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6 Benefits of Hiring an Injury Attorney After a Car Accident

It’s easy to underestimate the costs that injured parties incur in motor vehicle collisions. The economic impact of a car crash can be devastating, though, even with adequate health insurance and applicable auto coverage.

After all, medical bills and vehicle repairs are not the only expenses accident victims incur. Other calculable costs might include lost wages and benefits, loss of earning capacity, and home modifications.

In fact, it is not uncommon for such damages to amount to tens of thousands of dollars—or more. According to the National Safety Council, the average economic cost of sustaining a disabling injury in a motor vehicle collision in 2015 was $90,000.

 

6 Benefits of Hiring an Injury Attorney After a Car Accident

In 2015, the average cost of suffering a disabiling injury in a car accident was $90,000.

Accumulating nearly six figures in unanticipated expenses is enough to threaten anyone’s financial security. Fortunately, accident victims may be able to recover compensation for both the economic and non-economic damages they incur by filing a personal injury claim.

When so much is at stake, it is wise to seek professional guidance. Although you can opt to represent yourself during the claims process, there are several benefits of hiring a personal injury attorney for legal guidance. Here are just a few advantages of seeking legal counsel following an auto wreck:

1. Protecting Your Best Interests

The adjuster working for the car insurance company may seem friendly and compassionate, but his or her ultimate goal is in direct opposition with your own. Your lawyer, on the other hand, wants you to secure the largest settlement possible and will advocate for your rights every step of the way.

2. Focusing on Your Health

Building a strong personal injury claim is demanding. Claimants may need to gather medical records, obtain testimony from eyewitnesses, interview specialists and experts, secure official police reports, track current expenses, calculate future costs, and negotiate for a fair settlement.

Completing such tasks is exhausting even when you are in perfect health. By hiring an attorney, though, you can focus on recovering while someone else does all the work for you.

3. Calculating a Fair Settlement Amount

Researchers have determined that motor vehicle collisions cost the United States $871 billion annually; however, economic costs account for just $277 billion of that. Nearly $600 billion, on the other hand, can be attributed to non-economic damages like pain and suffering.

Based on these statistics alone, it is reasonable to assume a significant portion of your settlement will be non-economic. Calculating such costs can be challenging, though, especially if you do not have any experience in personal injury law. Fortunately, a seasoned attorney will know what kinds of damages should be part of the settlement negotiations and how to calculate a fair amount for each.

According to a study by the Insurance Research Council, car accident victims who had an attorney received 3.5 times more money on average compared to those who represented themselves.

4. Gathering Critical Evidence

When fault is unclear—or the opposing party disputes liability—there are certain kinds of evidence that will strengthen your claim. For example, testimony from an accident reconstruction expert could ultimately help you prove the defendant was liable for the crash. If you hire an experienced attorney, you will gain access to valuable legal resources, including specialists and professionals who can speak on various aspects of the case.

5. Negotiating with the Opposing Party

Insurance adjusters are incredibly skilled when it comes to negotiating, and they have countless strategies for getting claimants to accept less than they deserve. Lawyers also happen to be skilled negotiators, though, and they will not allow an insurance adjuster to intimidate their client.

6. Taking the Case to Trial

According to the American Bar Association, most personal injury claims are settled before reaching court; however, there is still a chance the case could make it to court. Hiring an attorney from the start will give you the confidence to proceed to trial if necessary.

Sustaining serious injuries in a motor vehicle collision is undoubtedly stressful. By hiring a personal injury lawyer, though, you can eliminate much of the stress that would otherwise accompany the claims process and focus solely on your health.

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Am I Liable If an Uninsured Contractor Is Injured on My Property?

Reviewing your homeowners insurance policy can serve as a reminder that you owe a duty of care to friends, social guests, and even door-to-door salesmen. This duty of care is the reason why your policy includes personal liability coverage; however, such coverage does not typically extend to contractors, who must carry their own insurance.

When a contractor does not have adequate bodily injury liability or workers’ compensation coverage, it is often the client who ends up paying the price. If an uninsured contractor is injured on your property, you could be financially responsible for the damages, including medical bills and lost wages.

You can avoid being on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars—or more—by hiring reputable construction teams. Unless you perform due diligence on every individual working under the general contractor, though, you are still vulnerable to financial risk.

When a contractor accepts a large job, they typically delegate some portion of it to a subcontractor. Subcontractors who are not covered under the general contractor’s insurance must purchase their own coverage.

If they fail to do so and an accident occurs on the job site, the homeowner could be liable for the damages. Thus, even when you hire a licensed and insured general contractor, you could end up in serious financial trouble should someone working under them get hurt.

Homeowners can protect themselves from liability by hiring only licensed contractors and confirming the extent of their insurance before the work actually begins. Every state has its own licensing requirements, but all of them have mandatory minimum requirements regarding liability and workers’ compensation coverage.

When you hire a licensed contractor, you may also have some protection under your homeowners insurance policy. For example, if it is a new company that’s still fairly small and they only have the minimum coverage, your own insurance provider might cover the difference; however, if you knowingly hire an unlicensed firm, your policy will not cover any damages that result from an accident on site.

How Common Are Construction Site Injuries?

Because of the dangerous nature of the work, injuries and fatalities are common in the construction industry. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 21 percent of the worker fatalities in private industry in 2016 were in construction.

 

Am I Liable If an Uninsured Contractor Is Injured on My Property?

More than 1 in 5 worker fatalities in 2016 were in construction.

Additionally, one in ten construction workers sustain injuries on the job every year. That means if more than a dozen people are working on your property for an extended period of time, it is highly likely that at least one of them will sustain an injury at some point.

When your contractor has adequate liability insurance, you do not have to worry about covering the costs that might result from such an accident. If the team you’ve hired does not have coverage, though, you might have to go so far as liquidating assets in order to cover the damages, which might include:

  • Hospital bills;
  • Rehabilitation costs;
  • Lost wages;
  • Loss of earning capacity;
  • Home care;
  • Pain and suffering; and
  • Loss of consortium.

How Can I Protect Myself?

If an uninsured contractor gets hurt at your home, the financial repercussions could be devastating. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to protect yourself before hiring someone to build or renovate a property. They include:

  • Asking for proof of licensure;
  • Confirming the license is still current;
  • Confirming proof of insurance; and
  • Confirming proof of coverage for any and all subcontractors.

Contractors that do not carry liability or workers’ compensation coverage have much lower costs than their properly licensed counterparts. This allows them to submit bids that are considerably lower than their competitors’ quotes.

Saving a bit of money might seem like a good idea at the start of a project, but if a catastrophic accident were to happen, it could end up costing a lot more in the long run. As a result, the potential risks of hiring an unlicensed contractor far outweigh the benefits.

 

 

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6 Deadliest Holidays for Drivers on U.S. Roads

Everyone loves roast turkey, brightly wrapped presents, and champagne toasts, but the best part of any holiday is spending time with loved ones. For a lot of families, that means traveling.

Because so many people hit the road for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve, accident rates spike around these days. Unfortunately, more congestion means more opportunities for collisions, and motorists who fail to exercise additional caution when driving in holiday traffic put everyone around them at risk of a catastrophic crash.

Experts estimate that driver error is at least partially responsible for more than 90 percent of auto wrecks. This is one of the main reasons why the number of motorists on the road correlates to the number of accidents that occur.

 

6 Deadliest Holidays for Drivers on U.S. Roads

Driver errors contribute to the vast majority of car accidents on holidays.

More drivers mean more errors, and at some point, one of those errors could have fatal consequences. Additionally, because some of the biggest family celebrations take place during the winter months, holiday travelers must often contend with foul weather and poor road conditions.

Read on to learn about some of the deadliest weekends for motorists on U.S. roads:

1. Memorial Day

The precise statistics vary from year to year, but in general, drivers are four times more likely to die in a collision over Memorial Day weekend than they are on a regular Saturday or Sunday. Between 2011 and 2015, there was an average of 312 fatal traffic crashes annually around this holiday.

2. Labor Day

Labor Day is another busy time for road travel. People all over the country use the three-day holiday to get in one last trip before summer ends. Researchers determined there was an average of 308 traffic fatalities every Labor Day weekend between 2011 and 2015.

3. Independence Day

Regardless of which day of the week July 4 is on, families enjoy spending it together. As a result, the roads are always more congested around Independence Day. During the same five-year period mentioned above, there was an average of 307 car wreck fatalities around July 4 annually.

4. Easter

Easter may have originally been a religious holiday, but employers all over the country often give their workers a three-day weekend for the occasion. Sadly, those who opt to spend the time off with loved ones are at risk of getting in a devastating accident en route.

5. Christmas

Christmas is one of the busiest travel times of the year. Experts estimate that more than 100 million Americans traveled between December 23, 2017 and January 1, 2018, which is roughly 30 percent of the population. Of those individuals, more than 97 million reached their destination via car.

6. New Year’s Eve

Families may not venture hundreds of miles from home to be with loved ones on New Year’s Eve, but everyone who does hit the road for a night out is at risk of getting into a collision with an impaired driver. The only foolproof way to avoid a drunk driving crash on New Year’s Eve is to stay home.

Ice and snow also pose serious hazards for motorists around Christmas and New Year’s Eve. If traveling to see family is part of your holiday tradition, try timing your trip so you avoid the worst of the traffic, as well as any foul weather.

Likewise, if you always host a big party on Memorial Day or the Fourth of July, make sure your guests all have a means of getting home safely. Otherwise, offer them a spare bed, couch, or air mattress on which to crash after the festivities. This will help reduce the number of impaired motorists on the roads and ensure your friends stay safe until they are well enough to drive home.

 

 

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Iowa’s Minimum Car Insurance Requirements

Iowa has thousands of miles of public roadways—many of them lined with corn on both sides—and more than two million licensed motorists. Although most of these drivers obey the local traffic laws most of the time, you cannot rely on everyone to operate their vehicle in a cautious and predictable manner.

At the end of the day, even the most conscientious motorists can end up in a catastrophic collision with a drunk, distracted, or reckless driver. In the state of Iowa alone, 331 people died in traffic crashes in 2017, and many more were hurt as the direct result of someone else’s negligence.

Recovering from serious accident injuries is not only physically demanding and emotionally draining, but it can also be financially devastating. Fortunately, individual motorists in the state of Iowa must purchase a certain amount of liability coverage, which ultimately serves to protect everyone on the roads.

Because Iowa is a tort state, those who cause collisions by driving in a negligent manner are financially liable for any damages that result. By naming these parties in a personal injury claim, accident victims can secure compensation for:

  • Medical bills and any subsequent physical therapy;
  • Lost income and benefits;
  • Loss of earning capacity;
  • Emotional distress;
  • Loss of consortium; and
  • Loss of enjoyment of life.

As long as the at-fault party has adequate liability coverage, his or her insurance provider should cover the above damages for any third-party claimants. If the negligent motorist is uninsured or underinsured, there may be other avenues of compensation for the accident victim to pursue; however, working with an auto insurance provider is typically the easiest way to secure funds following a car wreck.

To ensure people have access to the money they deserve, tort states have car insurance requirements for motorists who wish to register a vehicle. In Iowa, for example, these mandatory coverage amounts include:

  • At least $20,000 in bodily injury per person;
  • At least $40,000 in bodily injury per accident; and
  • At least $15,000 in property damage per accident.

 

Iowa's Minimum Car Insurance Requirements

All drivers in the state of Iowa are required to carry insurance coverage that meets the 20/40/15 minimum limits.

The state also urges motorists to purchase at least $20,000 in uninsured motorist bodily injury per person and at least $40,000 per incident, but you have the right to waive this coverage. If you were to get in a collision with an uninsured motorist, though, this kind of supplemental policy would essentially pay for itself.

Unfortunately, getting into such a crash is more likely than most drivers realize. According to the Insurance Information Institute, nearly 9 percent of the licensed motorists in Iowa were uninsured in 2015.

What Kinds of Factors Affect the Cost of Car Insurance in Iowa?

Most motorists who fail to obtain adequate liability coverage do so because of their financial limitations. There are a lot of factors that affect the cost of car insurance, and for some drivers, premiums can be fairly pricey because of their circumstances. Factors that affect rates include:

  • Your age, gender, and driving experience;
  • Your driving habits, including commute distance and frequency;
  • The make, model, year, and safety rating of your vehicle;
  • Your driving record;
  • Your marital status; and
  • The age and driving record of any other licensed motorists in the household who will be driving your vehicle.

Fortunately, there are ways to secure affordable car insurance in Iowa, even if one or more of the above factors is working against you. For example, major insurance providers often offer discounts for policyholders who complete a defensive driving course or install a tracking device in their vehicle that will record their driving habits. Shopping around can also yield reasonable rates, as can bundling all of your coverage—life, homeowners, and auto—by purchasing it from the same provider.

 

 

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Is Uninsured Motorist Coverage Required in Iowa?

Of the 50 states, 48 require motorists to purchase and maintain an active auto insurance policy to protect both themselves and those on the road around them. The precise mandatory coverage amounts vary by state, but they typically include both bodily injury liability and property damage liability.

In Iowa, for example, motorists must purchase at least $20,000 in bodily injury per person, $40,000 in bodily injury per crash, and $15,000 in property damage per incident. This coverage is designed to protect accident victims who incur damages in a collision for which they were not at fault.

 

Is Uninsured Motorist Coverage Required in Iowa?

All drivers in Iowa are required to carry auto insurance that meets the 20/40/15 minimum coverage limits.

Unfortunately, these mandatory minimum amounts may not be enough to cover all the damages that motorists and their passengers incur in a catastrophic wreck. In addition to the direct costs like damage to the vehicle, ambulance fees, and emergency room expenses, accident victims have to worry about indirect costs like missed work and—in cases involving debilitating injuries—loss of earning capacity. The lifetime costs of living with a spinal cord injury, for example, can amount to millions of dollars.

Motorists can protect themselves from financial devastation following a wreck by purchasing underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. This protection is designed to help policyholders handle costs that the liable party cannot.

In cases where the liable party cannot cover any costs whatsoever, uninsured motorist (UM) coverage would apply. A UM policy can also help if you are involved in a hit-and-run collision and thus do not know whom the at-fault driver is.

In the state of Iowa, auto insurance providers typically offer policyholders the same minimum UIM/UM coverage amounts as the mandatory liability requirements, or 20/40/15. Although you are not required to purchase a UIM/UM policy by law, you should consider doing so.

If you decide not to purchase uninsured motorist coverage, you have the right to waive it; however, you should add it to your policy as soon as you can afford to do so. If you were to get in a collision with an uninsured motorist, it would cost far more to cover the subsequent expenses out of pocket than to pay a monthly premium.

How Much Uninsured Motorist Coverage Should You Purchase?

Every collision is different, and there is no way to predict what kinds of damages you might incur in a future accident. When it comes to insurance, though, it is always wise to hope for the best but prepare for the worst. Thus, you should purchase as much UIM/UM coverage as you can reasonably afford.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, nearly 9 percent of all licensed drivers in the state of Iowa were uninsured in 2015. The precise figure might vary from year to year, but this percentage illustrates the fact that getting into a wreck with an uninsured motorist on the state’s roads is a very real possibility, making UM coverage a smart investment.

How Can You Keep the Cost of Coverage Down?

If you want to purchase an adequate UIM/UM policy but are concerned about a pricey premium, there are steps you can take to secure the most affordable auto insurance rates possible. For example, you can:

  • Take advantage of any applicable discounts that your provider offers;
  • Opt for a high deductible;
  • Purchase a vehicle with a high safety rating;
  • Maintain a clean driving record;
  • Seek quotes from multiple providers to find the best deal;
  • Bundle policies for homeowners and life insurance with your auto insurance;
  • Install a device that tracks driving habits in your vehicle; and
  • Complete an approved defensive driving course.

At the end of the day, a lot of factors go into calculating car insurance premiums. Although some of them are in your control, others are not. Fortunately, you can secure an affordable policy that includes both liability and uninsured motorist coverage by taking advantage of the influencers that are in your hands.

 

 

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