Contents

Q:

What is My Case Worth?

A:

Gone are the days that liability insurance carriers would gladly pay you at least three times your medical expenses. It seemed like an easy way to value claims and claims were settled in a prompt manner, at least the smaller claims. Now, the insurance companies evaluate claims in a much different manner.

Some insurance companies use computer programs to evaluate the value of your medical bills, the credibility of your treatment and the estimated value of your pain and suffering. Many carriers force a “one size fits all” evaluation onto every claim regardless of the unique factors involved in your case. Other carriers will do a more tailored evaluation of your case to reach a “value.” There is no set formula to truly evaluate the nature of individual claims.

Q:

Do I Need an Attorney?

A:

Unfortunately, if you are asking yourself this question, you probably at least need to consult with an attorney to determine what your rights are, what to expect and how best to protect yourself and how best to avoid ending up in court.

The good news is that many attorneys will meet with you and speak with you about your case without charging you. This is generally called a “free consultation.” Some attorneys will meet with you in person while others may speak with you at length over the phone about your concerns.

You should also keep in mind that people hire attorneys in all kinds of situations. They may simply seek advice from the attorney, they may specifically want to file a lawsuit or they may choose to retain an attorney early on to try and avoid a lawsuit. I am a firm believer that seeking advice from an attorney at the very early stages of an issue is the best thing a person can do as it frequently saves the client money, time, stress, frustration and disappointment down the road. It can also be the best way to avoid going to court.

What is at Stake?

Should you call an attorney or retain counsel? One of the first questions you should ask yourself is what is at stake. When your finances, health, safety or job are in jeopardy, the obvious answer is to seek legal help. If it is a minor issue that will not affect you one way or another, then you may be able to handle it on your own, but again, it never hurts to call an attorney for guidance (most consultations are free).

When Should I Call an Attorney?

You should call an attorney as soon as you believe you may need some advice. Depending on the nature of your case, the delay of hours or days can result in the loss of evidence, witnesses and may result in adverse actions being taken against you. I truly believe that most legal matters are like playing a game of chess. It is best to get a full understanding of the legal matter as soon as possible, formulate a strategy and then put the strategy in place.

If you are facing a situation in which you may be arrested, go to jail and/or otherwise end up in handcuffs, call an attorney immediately. If you have suffered bodily injury, lost a loved one in an accident and/or caused a serious accident, you will need assistance immediately. If someone is asking you to sign a contract or some other legal document that you do not fully understand (e.g. non-compete agreement), you should seek legal advice before moving forward.

Q:

How Much Does it Cost to Get an Attorney?

A:

What will it Cost Me to get some Initial Advice?

I offer free consultations for potential clients who have been injured or who have had a loved one who was injured in serious accidents. The Initial Consultation is free and may be held in one of my offices, over the phone or in some instances, at your home if you cannot travel due to your injuries.

What will it Cost Me to Hire an Attorney?

I generally accept personal injury and wrongful death claims on a contingency fee basis. What does that mean? It means that you pay nothing until I recover money for your case. In the event that no recovery is made for you, I will not charge you any attorney fees.

Many clients do not realize attorneys spend a considerable amount of time preparing a case for settlement and/or for trial. They spend a significant amount of time obtaining police reports, photographs, witness statements, medical records, medical bills, lien information, lost wage documentation, expert witness reports, filing complaints, going through discovery, obtaining depositions, going through trial etc. . . . –all before receiving any payment for our services. In most instances, this can be 6 months to 3 years.

How Much is an Initial Consultation?

I offer free consultations for potential clients who have been injured or who have had a loved one who was injured in serious accidents. The Initial Consultation is free and may be held in one of my offices, over the phone or in some instances, at your home if you cannot travel due to your injuries.

Q:

How do You Handle Property Damage Claims?

A:

Ohioans love their cars. I once met with a man who was in the hospital following a collision. He had a tracheotomy in place as he had sustained a fractured rib in the collision and it punctured one of his lungs. His daughter had called me to meet with him and so I went to his room and started to introduce myself. While I was trying to explain who I was, he began pulling at his tracheotomy, trying to pull it out. He wanted to tell me something. I leaned forward to hear what he wanted to say and he barely spoke “I want them to pay for my truck. Go get them.” While his truck was worth only $1,200 or so, that was his primary concern. He was not worried about his fractured ribs or punctured lung, he was concerned about his truck. Throughout the years I have noted more and more of my clients are preoccupied with their vehicles as opposed to their own injuries following a serious collision and I understand it. We use our cars to earn a living, to care for our family members, to get medical treatment, etc. . . .

Getting a Car Repaired

You have the right to take your car to any body shop of your choice. You do not have to take it to a “preferred shop” suggested by the insurance company. It is your car, you have the right to choose where to take it for repairs. However, the insurance adjuster will have the ability to review the repair estimate to determine whether or not the cost of repairs is reasonable.

Installing Used Parts

Yes. If the liability insurance company is paying for the repairs, they may choose to use aftermarket parts and/or Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts. If you are not satisfied with their choice, you can offer to pay for the difference between the aftermarket parts and the OEM parts and/or you can see if your own auto insurance company will pay for the repairs and if they will use OEM parts. Your policy of insurance should state whether or not they will use aftermarket parts.

Use of Aftermarket Parts

The insurance company’s repair estimate must disclose what kind of parts the estimate is based on. The estimate must tell you if:

  • The parts are aftermarket; you may be entitled to new parts if your car is the current year model;
  • The parts are used, of “like kind and quality”—this means they will be bought from a salvage dealer and the estimate must identify the salvage dealer.

Getting a Rental Car

If your car was damaged due to the fault of another person, the liability insurance company should pay for a rental car for a reasonable length of repair time. The rental car should be comparable to your own vehicle. If you were struck by an uninsured motorist, then you must refer to your own auto insurance policy to determine whether or not you have rental car coverage.

If your vehicle is a “total loss,” the liability insurance carrier may not have any legal obligation to pay for a rental car; however, they will typically do so for a reasonable amount of time.

Diminished Value

Yes. If you recently purchased your car and it was damaged due to the fault of another driver, you are entitled to a diminished value of your car. We are all familiar with the “Car Fox” and understand that once your car has been involved in a collision, the trade-in value and private sale values decrease.

Car was Totaled

The insurance industry classifies your car as a “total loss” when it appears to be less expensive for the insurance company to replace it than repair it. If your vehicle is considered a “total loss” and you were not at-fault for causing the collision, you are entitled to receive the fair market value of the vehicle immediately before the collision minus the salvage value of the wreckage. You may also be entitled to applicable taxes, license fees as well as sales taxes on the purchase of another vehicle if it is purchased within 30 days of the property damage settlement.

Fair Market Value Calculated

The Ohio Administrative Code sets forth several ways for insurance companies to calculate the “fair market value”; however, most insurance companies will use one of three methods to determine your car’s actual cash value:

  1. The average cost of two or more comparable vehicles (same year, make, model with similar condition and miles);
  2. The average of two or more quotations from local dealers; or the most common.
  3. An electronic database generated and maintained by a private company which reportedly maintains information about motor-vehicle prices in your local market.

(Note: there have been class action cases filed against similar companies such as: CCC Value Scope and/or CCC Information Services, so you will want to ensure that their reports are accurate).

Q:

Do I have to Use My Health Insurance?

A:

Unfortunately, liability insurance companies will not pay for your medical bills until you have completed ALL of your treatment and you are ready to settle ALL aspects of your case.

You can continue to use your private health insurance to ensure that your bills are covered as they would be normally and it will help ensure that you can continue to receive the treatment you need.

Q:

What does Filing a Lawsuit Entail?

A:

In a civil lawsuit, it requires the plaintiff (the party seeking damages) to file a complaint with the court. Once the complaint has been filed and the defendant (negligent party) has formerly received a copy of the complaint, the defendant must then file his/her or its answer with the court.

The next stage is generally the process of obtaining written responses to questions from all of the parties, obtaining documents and then taking the depositions of the parties. This process is generally referred to as the “discovery phase” of the case. Depositions allow the attorney from the other side to ask you questions under oath and your attorney will have the same opportunity to ask the defendant questions as well. Depending on the nature of the case, this discovery phase could last months and/or over a year. While each court has the ability to control the length of each case (the time it takes to get to a trial), many courts will set the trial date at about one year from the date the complaint was filed with the court.

That does not mean that your case will go to trial. Generally the parties will continue to work together through the discovery phase to resolve the case. During the course of litigation, there are many different opportunities to settle cases and just because the court schedules a trial date, does not mean you will go to trial.

Q:

What do I do if I am in a Collision?

A:

Many clients report that they were scared, shaken up, dazed, confused and full of adrenaline following their accidents. These are common responses to being involved in a serious accident.

While it may be difficult to remember the following suggestions after an accident, they may make the unpleasant experience go as smoothly as possible.

If you are Injured, Get Treatment.

Once you have regained your senses, you should evaluate yourself to determine whether or not you are injured. If you are injured, ask for medical assistance. You may ask for the EMS, call a friend to take you to the local Urgent Care or to the emergency room. Your health should always remain your primary concern. If you continue to have significant pain and discomfort following the accident, get in to see your family doctor. If you do not have a family doctor, you may consider going to the Urgent Care or emergency room. The physicians at those facilities may also be able to refer you to a family physician and/or specialist. If you are injured, DO NOT wait to get treatment.

File a Police Report.

Call the police and ensure that a report is filed. Many times the at-fault driver will promise to “take care of it.” That is fine, still call the police. This will ensure that he or she is providing the officer with the correct name, address, phone number, license plate number and insurance information just in case he/she fails to “take care of it.” In many instances, the police will take photographs of the scene and the vehicles involved, they may take measurements, calculate speeds, obtain video camera surveillance, collect witness statements as well as statements from the parties. All of this evidence may prove critical to your case in the future. Once the officer has completed the investigation, the officer will issue a final report. The final collision report may cite one party for a traffic violation. The conclusions in the final collision report help the insurance companies determine the liability of each driver.

Take Photographs and/or Video

Remember, if you are injured, get medical help. However, if you are well enough to take photographs or a video, you should obtain photographs of the scene and/or the vehicles involved in the collision. A picture can be worth a thousand words and they can speak volumes at trial. DO NOT rely on the liability insurance company to take photographs and/or to preserve photographs. It is not in their best interest to keep graphic photographs.

You can use the BuckeyeLaw Mobile App to help you collect evidence and document your case. Links are provided at the bottom of the page.

Get the Names and Phone Numbers of Witnesses

It is important to write down the names and phone numbers of all of the people who witnessed the collision. Even if it seems obvious that the other party was liable, get the names of witnesses. This will help avoid a denial of liability down the road.

Exchange Insurance Information

You must ensure that you obtain the other driver’s insurance information. If possible, get the insurance agent contact information as well as the insurance company’s name and policy number. If you do not get the other driver’s insurance information, you may be forced to submit the claim through your own insurance company which may require you to pay for some of the damages out of your own pocket.

Keep Good Records

It is important to keep track of the days and hours you miss from work as well as a list of the doctors and medical facilities that you see for your injuries. These lists will help your attorney ensure that he/she has a complete medical file for you and will help ensure that they are able to properly calculate your out-of-pocket losses.

Know Your Rights

Many insurance companies want to take statements immediately following an accident and/or they may ask you to sign medical authorizations. An attorney can advise you of your rights and obligations and may be able to assist you in ensuring you are fully compensated for your injuries and other related damages.

Q:

What do I do if I lose a loved one in an accident?

A:

The loss of a loved one can be overwhelming and it can send your world into a spiral. While worrying about legal matters may be the last thing you want to think about, it may be one of the first things you should do. Immediate consultation with an attorney will inform you whether or not medical experts, investigators or accident reconstruction experts are necessary.

I have represented clients where the liability insurance company for a semi-truck carrier had their expert on the scene before the fire was completely extinguished from the vehicle the semi struck. You should have the same access to experts. Failure to promptly investigate the accident scene can lead to the loss of important evidence and it can significantly hinder the success of a case.

Notify Your Insurance Company

If your loved one passed away in a fatal motor vehicle collision, you should contact your insurance agent and/or your insurance company and notify them about the collision. They will help insure that any necessary claims are opened and that any expenses are processed in accordance with your insurance policy. If you have retained an attorney, he or she can do this for you. Let your attorney take some of the stress off of you during this difficult time.

The Liability Insurance Adjuster is Not “On Your Side”

Frequently, an adjuster from the negligent party’s liability insurance company will contact you and other family members following the accident. The adjuster will try to put on a façade that they care and are concerned for your family (some of it may even be true), when in fact their job is to find reasons to deny claims and/or pay as little as possible to settle the claim. Unfortunately, insurance adjusters even try to justify placing blame on your loved one. They may ask for recorded statements, medical records or authorizations and even ask for social security numbers and other personal information. Seek legal advice before complying with these requests. If you have an attorney, simply ask the adjuster to call your attorney and he or she will help answer their questions.

Retain an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney

If your loved one’s death was due to the negligence of another, you should hire an experienced personal injury attorney to handle the case for you. The sooner you contact the attorney, the sooner he or she can get his or her investigator or expert to the scene of the accident. Additionally, retaining a personal injury attorney can help relieve stress and will allow you to focus on your family and loved ones.

What Kind of Damages Can the Family Recover?

As surviving spouse or child, or even as a parent, you may have a claim against the negligent person for economic damages (loss of future earnings, medical expenses, final arrangement costs, etc. . . .) and for noneconomic damages (e.g. loss of comfort, advice, companionship and society, pain and suffering).

Probate Court

There are many factors that need to be considered before opening a Probate Estate for your loved one. While your loved one’s creditors may tell you that an estate must be opened immediately, no one is legally obligated to open a probate estate. In fact, under certain circumstances, it best not to open an estate for at least six months. Consult with an attorney before opening a probate estate. If you have a personal injury attorney already, call him or her and see if they can recommend a probate attorney.

Q:

Do I have to use my own Health Insurance or Car Insurance?

A:

The response to this simple question is not simple. Many clients feel that all of their medical bills should be paid directly by at at-fault person and/or the liability insurance company and they are right; however, the liability insurance company and generally the at-fault party will not pay for those bills until after all treatment is completed and the injured person is ready to settle ALL claims and even then, the insurance companies typically dispute all or some of those charges or offer to pay less than the total amount of the bills.

If you wait until the completion of your treatment to try and get them to pay for your medical bills, many of the medical facilities and/or doctors may have already placed those bills into collections which can have an adverse affect on your credit.

The better course of action is to use your own private health insurance. If you are covered by private health insurance such as United Healthcare or BlueCross BlueShield, you should be able to simply use your own private health insurance to cover your medical expenses. If your doctor or medical facility generally accepts your private health insurance for other visits, then they should accept it for injuries that are related to an accident. If they refuse to do so, you may want to consult with your attorney to determine the best course of action to avoid credit problems and/or alienating your doctors.

If you are covered by Medicare, then you may be required to use or exhaust any Medical Payments coverage you may have through your own motor vehicle insurance policy. The Medical Payments provision of your policy is there to help take care of medical expenses you incur when you are injured in your car. However, you have to be careful about using the Medical Payments provision because you may be required to pay this money back to your auto insurance carrier. You should consult with your attorney to determine whether or not you must exhaust your Medical Payments limits and if so, they best way to utilize that money.

If you are covered by Medicaid, your medical providers should continue to bill Medicaid for your treatment and not you directly. Similarly, they should not ask you to submit the bills through your own car insurance policy.

Protect Your Credit, Be Proactive

It is important to remember that all of your medical expenses remain your legal responsibility at the end of your case. You should always be aware of what those charges are and ensure that you believe those charges are reasonable because you are legally responsible for paying those bills. You should also be aware that many insurance companies will dispute the amount of charges and/or flatly deny paying for certain medical treatment. While your attorney will try to ensure that all of your medical treatment is paid out of your case, excessive medical costs or treatment can create difficulties for your case.

The best option is to promptly submit your medical expenses through your health insurance company. If the doctor or medical facility refuses to do so, you can ask for a copy of the bill and submit it yourself. If your health insurance company refuses to process the bills, contact your attorney and discuss the situation.

But What about Subrogation?

Most health insurance contracts have a clause that allows the company to “subrogate” or be reimbursed for any medical expenses they paid which were caused by the negligence of another party. Therefore, if your health insurance company paid $5,000.00 for your medical bills and your attorney is able to convince the liability insurance carrier to pay for those medical expenses, that money will likely go back to your health insurance company. Please note that Medicare and Medicaid have similar rights. It is still in your best interest to utilize your health insurance even though they may be entitled to be paid back at the conclusion of your case. The proper submission of your bills will help ensure that you get the treatment you need and it will help protect your credit during the course of your case.

Q:

How many people are injured or killed in the United States each year in motorcycle collision?

A:

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 5,290 motorcyclists were killed in 2008—an increase of 2 percent over the 5,174 motorcyclists killed in 2007. There were 96,000 motorcyclists injured during 2008. It is estimated that injury or death are the outcome in nearly 80 percent of all motorcycle accidents in the United States.

Q:

What is the main cause of death in a motorcycle accident?

A:

Head injuries are the primary cause of death in motorcycle accidents. During 2008, 194 motorcyclists in Ohio died in motorcycle collisions. The NHTSA reported that 70 percent of those fatalities were not wearing helmets at the time of the collision.

Q:

How can I protect myself as a motorcyclist?

A:

There are many different things you can do to help protect yourself as a motorcyclist, the following list is just a few suggestions:

  • Buy the power you need, but only as much as you can handle safely.
  • Consider the primary use of your bike.
  • Don’t buy a “trial” bike for highway use and don’t buy a “highway” bike if most of your riding will be off-road.
  • Complete a motorcycle training course. Even if you are an experienced motorcyclist, there are advanced courses for defensive driving techniques and braking techniques.
  • Never ride without a certified motorcycle helmet and eye protection. Insist on a helmet that has a U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) label.
  • Wear the right shoes, gloves, and clothing.
  • Adhere to the traffic rules and regulations.
  • Be aware that riding with a passenger requires additional balance and makes turns, stopping and shifting more difficult.
  • Treat other motorists with courtesy and respect.
  • Avoid tailgating
  • Avoid riding between lanes of slow moving or stopped traffic.
  • Use signals when appropriate
  • Drive defensively

Q:

What should I do if I am involved in a motorcycle accident?

A:

If you are involved in a motorcycle collision, first, seek medical treatment. This can either be from the local emergency room, urgent care center and/or your own family physician. Second, take pictures of the accident scene, the vehicle(s) involved, your motorcycle, your injuries and record everything—witness names, phone number as well as your recollection of what occurred. Third, make sure that you review the accident report to make sure that it is accurate. If it is not accurate, you will want to send in an addendum with the correct version of the accident. Keep all statements short but truthful. If any insurance company, yours or theirs, calls you and asks for a statement from you, contact an attorney as soon as possible.

Q:

Do I have to give a statement, written or recorded, to the insurance company?

A:

While you likely have an obligation to “cooperate” with your own insurance company, it is unlikely that you are required to give any insurance carrier a statement. You should keep in mind that insurance companies can try to use those statements against you in the future. If any insurance company is pressuring you for a statement of information, contact an attorney.

Q:

My doctor says that he cannot use my health insurance because I was involved in a collision and the bill has to go through either my motorcycle insurance or the liability insurance, is this true?

A:

Many physicians offices have learned that they may get paid more if they submit their bill through your motorcycle insurance company and/or through the at-fault driver’s liability insurance company. If you permit them to do this, it may hurt your ability to settle your case and/or result in a lower recovery for you at the end of your case. If you have questions about health insurance, medical payments coverage and car insurance, call our office.

Q:

What if a loved one has been killed as the result of a motorcycle accident that was not their fault, can we do anything?

A:

Yes. Unfortunately, many motorcyclists do not survive these types of collisions and/or fail to recover from their injuries. In cases such as these, a family member may be entitled to pursue a claim for wrongful death. If you have lost a loved one due to the fault of another person or company, call our office to discuss your options. Our attorneys practice probate law and are experienced with wrongful death claims.

Q:

I did not cause the collision, but I was not wearing a helmet, can I still recover damages for my injuries?

A:

Your failure to comply with any state law requiring the use of helmet should not prohibit your ability to recover for your injuries. It certainly can be used against you to minimize your recovery, but it should not prohibit a recovery. If you have questions concerning motorcycle helmet use, please call our office.

Q:

The insurance company has admitted fault, can I settle my claim on my own?

A:

This is a difficult question and my answer is always dependent on the facts of each individual case. Unfortunately, most cases quickly involve the rights of several different companies other than your own claims. If you have health insurance, you may have a legal obligation to repay your health insurance company from any settlement you may receive. If you have medical payments coverage through your own motorcycle/automobile insurance policy, you may have an obligation to pay this money back and you may not even know that someone has used it. If you receive Medicaid or Medicare benefits, there are other rules and obligations that apply. These issues alone justify contacting an attorney immediately following a collision.

These issues do not even address the fact that certain insurance carriers are notorious for low offers and/or for forcing injured victims to file lawsuits against their insureds. Early knowledge about the insurance carriers involved can frequently help you know how to build/document your case for a good resolution without the need to file a lawsuit. Retaining an attorney immediately after a collision will allow the attorney to act quickly and aggressively to preserve all of the necessary evidence to prove your case. Failure to do so may result in the loss of pertinent information, the disappearance of crucial witnesses, failure to properly document injuries or the inability to resolve a claim without the need to file a lawsuit which frequently delays settlement and increases expenses.

Finally, an attorney who is experienced in this area of law will be able to assist you in evaluating your claim(s) once you have fully recovered from your injuries. Any insurance carrier that tries to offer you a settlement right after the collision, is not looking out for you. Take your time, make sure you have fully recovered before attempting to resolve any claim. However, you also need to make sure that you contact an attorney well before the statute of limitations for your claim.

Q:

I received documents from several different doctors and chiropractors in the mail, should I go to one of them?

A:

While many of these facilities will provide you with excellent care, I typically recommend that my clients go to their primary care physician and then follow the advice of their own doctor as he or she knows your medical history better than anyone else. If the doctor refers you to a chiropractor and/or a physical therapy facility that is fine. However, if any treatment: chiropractic, physical therapy, or medication etc. . . is not providing you with long-term relief, you may want to mention this to your physician and/or seek a second opinion. If you have questions or concerns about your own injuries and/or accident claim, please feel free to contact our office to schedule a free consultation.

Q:

The swimming pool has signs that say that the Parent is responsible for watching their own children, what responsibility do the lifeguards have, if any?

A:

Parents must watch over their children at all times, whether they are in the water, around the pool or on the water. Lifeguards are responsible for the general aquatic safety of everyone they are supervising, but it is up to the parent to keep a protective eye on their children.

The primary job of a lifeguard is to watch over the swimmers and keep people from harm. Lifeguards must be well trained in methods of saving drowning victims and getting them out of the water and onto dry land. They must also know how to properly administer CPR and other first aid techniques that could save a life.

Q:

What type of training is required to become a lifeguard?

A:

While many pools and other aquatic facilities may have their own requirements, the minimum training expected for lifeguard personnel should be the successful completion of the American Red Cross Lifeguarding course or the equivalent.

The aquatics facility may also require their lifeguards to be trained in:

  • the standard operating procedures of the aquatics facility
  • emergency action plans
  • Rules and regulations for patrons
  • use of rescue and safety equipment
  • identification of hazards and risks
  • water rescue and EMS skills

Q:

What are some of the common safety procedures used by lifeguards?

A:

Lifeguards and aquatic safety supervisors should ensure that they are positioned to provide maximum security coverage for their patrons. This may require the use of stationary chairs, “dry-land” lifeguards as well as in-water personnel.

The lifeguards should also be familiar the 30-Second Rule, the 10/20 Rule, and the 10×10 Reaction Rule:

  • 30-Second RuleThe lifeguard surveys one extreme of his/her zone of responsibility to the other and back within a total of 30-seconds.
  • 10/20 RuleOnce the lifeguard identifies a potential incident (i.e. victim, hazard, risk), he/she must determine within 10 seconds whether or not intervention is required. If required, the lifeguard must be positioned in order to intervene within 20 seconds.
  • 10 x 10 Reaction RuleThe lifeguard must be able to survey his/her zone of responsibility within 10 seconds and, if required, must be able to intervene within 10 seconds.

Q:

If there are parents and lifeguards present, how can a child drown?

A:

Distractions are a common factor in many accidental drowning cases. Lifeguards must minimize the amount of distractions around them. This includes minimizing conversations with patrons, friends and colleagues. Similarly, parents must remember to keep a constant watch on their children regardless of what is going on around them.

Obstructions also play a part in many cases. Many water parks, swimming pools or other aquatic centers use water attractions such as water umbrellas/mushrooms and tumble buckets to entertain their guests; while this is fun, they must be certain that these attractions do not hinder a lifeguards vision of the pool floor and/or of the swimmers. The “waterfall” flowing off of a water mushroom can make it difficult to see a young swimmer in trouble if it is not installed, used and/or maintained properly. Similarly, aquatic facilities should be careful not to install these water attractions in deep portions of the pool as they can attract young, inexperienced swimmers.

Chemicals in the pool can also cause the water to become cloudy if they are not monitored correctly. Cloudy water can make it difficult for lifeguards and/or parents to see a troubled swimmer in the pool.

Q:

Who is at the most risk of accidental drowning?

A:

The CDC says that:

Males: In 2007, males were 3.7 times more likely than females to die from accidental drowning in the United States.

Children: In 2007, of all children from 1 to 14 years of age who died from an accidental injury, almost 30 percent died from drowning. Fatal drowning remains the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children ages 1 to 14 years old.

Q:

What are the major risk factors?

A:

The CDC states that:

Lack of barriers and supervision. Children under one year most often drown in bathtubs, buckets or toilets. Children around ages 1 to 14 years mostly drown in residential swimming pools. Most young children who drowned in pools were last seen in the home, had been out of sight less than 5 minutes, and were in the care of one or both parents at the time. Barriers such as pool fencing and safety locks can help prevent children from gaining access to dangerous areas such as the pool, bathtub or hot-tub.

While the lack of adequate barriers and/or vigilant supervision are frequently related to accidental drowning, the following issues can also lead to an accidental drowning:

  • Failure to install automatic locking gates.
  • Improperly installed or defective vacuum drains that do not have proper covers.
  • Lack of safety equipment such as whistles, shepard hooks, PFDs, ring buoys or throw ropes.
  • Lack of safety lines separating deep and shallow areas of the pool.
  • Lack of depth markers preventing swimmers and guests from know the depth of the pool.
  • Improper sloping of the pool floor, causing young children to slide into deeper sections of the pool.
  • Inattentive or untrained lifeguards.
  • Lack of pool ladders that allow easy exit from the pools.
  • Lack of an emergency phone near the pool.
  • Overcrowded pools or inadequate staffing.
  • Defective, inadequate or complete lack of pool lights.

Q:

How can drowning be prevented?

A:

The Centers for Disease Control recommend the following to help prevent water-related injuries:

Supervision:

Designate a responsible adult to watch young children while in the bath and all children swimming or playing in or around water. Supervisors of preschool children should provide “touch supervision”, be close enough to reach the child at all times. Adults should not be involved in any other distracting activity (such as reading, playing cards, talking on the phone) while supervising children.

Buddy System.

Always swim with a buddy. Select swimming sites that have lifeguards whenever possible.

Avoid Alcohol.

Avoid drinking alcohol before or during swimming, boating, or water skiing. Do not drink alcohol while supervising children. Learn to Swim. Formal swimming lessons can protect young children from drowning. However, swimming lessons cannot be used to replace supervision. Careful supervision and barriers such as pool fencing are necessary even when children have completed swimming lessons.

Learn CPR.

In the time it might take for paramedics to arrive, your CPR skills could make a difference in someone’s life. CPR performed by bystanders has been shown to improve outcomes in drowning victims.

Do Not Use Air-Filled or Foam Toys.

Do not use air-filled or foam toys, such as “water wings”, noodles, or inner-tudes, in place of life jackets. These toys are not designed to keep swimmers safe and frequently give the swimmer and his/her supervisor a false sense of security which can lead to the young swimmer going into deeper water than they can manage.

Q:

What are the most common causes of motorcycle accidents?

A:

The causes of many motorcycle collisions can be attributed to:

  • failure of other motorists to notice the motorcyclists
  • failure to utilize defensive driving techniques
  • lack of basic riding skills
  • failure to appreciate the limitations of the motorcycle
  • lack of specific braking and cornering skills
  • failure to follow speed limits

Q:

Does My Doctor have to Use my Health Insurance?

A:

Generally, physicians and medical facilities have an obligation to submit your bills to your health insurance company. However, some facilities will try to submit the bills to your auto insurance because they may get paid more on their bill. Note: This response may vary if you have Medicare or Medicare insurance.

Q:

How do I Evaluate Claims?

A:

The truth is that every case is different and each case must be evaluated based on its own unique factors. I do not use a “one size fits all” model. I can list several factors that I consider when I review a case to determine the “value." 

 I believe most cases have a pre-litigation settlement value, a post-discovery settlement value, a mediation settlement value and ultimately a jury value.Generally, if I get involved in a case early enough, I can get it ready for settlement well before the statute of limitations. During this stage of the case, we are working with an insurance adjuster and a particular insurance company. The adjuster and the company are always taken into consideration when I determine the value of the case. Usually, there is very little information about prior medical history, who my client is and really who the defendant is. It is what I consider a rather “sterile” atmosphere. This is what I consider to be the “pre-litigation value.”Once you are forced or choose to file a lawsuit, the value of the case changes again. Now, we have defense counsel assigned to the case. That can change the value. Also, we will now proceed through the discovery phase of the case. If I uncover favorable facts for the case (e.g. the defendant will make a poor witness, he/she was intoxicated, he/she has a criminal record etc . . . .) the value will increase. Now, if defense counsel uncovers negative aspects of your case, (e.g. pre-existing conditions, criminal records, dishonesty etc . . . .), the value may decrease.Mediation value. In most cases, mediations are held well before trial and right before each side begins spending a lot of money on expert witnesses. The value of the case may increase or decrease again at this stage because now we are relying more on expert witnesses. If you have strong expert opinions and the other side is simply using a known “hired gun,” then the value may increase. Similarly, if your expert is weak and their expert will come across as credible, the value may decrease.The jury value is something that I always keep in the back of my mind because, at the end of the day, each case is built up to go before a jury. Many times you also have to consider who the judge is and how that may affect your case.

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