Answers to Your Personal Injury, Workers Compensation, and Medical Malpractice Legal Questions
Your Questions Answered - Your Legal Options Explained
At KCAIA we know that it is essential for every injury victim to get good information about how to pursue their accident claim. Following an accident that causes serious injury to you or a loved one, there are often many unanswered questions.
Listed below are some of the most frequently asked questions we get from new clients. You can browse by category using the dropdown menu. Alternatively, for a quicker, more customized search, try typing your question into the search bar above.
Don't see what you are looking for? If you don't find the answers you need, contact us today for answers to your specific questions. Remember, the consultation is FREE and there is no obligation.
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How much is my truck accident claim worth?
After an accident with a semi or other large commercial vehicle caused by a negligent driver, there are a lot of unanswered questions. If you're conflicted about filing a claim for compensation, it's important to know your options, and the varying levels of value. Even an experienced truck accident attorney cannot give you a precise figure of a claim's worth. However, he can give you a good sense of what you can expect to receive based on his experience handling similar cases and the specific circumstances in your case.
Common Types of Compensation in Truck Accident Claims
Large truck accidents often cause catastrophic injuries and damages. Passengers of automobiles, SUVs, and trucks simply don’t have the protection against a loaded tractor-trailer that may weigh as much as 80,000 pounds. Frequently, victims of these accidents are entitled the following compensation:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Lost and future wages and other benefits of your employment
- Future earning capacity if you must make a career change that results in a reduction in your wages or you become permanently disabled
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
While you may be able to determine an approximate amount of rightful compensation for property damage, medical bills, and lost wages, you'll need the assistance of an experienced attorney to determine the value of your pain and suffering and future earning capacity.
Factors That Affect the Value of a Truck Crash Claim
A number of factors affect the strength of your case against a negligent truck operator and his or her employer. The following include some variables that could strengthen or weaken your claim and its value:
- Disputes. When there are serious disputes about the cause of your wreck, your injuries, or some other issue in your case, they might weaken the overall value of your claim. In addition, you may need to fight harder and longer to obtain a fair settlement.
- Severity of your injuries. If you suffer more serious injuries that require surgery or other long-term treatments, your claim's value will be larger. In addition, the worth of these allotments might also influence an increase of the less-tangible portion of your claim—the pain and suffering you endured due to injuries and the resulting life limitations.
- Disability. If you suffered a permanent disability that affects your ability to work or perform day-to-day tasks, this increases the value of your claim due to your additional expenses and pain and suffering.
- Your partial fault. If you were partially responsible for the accident, your comparative negligence reduces the value your claim by the percentage of fault. For example, if you were found 20 percent at fault in causing the wreck, you'd only be entitled to 80 percent of damages from the trucker and fleet company.
- Participant credibility. Credibility analysis of all parties is common in truck accident cases. Throughout the process, if your accident recollection and the severity of your injuries stay consistent, this makes you a strong, believable witness at trial. If your attorney is able to point out discrepancies in the trucker’s statements or actions, this indicates he or she is less credible. The result could potentially increase the value of your claim.
- Witnesses. If other people who saw the accident can corroborate that the truck driver was the negligent party, this may make your claim worth more. This is especially true if the witnesses are neutral parties you don't know and who have no interest in the outcome of your case.
- Experienced truck accident attorney. Hiring an experienced truck accident attorney who has a track record of success in settling and trying these cases significantly increases the value of your claim. He understands the importance of thoroughly investigating your crash and will not be afraid to take your case to trial if necessary to obtain the settlement you deserve.
Do you need advice on the value of your claim for injury compensation caused in a truck accident? Our knowledgeable attorneys are here to help. Call our Kansas City office today to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.
Should I give a recorded statement to the insurance company when filing a car accident claim?
If another driver caused your injuries in a car accident, a claims file will be opened by his or her insurance company once the incident is reported. An adjuster is assigned to investigate your potential claim, and will contact you as part of his investigation.
You may even receive a call from the adjuster while you're in the hospital. One common request from him or her is for you give a recorded statement. A recorded statement is a question and answer session conducted by the insurance adjuster with an accident victim either over the telephone or in person. The recorded conversation is later transcribed into a written document.
The adjuster may ask general questions about the victim's employment, educational level, and marital status as well as questions about the accident and the individual's resulting injuries.
Why You Should Decline to Give a Recorded Statement
While the insurance adjuster may try to convince you that giving a recorded statement will help speed up your claim, the reality is this is not usually true. In fact, many accident victims discover later that agreeing to give a recorded statement did exactly the opposite and slowed down or caused problems with their claims process.
Here are reasons you don't want to agree to give a recorded statement:
- Not required. It's important to remember that you're not required to give a recorded statement to settle your claim.
- Inconsistent statements. The insurance adjuster has a duty to his company to investigate your claim before agreeing to a settlement. And it's his job to raise any disputes during this process in order to reduce or deny your claim. One way he can do this is to compare the statements you make in a recorded statement to others you gave to police, a doctor, and witnesses. If your statements are inconsistent for any reason, he could use this information to try to deny your claim.
- Answers you didn’t mean. If there's a chance you're confused about the details of your accident due to your injuries, or simply misunderstood an adjuster's question, your responses may still be used against your claim.
- Use of answers in litigation. Any part of your recorded statement can be used against you at court hearings or at trial. This may impact your right to compensation.
Preparing for the claims process is one reason why it's important to secure the help of an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible after the incident. This allows you to politely decline to participate in a recorded statement and direct all communications and negotiations with the insurance company to your attorney.
Have You Ruined Your Case by Giving a Recorded Statement?
Fortunately, it's unlikely that you ruined your case if you gave a recorded statement. Many victims of car accidents have and still settled their claim. However, it's possible that an adjuster used your responses to reduce the claim's value.
If you provided a statement, it's helpful to review it during the claims process, but it's unlikely that the adjuster will give you a copy voluntarily. This is another reason why having an experienced attorney on your side helps your case. He can obtain a copy and evaluate your statements and how they may affect your settlement.
If you or a loved one was injured in a collision, we urge you to quickly retain an experienced attorney to investigate your claim, communicate with the insurance company, and negotiate your settlement. To learn why we're the right attorneys for you, call our office today to schedule a free consultation.
How long do I have to file a car accident case?
When you must file a claim for compensation after a car accident, it's helpful to understand how the process works, how much your claim is worth, and important laws that govern your case.
A vital law to know and follow is the statute of limitations—or time period—for filing your lawsuit. If you fail to do so, it could have dire consequences on your right to compensation for your injuries from the negligent driver.
Each state has its own laws regarding the statute of limitations in car accident cases, and this is true of Missouri and Kansas. If you were injured in a wreck in either of these states caused by another motorist, here’s what you need to know for filing your lawsuit.
Missouri’s Statute of Limitations in Auto Wreck Cases
In Missouri, there's more than one rule on the time limit to sue a negligent driver. How long you have to file a claim depends on whether it's for injuries or a loved one’s death. These time limits apply:
- Personal injury or property damage. If you suffered injuries in a motor vehicle wreck, you must file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver within five years of the date of the accident. This deadline also applies to a claim for property damage, such as to your vehicle or possessions in it at the time of your wreck.
- Wrongful death. If a family member died in the car accident, you would have three years from the date of his death—not the date of the accident—to file a wrongful death action.
Statute of Limitations for Car Accident Cases in Kansas
You may be surprised at how different the statute of limitations laws are in Kansas than in Missouri. These rules apply:
- Personal injury and property damage. You have two years from the date of the crash to file a lawsuit against a negligent motorist for personal injuries or damage to your property.
- Wrongful death. You also have two years to file a wrongful death action if a loved one’s death was caused by a driver’s negligence. However, this time period starts on the date of his death—not the date of the wreck.
What Happens If the Statute of Limitations Expires?
In both Missouri and Kansas, if you don't file a lawsuit within the specified time period, you won't be able to pursue your claim in court, as the judge would most likely dismiss your case.
Technically, you could still file a claim with the negligent party's insurance company, it wouldn't have any incentive to settle with you, because the adjuster
would know the statute of limitations had expired.
Why Contacting an Attorney Sooner vs. Later Is Always Better
Even though you may have years before the statute of limitations expires to file your lawsuit against the negligent driver, it's crucial to contact an experienced car accident attorney immediately after your crash.
If you delay in doing so, this may weaken your case and hamper your lawyer’s ability to settle your claim for its full value. Here's how:
- Witnesses to the accident could disappear, and vital evidence might be lost.
- You could make an inadvertent mistake in your case, such as agreeing to give a recorded statement, signing a blanket medical authorization, or negotiating a settlement on your own.
- You may limit your attorney’s ability to investigate the accident and retain helpful expert witnesses to reenact the accident to show how the other driver caused it.
What happens if you don't retain an attorney right away? An experienced car accident attorney will have strategies for dealing with any problems this may have caused to your case.
To obtain assistance in filing a claim after a car accident, call our office today to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.
Can I get compensation for PTSD after a car accident caused by someone's negligence?
If you or a family member was involved in a car crash caused by a negligent driver, you could suffer life-altering injuries, such as traumatic brain injury, back and spinal injuries, paralysis, or internal organ damage. However, you could also suffer an equally debilitating but more hidden injury—post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
You could be entitled to compensation for physical injuries, but you'll need the help of an experienced car accident attorney to hold the negligent driver and his insurance company accountable.
What Is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?
PTSD is a mental health condition that sometimes happens when someone experiences a traumatic event—such as an auto collision, combat exposure, or sexual abuse—that causes emotions, such as fear, helplessness, or horror.
Both adults and children can suffer accident-related PTSD. A person is more likely to develop PTSD in these situations:
- He experienced an intense or long-lasting trauma
- He has a high-stress job that puts him in contact with people experiencing trauma, such as paramedics, fire fighters, or police officers
- He suffers with depression, anxiety, or other mental health conditions
- He has a family history of mental health illness
- He has an alcohol or drug substance abuse problem
Symptoms of PTSD
The symptoms of PTSD can develop soon after a car accident or take weeks, months, or longer to emerge. They can be extreme and cause a person to be unable to work or cope with his day-to-day activities. Symptoms are generally one of four types: invasive memories, avoidance, negative changes in a person’s emotions and moods, and changes in physical and emotional reactions.
Some common symptoms include:
- Having reoccurring and distressing memories of the terrifying event
- Experiencing nightmares about the traumatic incident
- Avoiding talking about the event
- Avoiding places, activities, and people that pose reminders of the incident
- Having negative thoughts about self and others and hopelessness about the world
- Experiencing memory or concentration problems
- Feeling detached from family and friends and difficulty maintaining relationships
- Being easily frightened
- Always being on alert for danger
- Having difficulty sleeping
- Engaging in self-destructive behaviors, such as alcohol and drug abuse
- Exhibiting anger or aggressive behaviors
- Feeling shame and guilt
- Feeling suicidal
So for example, after the trauma of a serious accident, someone may present PTSD symptoms in various ways, such as:
- Feeling anxious whenever in a car
- Driving out-of-the-way to avoid the crash site, or react with road rage to the slightest issue
- Being triggered into a state of anxiety or fear by common traffic sounds
- Be incapable of driving for fear of another collision
Treatments You Could Need for PTSD
If you suffer with PTSD, you may need extensive treatments to help you cope with the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, the challenges these symptoms cause in your life, and the underlying causes of the condition.
Treatments may not always stop you from experiencing PTSD, but can help you to function better and perform your daily tasks
—even if you're no longer able to work.
Treatments could include the following:
- Cognitive therapy. Cognitive therapy is a type of talk therapy that can help you identify the ways thinking patterns keep you stuck in your current mental condition. If you suffer with PTSD, you'll most likely undergo this therapy in combination with exposure therapy.
- Exposure therapy. This type of therapy can help you face the terrifying memories of the car accident so you can cope with them better. It can be especially helpful if you experience nightmares or flashbacks of the crash. Some therapies include the use of a virtual reality program to allow you to safely re-enter the place where your accident occurred.
- Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). EMDR is often utilized with exposure therapy. It's a series of guided eye movements that can help you safely experience the traumatic event and change how you react to it.
- Stress management skills. A therapist can teach you stress management skills that allow you to better manage an episode of PTSD or another stressful situation.
- Medications. Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications may help you deal with depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders that are common for people who suffer with PTSD. You'll need to work with a doctor to find the correct medications and dosage that improve your symptoms. Although not approved by the FDA for treatment of PTSD, prazosin (Minipress) may be prescribed if you have both insomnia and nightmares.
Let Us Help You Obtain Compensation to Help Treat PTSD
Because PTSD isn't a physical injury, you may need more medical evidence and other documentation of your injury to convince the negligent driver’s insurance company that you suffer with this and should be compensated for it. At Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys, we understand the devastating consequences this mental condition can have on your life. To learn how we can help you obtain fair compensation, call our office today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.
If a commercial truck tire blowout causes an accident, who's at fault?
When tire tread becomes old or worn, there can be a sudden tire failure. This is a dangerous situation for any vehicle, but big rig accidents can be especially hazardous. This is why truck drivers and fleet companies are required to follow Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations regarding truck maintenance, including commercial vehicle pre-trip and post-trip inspections, daily trip reports that include tire observation, and periodic inspections that evaluate tire condition.
If poor tires caused you or a family member to suffer injuries in an 18-wheeler or bus crash, the truck driver, his employer, and other parties may be found guilty of negligence and responsible for your injury compensation.
Causes of Tire Blowout Wrecks
A large truck tire blowout is much different than a flat tire on a passenger vehicle. Commercial tire manufacturers base load and inflation tables on tire axel positioning—steer, drive, or trailer—consideration of pounds for a loaded vs. unloaded vehicle; the difference in cargo load, e.g. light vs. heavy runs; and road conditions.
The general expert consensus is commercial truck tire pressure should be between 75 psi and 100 psi, depending on all these factors.
Any variance in air pressure might contribute to a blowout, as could:
- Improper or inadequate maintenance
- Defective tires
- Use of mismatched tires
- Overweight load
- Excessive use of brake pads
- Weather conditions
- Defective road conditions
Parties That Could Be Liable for Compensation
A case involving a truck tire blowout can be more complicated because of the multiple reasons the truck crash may have occurred. However, identifying the cause of the accident and the liable parties is critical to receive the compensation that you deserve.
Here are possible at-fault parties:
- Truck driver. During pre- and post-trip inspections of the truck, tires, and other components, a truck driver must also verify that any problems listed on the last post-trip inspection were corrected. When the tires are in need of replacement or repair, the trucker is prohibited from driving the truck whether he notices the problem before, during, or after his trip. If he was negligent in his inspection duties, he could face liability for compensating you.
- Trucking company. The fleet employer also has maintenance and inspection duties under FMCSA rules and is prohibited from allowing a truck on the road in need of repair where it could cause a truck breakdown or accident. In addition, the company can be held vicariously liable for the trucker’s negligence as his employer.
- Maintenance facility. Many transportation fleets utilize truck maintenance facilities to perform necessary inspections and repairs. They could be an additional party to file a claim with if a lack of maintenance or replacement of the tires caused your wreck.
- Shipper. If a shipping company or other business was responsible for loading the transport cargo, you would need to file a claim with its insurance company if improper loading caused the tire blowout.
- Tire manufacturer. If the truck tire was defective or subject to a recall, you may have a products liability claim against the tire manufacturer.
Why You Need the Assistance of an Experienced Truck Accident Attorney
As with any commercial vehicle accident claim, you must prove your right to compensation when a truck tire blowout caused you to suffer injuries.
To do this, your case needs evidence such as inspection and maintenance records for the vehicle involved in your truck accident. You may also need to hire an expert to review the driver’s and trucking company’s records and inspect the truck’s tires in order to prove your case. You cannot hope to do this without the help of an experienced truck accident attorney who understands the importance of a thorough investigation and the federal regulations that transportation companies and vehicle operators must follow.
The skilled truck accident attorneys at Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys have years of experience helping victims of these wrecks fight for rightful compensation. To learn how we can assist you, contact us online or call our office directly at 816.471.5111 to schedule your free consultation.
Do all truck drivers need a commercial driver’s license?
It depends on the vehicle. Because large commercial vehicles are more complicated to drive and more dangerous than passenger vehicles, many operators are required to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL) in order to safely maneuver large trucks and buses. Federal regulations require each state to set requirements for obtaining a commercial driver’s license.
However, you may be surprised to learn that not all operators are required to have a special license to drive certain types of trucks in Missouri.
Who Needs a Commercial Driver’s License in Missouri?
The weight of a vehicle determines whether or not a commercial driver's license is required for operation. Individuals driving the follwoing vehicles must have a CDL:
- A single vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 10,001 pounds or more
- Combination of vehicles with a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001. pounds, as long as the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
- A vehicle designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver.
- A vehicle of any size transporting hazardous materials in a quantity that requires a hazardous material placard, which are federally-required warning labels placed on the truck when transporting these dangerous substances.
Truck drivers in Missouri required to obtain a commercial driver’s license must hold the correct classification of CDL for the vehicles they intend to operate. These classifications apply:
- Class A: Towed unit with GCWR of 26,001 pounds or more
- Class B: Truck with GVWR of 10,001 pounds or more
- Class C: Vehicle transporting 16 or more passengers, which includes the driver; also trucks required to utilize a hazardous material placard
Not all trucks require an operator to hold a CDL. Lesser-weight trucks, passenger vans with fewer than 16 passengers, small delivery trucks and vans, and rental trucks can be driven without this license. While this may make it easier for drivers to have versatility, you and your family may be in danger due to less-experienced drivers who aren't used to a vehicle with a greater size and weight making a truck accident more likely.
Missouri's Requirements to Obtain a Commercial Truck Driver’s License
Missouri law requires an individual to complete a number of requirements to receive a commercial truck driver’s license:
- Knowledge test. An individual must take a general skills written test and could be required to take additional tests involving factors such as air brakes, tanks, and hazardous materials, depending on the type of truck he plans to drive.
- Skills test. A driver has to take a skills test that includes a vehicle inspection examination to show that he or she knows whether his commercial vehicle is safe to drive; and a basic control test to determine whether he or she can control the vehicle.
- On-road test. The driving test requires the individual to drive his commercial truck or bus safely in a variety of on-road situations. This could include making left and right turns, driving near railroad crossings, navigating curves, and traveling on the highway.
- Medical certification. Many prospective commercial vehicle drivers are required to provide certification from an examining doctor indicating they are medically fit to drive a bus or truck.
Commercial Driver’s License Disqualifications
Truck and bus drivers can be disqualified from holding a commercial driver’s license in Missouri by their actions. Some reasons include:
- Driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .04 percent or more
- Refusing BAC testing
- Driving when under the influence of a controlled substance
- Leaving the scene of the accident involving a commercial vehicle
- Committing a felony while using a truck or bus
- Driving with a suspended commercial driver’s license
- Causing a fatality in a commercial vehicle accident
- Committing serious traffic violations, such as speeding in excess of 15 mph above the limit, reckless driving, and erratic lane changes
- Violating an out-of-service order by driving a truck or bus when it was in need of repairs
Our Experience Helps You
Did the trucker who caused your crash have a proper commercial license? An experienced truck accident attorney can determine this as part of his investigation of the incident. Contact us online or call us directly at 816.471.5111 to learn about your legal options and how we can help you obtain the compensation that you deserve.
Will obtaining the semi truck’s black box help me in my accident case?
If you were injured in a commercial vehicle accident caused by a negligent truck driver, you will need to obtain as much evidence as possible that proves the driver’s responsibility for compensating you. A valuable piece of evidence that you need is the data from the big rig's black box. If you're able to obtain it, this can be extremely useful in convincing the insurance companies for the driver and transportation company that they are liable for providing compensation for your injuries.
What Is A Truck's Black Box?
A semi's black box, also referred to as an event data recorder (EDR), is similar to the data unit installed on airplanes.
Since the 1990s, most large trucks were equipped with a black box, so it's likely there was one in the vehicle involved in your truck crash. These devices were originally designed by commercial vehicle manufacturers to combat invalid warranty claims.
However, they have since become more useful to truck accident victims. The black box records a variety of information about the rig's operations, including:
- Average and highest speed, as well as speed at the time of the wreck
- Time the trucker drove
- Time spent driving 65 mph or faster
- Average engine RPM
- Seat belt usage
- Airbag performance
- Truck’s idling time
- Hard braking and sudden stops
- GPS coordinates and location information
- Usage of the cruise control
How Black Box Data Can Help Your Truck Accident Claim
Data from the black box can help an experienced truck accident attorney or another expert determine what the truck was doing before, during, and after your collision.
For example, data can show the speed of the vehicle and whether the truck driver made a hard stop. In addition, the EDR will confirm the operator's drive times his or her written log. If there's a discrepancy, this may help establish that your wreck was caused by trucker fatigue or a violation of hours of service rules regarding how long he or she could drive. Information from the EDR can also demonstrate when the trucker isn't a credible witness or the trucking company had a pattern of violating federal safety regulations.
Beginning December 18, 2017, most trucks are required to be equipped with an electronic logging device that provides additional information to a black box. This device can be installed in the truck or connect through a cellphone or tablet. It provides data on the date and time, miles travelled, and other crucial factors. The electronic logging device may also help prove your right for injury compensation, and you'll need legal assistance to get it.
Why You Must Act Quickly to Obtain the Truck’s Black Box
After your truck accident, it's imperative to obtain the data from the truck’s black box before it's lost. The data is usually recorded over in about 30 days, and some older black boxes record data for a much shorter period of time. Unfortunately, the trucking company won't provide this information voluntarily.
You'll need assistance from a knowledgeable legal partner so he can take steps to preserve this vital evidence. He can send the transportation company a spoliation letter advising it of your claim and to not destroy documents and other evidence—including the truck’s black box. Once the fleet company receives this notice of your claim, federal regulations prohibit it from destroying evidence that could help your case.
In some cases, a trucking company won't be cooperative in providing the information requested by the attorney. If you're in this situation, your truck accident legal team may need to file an immediate lawsuit and obtain a temporary restraining order from a judge ordering the company not to destroy the black box data and other evidence.
Do you need help filing your claim and gathering evidence following a truck accident? Contact us online or call us directly at 816.471.5111 to schedule your free consultation today.
Should I use mediation to settle my car accident injury claim?
Mediation is an informal process in which two parties that are in dispute meet with a neutral third party—known as a mediator—to help resolve the conflict. The process is usually cheaper and quicker than a full-blown trial, but it may not get you the result you're hoping for. When should you agree to mediation, and when is it not in your best interest?
Mediation can be used for many different types of conflicts, including neighborhood disputes, landlord/tenant disagreements, and consumer complaints. More often, it's also a preferred method for resolution of personal injury claims. In most cases, the parties involved in a car accident claim both have to agree to try to resolve their dispute through mediation. As a car accident victim, you can opt out of mediation if you don’t think your interests will be served.
However, in other cases, a judge will order that two parties attempt a resolution through mediation before the claim can go to trial. In court-ordered mediation, you won't be able to opt out. Car accident claims can be settled amicably through mediation, but the process is often used by insurance companies to discourage victims from seeking the full damages they deserve.
How Mediation Works
Whether mediation is voluntary or court-ordered, the two parties should have the freedom to choose their mediator and must agree on the choice. Mediators should be neutral third parties, so you wouldn't want to agree to an in-house mediator for an insurance company, for example.
Mediators are often attorneys or retired judges. They don't make decisions or give opinions. Their role is to facilitate a conversation between the two parties and help them come to an agreeable resolution. Both parties must agree to the settlement. If one party doesn't agree, the parties go back to where they were before mediation. Nothing that is said in mediation can be used by either party in future negotiations or in court.
In general, mediation for a personal injury claim proceeds as follows:
- A mediator is chosen and the parties agree to a time, place, and date.
- At the meeting, the mediator introduces all parties in attendance.
- Everyone is required to sign a confidentiality agreement.
- The attorney for the plaintiff presents information regarding the value of his case. This may include photographs of the crash scene, medical records, and other evidence. This opening statement gives everyone an idea of the strength of the plaintiff’s case and what would be heard at a trial.
- The attorney or insurance adjuster for the defense makes an argument as to why he or she should pay less than what's being requested by the plaintiff.
- Once opening statements have been made, the parties are separated into different rooms.
- The mediator goes back and forth between the parties, asking questions and relaying information. He or she should also point out weaknesses to each party and remind them of the risks involved in going to trial. A good mediator keeps both sides talking and does his or her best to help them reach a compromise.
- If a settlement is reached, the agreement is signed by both parties and filed with the court. The plaintiff is required to sign a release barring him from pursuing any further legal action.
- If a settlement cannot be reached, negotiations may continue between the plaintiff’s attorney and the insurance company, but if this is unsuccessful, the case goes to trial.
Do You Need an Attorney for Mediation?
Although mediation is an informal process, you should still have an attorney representing you as the victim of a car accident. The insurance company will send an experienced negotiator, and you don't want to take him on by yourself. Your attorney will prepare you for mediation and will speak on your behalf as much as possible.
To protect yourself from being cheated out of the compensation you deserve, speak with our experienced car accident attorneys before agreeing to mediation. We will help you make decisions that are in your best interest. Contact us online or call us directly at 888.348.2616 for your free, no obligation consultation.
Who is responsible for compensating me if I am in a crash involving an Uber or Lyft driver?
Unfortunately, the quick answer to this question is the multi-billion dollar companies behind these ride-hailing services cannot be held liable for damages if you're injured in a car accident due to the actions of one of their drivers. This is because Uber and Lyft drivers are independent contractors and not employees of the corporation.
However, that doesn't mean these drivers aren't regulated and insured. In this article, we discuss your options when you are injured in a ride-sharing accident.
How Do Ride-Sharing Services Work?
Thanks to legislation signed in April of 2017, ride-sharing services are now permitted to operate throughout Missouri and have become popular in Kansas City. Nationally, these services have taken off, answering a demand for transportation that traditional taxicabs and public transportation were unable to meet.
Unlike taxis, which you have to hail in the street or call a central number to request, ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft offer customers the ease of requesting a ride via an app on their smartphone. The app notifies the closest drivers of your request, and when one accepts your request, you're given the driver’s information and arrival time.
Payment is also handled through the app, so you do not have to have cash on hand to pay the driver. While Lyft has always offered a tipping option through the app, Uber just added this feature in the summer of 2017, but informs customers that it's entirely optional.
Not only have these companies provided a convenient transportation option to residents of Kansas City and other cities, but they also have given many unemployed and underemployed adults an easy way to make extra money. Who are these drivers, though, and how do you know if your driver is going to be safe?
Regulations for Uber Drivers
In order to drive for Uber, you must be at least 21 years old and have at least three years of driving experience in the U.S. A valid U.S. driver’s license is required, as is access to an approved 4-door vehicle. Drivers must complete an online application that includes a criminal background check and a clean driving record. It's also mandatory that drivers have valid car insurance.
Because many car insurance companies will not cover drivers who “drive for hire” on personal insurance policies, these drivers often must purchase commercial auto insurance. Uber also offers supplemental policies for its drivers, but they're only valid when the driver is “on duty”—meaning his or her Uber app is running and accepting requests.
Here’s how Uber’s supplemental insurance works:
- When the driver has his Uber app off, he's only covered by his personal auto insurance policy.
- When the driver has his Uber app on but isn't carrying a paying passenger, a low-level liability policy kicks in. This would cover pedestrians or passengers in other vehicles injured by the Uber driver’s negligence.
- When the driver has a paying passenger, a higher level of coverage is activated and will cover any injuries incurred as a result of a crash caused by the Uber driver.
Both Uber and Lyft provide supplemental insurance policies of $1 million during the active duty drive times.
What to Do If You're Injured by an Rideshare Driver
If you're seriously injured as a pedestrian or passenger by an Uber or Lyft driver, your source of compensation will be the driver’s personal or commercial auto insurance policy and any supplemental polices active at the time of the crash.
Because of the added complications in this type of case, it would be wise to hire an attorney to assist with it, but in the meantime, you should write down the name and phone number of the driver—if it’s not already in your phone—and take a screenshot of the Uber trip and receipts on your phone. This could become valuable evidence of which level of insurance was active at the time of the crash. If you're a pedestrian who was hit by an Uber driver, you must get the driver’s name and number, as you will have no record of it on your app.
Have you been injured in a car accident while using one of these ride share services? If so you should speak with an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call us directly at 816.471.5111 for your free consultation today.
What is a workers’ compensation Independent Medical Exam?
When you're injured at work or become ill due to exposure to a toxic substance in the workplace, you're entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Workers’ comp is an insurance program employers are required to enroll in that is designed to cover the medical expenses and other damages suffered by employees while on the job.
However, these insurance payouts are expensive for companies, so representatives do everything they can to make sure the claims are legitimate, and then enable workers stop collecting benefits and return to their jobs as soon as they are able. To ensure this, your employer may require you to undergo an Independent Medical Exam (IME). We explain what that means and why you may need an attorney.
How Does Workers’ Compensation Work?
There are many ways to be injured at work—it's not just construction workers and warehouse employees who get hurt on the job. People in healthcare, food service, retail stores, and even offices can suffer slip and fall or repetitive use injuries, or experience toxic exposure illnesses.
Whether or not the accident that left you injured was your fault, if it happened at work or while you were offsite but on the clock, you should receive workers’ comp benefits to cover your medical bills and pay you while you are unable to work. Your employer wants proof the accident occurred at work and that you're actually injured or ill.
To fulfill the first requirement, you should report the incident to your supervisor as soon as possible. You may also need witness statements or surveillance video footage to support your claim. To prove you're actually injured or ill, you'll need medical tests and a doctor’s report. However, you employer or his insurance company may not trust your personal physician’s diagnosis and may require you to see one of their own doctors for an IME.
How Does an Independent Medical Exam Work?
If you want to receive workers’ comp benefits, you have to follow your employer’s instructions to have an IME. You'll be sent to a doctor of the workers’ comp insurance company’s choosing. Most states maintain a list of doctors approved to conduct IMEs and your employer tells you where to go.
The insurance company is legally obligated to ensure its requirement is “reasonable.” This means you shouldn't have to travel a great distance or submit to an excessive number of examinations. If you're required to travel to see the approved doctor, worker’s comp benefits should reimburse you for your travel expenses.
Some employers require you to have an IME before approving your benefits. Others accept your incident report and emergency medical treatment report as sufficient to grant your initial benefits. In either case, if your recovery is lengthy, you'll likely be asked to attend follow-up IMEs as deemed necessary by the insurance company. Again, the insurer is required to be “reasonable” in its request, but may require you to submit to multiple medical evaluations.
In an IME, the doctor is determining the following:
- Were you injured?
- Is your injury as serious as you claim?
- Is your injury consistent with your description of the workplace accident?
- Have you fully recovered?
If the doctor concludes as a result of the IME that you've recovered and are capable of returning to work, your benefits may be revoked, and you'll be required to return to work, despite how you feel or what your personal physician might say.
When You Need A Workers' Compensation Attorney
As a no-fault system, workers’ comp programs are designed to be fairly straightforward. However, if your employer denies your claim following an IME, or an IME determines that you're ready to return to work and you and your doctor disagree, you should consider hiring an experienced workers’ comp attorney.
We know many of the approved workers’ comp doctors in the area and we know when you may have legitimate grounds for an appeal. Contact us online or call us directly at 816.471.5111 for your free consultation.