Jon Corra, Author at Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law, L.C.
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What You Need To Know About Medical Payments Coverage

When I was younger I always hated paying my insurance. The cost was always extremely high, and the people I interacted with were very rude. I always tried to get the bare minimum jan dilscoverage. It wasn’t until I was much older, and had spent some time working around personal injury attorneys, that I realized how wrong I was about insurance coverage. Though my car is 12 years old, paid for, and worth less than stock in Samsung, I still have full coverage on the car. I also carry high property damage coverage and high underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage. Though I’ve been proactive about my insurance, I’ve learned that it may not be enough. Recently I learned about Medical Payments coverage. It turns out that my current policy may still not be adequate.

Medical Payments coverage is a good supplement for many insurance policies because it is often affordable, and it can help pay for medical bills if you are injured in an accident. If you are hit by a driver with state minimum coverage, this could be even more beneficial because their insurance coverage likely won’t be enough to pay for your medical bills. It get’s better, though. Depending on your insurance provider, Medical Payments coverage may also cover the following:

  • Passengers in your car
  • Injuries sustained while you are walking or riding a bike
  • Prosthetics
  • If you’re injured as a passenger in another person’s car
  • Dental care
  • And more

In addition to providing coverage for medical bills, some Medical Payments coverage will also cover funeral costs. Once again, every provider is different, so it’s important to check your policy.

You may still be asking yourself if this is something you really need. Well, It can be helpful if you look at the numbers. If you are hit by a driver with perfect insurance coverage, then you are pretty lucky. However, the number of people who drive without insurance is staggering. It is as low as 4% in Maine and Massachusetts. However, that is much lower than the national average of 12% and far better than the worst state in the union, Oklahoma, at 26%. Nationally, there is a 1 in 8 chance that the person who hit you doesn’t have insurance.

Federal Help for DisabledSome may look at the numbers over the years and state that the average is trending downward. That’s true, but it’s not just uninsured motorists you have to worry about. Underinsured motorists are also an issue. There are a lot of cut-rate insurance providers currently. Many motorists will join these insurance providers because of cheap their coverage is, and how accessible they are for individuals with bad credit. In other words, there may be more people with insurance now then there was ten years ago, but many of these insured drivers have very little coverage.

If you’re intrigued by Medical Payments coverage, be sure to talk to your insurance provider about it. Most agents will agree that you want at least $25,000 worth of coverage. If you’ve been injured in an accident, call us today to learn more about the services we provide. Our consultation is free. Simply call 1-877-526-3457, If you can’t talk now, fill out this form so that we may call you at a better time.

 

 

Car Value Depreciation, and your Personal Injury Claim

When I was in college I drove a first generation off-red Dodge Neon. I loved the car. It was not the prettiest thing in the world, but it was fun to drive. As I owned this car during the height of the “Fast Furious” craze, I decorated it with neon lights, an aftermarket exhaust, and I even had a vanity plate that read “NeonJon.” The car was not without flaw. One day, on the way to my local mall, a lady hit me, and in the process killed NeonJon. So, it was time for a new car. The process of financing my first car took a lot longer than I expected. I eventually found a 2002 Kia Optima at a local dealer. I wasn’t in love with this car, but I was desperate, and it made a cool sound when I left the keys in the ignition. So, I bought it. In my haste to buy a new car I didn’t take the time to properly review the car’s actual value nor did I take the time to research the depreciation value. It turns out that this information was really important four months later when I totaled the car by hitting a tree on Valentine’s Day.

Like a good motorist, I called my insurance agent to let them know what was going on. A few weeks later I met with an accessor, and then the bad news came shortly after. My insurance provider, who was supposed to be on my side, would not cover the total cost of the vehicle. Further, I even purchased gap insurance through my lender, and that was not enough to cover the cost of the totaled Kia. I was lucky, though, I only had to pay $25 out of pocket to cover my car. Granted that was in 2006 dollars, and I was a poor college student, but still, I was lucky. This is not always the case. Most people won’t get away with paying fewer than $30 to cover the cost of their totaled car.

Here is a better example of how extreme this type of situation can be. Currently, the manufacturer on the market with the worst depreciation value is Nissan. There are several reasons that contribute to this, but one of the main factors is the number of cars that manufacturer makes. Nissan sells a lot of cars each year, and many of them are sold to fleets. This causes the value to depreciate quickly. Let’s say that in October of last year you purchased a new Nissan Rogue SL from your local dealer. Currently, the retail value of that car, per NADA, is $27,800. According to my local dealer, the price for an equivalent new model of this car (2017) is $33,835.  So, that car is worth $6,035 less than it was 6 months ago. Granted, in this example, you are buying this car with no money down, and no dealer or manufacturer incentives. While this is never recommended by lenders, many people still purchase vehicles this way.  If you total your vehicle, or if your hit by another motorist and the vehicle is a total loss, the insurance company is likely only going to pay you what the car is currently worth, or even less than that. Further, car financing is becoming unstable right now. More people are getting longer loans with higher interest rates than ever before. If you financed your Rouge at a high-interest rate for a long period of time, you could owe even more. Worst of all, you could be making payments on a car you don’t even own any longer.

So, what are you to do? One of the best things you can do is get GAP insurance on your car. While GAP may not cover the entire value of the car, in my situation listed above, the GAP insurance was the difference in me paying thousands for my totaled car, and just $25. Some lenders may require you to get GAP insurance when you finance the car. In this situation, it may be possible to finance the additional cost into your loan. However, not all lenders offer GAP. Your insurance provider may offer it to you when you register your new car.

Regardless of whether it’s your insurance company or the insurance company of the individual who hit your car, you don’t have to accept the offer that is made for the property damage. Do not cash the check until you are satisfied. Be sure to get your own estimates on the value of your car, and even get repair estimates. Some companies are quick to total a car, even when it is not beyond repair.

One of the smartest things you can do is to research the car you want to buy in detail before you sign the loan paperwork. You definitely don’t want to get upside down in a car loan. Try not to finance negative equity from a previous car. This can cause a lot of issues if you quickly total your new car. Also, look at residual values and see which cars depreciate the best. This is also true if you lease a car. You will likely get a better lease term if you choose a car with a high residual value. It’s also smart to put some money down on a car and finao make smart decisions and to be aware of what you’re getting yourself into with financing. Also, research your insurance company too. If you are hurt in an accident, be sure to give us a call to learn more about the services we provide. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you can’t talk now, fnce for a shorter term.

Buying a new car can be a lot of fun. However, it’s important till out this form so that we can call you at a better time.

April 2017 Golden Apple Award goes to a Yellowjacket

The April winner of the Jan Dils Attorneys at Law Golden Apple Award was a popular win among the student body. The children prepared signs and banners for the winner in advance of the Tuesday Morning Announcement. Jack Waugaman, a 7th-grade math teacher, was named the April 2017 winner. It didn’t take long to see why this win was so popular. His dedication goes far beyond the classroom. Mr. Waugman should really be awarded a medal for getting young people excited about math. However, it’s his passion for the subject that spills over to the students. We were told that Jack often drives his students to math competitions on his own so that they may compete. We also learned that one of his students will soon be competing at the national level.

Jack was nominated by the mother of a couple of former students. She stated that even though they are no longer in his class, Mr. Waugman still keeps in touch with them. We also learned from his nomination that he stays after school to help his students, and he even gives up his weekend sometimes to help them prepare for competition. Great work Mr. Waugman! Thanks for everything you do.

Taxes and Your Personal Injury Settlement

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. The holidays are over, spring just arrived, and a lot of us are preparing for tax season and all the pomp and circumstance that accompanies this time of year. I’m a simple fella from Parkersburg, West Virginia. It only takes me about 30 minutes to complete my tax return. As a single person with no kids, I keep my expectations low regarding returns. If I am lucky, I’ll have enough money in my refund to buy some new bedding and possibly get some new sconces for my bedroom. Not everyone has it as simple as I do. For instance, my sister once won a “Rock, Paper, Scissors Contest” sponsored by Anheuser-Busch. Yes, you read that correctly. The result of her “championship” was a free trip for two to Las Vegas for the national Rock Paper Scissor Championship Tournament. Once again, this is all real. It was on TV and everything. Between the flight, hotel, and other prizes, the trip was valued at over $4,000. Come tax time, my sister had to count this as income and pay taxes on the prize. Luckily for my sister, she didn’t have to pay too much on a $4,000 prize. However, if you are awarded something like a new car, or a fancy vacation, or really, most prizes valued over a specific amount, you must pay taxes on the prize. This is why so many people forfeit whatever base model car they win on “The Price is Right.” Recently, a friend of mine asked me if she would have to count her personal injury settlement as income the way prize winners do. I honestly didn’t know, so I thought I’d dive into this topic deeper.

I was hoping to find a simple yes or no answer when I started researching this topic. However, I realized I was dealing with both taxes and law, so I was a tad naïve to think anything would be simple. The quick answer no, you don’t have to pay income tax on your personal Injury settlement. So, you may be thinking, “are there exceptions to the rule? We’re dealing with the government, so, of course, there are exceptions.

The official statement from the IRS is as follows:

If you receive a settlement for personal physical injuries or physical sickness and did not take an itemized deduction for medical expenses related to the injury or sickness in prior years, the full amount is non-taxable. Do not include the settlement proceeds in your income.

(BUT)

If you receive a settlement for personal physical injuries or physical sickness, you must include in income that portion of the settlement that is for medical expenses you deducted in any prior year(s) to the extent the deduction(s) provided a tax benefit. If part of the proceeds is for medical expenses you paid in more than one year, you must allocate on a pro rata basis the part of the proceeds for medical expenses to each of the years you paid medical expenses. See Recoveries in Publication 525 for details on how to calculate the amount to report. The tax benefit amount should be reported as “Other Income” on line 21 of Form 1040. (read the entire IRS Publication here)

If you have received a settlement from a personal injury claim, and you’re not sure if you used any of your settlement for medical expenses, or if you just have general tax questions, it may be beneficial to consult an accountant. Keep in mind that many accountants focus on taxes just like we focus on Personal Injury Law. Another option is a step by step accounting program. Many of these pop up during tax season, and some offer live help either by text chat or video conference.

If you’d like to know more about the types of services we offer, or if you’d like to talk to someone about your personal injury claim, call us today for a FREE consultation. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you’re not available to chat now, fill out this form so that we may contact you at a later time.

Attorney Fee Misconceptions

It’s probably safe to say that filing for social security disability is one of the most difficult things you can do. It likely ranks up there with marriage and moving as the most stressful things a person may take on in their life. Unlike a move or getting married, there is a lot of uncertainty that comes with pursuing a claim for social security. This is especially true if an individual has filed a claim and can’t work because of their disability. You’re looking at months without an income, and you may be nervous about how you will pay your bills. We understand that difficulty. We’ve been representing clients for more than 20 years. And unfortunately, we have seen the wait for benefits increase.

As a law firm, we work hard to get our clients their benefits as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, we can’t speed up the process. It’s beyond our control. However, since our compensation is based on back pay, some people assume that we will drag a case out to make more money. That’s not true. In all honestly, it makes a lot more sense for us to get our clients approved as quickly as possible. Let’s look at a few reasons why it makes no sense for us to wait.

  1. Our fee is a contingency fee. Simply, a contingency fee means that we only win if you get approved. So, the quicker we get a client of ours approved, the quicker we get paid. However, if we are not successful in your case, we don’t charge any attorney fees. So, if we aren’t successful, we will lose money on your case.
  2. There is a cap on the amount we can receive. For social security, the cap is 25% or $6,000 for cases at the administrative level. (We receive the lesser amount of the two.) So, in other words, at a certain point, It would make no sense for us to make a case last longer. If we were to make a case last longer intentionally, it would be of no benefit to us. Most people don’t see the amount of work that actually goes into a case. Keep in mind, the longer a case goes on, the longer we have to pay employees to request records, review files, and manage cases. So, if you consider overhead, we actually have a lot invested in each case.
  3. In other fields, attorneys charge by the hour, and they charge a lot. If we were to charge by the hour for our cases, the amount would far exceed what we charge with our contingency fee. So, once again, it makes more sense for us to get our clients approved as quickly as possible.
  4. The big elephant in the room regarding a law firm purposely waiting for a client’s case to enhance their back pay is unethical. As a law firm, we are subject to review under the West Virginia state bar and ethics committee. If it were true that we were doing this, we would lose our law licenses.

When we went into business 20 years ago, there were countless areas in which we could practice. We chose to focus on social security because we believed that there were a lot of people who needed help getting approved. We are passionate about the law, and we work hard to help people get the benefits they deserve.

If you’d like to know more about our services, of if you’d like to ask us questions about becoming a client, call us today. Our number is 1-877-526-3457. If you can’t talk now, fill out this form, and we will call you at another time.

What is a Trial Work Period?

It’s safe to say that most people never think that they’re going to have to apply for social security disability. However, accidents happen, injuries occur, and plans eventually must change. But, what if you are granted benefits, but want to return to work? What if you try to go back, but find that you still aren’t physically able to work again? Well, the SSA has a program in place to protect your benefits while you attempt to return to work. This is referred to as a “Trial Work Period.” This time is essentially a nine-month period of grace in which any recipient can attempt to reenter the workforce.

It’s important to note that participation in this program is dependent upon a recipient reporting their work activity to the SSA. The program is a real positive for any recipient whose condition has improved enough for them to return to work. With the trial work period, you don’t risk your benefits. In other words, it’s a safe way to return to work. There is some responsibility associated with this program though. In addition to reporting your work activity, you must also report your income and any impairment related work expenses.

One important aspect of this program that many people don’t realize is that if you return to work, and the nine-month period expires, you may still receive your benefits if you don’t earn more than the Substantial Gainful Activity, or SGA amount. You may recall that to be eligible for disability benefits, a person must be unable to engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA). For 2017, the SGA per month of a non-blind person is $1,170. For instance, if you return to work, and stay after the 9-month period, but only make $1000 per month. You may still receive your benefits. Don’t forget though, on average, the SGA changes from year to year. It generally increases, but it’s always important to be aware of how it changes.

What if your conditions improve, you return to work for more than the 9-month period, but then your conditions get worse after a year? Well, that too may not a major issue. For five years after you return to work, if your conditions return or worsen, you may be eligible for “expedited reinstatement” if your benefits were terminated due to your work activity. In other words, your benefits may be reinstated quickly. Think of this as another safety net if you wish to return to the active work force.

We understand that a lot of people who are granted benefits want to return to work. However, make sure you understand the program, and report everything to the SSA properly. If you fail to report proper earnings, or if you don’t enroll in the program, but return to work, you might owe the SSA money. Also, though these programs are intended to benefit you, you must meet all SSA requirements to continue receiving disability benefits or ask for a reinstatement of benefits. These programs do not guarantee protection or reinstatement.

Several of our clients have consulted with us when returning to work, and we are always happy to help. If you’d like to learn more about becoming a client of ours, give us a call today for a free consultation. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you can’t talk now, fill out this form, and we will call at a more convenient time.

Criss Elementary Teacher Claims March 2017 Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law Golden Apple Award

On Tuesday, March 28th, 2017, team Jan Dils went to Criss Elementary to hand out the March Golden Apple Award. This award, like several over the past few years, was special because the teacher is set to retire at the end of the school year. This time the deserving educator was Ms. Kristi Miller of Criss Elementary. Ms. Miller has been a teacher for over 30 years, and in that time, she has touched many lives.

We will often state that the Golden Apple winner goes above and beyond, but this case, the phrase is especially true. Ms. Miller run several programs at the school, including Dr. Suess Day and Science Day. Some parents also noted her generosity, stating that she has even bought musical instruments for students. Over the summer Kristi keeps in touch with her students by sending them greeting cards.

When Ms. Miller’s name was announced, all of the students erupted with joy. As they exited the gymnasium every student stopped to look at her plaque and her new bracelet. Making the event more special was the presence of Ms. Miller’s family. It was nice to see her celebrate with them.

Every Golden Apple Award Winner is deserving, but it’s always special when the winner is retiring. Congrats to Kristi Miller for three decades of service, and for teaching countless young minds in that time. We wish you the best in retirement.

To nominate your favorite teacher, click here.

February 2017 Jan Dils Attorneys at Law Golden Apple Award Winner Selected

The February 2017 Jan Dils Golden Apple Award was awarded to Courtney Clark of Warren Local Schools. Clark is the band director for both Warren High School and Warren Middle School. Clark was praised for being dedicated to his student and his ability to teach new techniques to the band. In addition to music techniques, he also tries to teach his students compassion, inclusion, and respect and tries to make his students feel like they belong.

We congratulate Mr. Clark on his hard work. To nominate your favorite teacher for the Jan Dils Golden Apple Award, click the link: http://www.thenewscenter.tv/content/survey/3707336.html.

What You Need to Know About Rental Car Recalls

Last year I rented approximately 12 cars. This year I plan to rent just as many. I enjoy renting because there is far less wear and tear on my own car. I am also in the market for a new vehicle. So, renting allows me to do more than just test drive a car, I get to spend a few days with a potential car. Honestly, my joy of renting goes far beyond testing cars. When I pull up to my local Enterprise location I channel Ryan Bingham from the film “Up in the Air.” They sometimes allow me to choose my own car, and it feels almost Godlike. Maybe I take things a bit too far at the rental agency, but it’s one of my few joys in life. I recently found out some troubling news that made renting a little less majestic. Until the spring of last year, rental car companies did not have to abide by recall notices. In other words, they could rent cars to people that were possibly dangerous.

First the good news; it’s no longer allowed. It’s federal law now that a rental car company must fix any recalled car before it’s rented out to the public. Once again, until the late spring of 2016, it was common practice to rent defective cars to individuals. In the past, there were several cases of individuals dying as a result of renting a recalled car. However, the case that eventually led to the federal law occurred 10 years ago. In 2004 Raechel and Jacqueline Houck were killed when the cabin of their rented Chrysler PT Cruiser when it filled with the smoke. The driver was blinded by the smoke, lost control, crossed the median, and struck a semi truck. The parents of the victims sued Enterprise Rent-a-Car citing negligence. The PT Cruiser was involved in a recall one month prior to the rental. There was an issue with a leaky power steering hose that could result in a fire. That is what occurred with these two victims, and eventually, Enterprise admitted to their wrongdoing. In 2010 the parents were awarded $15 million dollars in damages.

If you’re reading this, you’ve likely dealt with a safety recall before. Most people know that the cost of these repairs are covered by the manufacturer. This includes the recall issued by Chrysler back in 2004 for the PT Cruiser. If that is the case, why didn’t Enterprise have the vehicle fixed? The following was originally published in a findlaw.com blog in 2010:

According to a sworn statement by Mark Matias, manager of Enterprise’s Northern California area, it was regular company procedure to go ahead and rent a recalled car, even before the repair work had been done. Matais said the known company policy was this, “you’ve got to keep booking because you don’t know when you are going to get a car back. But then, of course, you run short on vehicles, and if all you have are recalled vehicles on the lot, you rent them out. It was a given. The whole company did it.”

Matais concluded, “If a priority recall appears on the computer screen in the rental office, the employee is required to write the word ‘recall’ on a Post-it note and place it on the key in an area designated for non-rentals, but nothing prevents an employee from renting that vehicle.”

Twelve years later, thanks in part to efforts made by the parents of Raechel and Jacqueline Houck, it’s illegal for a rental company with more than 35 cars in their fleet to rent you a defective car. Unfortunately, it’s not illegal for a dealer to sell you a car with recall notices.

If you’ve been injured because of a defective vehicle, give us a call today for a free consultation and take some time to learn about the services we offer. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you can’t talk now, fill out this form, and we’ll call you at a better time.

January 2017 Golden Apple Award Winner Announced

In late January 2017, the PHS Fieldhouse was packed with students anticipating the next Jan Dils Attorneys Law Golden Apple Award. Since its inception more than a decade ago, Parkersburg High has only had one teacher claim the honor, and that occurred late in 2016. Repeat schools are nothing new to the award, but for an institution to have two winners so close together, they’d have to be stellar. That was the case when we announced Lori Zyla was the winner.

Golden Apple Award winners often wear multiple hats, and Zyla is no different. She is currently the Theater teacher and she is also the Speech and Debate Team coach. Both roles keep her busy long after the last school bell rings on Friday. Between Speech Tournaments, Theater productions and competitions, Mrs. Zyla goes above and beyond with her students.

It should come as no surprise that Lori was nominated by one of her students. Mrs. Zyla is an inspiration to her students and the entire school. This was obvious by the applause she received as her name was announced. It’s teachers like Mrs. Zyla that make us proud to sponsor the Golden Apple Award. Keep up the great work Lori!