Archive for January, 2013

Avoiding Insurance Company Traps and Unfair Tactics in Missouri Auto Accident Cases

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

If you are injured by a driver who fails to comply with traffic safety rules, you may suffer permanent life altering injuries.  Assuming your auto collision is caused by an insured driver, the insurance carrier of the negligent driver will usually be responsible for covering the costs associated with your accident.  The other driver’s insurance company will also process the claim and provide a defense in the case of litigation.

Many Missouri car accident victims misjudge the role of the other driver’s insurance company and presume the insurance carrier will act fairly in making a reasonable settlement offer.  This is why it is essential to keep in mind that the insurance company for the at-fault driver is your adversary so you should be very careful when dealing with the adjuster for the driver who caused your injuries.  Insurance companies did not build an industry worth billions of dollars on liberally paying out valid insurance claims.  Because insurers handle many car accident injury claims daily, it is important to understand the strategies that they may employ to compromise your personal injury claim.

Delay, Delay, Delay: If you are not represented by counsel, the insurance company knows that stalling the settlement of a claim can create a dire financial situation for injury victims.  Those who suffer significant injuries in a car accident may be unable to work and face enormous medical and rehabilitation expenses.  As time passes, the financial pressure to settle a case to cope with these growing financial hardships may entice an injury victim to accept a low offer.

Statute of Limitations: When an insurance carrier delays resolution of a claim, a motor vehicle accident injury victim who does not have an attorney also risks inadvertently violating the statute of limitations.  This critical deadline imposes a fixed date by which a lawsuit must be filed to avoiding waiving one’s right to pursue legal remedies in court.  The statute of limitations for injuries resulting from a car accident in Missouri generally is five years from the date of the accident.  However, there can be complications in calculating this time limit so you should seek prompt legal advice.  If a party fails to initiate legal action before the statute of limitation expires, this failure will usually be an absolute bar to seeking recovery.

Low Impact Settlement: Insurance companies welcome the opportunity to negotiate with unrepresented parties because they can exploit their lack of knowledge and experience.  A common tactic used in collisions where there is no significant vehicle damage involves the insurance company claiming that the lack of vehicle damage means that no serious injuries could have resulted.  The adjuster may characterize the accident as a “low impact” crash and offer a nominal settlement.  Many parties that are without legal counsel find they are unable to afford necessary expenses for injuries that are later discovered to be serious.  Insurance companies will usually ask the injury victim to sign a “general release of liability” that may waive all legal rights and actions including those related to undiscovered injuries.  You should never sign anything or make a recorded statement without seeking legal advice.

Our experienced Missouri auto accident lawyers have over 75 years of combined experience protecting our clients from the unfair and abusive tactics of insurance companies.  If you suffer injury or someone close to you dies in a Missouri car accident, we welcome your call so that we can evaluate your legal rights and explain your options.  Call Hubbard & Kurtz, LLP today to schedule your free consultation!

Drivers Committing DUI Continue to Disrupt the Lives of Many Missouri Families

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

While drunken driving car accident fatalities have declined in recent years, intoxicated driver continue to claim the lives of approximately 30, 000 vehicle occupants annually while causing serious injury to millions more.  The state and federal government have devoted enormous resources to preventing drunken driving in the form of increased patrols, sobriety checkpoints, tougher DUI penalties, public awareness programs, teen “zero tolerance laws” and wider implementation of breath alcohol ignition interlock devices.

Despite this enormous commitment of resources to reduce the risk of alcohol related accidents, families throughout Missouri and the U.S. have their lives changed every day by drunken drivers.  It may be tempting to presume that your chances of becoming the victim of a drunk driver are remote.  However, you should consider that if you live in a household of 6 people, statistically two family members will be involved in a collision with a drunk driver at some point during their life according to data from the Loyola University Health System.  There are approximately 600,000 collisions a year in which alcohol is a factor, which constitutes approximately ten percent of all traffic collisions.

Drivers who are intoxicated present a substantial risk of causing a collision which results in serious personal injury or wrongful death.  Alcohol impaired drivers often compound limitations on reflexes, decision-making and perception with unrealistic estimates of their own driving ability.  Drivers with this over-inflated sense of their own driving abilities may speed, tailgate, multi-task and otherwise take unacceptable driving risks.

If you are involved in a collision with a driver you suspect is intoxicated, you should indicate to the investigating officer that you think the other driver may have been drinking as well as why you reached that conclusion.  This may be based on your personal observations of the other driver including the odor of alcohol on the driver’s breath, slurred speech, lack of coordination, red bloodshot eyes or other effects from alcohol.  While the officer may conduct a DUI investigation without your prompting, your eyewitness testimony may provide evidence justifying field sobriety tests and blood alcohol testing.

When you are involved in a collision caused by a drunken driver, you may also be entitled to punitive damages.  Punitive damages are intended to punish reckless drivers and discourage similar unsafe driving practices in the future.  If you or someone you love is injured or a family member dies in a drunken driving accident in Missouri, the experienced Missouri drunken driving accident attorneys at Hubbard & Kurtz, LLP are committed to holding alcohol impaired drivers accountable for the injuries that they cause so contact us toll free at (877) 535-1163 to see how we can help!