Finding Sources of Recovery — Another Reason To Hire A Personal Injury Attorney

One of the most important things a personal injury lawyer can do is to identify potential sources of recovery.  It seems easy enough, but it’s been an issue in at least two new cases in the last couple of months.

In one case, the potential client came to me after getting the run-a-round from an insurance company.  This is one of the most organized clients I’ve had in a long time, and she was on top of everything.  She came and told me that the recovery was going to be limited to the other driver’s insurance and to her underinsured motorist coverage.  But after talking to her, I was able to identify another policy of insurance that might help her.   That was bringing significant value to her claim.

Similarly, another client came to me after his prior lawyer said there wouldn’t be enough insurance to help him.  Again, I was able to identify potential coverage that even the first lawyer had missed.  This added tens of thousands of dollars to his potential recovery. 

While this doesn’t happen all the time, it is fairly common.  Lay people like to think they can handle their own claims (and in some cases they can).  But in many instances, an experienced personal injury lawyer can bring value to the claim in ways that you haven’t thought about.

What Does Your Texas Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Insurance Cover?

I am beating my head against a wall talking to an insurance company this morning.

Here’s the situation:  My client is a professional driver  (I won’t tell you what kind).  While driving on the job, he was hit by someone and seriously injured. 

In this situation, there are three potential places where an injured person can make a claim.

First, they can obviously make a claim against the driver that caused the wreck.

Second, an injured person can make a claim against any uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage that applies to the vehicle that the injured person is in at the time of the wreck.  Here, my client can make a claim on any um/uim policy that covers the vehicle he was driving.

Third, (and this is where it gets tricky and caused my headache) an injured person can make a claim against the person’s own uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage for any personal vehicle where the person is the named insured.  As I’ve explained on this blog a number of times, your personal policy um/uim policy covers you whenever you are injured in a vehicle wreck caused by an uninsured or underinsured motorist, whether you are in your own car, someone else’s car, riding a bike, walking along the street, or even sitting on your front porch.

And that brings us to today.  I have spent 20 or so minutes on hold trying to explain this concept to various insurance company representatives, only to be told that they “don’t have anything to do with a wreck involving my client’s” work vehicle. 

They don’t get it.

And it makes me wonder how many people they and other insurance companies are ripping off.  This time, they may just not understand the law, but I’m confident that there are other carriers that might know the coverage applies and mislead their insureds, who don’t know any better. 

And then it goes to the insurance agent who sells the policy.  Do they understand this distinction?  What are they telling their customers?

This is just another example of why it’s so important to hire an attorney who knows the area of the law and to make sure that you have a good agent.

Car Wrecks: What Do I Do If The Other Driver’s Insurance Isn’t Working In Good Faith To Settle My Property Claim?

Generally, property damage claims are resolved fairly quickly and easily. But every now and then, you’ll get an issue where the you aren’t satisfied with the way the other driver’s insurance is handling your property damage claim. For example, you may not trust their repair estimate or you may not agree with their decision to total (or not total) your vehicle.

If you have property damage coverage on your car, the best way to deal with this is to go through your insurance company. At a minimum, you can have your insurance company send an adjuster out, and you can see if your company’s adjuster agrees with the other driver’s insurance company.

If they agree, then maybe you feel confident enough to proceed using the other driver’s insurance. But if they don’t agree (or you don’t have confidence in the other company), then you can make a claim on your own policy. Yes, you’ll be out your deductible. But when your insurance company tries to recover its payment from the other insurance company, your insurance company will also recover your deductible for you.

More On Texting While Driving (and Talking While Driving) In School Zones

Last night, Fox 7 ran yet another story about the continued problem of Austin drivers texting and using cell phones in school zones.  This is a continued story and a continued risk to our kids.  And when I say “our kids” in this instance, I mean it.  My son’s elementary school  (my daughter has graduated to middle school) has become the poster-child for these stories.  I bet this is the 5th story in the last year or so featuring this problem that has focused on our school.

This is a problem that has to stop.  I know people feel the urge to see who sent that text, check that last email, or make that call that they’re thinking about.  But don’t do it.  Our children are too important to subject to those risks.

I’ve been griping about this for quite some time now.  And if you’re on my newsletter list, you know that I’ve decided to do something about it.  I’m joining up with people across the country to offer seminars on the dangers of distracted driving.  It’s time we stood up for the safety of our kids.

You can watch the news story below:

Cell Phone Law Loophole Puts Kids At Risk:

Lesson From Austin Hit & Run Accidents: Buy Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Last Friday, in a tragic  hit and run wreck, an alleged drunk driver hit a group of pedestrians, including UT soccer players Kylie Doniak and Leah Payne.  

Our thoughts are certainly with the injured and the families of the injured, especially Ms. Doniak, who was seriously injured. 

But the incident is also a lesson to others.  In this case, a witness, Sisto Perez, followed the driver and restrained him until police arrived.  But this case is the exception. 

A story about the wreck on Fox 7 cited Austin Police Department statistics that there are 800 hit and run accidents in Austin every month.  Only 6% of the non-injury hit and run wrecks are solved, and only 25% of the hit and run wrecks involving injuries or fatalities are solved.

These statistics are a good reminder about the necessity of purchasing uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage on your automobile policy, which will provide coverage for most of these claims.  Hit and run drivers are a constant problem, and often, the only protection you will have for your injuries in these situations is your own UM/UIM coverage.  So when you’re purchasing insurance next time, make sure you purchase insurance to protect yourself.

For additional information on uninsured and underinsured motorist claims, you can visit our uninsured/underinsured motorist page.

And certainly, if you or a loved one is involved in a car wreck with an uninsured or underinsured motorist, please feel free to call us at (512)476-4944 and we’ll try to help.

Avoid Natural Gas Injury Claims

We’ve had a number of cases involving serious injuries related to natural gas.  They’ve run the gamut from an explosion in a residence to carbon monoxide poisoning cases from leaking appliances.  And the common theme is that all of them involved serious, and perhaps permanent, injuries. 

That’s why I was so glad to see an article in yesterday’s Austin American Statesman talking about natural gas safety. 

In the article, Austin Fire Department Battalion Chief Palmer Buck talks about some of the ways that natural gas can cause problems and has safety tips to avoid those problems.  I’m paraphrasing, but some of this thoughts include:

  • Older appliances often have issues with pilot lights going out.  If the pilot lights go out, gas can leak  or problems occur when relighting the pilot light. Be alert to these dangers and follow instructions when relighting appliances.
  • When people attempt to move older gas supply lines, they can develop pinhole leaks, again causing risks of poisoning or fire.
  • If you smell gas, leave the house.  If conditions are right, even turning a light on or off or trying to use the phone can ignite the leak.  Similarly, opening windows may allow more oxygen and make the conditions more flammable.  Just get out.
  • Natural gas also brings with it risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.   When appliances do not burn properly or the exhaust from appliances is not properly vented out of the home, then it will produce carbon monoxide in the home.  In the worst cases, carbon monoxide poisoning can result in death.  But even in more “mild” cases, the problems can include long-term brain injury.

You can obviously see how these problems might result in a lawsuit.  If an appliance leaks, you might want to investigate potential claims against the manufacturer to make sure the product was designed and built correctly.  Additionally, you might want to investigate potential claims against the company that installed or serviced the appliance to make sure that they did their jobs correctly.

If your issue arises on property owned by someone else, you would want to investigate potential claims against the property owner.  For example, we have successfully made claims against an apartment owner who failed to properly fix a malfunctioning furnace that resulted in our client’s carbon monoxide poisoning.  Similarly, a number of lawsuits are filed against hotels for carbon monoxide poisoning issues that occur in hotel rooms.

Another popular defendant in claims involving gas leaks are contractors who fail to do their job properly when dealing with gas.  Most of these cases involve contractors who failed to properly install or move gas lines during various construction projects.

These are real dangers, and I urge you to read the entire article and to purchase a couple of carbon monoxide detectors for your home.

Schuelke Law maintains offices in Austin, Texas. However, our attorneys and lawyers represent clients throughout the state of Texas, including Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Forth Worth, El Paso, New Braunfels, San Marcos, Kyle, Buda, Round Rock, Georgetown, Lockhart, Bastrop, Elgin, Manor, Brenham, Cedar Park, Burnet, Marble Falls, Temple and Killeen. By Brooks Schuelke

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