidents, including Utah’s insurance laws and how they’re relevant.

rideshare accident liability

Utah and No-Fault Insurance

Utah is one of 12 states that has what are known as no-fault insurance laws in place. These laws require all Utah drivers to keep at least $3,000 in “personal injury protection,” which is also called no-fault coverage. This coverage eliminates the potential for compensation for pain and suffering or other non-monetary damages – to step outside this, your injuries have to meet certain thresholds (this is only for physical injury – car damage claims can be made against an at-fault driver with no limitations at all).

To pursue a liability claim after any accident in Utah, then, you must have incurred at least $3,000 in medical bills or have suffered specific serious injuries. These injuries include:

  • Permanent disability
  • Permanent impairment
  • Permanent disfigurement or dismemberment

If your injuries surpass any of these thresholds, you are not limited by no-fault claims.

Rideshare Drivers Are Contractors

Companies like Uber recognize that their insurance could be liable for certain issues, so they’ve taken significant steps to distance themselves from their drivers – most importantly, naming all their drivers independent contractors. This creates a legal separation between these companies and their drivers, which can often transfer to legal issues in the case of an accident caused by the driver. However, there are still situations where Uber or Lyft insurance will come into play, which we’ll go over below.

Uber Accident Insurance

We’ll use Uber as our test example here, and the crux point often comes down to whether the driver is logged in and actively working for Uber at the time of the accident. If not, the driver’s personal insurance is on the hook.

If so, things are a bit more complex. Uber offers no collision coverage if the driver is logged in but hasn’t actively accepted a ride at the time of the accident, but does offer liability coverage for third parties involved in these accidents – up to $50,000 per injury, and up to $25,000 for property damage beyond the driver’s personal insurance.

Finally, if the driver is actively transporting a paying customer, Uber’s full $1 million collision and liability policy will kick in. It will have the following coverage:

  • Third party liability coverage for all other drivers, pedestrians, and their property.
  • Contingent comprehensive collision coverage for the Uber car, regardless of driver fault.
  • Uninsured or underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage, if the Uber driver is not at fault and the other driver does not have enough coverage or cannot be identified.

For more on ridesharing companies and how liability works if you’re involved in an accident with one, or to learn about any of our personal injury attorney services, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

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Apr 13 2017

SHOULD I SETTLE MY CASE OUT OF COURT?

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When an accident or wrongful death occurs, the injured party has a legal right to compensation. Most individuals assume that the best way to collect this compensation is by taking their case to court and letting a judge or jury decide. If you have a good lawyer, this can be a valid option, but it would be wrong to assume that it’s your only one.

Many people have received just compensation and avoided the hassles of courtroom trials by negotiating a settlement. Recent studies indicate that as many as 95 percent of American civil cases never make it to trial. An experienced and aggressive lawyer, like those at William Rawlings & Associates negotiate a compensation agreement, settlement is made and both parties leave satisfied.

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Mar 28 2017

Avoiding Auto, Truck and Pedestrians Accidents

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The standard Safe Practices for Motor Vehicle Operations defines defensive driving skills as “driving to save lives, time, and money, in spite of the conditions around you and the actions of others.” This definition is taken from the National Safety Council’s Defensive Driving Course.  It is a form of training for motor vehicle drivers that goes beyond mastery of the rules of the road and the basic mechanics of driving. Its aim is to reduce the risk of collision by anticipating dangerous situations, despite adverse conditions or the mistakes of others. This can be achieved through adherence to a variety of general guidelines, such as following the assured clear distance ahead and two second rules, as well as the practice of specific driving techniques.

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