Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Be Careful about What Friends Tell You

Like most people, I hate to spend money that I don't have to spend. So when I have a problem with my car, I first talk to my friends to see if they have had similar problems. Then I take their well meaning advice and try to determine if I should go to the mechanic. About three months ago, I was driving my wife's car when all of a sudden the fuel gauge went from full to empty less than three miles after I filled it up. First, I thought "hole in the gas tank." I stopped, turned off the car and determined that wasn't the case. Then I restarted the car. Full tank. What gives. Two days later my wife reports the same thing except now the fuel gauge is permanently on empty. So I talk to my buddies. Everything they tell me leads me to conclude that it is going to be a costly repair. Depressed and knowing that, when it comes to car repairs, I am over my head I speak to my mechanic. He tells me this is a common problem with my wife's car and that I can fix it by buying a $7 fuel additive. He was right. I should have asked him in the first place. Lesson learned.

Attorneys that practice in the injury field encounter the same problem with their clients. Many friends and family attempt to advise clients on the value of cases. Their advice can be based on what they feel is fair, what they heard on TV, or what happened to Aunt Bessie. (Aunt Bessie is that fabled person that stubbed her toe and got 72 bijillion gianormous dollars.) Although they are well meaning, they don't understand case valuation. More importantly, because you are their friend or family member, they look at it from a biased perspective. (Nothing wrong with that because they love you.) At the end of the day, in spite of what you read in the newspaper, hear on the radio, or see on TV, juries tend to be conservative in the values they award. In fact, in spite of what you hear about runaway jury verdicts, that is not the case. Asking for the sun, the moon and the stars is not going to get you anywhere. Having an attorney that does this work evaluate your case and present it in such a fashion that you get fair value in the current climate will. The value of your case will be decided on its merit.

Take care,


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Case for GAP Insurance

Most people that buy a car are so happy to have made the purchase that they don't want to think about what could happen if the car is determined to be a total loss in a wreck. Mistakenly, they believe that their insurance will cover it. After all that is why you carry liability coverage, collision coverage, and uninsured motorist property damage coverage, right? What many people fail to consider is will they have enough equity in their car to pay off their car loan in the case it is considered a total loss. You see, in most states, including Washington, you are only entitled to recover the value of your car, not what you owe the bank. What does that mean to you? Well, if you bought that 2008 Escalade for $60,000 plus 6 months ago, you may still owe the bank $55,000. Now, under one of the GM's Red Tag sales that Escalade sells for $49,000. In today's soft car market, you owe the bank $10,000 more than your car is worth. Not a pretty thought, is it? How do you protect against this? Simple. If you buy a new car, or in some cases, a relatively new used car, your insurance company can sell insurance coverage to cover the difference between what your car is worth and what you owe the bank (the GAP). The price is nominal. The peace of mind you derive from having this insurance, is immeasureable in value.



Nothing in the Blog should be considered legal advice or to form an attorney client relationship. Readers with legal concerns should contact an attorney who can offer them advice geared toward their particular legal circumstance.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I just got an STD. Now what do I do?

The world has changed. At one time, sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s) were something that could be taken care of with a shot. Today, they can cause lifelong pain and suffering, susceptibility to disease and even death. Sobering thoughts.

Even though we all understand that STDs are a risk in any intimate relationship, we also expect that a sexual partner would have the decency to disclose they have a STD. More often than not, diseases are transmitted knowingly by a partner that selfishly is thinking about their own satisfaction, rather than disclosing the existence of the STD and attempting to take some form of precaution.

Fortunately, for Washington residents, our legislature has recognized this problem and has created a right of action against the person who transmitted the disease. STDs, under this statute are defined as:

"... a bacterial, viral, fungal, or parasitic disease, determined by the board by rule to be sexually transmitted, to be a threat to the public health and welfare, and to be a disease for which a legitimate public interest will be served by providing for regulation and treatment. The board shall designate chancroid, gonorrhea, granuloma inguinale, lymphogranuloma venereum, genital herpes simplex, chlamydia, nongonococcal urethritis (NGU), trachomitis, genital human papilloma virus infection, syphilis, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection as sexually transmitted diseases, and shall consider the recommendations and classifications of the centers for disease control and other nationally recognized medical authorities in designating other diseases as sexually transmitted."

Under this law, a person who is the victim of negligent or intentional transmission of a sexually transmitted disease can hold the wrongdoer accountable in court. In the case of negligent transmission of a STD, they can receive an award of $1,000. In the case of intentional transmission they can receive an award of $10,000. In addition, victims are permitted to recover their attorneys fees, court costs and other damages available under the law. Courts that have interpreted this series of statutes have held that the minimum amounts set forth by the statute are for each sexual act that resulted in STD transmission. In other words, in the case of the intentional transmission of a STD, the amount of damages would be calculated as follows:

(number of sexual acts that resulted in transmission) x $10,000 + attorneys fees + court costs + health care expenses + emotional distress damages = award

Nothing will ever make you whole after contracting a STD. This statute at least allows you to hold the wrongdoer accountable.

Nothing in this Blog should be considered legal advice or to form an attorney client relationship. Individuals with legal problems should consult an attorney who can tailor their advice to your unique circumstances.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Car Buying Resources

I know this Blog is supposed to be about injury law. However, one of my goals in writing this Blog is to give the readers some tips that will, hopefully, avoid them having to use the services of a lawyer.

Routinely, in my practice I see people that suffer injuries that, in part, may have been caused by the type of car they were driving and how it protects its occupants. That is not to say that all cars are unsafe. Testing has revealed that certain cars do a better job of protecting occupants in the advent of a crash. There are two good resources for information on car safety. The first, the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (www.nhtsa.gov) which has the safercar website (www.safercar.gov) that provides crash test and recall information. The other is the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (www.iihs.org) which administers an offset crash test that is supposed to more accurately represent what happens in most head on collisions.

One of the other areas in which I hear a lot of concern expressed by clients is cars that have recurrent problems. While most people are familiar with the reliability ratings given by Consumer Reports, there are other resources available to them. The National Highway and Safety Administration (www.nhtsa.gov) tracks recalls and technical service bulletins on cars. Sometimes these will give you some insight on vehicle reliability. Another resource is the forums on Edmunds.com (www.edmunds.com). In these forums you will find discussions between owners concern such wide ranging topics as price, where to service a car and common problems.



Nothing in this Blog should be considered legal advice or form an attorney client relationship. Individuals with legal problems are encouraged to seek legal advice from a legal professional who can tailor her/his advice to your specific legal needs.

Monday, September 1, 2008

10 Tips for Avoiding an Accident

Edmunds.com has a great article that is a must for every driver to read. It is entitled Top 10 Editor's Tips to Prevent a Car Accident. To read the article click here.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Do you really need the Collision Damage Waiver

Every time I rent a car, I get the same question from the clerk at the counter, " Sir, (I get called Sir now, sure sign I'm close to getting my AARP card) would you like the collision damage waiver.  If you get it, it pays ..........."  Politely, I always tell the clerk, "No thank you, my insurance policy covers the use of a rental car."  Occasionally, when I am at the airport with a friend, that is an insurance agent, I hear a loud shriek, "NOOOOOOO!!!!! He doesn't need it!!!"  Personally, I prefer a simple "No Thank You."

The bottom line is that your auto policy does cover rental cars.  In addition, some credit cards provide this coverage if you book your travel through them.  Call your credit card company to find out. That general statement being made there are some caveats that you should keep in mind:

1. If you are renting a moving truck, some companies will cover small trucks but not large trucks. You can save yourself a lot of heartache by making a quick call to your insurance agent.

2. You may not have coverage if you are in a foreign country. If you are traveling outside the United States, (Yes, that means to Canada and Mexico) let your agent know to assure you have coverage in place.



Nothing in this Blog should be considered legal advice or to form an attorney client relationship. If you have a legal problem you are encouraged to consult with an attorney who can provide you with advice tailored to your legal circumstance. 

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Document, Document, Document....

It sounds like an overwhelming task but it's not. If you have expenses related to an accident keep track of them. You are going to need it at a later date. That means keep receipts and records of expenses as they are incurred. If you pay for items with cash get a receipt. If you pay with a debit card or credit card, keep your statements and get a receipt. Some of the items you should keep track of include:

1: Your wage loss
2: Your out of pocket expenses
3. Your deductibles
4. Your mileage
5. Your medical expenses
6. Services provided

One of the components of your claim is the economic loss you have experienced. It always lends credibility to your claim if you have receipts for your expenses or have documented items, such as mileage expense, at the time the expenses are incurred. Some people roll their eyes when I tell them this, but let's put yourself in the shoes of the jury that will decide your case or the party against whom you are making the claim. They will not dispute your claim if they are based in fact and carry the aura of credibility. That's why accurate record keeping is necessary. It may save you from having to take your case to court.

Nothing in this Blog should be considered legal advice or to form an attorney client relationship. Legal cases often turn on specific facts. You would be well served to obtain the advice of an experienced attorney who can offer her/his advice that is tailored to your unique legal circumstance.
Making Injury and Insurance Law Understandable