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Archive for February, 2014

Las Vegas Police Refuse to Respond to My “Non-Injury” Car Accident

Written by Jon Remmel on . Posted in Blog

Las Vegas Metro Police Department announced that, starting March 3, 2014, they will no longer respond to car accidents if there are no reported injuries. So what should you do to preserve your personal injury claim if you were involved in a car accident and later discover that you were, in fact, injured? The police have now shifted the burden of documenting and reporting the accident to drivers, which could be problematic for a number of reasons. Here is a brief check list of things to do, starting at the scene of the accident:

cops at accident

Photo by Pedro Vera

1. Gather Information

Nevada law mandates that all registered vehicles carry proof of insurance with a minimum of $15,000 in liability coverage. If a driver refuses to exchange insurance information, call the police and ask for assistance, as Metro has agreed to respond to these types of situations. Write down the at-fault driver’s name, address, phone number, license plate number and a brief description of their vehicle. It is best to obtain the address from some form of identification, like a driver’s license. The more information, the better.

2. Take Photographs

Accident

Photo by Leonid Mamchenkov

This includes photographs of both cars (especially the damaged areas), the location where the collision occurred and anything else that may have contributed to the accident. The more photos, the better. If you take pictures, you must preserve this evidence for your attorney. If you don’t preserve evidence, it could hurt your case.

3. Obtain Written Statements

Insist that the at-fault driver accept responsibility in a written statement that is both signed and dated. If the driver refuses to accept responsibility for the accident, call the police and ask for their assistance. You may also obtain signed statements from any witnesses at the scene of the accident. Make sure witness statements include names, addresses and phone numbers so they can be located and contacted at a later time. Preserve written statements as evidence for your attorney. If an insurance company later disputes your claim, these written statements can be used by your attorney to prove your case.

4. File A Police Report

Accident report

Photo by Clarence Risher

You must file a police report at one of the many Las Vegas Metro Police Department area commands (except Downtown, Bolden, Southeast and South Central Area Commands) Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., excluding holidays. It’s smart to avoid waiting until close to closing, as area commands take their last report of the day at 4 p.m. In the report, be sure to identify the cause of the accident (i.e., at-fault driver rear-ended my vehicle at a stop, at-fault driver ran stop sign and struck the side of my car, etc.). It is also important to document exactly what both drivers were doing at the time of impact, not just the at-fault driver. The more information in the report, the better.

5. Seek Medical Attention

If you are in any pain from your accident, please seek medical attention immediately. When you meet with your medical provider, explain that you were involved in an accident, experiencing pain and are seeking help. Your doctor will evaluate you, diagnose your injuries and recommend additional medical treatment. It is important that you make and keep all of your medical appointments. Insurance companies love it when a person waits to see a doctor, so the sooner the appointment, the better.

6. Contact Jon Remmel For A Free Consultation

Our office offers free consultations for injury victims, contact us today and we can begin helping you figure out your case. Remmel Law Firm can be reached at (702) 522-7707.

Featured image by Sgarton

I Was In A Car Accident Without Insurance: What Happens Now?

Written by Jon Remmel on . Posted in Blog

Nevada, like most states, requires its drivers to carry liability insurance as a condition for operating a motor vehicle. This insurance must be purchased from a company licensed to sell auto insurance, and it must pay at least the following:

$15,000 for injuries affecting a single individual
$30,000 for all injuries affecting two or more individuals
$10,000 for property damages

Proof of liability insurance is required to register a vehicle in Nevada, and individuals caught driving without it can have their licenses suspended until they submit proof of current coverage and pay a $250 reinstatement fee. Despite the risk of fines and suspensions, drivers sometimes let their liability insurance policies lapse either for financial reasons or because they simply forgot to renew them or make timely payments. If you’re one of these drivers, and you get into an accident while you’re uninsured, here’s what you can anticipate.

two cars crashing

Photo by Toby Oxborrow

If The Other Driver (Or Someone Else) Was At Fault

If someone else caused the collision, first breathe a big sigh of relief. The fact that you lacked insurance at the time of the accident should have no significant bearing on what happens to you and your case in the coming months.

As soon as possible, start gathering information about what happened and who was present at the time of the accident. Obtain contact information for everyone involved, whether they were operating a vehicle or riding as a passenger, as well as any eye witnesses you manage to talk to. Record the license plate numbers for all affected vehicles, and take pictures of the cars and the accident scene in general with your phone or a camera. Most important, collect the driver’s license numbers and insurance policy details of those individuals you deem responsible for what happened.

Assuming someone else is at fault, you’ll have two options for recovering the costs of medical treatment, vehicle repair and other expenses related to the accident:

1.) File a claim with the responsible party’s insurance company, and/or
2.) File a personal injury lawsuit against the party, or parties, that caused the collision.

You won’t be required to utilize information about your insurance coverage to complete this process.

When Having Insurance Matters, Or What It Means to Drive In A “Fault State”

In Nevada, as well as nearby Utah and Arizona, the consequences of being uninsured at the time of an accident you didn’t cause are surprisingly minimal. This is because Nevada, Utah and Arizona are all known as “fault states” when it comes to insurance liability.

In a fault state, the driver who causes an auto accident bears sole financial responsibility for any and all damages suffered by the parties involved. The insurance coverage held by the person at fault is the only coverage that’s relevant in terms of compensating those affected by a collision.

In no fault states, insurance companies pay at least some of a driver’s accident costs, regardless of whether or not the driver was at fault. Someone involved in a collision in a no fault state typically has to file a claim with their own insurance company before requesting compensation from the other party’s carrier, even if they weren’t to blame for what happened.

If You Were At Fault

If you have a motor vehicle accident while driving uninsured, and there’s evidence to suggest you’re to blame for it, living in a fault state like Nevada means you’ll need to work especially hard to minimize the consequences you’re likely to face, both immediately and over time.

First and foremost, it’s important that you resist the urge to lie or refuse to answer questions about your insurance at the scene of the accident. Doing either of these things will compound your problems later. Be honest and upfront about the fact that you don’t have coverage, offer your contact information, and collect details about the accident. Unless you can afford to compensate the other driver yourself for any and all damages related to the accident, the driver will probably file a claim with their insurance company to cover their expenses. The driver’s insurance company will then try to recover these costs from you through a process known as subrogation.

Even if you can’t reimburse the insurance company for everything, you’ll have to pay something to settle a subrogation case. You’ll be required to produce financial affidavits documenting your income and assets, which will be used to determine how much you must pay and under what time frame. You should anticipate having to make a lump sum payment or submit money in installments over a period of time.

Operating a vehicle without insurance can have significant, painful and long-term consequences, costing you money, time, stress and heartache. If you’re truly strapped for cash and must sacrifice your liability coverage, make alternative arrangements for transportation. Getting behind the wheel without insurance is not worth the risk.

If you’ve been driving uninsured and you’ve had an accident while doing so, we urge you to contact an experienced and knowledgeable attorney as soon as possible. Obtaining legal advice from an expert is the best, and only, way to protect yourself from suffering more than you absolutely have to.

Featured image by Melodi2

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Motorcyclists Beware: Helmet Laws Differ By State

Written by Jon Remmel on . Posted in Blog

Laws about operating a motorcycle vary from state to state. Because Las Vegas is so close to Arizona and Utah, everyone who rides a motorcycle in the area should be familiar with the differing helmet regulations just across the borders of these neighboring states. While it’s smart for all motorcycle passengers and operators to wear a helmet, the practice is not legally enforced everywhere. Read ahead to find out more about Nevada helmet laws, and how the rules in Arizona and Utah can affect your trip.

Motorcycle Helmet Laws in Nevada

girl wearing helmet

Photo by Laurel Hechanova

If you’re going to be riding a motorcycle in Nevada, you have to wear a helmet. This also applies to mopeds with engines larger than 50cc. While this law has been in place for decades, there was an effort in the late 90’s to modify the laws and allow experienced riders over 21 to ride without a helmet. While this garnered some support, the regulations never made it through the Nevada State House.

The laws in Nevada currently state that any operator or passenger of a motorcycle in Nevada must wear a helmet and eye protection. Riding without a helmet can earn you a ticket, plus two points on your driver’s license.

Motorcycle Helmet Laws in Arizona and Utah

riding cycle w/no helmet

Photo by Brad Gocken

In Arizona, it is not required that you wear a helmet or eye protection while operating a motorcycle or riding as a passenger. The exception to this rule is for operators or passengers under the age of 18. While some states have age restrictions for operating a motorcycle, Arizona allows certified individuals under the age of 18 the right to cruise–as long as they wear a helmet.

In Utah, a helmet is only required for motorcycle operators and passengers under the age of 18. For children between 8 and 16, operating a motorcycle on public land requires a safety certificate. Motorcycle operators with a valid driver’s license are required to have a motorcycle operator’s license. Eye protection is not required at any age.

How these laws can affect your personal injury claim

black motorcycle helmet

Photo by Steve Parker

While you do not have to wear a helmet in Arizona, making the choice to go without one can cause serious legal complications should you be in an accident. For instance, if you are struck by another vehicle and injured, whether you were wearing a helmet or not could determine whether you are due compensation for injuries. Even if another driver was completely at fault, if your injuries could have been prevented by wearing a helmet, you may be responsible for your own hospital fees and medical bills.

The bottom line: if you’re going to be riding a motorcycle, either as the operator or the passenger, you should always wear a helmet. It can be the difference between a couple broken bones and severe head injury, or worse.

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Cases Where the Press Got a Frivolous Lawsuit Wrong

Written by Jon Remmel on . Posted in Blog

In 1992, Stella Liebeck sued McDonald’s after she was burned by her coffee. Her case made headlines and maddened thousands of people who deemed her lawsuit frivolous. Few realize however, that there was more to Liebeck’s story than was found in the press. Though partially her fault for the spill, the coffee really was too hot. Ms. Liebeck was hospitalized for eight days and was forced to undergo skin grafting treatments, suffering third degree burns on multiple parts of her body. Nevertheless, with the influence of the golden arches, she quickly became the poster child of frivolous lawsuits.

Over the years, “frivolous” lawsuits have become corporate weapons, often depicting the company as victims of customer’s greed. Here are a few more examples of personal injury cases, spun into absurdity. You may have heard of them, but you most likely haven’t heard all the details.

1) The Family That Sued Disneyland for Seeing Characters Out of Costume

disney character

The story: This one has reached urban legend status. The story: a family’s Disneyland vacation is destroyed and their children traumatized for years after catching a glimpse of a headless Mickey and Minnie taking a much needed oxygen break. They then sue Disney. And win.

The truth: While the children did see Mickey without his head, it’s not the whole story. The family really sued after being falsely accused of stealing a trinket from a souvenir shop. Despite immediately furnishing the receipt, the manager dragged the family to a back room where he then interrogated them for two and half hours. Following the interrogation, a handful of headless Disney characters came into the backroom right as the family was leaving. While the headless mascots were the focus of the story, they were hardly the reason for the lawsuit.

2) The Woman Who Sued a Haunted House for Being Too Scary

haunted house

This one frequently tops the lists of most absurd lawsuits.

The story: A 57-year-old woman visited Universal Studio’s Halloween Horror Night’s haunted house. She then sued on the grounds it was too frightening and caused her extreme distress and emotional trauma.

The truth: So what really happened? Peters was near the end of the haunted house when a man dressed as Leatherface, yielding a fake chainsaw, got a bit overzealous. Peters ran, he chased and she slipped on a wet spot from a leaky coolant system near the door (the real reason she sued). To add insult to injury, the employee persisted to hover over her instead of offering assistance. The news reported the case as a woman suing for being frightened, but in reality it was a standard slip and fall case.

3) The Guys Who Sued When Their Hot Air Balloon Broke After Stuffing It In A Dryer

hot air balloon

The story: Two guys’ hot air balloon crashed into a lake. While washing the material at a commercial laundromat, the overstuffed dryer exploded–damaging both the balloon and forcing shrapnel into the men’s faces. This led to a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the dryer, won by the men with a settlement of $1,260,000.

The settlement amount is true, but the rest is filled with hot air.

The truth: In reality, a balloon was stuffed into a dryer. But not at a laundromat. The men took enough care to find a hospital facility with a massive industrial dryer designed to bear a 2,000 pound load, including hardcore waterproof material. This should have been more than enough for a roughly 130 pound balloon. Instead, the dryer exploded, severing limbs and sending the men into critical condition. Their only saving grace was that it happened in a hospital.

4) The Woman Who Sued the Hospital for the Loss of Psychic Powers

psychic powers

The story: In 1986, a psychic sued after a CAT scan at a hospital caused her to lose her psychic superpowers. She won $988,000.

The truth: She actually received no compensation following her CAT scan, but might have obtained some financial relief if she hadn’t persisted with her claim of losing her powers. The woman suffered a severe allergic reaction to a red dye the hospital injected into her, even though she’d had the foresight to warn the hospital of her allergy in advance. She was left with chronic and disabling headaches and received no compensation for her pain and suffering.

Know of any other seemingly “frivolous” lawsuits? Feel free to share them below!

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Remmel Law Firm, our Southern Nevada Office serves clients in the Las Vegas, Green Valley, Summerlin, North Las Vegas and surrounding areas. Our Personal Injury Law Firm is dedicated to helping families thru the legal process when involved in an auto accident, an accident at work or an ATV accident.

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