Articles Posted in Personal Injury

Many larger employers may have Short Term and Long Term Disability benefits available if you can’t work. These are usually tied in with your rights under FMLA and Americans with Disability Act protection.  This is an important benefit if you have a prolonged non-work related medical condition, or if you are hurt at work, and the claim is denied by workers’ compensation.

stockfresh_4489991_work-accident_sizeS-300x208Short Term Disability benefits usually last between three and six months. Usually, you can’t collect Short Term Disability benefits if you are receiving workers’ compensation. People expect that you usually can’t “double-dip,” which means you won’t receive both a full comp check and a Long Term Disability benefit.  Therefore, Long Term Disability benefits typically, but not always, will be reduced by your workers’ compensation benefit.  However, it may be advisable to apply for LTD anyway. In some cases, you may only be entitled to a small monthly benefit in addition to workers’ compensation, sometimes more if you have paid for extra LTD coverage.  Your LTD may also provide additional benefits when you settle your workers’ compensation case. Keep in mind that usually, your employer won’t encourage you to apply for LTD while you are on worker’s compensation. Continue Reading

Many questions have arisen since the outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease among visitors to the North Carolina Mountain State Fair held at the NC Agriculture Center in Buncombe County. Some questions surrounding the outbreak are related to the health risks associated with the disease, and other questions concern legal issues. The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported there were 97 confirmed cases and one death associated with the outbreak at the fair as of October 1 and officials continue the investigation to determine the cause of the outbreak.  The outbreak legionnaires1-300x300has affected people in 16 North Carolina counties and 6 cases have been reported in South Carolina.  The highest number of cases have reported in Buncombe and Henderson counties.

I remember when Legionnaires’ disease first hit the news in 1976 when a large group of American Legion members staying in a hotel in Philadelphia contracted a mysterious disease. Over 180 persons contracted the condition, and 29 died. Ultimately, it was diagnosed as a type of pneumonia that was spread by contaminated water vapor in the hotel HVAC system. Dubbed “Legionnaire’s Disease,”  the illness occurs with some regularity.  It is not spread by person to person contact; instead the bacteria thrives in warm water and is spread by breathing in aerosolized water. The bacteria thrives at 95 degrees F and can be found in hot water tanks, cooling towers, and evaporative condensers of large air conditioning systems, and evaporative coolers, among other places.

Symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease include chills, cough, fever, shortness of breath, diarrhea, and vomiting. Persons experiencing those symptoms should contact their health care provider immediately and talk to them about Legionnaire’s disease. Urine testing can confirm the presence of legionella, the bacteria known to cause the diseases. Symptoms typically appear within 2-14 days after fair attendance, and the condition is typically treated with antibiotics.

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In the industry, these medical payments are called “Medpay.” Medpay is money you can get from your own insurance when you have been hurt in a car accident.  It doesn’t matter who was at fault for you to make a claim for this money, you could have been at fault, and you can still make a claim for it.  You will normally see this as an amount like $1,000.00 – $2,000.00, though some insurance companies have been known to sell people some for $10,000-50,000.  In order to get this money, propertydamagefront-300x199you have to send your carrier the bills you have received. They will then send you a check for the amount you owe or have paid, up to the amount of your coverage.  You do have to show them that you have gotten bills, meaning you can’t just call them and tell them you were hurt and they will send you a check.  Also, you can’t get the money to then get treatment; this aspect can be most frustrating as it can be hard to find the money to get the treatment you need first.  You have to have medical bills to obtain this money. Continue Reading

If the accident wasn’t my fault, why does my insurance have to pay? Why am I responsible?  We hear this all the time when clients first come to our office.  The simple answer is yes; you should give the hospital your health insurance information. It benefits you to file your health insurance for several reasons.  First of all, even if the hospital says they will file the at-fault-drivers car insurance, you still are the responsible party on that bill.  There is also a common misconception that car insurances will pay the bills as you get treatment.  This is simply not the case.  stockfresh_8864104_physiotherapist-fixing-knee-braces-on-womans-leg_sizeM-300x200The hospital or doctors offices are merely just waiting to get paid out of YOUR settlement, and until there’s a settlement, they come knocking at your door for the payment.  Because people involved in serious accidents may end up receiving treatment for months or years, these bills can languish and sometimes even go to collections. People often don’t even know the bills are owed or going to collections because they think the liability insurance pays immediately like health insurance.  But that is not the case.  You are the one responsible for those bills.

There are a few other reasons to make sure your providers have your health insurance information, beyond saving your credit.  There are laws about how hospitals can bill people, for these laws to be used to your advantage by your attorney at the end of the case, it is very important that you do a good job documenting that you at least advised the hospital that you had health insurance.  Even a simple note to yourself of when you gave them your health insurance information and who you spoke to.  If possible, even encourage them to make a copy of your card and document if they refuse.  This is helpful regardless of the type of insurance you have, private, Medicare or Medicaid.

A third reason to make sure to give providers your health insurance card is because the adjusters want you to.  If you give your health insurance information to the medical providers, your health insurance will pay a lower amount than is charged in other situations because they have agreements with providers to cut down the costs.  This, in turn, saves money for the insurance company when calculating your medical costs.  Adjusters will claim you have not “mitigated” your damages, meaning you have not done your best to cut down the medical treatment costs, and will then try and pay a smaller amount on a bill, even though, you of course still owe the WHOLE bill.  In these instances, it is very helpful for your attorney to have documentation of who you tried to give your health insurance information to.  It comes down to the simple fact that hospitals think they will get paid more by the car insurance company rather than your health insurance.  Don’t let them bully you, push them to file your health insurance.   How to best handle all your medical bills from a car wreck is very complex, but a skilled attorney can help you navigate these complicated issues. Please call us today if you have any questions.  There is no fee to discuss your injury case.

Road accident crash damaged car or wreck broken vehicle with used airbag

If you are a passenger in a car accident, it can be a confusing and stressful situation, especially if you are seriously hurt. You know the accident was not your fault, but whose insurance coverage is responsible for paying for your medical bills and other expenses you incur because of the crash?

Filing a Claim Against the Driver’s Insurance

The summer months are peak vacation time. This means that more tourists are in town, and more pedestrians and cyclists can be seen on crosswalks, sidewalks, and bike lanes. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, nearly 54% of car accidents happen during the spring and summer months. Pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities amount to about 16 percent of all traffic fatalities.

Some of the most catastrophic types of traffic accidents happen when a motorist hits a pedestrian or a bicycle. Without the protection of being in a car, a pedestrian or a cyclist can easily suffer devastating injuries in a crash.

Bike Traffic Laws

It’s all over the news; Bill Cosby was found guilty of sexual assault.  But many people might ask, why was he convicted this time and not last time? Last year Cosby was tried, and because the jury couldn’t reach a unanimous verdict, a mistrial was declared.  So what made the big difference this time? Same victim, same crime, same investigation. One key difference was the prosecution’s use of an expert witness.  What is an expert witness? How are they different than a normal witness? Expert witnesses are people with so much training and education in a specific field that they are qualified to be “experts” in a particular field.  This is important because it allows them to testify to their opinion, rather than just testifying to the facts like is required of normal witnesses.  The expert in the Cosby trial was Dr. Barbara Ziv, a psychiatrist who specialized in the treatment of sexual assault victims and offenders. While a sexual assault prosecutor in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, I had several opportunities to work with Dr. Ziv and call her as an expert witness.  In any case, where an expert is called, the expert’s schooling and work history is presented to the jury.  So, Dr. Ziv’s education in becoming a psychiatrist and her work history working in the field of sexual assault would have been analyzed in depth by both the prosecution and defense before the Judge in the case qualified her as an expert witness.  After this Dr. Ziv would have been allowed to testify to her opinion regarding the behavior of sexual assaults victims, combating many pre-conceived notions and myths held by jurors. This education of jurors from the witness stand likely played a critical part in their ultimately reaching the guilty verdict.

It’s not just in criminal cases that experts can mean the difference between success and failure.  In the right case, expert witnesses can and should be used in a personal injury case.  When people are seriously hurt in a car accident or a slip and fall, there are several experts that are used in court.  Calling an expert to testify to the cost of future medical care they will need or calling an expert to testify to the ramifications on a person’s ability to earn a living can have a huge impact on what a jury will award an injured person.  It is essential to have an attorney on your side who knows when an expert should be used, knows those best qualified in their fields, and knows how to present them to a jury.   Just like in the Cosby trial, use of an expert in a personal injury case can have a huge impact on the outcome of a case.  You need an attorney who understands that and who is skilled in their use of experts.  At Grimes Teich Anderson LLP we use expert witnesses when we believe it will help our clients’ case.

Senta Rhodes is a personal injury attorney at Grimes Teich Anderson LLP

As the parent of a teenager, you likely have concerns about their ability to operate a vehicle safely when you are not in the car. Teenagers often feel that they are ready for the freedom that having a drivers’ license can give them, but parents often worry that their kids do not have the maturity, skill, or experience to protect themselves and others from harm on the roads.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take as a parent to help your teen be a safer driver. Here are some suggestions:

Step #1: Set a good example.

For your teen to be a safe driver, you should make sure to set a good example of safe driving habits. A parent who drives aggressively or impatiently, tailgates, or speeds will have a harder time convincing their teen to practice patience behind the wheel. Be a good role model for your teen!

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As a parent, selecting the right car seat is one of the most important purchases you will make for your child. Choosing the right seat for your vehicle and your child’s age and size is critical to protecting them from harm in the event of a collision.

According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), child restraint systems saved the lives of 6,567 children from 1975-2002. A secure and properly installed car seat can make all the difference when it comes to protecting your child from harm when you are in a collision while they are in the vehicle.

The following are some helpful tips for selecting the right car seat for your child.

  1. Read Your Owner’s Manual

There are many different types of car seats on the market made by different manufacturers. Be sure to read your vehicle’s owner’s manual to find out how car seats may be installed. Some vehicles have lower anchors and tethers, while others require installation using the seat belt. Continue Reading

Consistent with the Trump administration’s overall effort to curb the growth of the federal government, the number of federal workplace safety inspectors from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has decreased over the past year. According to an NBC News report, OSHA has lost 40 inspectors through attrition since President Donald Trump took office – 4 percent of the total inspection force, with no new hires as of Oct. 2, 2017.

The decline in total inspectors to below 1,000 raises questions of how effectively the agency can inspect workplaces, enforce federal safety requirements, and reduce workplace accidents. While this decrease in federal bureaucracy extends across a number of federal agencies, the lack of OSHA inspectors could have a real impact on workplace safety, especially in more dangerous work environments like construction, manufacturing, and meatpacking.

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