On Friday, June 14, 2013 there was a head on car accident near East 79th and Kinsman in Cleveland, OH. The individuals involved in the accident were transported to the hospital with injuries. These types of head on accidents are often suspect because often at least one of the drivers was impaired. However, the exact cause of this crash is still under investigation as of the time of this posting.
In the U.S. alone, there are about 40,000 killed in auto accidents each year, with another 3 million people being injured. Of the 3 million injured, 2 million of those end up being permanent. There are more than 6 million car accidents in the U.S. every year.
Legal Issues Arising From This Accident
Several questions arise from accidents such as this collision, some of which are as follows.
First, the issue of the potential for punitive damages arises. Oftentimes in this type head on accident, the at-fault driver turns out to have been impaired. Alcohol is suspected to have been a factor in this crash. When an impaired driver causes an injury or death, the harmed parties are entitled to recover punitive damages above and beyond any award of standard compensatory damages. (The situation becomes more complicated when the at-fault party dies and the harmed parties are pursuing assets from an estate.)
Second, no statements should be given to any insurance companies until after the victim or estate representatives have spoken with an attorney. Insurance company representatives will sound sympathetic, polite, helpful, and friendly on the phone, but they are not an advocate for those harmed or killed in an accident. In fact, the adjuster’s goal is to use written or recorded statements in an effort to pay the least amount of money possible. Some insurance companies even give adjusters bonuses based on how little money they pay out on claims – especially potential high value wrongful death claims.
Third, the injured person or estate representatives should not sign any authorization for any insurance company until the representative has spoken with an attorney. Signing authorizations will give the insurance company a “free pass” to obtain any and all information regarding confidential and private past medical records as well as other information that they should not be entitled to. They will then attempt to use this information against the victim.
Fourth, the victim or estate representative will have to determine the best way to pay medical bills prior to settlement, whether through health insurance, the medical payments provision of an auto policy, direct payment to providers, or other methods that are available in some cases. Choosing the wrong option could literally cost the surviving family members tens of thousands of dollars.
Fifth, the injured victim or estate representative will have to navigate the probate court process and look out for the interests of any children who have been left with an injured parent – or without a parent at all – and make sure that the children are properly compensated.
These are just some of the legal issues that arise when there is an accident of this type. Unfortunately there are many more, and the situation can often seem hopelessly complicated and be a huge burden on an injured victim or grieving family. This is where a knowledgeable and experienced attorney can make all the difference.
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If you have questions about any of the legal issues raised in this blog, contact Dodosh Law Offices, LLC at (440) 298-2344. Or, you can fill out a contact form and Attorney Dodosh will get in touch with you.