Articles Posted in Insurance

Just the other day I blogged about a soon expected explosion in drone injury lawsuits. To summarize, this December, those drones look lovely all wrapped up under the Christmas tree, but soon they will take to our skies.  And fall from those skies.  Fall on things.  And on people.

If sales projections are accurate, tens of thousands of novice recipients of these gifts will try their hands at the controls of these small, unmanned aerial vehicles with spinning and unguarded rotors.

And guess what: Some folks are going to get injured!

A New York resident is on vacation and has stopped into a rental car agency.  Let’s listen in:

Customer“Hello, I came to pick up my rental car.  I was told it was $30 per day”.

Salesman “Sure, but you should really get the “rental insurance” on it for an extra $10.  Otherwise, you may be responsible for any damage to the car or injuries to others.”

We made this offer in our latest Newsletter and had a solid response from our readers. So we are now offering it to our blog readers as well:

We are offering all our NY State readers a free auto insurance review.  Why? We see it time and time again. A client comes to us with severe personal injuries suffered in a car accident. The at-fault driver has only minimal car insurance, not enough to cover all the lost income or medical expenses. Our client’s hard-earned finances are wiped out. Sometimes they need to go on welfare. You can’t get water from a rock. So if the guy who hits you does not have enough insurance, and he has no real assets to go after, you are stuck between a rock and a hard place. UNLESS you have had the foresight to buy the right kind of insurance yourself. And buying it is not expensive. It’s just a matter of knowing what to buy. You just need a little advice on how to structure your insurance policy.

Time out. Here’s a quick quiz: Do you know what SUM (Supplemental Underinsured Motorist) coverage is? What about “spousal coverage”? How about “APIP” (additional personal injury protection) If you don’t, you need to talk to us. In our experience, many insurance agents do a very poor job of educating their clients about choices in insurance policies. They often want to take your money without doing the work it takes to get you the right protection.

Everyone knows that driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a serious crime that can land you in jail. But few people know about boating while intoxicated (BWI) laws.

When we think of boating, we think of relaxing or even partying on the water, often with a cool beer in hand. We would never even consider doing the same while driving a car!

But the popular image of boozing while boating as “acceptable” behavior does not match the current state of the law in New York State. In 2006, Albany finally woke up to the statistical fact that boating while intoxicated is just as dangerous as driving a car while intoxicated. It thus passed a law ratcheting up the criminal penalties for boating while intoxicated to match those for driving a motor vehicle while intoxicated. And the BWI blood count limit is 08%, same as for driving a car. (The legal limit for minors is .02%).

I read recently about the case of a man charged with attempting to murder his mom by ramming her with his SUV as she sat in her living room. He ran it right through the wall. Why? Apparently he had a financial dispute with her. In my humble opinion, that’s a pretty lame excuse for murdering your mother. And geez, the weapon he chose was pretty bizarre, too.

The guy obviously has a screw loose, or more likely a brain full of loose screws.

The mother, of Mamakating, in Sullivan County, NY, ended up in the hospital with severe injuries. The son/driver, of Bloomingburg, NY, was charged with several crimes, including second-degree attempted murder. (Shouldn’t there be a separate and more severe charge for attempted mom murder?)

The “Creepy Jury Stalker” story, straight from my hometown, Syracuse, New York, has gone “viral”. The New York Law Journal covered it, and so did the American Bar Association Journal not to mention the Syracuse Post Standard.

Now an even more important news source is covering it: Me.

The backdrop to the story is a dental malpractice trial in Onondaga County Supreme Court. The insurer for the defendant dental practice was AIG, the same AIG which helped collapse the global economy in 2008. I guess their fifteen minutes of fame infamy back then wasn’t enough, and they have come back to the trough for more.

Today I accompanied a wreck of a man — a severely injured car wreck victim — to a so-called “independent” medical examination (“IME”). (You will see why I say “so called” soon enough.) The poor guy got t-boned a few years ago and ever since has suffered horrible pain emanating from his cervical and lumbar spine. He has had two surgeries, one on his neck and one on his lower back, not to mention countless rounds of physical therapy, epidural injections, trigger point injections, pain meds, and chiropractic treatment. Even so, he has been losing his war against the pain.

All of his many doctors have concluded that (1) he is badly injured; (2) the car accident caused his injuries (he was fine before then!); and (3) he is totally disabled.

Open and shut case, right? Wrong. The insurance company defending this case has a right, under New York personal injury law, to have the victim present to a so-called (there I go again!) “independent” medical examination (“IME”) by a doctor of their choice. The so-called “independent” doctor (paid by the insurance company) then renders an opinion whether the victim is injured, and if so what his injuries are, whether the car accident caused them, and whether he can work at all.

Just read an article in the New York Times titled, “How to Know if You Have Enough Auto Insurance“. The article gave some interesting statistics: Nationally, the average jury award for motor vehicle accident injuries is $181,197, and about 5 percent of car accident injury claims in 2010 were for more than $100,000 while only about 2 percent reached $300,000.

Then there are those occasional multi-million dollar jury verdicts. How do you protect yourself against those?

Anyone can make a mistake driving, including you. Do you need to protect yourself against such judgments? Is it expensive to do?

A recent hit-and-run driver case in the Geneva NY area has some people wondering whether a downed cyclist or pedestrian will get more insurance compensation if the guilty hit-and-run driver is caught. The answer is probably not. Why?

First, in my experience representing Central New bicyclists and pedestrians in hit-and-run cases, hit-and-run drivers usually carry minimal insurance. They are usually irresponsible (that explains why they take off), have poor-paying jobs, and no real assets. All they can afford, or want, is the minimal coverage, which is $50,000 in “no-fault” and $25,000 in “bodily injury” (also called “liability”) insurance.

Since this is the minimum insurance, everyone who owns a car in New York has at least that, including injured cyclists or pedestrians who own a car, or whose family member he or she lives with owns one. The injured cyclist/pedestrian automatically gets at least this minimal coverage from their own (or family member’s) auto insurance if they are victims of a hit-and-run and the driver is not caught.

The other day I blogged about a car-on-bicycle collision in the Gorham-Rushville NY area. A hit-and-run driver knocked Kevin Royston, an avid cyclists, off his bike and into a ditch where a passing motorist spotted him and called for help. His leg, broken in four places, has now been partially amputated.

The Geneva Bicycle Center along with Kevin’s family and friends are now offering an $11,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the hit-and-run driver. Michaels Bersani Kalabanka now adds $1,000 to that pot of reward money, making the total $12,000. Why?

Some of Kevin’s friends feel that he will get better insurance coverage if the hit-and-run driver is caught, but they are probably wrong. The coverage will probably be the same. So that’s not why we are chipping in. (If you are interested in knowing why the coverage probably won’t change, click and read here).

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