Find out who pays for which costs when an accident occurs.
Accidents are expensive. Every expense, from the price of medical treatments to the cost of missing work, can add up to create a huge financial burden. This is your guide to who pays for what damages in the aftermath of an accident.
Insurance Coverage for Accident Claims
In most accident cases, it’s an insurance company – not an individual – who pays for the damages.
For a car accident
claim, there’s auto insurance coverage.
Homeowner’s insurance policies typically cover accidents that happen on residential properties, including dog bites and slip and falls or trip and falls.
Businesses have liability insurance to cover accidents that happen on commercial properties.
Even medical mistakes are covered by an insurer. Doctors and hospitals have malpractice insurance to compensate the victims of any medical errors they commit.
When you want to see the other person pay for what their careless behavior did to you, you may be disappointed to realize it’s the insurance company footing the bill. But ultimately, this system protects you. Most individuals don’t have the money to compensate you for your injuries. When there’s insurance, you know that there is money available – you just need to successfully build a case to attain it.
Can you sue an individual for money beyond the insurance coverage that’s available? Of course you can. But in most cases, that’s not a viable option.
Remember, a private citizen probably doesn’t have the kind of money you would win in a personal injury case. Even if the person who caused your accident has some assets, those assets might not be easy for you to access.
For example, the person at fault for the accident might have assets, but they might be in the form of real estate. You can put a lien on a house, so that once the person sells it, they have to pay you what they owe. But you can’t control when they’ll sell the real estate – so you could be waiting decades, if you get money at all.
Is it worth pursuing a case against this individual if you won’t be able to collect? In many cases, no. A better solution is to hire an attorney who can identify all possible parties involved in the case and pursue a claim against every source of insurance available. That way, you’ll walk away with actual compensation, not an impressive-sounding but ultimately meaningless judgment.
How Fault Affects Accident Benefits
Even though the individual who caused your accident isn’t personally responsible for paying the damages, fault still matters. Liability, or legal fault, is one of the first things you must prove to make a personal injury case successful.
Fault for an accident determines which insurance company has to pay for the damages. Sometimes, multiple people are at fault – and that means multiple insurance companies may have to pay some of the costs.
An Example of Fault and Accident Benefits
Take a car accident case, for example. When another driver breaks traffic safety laws and strikes you, it’s that driver’s auto insurance company that will have to pay.
The other driver’s insurer must pay to fix or replace your car or, if you choose to go through your own insurance policy, must repay the cost of repairs – including your deductible.
When you have damages like medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering, you’ll pursue a claim against this driver’s insurance company.
Uninsured and Underinsured Coverage
There’s one exception to pursuing a claim against the driver who is at fault for the accident. When this driver has little or no auto insurance, you might end up pursuing a claim against your own auto insurance company.
You only have this option if you purchased uninsured (UM) or underinsured (UIM) coverage as a part of your auto insurance policy. In this case, your own auto insurer takes the place of the other driver’s insurance company.
In a UM or UIM case, you can pursue compensation up to the policy limits you agreed to when purchasing your coverage.
What You Have to Pay (Even If You’re Not at Fault)
Nothing about an accident is fair – and that, unfortunately, includes paying for it, especially in the cases of car accidents.
Your Responsibilities for Auto Accident Medical Benefits
In New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and other no-fault states, your own insurance company pays for your medical benefits no matter who caused a crash. Your insurer will minimize its financial burden by making you pay a deductible and copayments.
Depending on what deductible you selected, you could end up paying thousands of dollars for an accident that isn’t your fault – even with insurance.
Paying for Medical Care in Other Types of Accidents
In cases that don’t involve motor vehicles, you may have to pay for medical care out-of-pocket and then seek compensation afterward. This means many victims of slip and falls, dog bites, and similar accidents often struggle to afford care.
Your health insurer might pay, if you have health insurance – but it might also demand repayment from you later.
Find out what you have to do – and what you should never do – when it comes to dealing with an insurance company after an accident.
When you’re in a car accident in New Jersey or Pennsylvania, dealing with an insurance company becomes a necessary hassle. But how you handle these interactions can have huge consequences. You need to know what rights and legal duties you have after an accident.
Fail to notify the right insurers promptly, and you could have a hard time getting them to pay the benefits they’re supposed to.
But share too much information with the wrong people, and you can end up hurting your claim.
Here’s what you should know about contacting the insurance companies after an accident.
The first thing you need to know is that the insurance company is not your friend. No insurer – not even your own – is on your side. You want the most money for your claim – and insurers want to pay you as little as possible.
Talking to Your Own Insurance Company
If you have an auto insurance policy, you must promptly report your car accident to your insurer.
Why You Need to Notify Your Insurer of an Accident That’s Not Your Fault
If you’ve never been in an accident in New Jersey or Pennsylvania, you might think that this duty doesn’t apply if you weren’t the driver at fault for the crash. After all, the person who caused the accident should be the one to pay, right?
But NJ and PA are both no-fault states. This means that your auto insurance company pays your medical benefits no matter who is at fault. That’s true even if your car wasn’t involved. Even if you weren’t driving.
You could be a passenger in someone else’s vehicle or a pedestrian walking across the street – your auto insurance company is still responsible for the medical bills. And that means that you’re responsible for letting your insurer know about the collision.
What to Say to Your Insurer
Now you know that you need to talk to your insurer. The question is, what are you supposed to say?
After 20+ years of experience practicing personal injury law, I always suggest that the safest option is to stick to the basic facts of the accident. Things like:
The fact that you were in an accident
The location of the accident
The date and time of the accident
A brief description of what happened – “I was rear-ended” or “I was hit head-on,” for example
Why is it so important that you stick to just the facts? Because giving the insurance company too much information is one of the biggest mistakes you can make after an accident. The information you choose to share, and the way you word it, could detract from your claim and cost you thousands of dollars.
… And What Not to Say
Sometimes the insurance adjuster will try to get you to discuss fault for the crash or talk about your injuries. Don’t do it.
Just say that you’re not ready to talk about that yet. If the insurance company asks if you’re injured, just say that you need to open a claim for medical benefits so you can see a doctor. You don’t want to fall into the trap of trying to describe all of your injuries, especially if the accident just happened and you haven’t even seen a physician yet.
Often, an insurer will ask you for a recorded statement. Sometimes the insurance adjuster won’t politely ask, but instead tell you that he or she “needs” to get a recorded statement from you. This makes it sound like you don’t have an option – but in reality, you do.
You can say “no” to providing a recorded statement. In fact, you should say no. Because a recorded statement will never work in your favor. The insurance company can twist your words to find ways to pay you less. But you can bet that the insurer will never use the recorded statement to help you get more money or more medical benefits.
When it’s a case of you saying one thing and the insurance company saying another, the insurer will only bring up the recorded statement if what you said supports its position – not yours.
Dealing With the Other Insurance Companies
Ultimately, the other insurance companies involved will play a role in your claim. After all, it’s the person at fault for your injuries that you pursue a claim against, and it’s that person’s or company’s insurer who pays those claims.
But you have no contract with an insurance company if you’re not the policyholder. And that means you have no legal obligation to that insurer.
What’s truly in your best interests is to reach out to a lawyer who can handle your claim for you, and let your attorney deal with the other insurance companies involved in your claim. These other insurance companies are looking for any plausible way to blame you for the accident or your injuries – and even the most seemingly harmless comment could become ammunition for their argument that you don’t deserve compensation.
If you do try to talk to these insurance companies yourself, at least try to avoid saying something damaging by sticking to the basic facts of what happened. Be aware that it’s not just what you say that matters, but how you say it and how you present yourself. An insurance adjuster could be sizing you up, trying to determine what kind of plaintiff you would make in court or simply how committed you are to following through with the claim.
Calling the insurance company may be unavoidable after an accident. But it’s always a good idea to also call a lawyer to talk over your claim with you. Keep in mind that most car accident attorneys do offer free consultations – so take advantage of this opportunity to have your case reviewed, and your questions answered, at no charge.
What you need to know about cerebral accidents and failure to diagnose stroke cases
If a doctor said that you or a loved one experienced a cerebrovascular accident, you might be confused.
It’s very possible that you weren’t in an accident – the kind you usually think of, anyway – at all. No car crash, no workplace injury, no fall. Just sudden and worrying symptoms that had your family rushing to the emergency room.
“Cerebrovascular accident” is a medical term for what’s more commonly called a stroke. And while it may not be the type of accident that first comes to your mind, this serious health condition may have more in common with crashes, falls, and other severe mishaps than you would think.
The vast majority – up to 90 percent – of all strokes are preventable.
Last month, medical journal The Lancet published new research into stroke risk factors. What researchers found is that a group of 10 risk factors that can be changed contributed to 90 percent of strokes studied worldwide.
You can’t change your genetics, your gender, your race, or your age. But you can change the factors that are among the biggest culprits in causing strokes, according to researchers. You can increase your physical activity. You can take steps to manage your blood pressure.
When it comes to stroke prevention, knowledge is power. But what if your doctor is negligently failing to monitor your health conditions, leaving you at risk of an avoidable and devastating medical emergency?
Can Accident Injuries Cause Strokes?
For some patients, a collision or other kind of accident caused the cerebrovascular accident. This is particularly common among younger stroke victims, especially those under age 50.
A stroke can happen without a physical trauma triggering it. But sustaining an injury to the head or neck can increase your stroke risk, according to the American Academy of Neurology.
It’s possible, National Public Radio (NPR) reported, that a head injury can damage “blood vessels in the brain, making them more vulnerable” to developing the clots that cause most strokes.
Personal Injury Claims for Cerebrovascular Accidents
Here’s another factor strokes and accidents have in common: if someone else’s negligence caused the event, you have the legal right to holdthat person responsible.
Of course, if your stroke followed a severe head injury that resulted from a motor vehicle accident or a slip and fall, you could have a case against the person who caused that incident.
But there’s also a type of medical malpractice claim you should look into when a stroke has affected your family’s life. In the legal world, we call these failure to diagnose stroke claims.
Often, failure to diagnose stroke cases result from emergency room doctors dismissing patients who have stroke symptoms. They might be negligent by:
Failing to perform tests
Failing to correctly interpret the results
Carelessly sending the patient home without offering help
And, because early treatment is so important for preventing stroke damage, even a minor delay can have devastating consequences.
Whether you were the victim of a cerebrovascular accident yourself or you’re caring for a loved one left disabled by a stroke, the situation can be difficult in many ways. If you’re wondering whether a negligent doctor made the damage from the stroke worse, let us help. We’ll go over your family’s legal options and help you find out the truth about what caused the stroke.
SJ Magazine recognized both C&H partners with the publication’s annual Top Attorneys award.
In its August 2016 issue, SJ Magazine released its annual Top Attorneys list, recognizing the most successful lawyers in the region. Our firm is pleased to announce that both Console & Hollawell partners landed coveted spots on the awards list.
Richard P. Console, Jr., law firm founder and managing partner, earned recognition as a Top Attorney in the automotive law category. Mr. Console attained his license to practice law in Pennsylvania in 1992 and New Jersey in 1993. He first founded the law firm in 1994.
Richard J. Hollawell, partner, received the award in the category of trial law. Mr. Hollawell, who earned his law degree in 2001from Widener University School of Law, joined the firm in 2007. He has since fought for a number of our clients in court to get them maximum compensation.
About SJ Magazine
For 16 years, SJ Magazine has been more than a local publication – it’s been a resource that residents across South Jersey can turn to when they need guidance.
In addition to covering local news, SJ Magazine has cultivated a devoted following for its annual features like Top Docs, Best of SJ, and – of course – Top Attorneys.
The Top Attorneys Award
What makes someone a “top attorney,” exactly? In its annual contest, SJ Magazine looks for lawyers who have “made an impressive and lasting mark in the legal field” and “are committed to upholding both the spirit and letter of the law.”
To win SJ Magazine’s Top Attorneys award, a lawyer must be nominated by his or her peers in the legal industry. Only lawyers are eligible to nominate other attorneys, so a win in this contest illustrates the reputation a lawyer has among fellow attorneys.
It’s truly an honor to be recognized by our peers throughout the South Jersey region.
To learn more about the awards our attorneys have won, click here. If you’re ready to find out how we can put our reputation and experience to work making your claim a success, contact us.
On Friday, 42 concertgoers suffered injuries – some serious – at Camden’s BB&T Pavilion. Now the injured need answers.
When fans across South Jersey and beyond bought tickets to see Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa this past Friday, they had no idea they’d also witness a shocking accident.
A railing at the BB&T Pavilion on the Camden Waterfront collapsed during the show. It sent dozens of concertgoers toppling from the edge of the lawn onto the cement walkways below – and, in many cases, into each other.
If you haven’t seen the videos on NBC News yet, it’s horrifying to watch the cascade of bodies suddenly tumbling down. The drop was reported to be “several feet” – and with so many people falling onto each other, the initial impact with the concrete wasn’t the only way the victims got hurt.
While some of those hurt suffered just bumps and bruises, dozens sustained broken bones and needed to go to the hospital. One person sustained “critical injuries” and was rushed to nearby Cooper Trauma Center. This victim was hospitalized overnight and released Saturday, according to reports.
Our thoughts are with all of the fans who got hurt in what must have been a terrifying experience. We wish them all a speedy – and more importantly, a complete – recovery.
Legal Aspects of Concert Venue Accidents
When you visit a massive entertainment venue like the 25,000-seat BB&T Pavilion (formerly Susquehanna Bank Center), you don’t expect railings to collapse and dozens of people to plunge 10 feet to land on hard concrete.
You shouldn’t have to worry about accidents like this happening – ruining not just your concert experience but your life.
An accident like this isn’t something that just happens. Something caused it to occur – and often, that something is negligence.
Whether a venue fails to maintain the property safely or fails to provide security to prevent dangers caused by crowds, negligence puts people’s health – and perhaps even their lives – at risk.
Those who were hurt in this accident need to know that they have legal rights, including:
The right to hold the property owner legally responsible for the accident
The right to seek compensation for their injuries and other damages resulting from the accident
The right to find out the truth about how and why this occurred
If you’re not sure how to protect your legal rights and begin pursuing a claim for your concert railing collapse injury, it’s a good idea to reach out to a New Jersey personal injury lawyer with experience handling Camden cases.
We can help you understand what rights you have, what the legal process entails, and what you have to do to pursue a claim. (And most of us offer free consultations, so the discussion won’t cost you anything.)
Preventing Accidents at Entertainment Venues
With more than 40 people falling 10 feet onto hard cement – and each other – it’s fortunate that the injuries didn’t turn out to be even more serious.The railing that collapsed had connected support poles to support walls, NBC News reported, so it would have seemed sturdy. But ultimately, it wasn’t sturdy enough.
Though the rest of Friday’s concert was canceled, other weekend concerts at the venue continued on schedule. If you are attending a show at BB&T Pavilion, please use caution. Live Nation and local authorities are still investigating the cause of the accident. Until it’s clear what happened and why, there’s no telling whether concertgoers could still be in danger of another railing collapsing elsewhere on the premises.
This is everything you need to know about no-fault accident laws and what they mean for your case.
If you live in a state like New Jersey or Pennsylvania, you’re familiar with the words “no-fault” – but you might not know what they really mean. Most people don’t – unless they’ve had to deal with an accident in the past.
Our experienced personal injury lawyers break down for you:
What no-fault means
Which accidents are considered no-fault
How no-fault laws affect youafter an accident
What No-Fault Really Means
No-fault doesn’t literally mean that there’s no one at fault for the accident. What no-fault laws actually refer to isn’t the cause of the accident. Instead, it’s the responsibility of paying for the damage.
In New Jersey and Pennsylvania, no-fault laws mean that in a car accident, the auto insurance company of each person involved has to pay for the medical bills that arise.
You still go through your own auto insurance even if:
Your accident wasn’t your fault
You were a passenger, not a driver
Your car wasn’t even involved
You were walking at the time of the crash
To pay for these medical benefits, your NJ or PA auto insurance policy includes a portion of coverage called Personal Injury Protection, or PIP.
The benefit of no-fault laws is that you don’t need to wait for the insurance companies to sort out which driver was at fault for your bills to get paid.
But there are drawbacks, too – including extra financial costs to you.
Which Accidents Are No-Fault?
No-fault laws apply to motor vehicle accidents. These include:
However, no-fault laws don’t apply to accidents that don’t involve motor vehicles. If you fall on a business property or a private residence, get bitten by a dog, or are hurt by a negligent doctor, these aren’t no-fault accidents.
How Do No-Fault Laws Affect You?
If you get hurt in a motor vehicle accident in a no-fault state, the biggest way no-fault laws will affect you is when you go to get medical care.
Even if the other driver is completely at fault for the crash, your insurance company is the one required to pay the medical bills. Andsince your insurance coverage includes a deductible and copays, you’re responsible for some of the expense.
Your Responsibilities Under No-Fault Laws
When you set up your auto insurance policy, you make decisions about your coverage.
One of these decisions is what you want your deductible to be. The deductible is the amount of money you have to pay before your auto insurance company begins paying toward your medical benefits.
You can save money on your premiums by choosing a higher deductible. But if you get into an accident, you’ll end up paying more.
Copays are different from deductibles. Instead of paying them upfront, you pay them as your treatment progresses, in combination with what your auto insurer pays.
You have to pay 20 percent of the first $5,000 of medical bills you incur because of the accident, minus the money you already paid as your deductible.
Once you hit this out-of-pocket amount, you are no longer responsible for additional medical bills related to the accident. The insurance company pays the remaining bills, up to the level of Personal Injury Protection you selected on your policy.
So, if you chose to purchase low levels of PIP to save money on insurance, you will have to pay any bills that remain once the costs exceed your PIP coverage limits.
If your deductible is low – $250 – then you will have to pay $1,200 toward your medical care.
But if you chose a high deductible like $2,500, you’re looking at a cost of $3,000 by the time you finish making your copays.
Paying for No-Fault Insurance
Even before you get into an accident, you’re paying more for insurance in a no-fault state.
Insurance premiums are consistently higher in no-fault states, according to research organization RAND Corporation. That’s because you’re paying for PIP coverage that insurance policies in other states don’t include.
Why Fault Matters in an Accident – Even in No-Fault States
Just because no-fault laws determine who pays for your medical benefits doesn’t mean that fault is irrelevant. Who caused the accident is still very important when it comes to pursuing a personal injury claim.
This means that you’ll need someone able to investigate the accident for you – and to prove who’s really at fault. Otherwise, you could end up with nothing.
If you have additional questions about no-fault laws and how they will affect your NJ or PA claim, give Console & Hollawell a call today at (856) 778-5500.
Most accidents result from negligence – but who’s at fault isn’t always clear right away. Find out some examples of preventable accidents and what to do if you think your injury was avoidable.
How many times have you heard the phrase, “just an accident”?
The words often imply that no one is at fault. No one meant for it to happen. It’s just an accident.
But when that accident has changed your life, that phrase just an accident isn’t good enough. A crash that takes a loved one’s life, a medical mistake that leaves you permanently disable
d, a workplace mishap that ends your career – how can you shrug off a tragedy like this as just an accident?
In our firm’s nearly 22 years of experience practicing law, one thing our attorneys have found is that many accidents are avoidable. The cause isn’t always easy to identify, but that doesn’t mean no one is at fault.
What Kinds of Accidents Are Preventable?
Accidents of all kinds could be avoided if only the people who cause them acted with caution.
Motor Vehicle Collisions
Auto accidents, for example, often result from drivers breaking traffic safety laws – speeding, driving while distracted, driving while impaired.
Some car crashes result from vehicle defects, but even these are preventable. The manufacturer of the cars or the parts used in them must be sure of the quality of the parts and the installation.
Medical mistakes can be avoided when doctors and healthcare staff communicate clearly and medical facilities keep organized and follow safety protocols.
Dog bites don’t have to happen – not when a dog’s owner keeps it well-trained or safely restrained.
If property owners keep their homes, stores, restaurants, parking lots, offices, or other premises free of safety hazards, accidents like slip and falls are avoidable. This requires planning, consistent effort, and attention to detail.
In a case our firm recently handled, a child picked up a stick and threw it, striking another child in the eye. Was this accident preventable? As it turns out, yes – and several parties could have done their part to avoid it.
Of course, the child have avoided throwing the stick in the first place. But the property owner and her landscaping company could have prevented the accident, too, had they only not negligently left a pile of yard debris curbside – in violation of a town ordinance – for more than a month.
If someone tries to tell you that your injury was “just an accident” and you’re not content with that explanation, you don’t have to go along with the theory. An attorney can dig deeper to find out the truth of who and what led to your injuries.
Why Fault Matters
Figuring out who or what is at fault for an accident is more than playing the blame game. It can have a direct effect on the future – not only yours, but others’. For one thing, you need to identify who’s at fault for the accident so you can get the compensation you deserve. Also, understanding what happened can help others avoid similar accidents in the future.
Fault in Personal Injury Claims
Who caused the accident – and how they did so – are central questions in a personal injury claim. The only way a victim can get compensation is by pursuing a case against the person who caused the accident.
If there was no other party at fault – which sometimes happens when a correctly performed medical procedure brings about a bad outcome or when a shopper falls in a store, but no safety hazard caused the fall – then there’s no case.
So, whether the accident was avoidable and how the defendant failed to avoid it matters. Insurance companies and whole teams of defense lawyers often try to get out of paying for claims by denying responsibility. They sometimes blame the victims in their efforts to avoid the financial cost of paying the claim – no matter how legitimate the case is or how absurd the victim-blaming may be.
Learning from Accidental Mistakes
Whether because they honestly don’t want another person to get hurt or just because they don’t want to be the target of anotherlawsuit, the defendant of a personal injury case may realize the behavior that caused this whole ordeal needs to change.
That can mean implementing policies and procedures to make the environment safer. It may mean paying more attention behind the wheel or double-checking hospital records before administering medications or performing procedures.
How to Avoid Accidents
We can all take steps to make the world around us safer.
Preventing Motor Vehicle Accidents
When you’re traveling, always be alert to your surroundings – whether you’re being the wheel or on foot.
Motorists should follow speed limits, road signs, and traffic safety laws at all times.
Pedestrians should use caution when crossing the street, choosing to cross at corners and in crosswalks and avoid crossing against traffic lights.
Cyclists should use bike lanes whenever possible and observe the rules of the road just like they would behind the wheel.
Sharing the road safely is everyone’s responsibility – and if everyone made safety their top priority, rather than getting where we’re going faster, our streets could be a lot less dangerous.
Avoiding Injuries Due to Property Hazards
The best way to avoid an injury caused by a property hazard is to make sure there are no property hazards to pose a danger to visitors or workers.
Yes, this is easier said than done. Yes, spills happen. Inclement weather leads to slippery conditions on sidewalks and in entryways. Potholes develop in parking lots. But the property owner has the ability – in fact, the responsibility – to do something about these dangers before they hurt someone.
Keeping a property well-maintained is a great first step to preventing accidents from happening there. So is careful monitoring of the premises for any condition that could become dangerous. And when a potential risk does develop, having a strategy in place to address it promptly can help property owners act fast to block off the hazard and warn visitors of the danger.
How to Handle an Accident That Was Preventable
Just because accidents are avoidable doesn’t always mean that you personally are able to prevent them. You can’t control the often careless actions of others around you. Often, the people who get hurt in an accident are the ones who weren’t doing anything wrong.
If you got hurt in a preventable incident, don’t dismiss it as “just an accident.” You know better. Someone or something caused this injury, and you owe it to yourself – not to mention others who could fall victim to the same dangers – to find out how.
C&H founder lands a coveted spot on a global list of legal leaders.
Console & Hollawell is honored to announce that our own Richard P. Console, Jr., founder and managing partner, has been recognized in Wealth & Finance International’s 2016 Legal 100 Awards.
Wealth & Finance International Magazine
Wealth & Finance International is an England- and Wales-based online and print magazine with a global readership of more than 130,000 people. The magazine’s monthly issues are dedicated to the industry needs of private and institutional investors and fund managers. However, Wealth & Finance INTL is also known for the prestigious awards lists the magazine publishes annually.
In addition to the Legal 100 Awards, Wealth & Finance INTL presents deserving recipients with the publication’s acknowledgements, including:
Wealth & Money Management Awards
Alternative Investment Awards
Women in Wealth Awards.
What Are the Legal 100 Awards?
The Wealth & Finance International’s 2016 Legal 100 Awards honor recipients across the legal industry, from small single-attorney firms to massive global firms, as well as bar associations. The magazine’s merit-based awards aim to “consider every success” and takes into account candidates’ “innovation, exceptional client service, expertise, and professional acumen” throughout the decision-making process.
What the Award Means to Us
Naturally, the whole Console & Hollawell team is always thrilled when our attorneys receive an award. In this case, we’re particularly pleased that our work has attracted global attention.
Though C&H is a small business, we always strive to combine the personal attention of a small firm with the resources and experience you would expect from a large national or international firm. We’re grateful to have the opportunity to make a difference in the legal industry as a whole – and, more importantly, in the lives of the individual clients we serve.
Find out everything you need to know about dealing with a work injury, from when to report it to when you need a workers’ comp attorney.
If you’ve just been in a work accident for the first time, you might feel disoriented – not only by the injuries yousuffered, but by the confusing workers’ compensation process. You’re not sure what you’re supposed to do next.
Motor vehicle collisions that happen while performing work duties
Being struck by a falling object
Developing injuries from repetitive stress motions
How the accident actually happened matters less than where and when the accident occurred. Workers’ compensation insurance in New Jersey covers employees as long as the injury “is arising out of and in the course of the employment,” reported the New Jersey Division of Risk Management. If you were on the clock or working for your employer at the time of the accident, then state law requires that your injury be covered by workers’ compensation insurance.
When to Report the Accident
You should always report a work accident immediately.
Don’t be afraid that you will get in trouble. Don’t think that you need to wait to see how serious the injury is or take the time to look for evidence that your employer is the one in the wrong.
Just report it.
If it turns out that you’re not seriously hurt, you’ve lost nothing by reporting an accident right away. If anything, your report could encourage your employer to take additional safety precautions – so that there won’t be a more serious injury in the future.
But if you are badly hurt, you’ll be glad that you made the report. You can start accessing workers’ compensation benefits sooner rather than later. You’re not giving the insurance carrier an easy way to deny you benefits, because you documented the accident when it happened.
So, if you got hurt at work and you haven’t reported the injury yet, don’t wait any longer. Make the report now.
When to See a Doctor
The sooner you see a doctor after a work injury, the better. Sure, your life is busy, and there are plenty of other ways you would rather spend your time. But trying to press on when you have a serious injury isn’t tough or noble – it’s dangerous. You could be making the damage worse by waiting.
Plus, the longer you wait, the more difficult it may become to get the medical benefits you’re entitled to. If you don’t see a doctor for a week after the accident, the workers’ comp insurance carrier might try to argue that you weren’t really injured in the work accident, but instead, in an event that occurred outside of work.
There really is no reason to wait. Workers’ comp insurance covers medical treatments for your injuries. Tests, physical therapy, and even surgeries are all covered.
When to Hire a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
Have your injuries turned out to be something serious? Did they cause additional problems with any pre-existing injuries you might have? Has the workers’ comp insurance company denied your claim or given you a hard time? Then it’s time to call a workers’ comp lawyer.
Work accident victims contact attorneys for all kinds of reasons. Sometimes they realize they just aren’t being offered the money they deserve. Other times, it takes missing a good deal of time at work to realize how serious the situation is.
Maybe their employer makes them fear for their job. Or they realize that they might have a case against someone else who contributed to the accident besides their employer – but they will need help to sort out the workers’ comp claim from what we call a third-party case.
Basically, if you’re starting to wonder if you need a workers’ comp lawyer, that’s a sign that you should – at the very least – call an attorney for a free consultation.
Don’t Fall for Workers’ Comp Myths
Do you believe that your employer must be completely at fault for the accident for you to have benefits? What about the idea that your employer can fire you for using workers’ comp benefits? Or the misconception that you have all the time in the world to pursue a claim?
When you don’t know the facts, it’s easy to make a mistake that could hurt your future. The myths are just that – myths. But here’s the truth:
You Can Have a Workers’ Comp Claim Even If You’re at Fault for the Accident
You don’t need to be able to prove that your employer is at fault for your injury. In fact, your employer’s workers’ comp coverage applies even if you’re the one at fault.
So don’t let an employer or a coworker talk you out of getting benefits because you’re afraid the employer will try to blame you. That tactic won’t stop you from getting the help you deserve after a work injury.
You Can’t Get Fired for Pursuing a Workers’ Comp Case
At least, not legally. NJ prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for using their workers’ compensation benefits.
Your employer probably doesn’t want to get in legal trouble. But if you’re still worried about losing your job because you pursue a case, keep in mind that having a workers’ compensation attorney on your side can help you make sure your case goes smoothly – and help you understand your legal options if it doesn’t.
There Are Time Limits on Your Claim
Our attorneys always recommend reporting work accidents right away – for more reasons than one. There are deadlines on workers’ comp cases.
First of all, if you make the mistake of not reporting the accident within the first 14 days, “no compensation shall be due until such notice is given or knowledge obtained,” the New Jersey Division of Risk Management reported.
And if you have to pursue a workers’ comp lawsuit or a third-party personal injury case against someone other than your employer, your rights here are limited, too. The statute of limitations for claims like these is typically just two years in NJ – and in some cases, even shorter.
The workers’ compensation claims process can be long and, at times, frustrating. If you need help figuring out what to do after a work accident, we’re here to answer your questions.
Find out everything you need to know about the benefits you’re entitled to after an accident.
If you had your way, this accident wouldn’t have happened in the first place. But now that it has, you need to know what benefits are available to help you get better and get your life back on track.
When you’re hurt in an accident, having medical benefits can make all the difference. You need this care to get better – and you need money to afford the care.
When a car accident occurs, you’re eligible for medical benefits through an auto insurance company.
What Medical Benefits Are Available?
Medical benefits through an auto insurance policy cover the cost of medical care, including:
Emergency room visits
You can use your medical benefits for inpatient care at hospitals and rehab facilities. Or for outpatient physical therapy and doctors’ appointments.
Unlike a health insurance company, your auto insurer can’t limit what doctors you can see or hospitals you can visit. But there are limits to how much care you can receive.
Your medical benefits come from your personal injury protection (PIP) coverage.
New Jersey auto insurance policies may have up to $250,000 of PIP coverage (or more), but some policies may have just $15,000 in coverage.
In Pennsylvania, PIP coverage can be as low as $5,000.
Medical Benefits in No-Fault States
When you’re in a car crash in New Jersey or Pennsylvania, it’s your own auto insurance policy that pays your medical benefits.
Why? Because NJ and PA are both no-fault states.
This doesn’t literally mean that no one is at fault for the accident. Of course someone was.
But no-fault laws mean that your own insurance company has to pay your auto accident-related medical bills regardless of who is at fault.
That’s true even if you weren’t driving – if you were a passenger or even a pedestrian struck by a car.
The Pros and Cons of No-Fault Insurance
The good thing about no-fault laws is that you don’t have to wait for the insurance companies to figure out who is at fault to get medical benefits. But there are definitely drawbacks.
For one thing, it’s frustrating that the bills fall on you when the other driver is at fault.
For another, your medical benefits aren’t free – you bear some of the financial responsibilities, too. (More about this later.)
And, of course, no-fault laws leave passengers and pedestrians who aren’t covered by their own auto insurance policy in a confusing position. Figuring out who pays for the medical bills in these cases can be complex.
The Health as Primary Option
There’s an exception to this law. If you make a certain choice setting up your auto insurance policy, you might have to go through your health insurance company instead of your auto insurance policy. This means your insurer will be able to restrict which doctors you can see – and you may end up paying more money out of pocket.
Wage Loss Payments
Did you know that your auto insurance policy might also include wage loss payments?
Many policyholders don’t. They often never know when they buy the insurance that they can upgrade their policies to provide a higher wage loss payment for very little added cost.
But even if you didn’t purchase extra wage loss coverage, you’re probably still entitled to at least some benefits – like $100 per week.
It may not sound like much when you’ve got bills to pay, but an extra $400 per month when you’re out of work can make a big difference.
The problem is that many policyholders don’t get these payments, because don’t know about the benefit. Even our injury attorneys have many run-ins over the years with insurance adjusters who tried to wriggle out of paying wage loss benefits.
Because we handle car accident cases every day, we know when the insurers are misrepresenting the facts. We know when they are unreasonably delaying payments. We know exactly what paperwork is required to process wage loss payments.
And, if adjusters continue to be uncooperative, we know to go over their heads. More than once, we have spoken toan adjuster’s supervisor to demand that they pay the benefits our clients deserve.
But accident victims who are trying to handle their own claims don’t know these things. And many of them, unfortunately, get taken advantage of by their own insurance company.
Getting your car fixed after an accident can be more complicated than you would expect. The process depends on whether you go through your own auto insurance or the policy of the other driver – assuming he or she is at fault.
Property Damage Benefits Through Your Own Insurer
Choosing to have your own insurer pay for the vehicle repairs often means you can get your car fixed sooner –a big deal if the damage is so bad that the care isn’t drivable in the meantime.
But there are disadvantages. You’ll have to pay a deductible of hundreds or even thousands of dollars out of pocket. You might get this money back, but there’s no guarantee – and even if you do, it could take some time.
And, depending on the insurance coverage you purchases, this might not even be an option for you. If you weren’t carrying collision coverage, going through the at-fault driver’s insurer or paying for the damage yourself could be your only options.
Getting Your Car Fixed Through the Other Driver’s Insurance Company
If you have the at-fault driver’s insurance company pay to fix your car, you won’t have a deductible to pay. But you should be prepared for a long wait.
The other insurance company won’t pay to fix your car unless it decides that its own policyholder is at fault – which isn’t something the insurer wants to admit.
Even if liability for the crash seems clear to you, your insurance company, and the police, the other driver’s insurance company will want to investigate. And that means you could be stuck with a damaged car, or without a drivable car at all, for some time.
What’s the Cost of Accident Benefits?
Isn’t there always a catch? Unfortunately, yes – these accident benefits aren’t just given to you.
Even though you already paid for the privilege of having coverage through your premiums, you’ll have to pay again in the form of deductibles and copays. When your own insurer pays for something – like medical care or vehicle repair – you have obligations, too.
Often, deductibles range from $250 to $2,500. Choosing higher deductibles can lower your premiums, but if you need to use the coverage, this choice could cost you. You may have different deductibles for property damage and medical benefits, so make sure you find out what you actually have to pay.
When it comes to medical care, you also have to make copays of 20 percent of the cost of treatment up to the first $5,000.
There are limits on how much you can be forced to pay. If you chose a $250 deductible, you could have to shell out up to $1,200 between the deductible and the copays. But if you went with a high deductible like $2,500, you could be looking at $3,000 that you – not your insurance company – must pay.
Compensation You Can Only Get by Pursuing a Personal Injury Claim
What about other damages, like the pain and suffering you endured because of the accident?
As significant as your pain is, this isn’t a benefit an insurer will give you. To get compensation for pain and suffering, you’ll need to pursue a personal injury claim.
Of course it’s helpful to have medical benefits, wage loss payments, and property damage coverage available to you from the start. But filing a personal injury claim is necessary for accident victims with serious injuries to be made whole again.
What About Benefits for Accidents that Don’t Involve a Car?
Not all serious injuries involve a motor vehicle. For accidents that instead occur on dangerous properties, you don’t have the accident benefits available from an auto insurance policy.
You may need to pursue a personal injury claim to have any hope of recovering some of the same damages that, for a car accident victim, would be covered automatically.
But you may still be entitled to some accident benefits. For example, some commercial property and homeowners’ insurance policies include a medical payments, or “med pay,” coverage that provides benefits no matter who is at fault for the injury.
Finding out what coverage is available and whether you’re eligible for med pay can be a challenge. It may take some investigation, not to mention some back-and-forth with the insurance company. That’s why it’s often a good idea to have a lawyer handling your case and helping you sort out questions about accident benefits.
When it comes to getting the accident benefits you deserve, knowing what you’re entitled to is everything. If you have questions about insurance benefits after an accident, give us a call at (856) 778-5500 for help understanding what’s covered.