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Do I have to pay taxes on a Personal Injury Settlement?

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. The holidays are over, spring’s not quite here, 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.

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.

Blind Spot Monitoring Leading the Blind

As I look back on 2016, I realize that it has been my busiest travel year by far. I know this because of the number of cars I have rented according to my phone’s Bluetooth pairings. My phone has been paired with more cars than Taylor Swift has been paired with bad guys.  Whether it was a trip for business or pleasure, I was in and out of a lot of different cars this year. I am also in the process of buying a new car, so I have test driven many cars, too. Not to mention all the fun I had looking at cars while attending auto shows. While I have never driven anything too exotic, I did get to drive and see a variety of cars. I drove everything in 2016 from a Ram 3500 dually, to a Hyundai Tucson that was clinging for every last ounce of life it may have had. Along the way, there were a few things that really stood out about these various vehicles.

One of the greatest things I noticed was that the Nissan Altima is a fuel miser. It’s a midsize sedan yet it managed almost 40 mpg on the highway when I drove it to Cleveland, Ohio. However, because it had a CVT transmission, there was a constant whine. It was most noticeable at low speeds. The whine was at its worst when I drove around downtown Cleveland. The city of Cleveland hadn’t experienced that much whining since The Indians lost the World Series.  I also drove a Jeep Cherokee. While it was not as efficient as the Altima, it was much more comfortable. Plus, it had heated seats and a heated steering wheel. However, at a toll booth, the emergency brake accidentally activated and I thought for sure the car had been hacked. Overall, my favorite car to drive was the Camry. I never thought I would say that, but it was very quick and fun.

The worst car driving experience for the thus year was when I took a Mazda 3 to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with my friend Shawn. I want to be very clear, the Mazda 3 is not a bad car. It just was not the car for us. We are both tall, large men and this compact car is not made for larger people. I hit my head every time I entered the vehicle, it was very underpowered, and during a very heavy rainstorm, I was certain we wouldn’t make it back home. While the overall experience with the tiny Mazda was not favorable, it did have one feature that no other car I drove this year had…Blind Spot Monitoring.

If you’ve never driven a car with Blind Spot Monitoring, it’s neat. A Bling Spot Monitoring system is self-explanatory. It’s a system that uses sensors to detect other cars or objects in your blind spots. For most vehicles, an icon in your side view mirrors will illuminate when there is an object in your blind spot. In the Mazda, the system is a little more advanced because it chimes if the driver activates a turn signal while something is in the blind spot. I will admit, this feature took some getting used to for me. By the end of my trip I was really starting to like the feature, and possibly getting too used to using it.

Earlier, I mentioned that I was in a rain storm so bad that I wasn’t positive that I’d make it back alive. Well, it was on the way home from Philadelphia, near the city of Baltimore, when the heavens opened up, and my little compact car didn’t want to play in the water. Trying to drive in the storm was nearly impossible. The rain was so strong that visibility was reduced to mere inches in front of the car. Looking back at the situation now, I can see that we should have simply pulled off the road. However, I was on an adrenaline high from meeting Television’s Stephen Amell at the Philadelphia Comic Con and was not about to sit idly by as other motorists beat me to the West Virginia line.

One thing I did not realize in advance was that the sensors for the Blind Spot Monitoring system don’t work well in adverse weather. For instance, if the sensors are dirty, covered in snow, or, ssi benefitsas in my situation, surrounded by torrential downpours, they won’t work as intended. I learned my lesson after I nearly sideswiped a Chevy Cobalt. It’s safe to say that most consumers are not aware of this issue. We tend to become too reliant on these driving aids. I think it’s safe to assume that few people under 25 have ever driven a car without ABS or traction control. While these aides to make driving easier and safer, they take control away from the driver. It’s possible that a driver may panic in a situation when a driving aid fails because they are not accustomed to driving without it.  Most manufacturers will list these limitations in the owner’s manual; but, let’s be honest…a lot of people don’t read those. This, however, may not be the biggest issue with driving aids.

If you’ve read my blogs in the past you’ll likely know that I have an obsession with cars. I stay up way past my bedtime most nights researching cars on YouTube and Autotrader. Because of this obsession, I have a bank of useless car knowledge. With that in mind, you can imagine my surprise when I learned how some cars are sold without all of the available safety features. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves yet though. All cars sold today now have airbags, seatbelts and the like. The issue is when cars are sold without electronic driver’s aids, but the owner believes that the car is equipped with the feature.

I am not trying to say that certain car companies are trying to do a bait and switch on consumers. There are few reasons why this disconnect can happen. One of the main reasons is that car companies have special names for each feature. Let’s use Subaru as an example. Subaru has one of the best Crash Avoidance Systems according to the IIHS. It’s called EyeSight. This feature is an automatic braking system for the car that works well. Subaru has something similar for the back of its cars which is similar but sold and packaged differently. It’s called the Reverse Autobrake. Here’s where things get tricky.

EyeSight is not standard on our example car, the Legacy, at any trim level. However, the Reverse Autobrake is standard on the most expensive trim levels, the 2.5i Limited, and the 3.6R Limited. To add EyeSight to these two trims, there is an additional cost of over $1,500. To complicate the matter, even if the car is not equipped with the EyeSight feature, it can still be marketed as auto/self-braking because of the rear system. This can easily create confusion for the customer. Consumers see that they have semi-autonomous features and they think that it’s for every aspect of the car. Some may say that it’s the responsibility of the consumer to make an educated decision about the car they are buying. I consider myself very educated when it comes to the automotive industry. However, I struggled to interpret Subaru’s website and available features.

As cars evolve, we need to make sure we have a better understanding of how their autonomous features work. Be sure to do your research, and ask lots of questions when you purchase your next car. However, if you’ve believed you were injured in an accident because of faulty driving aid, give us a call for a free consultation. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you aren’t available to talk now, fill out this form so that we may contact you at a better time.

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.

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.

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.

What You Need to Know About Punitive Damages

I was struggling to find something to write about today. I went to lunch to clear my mind. I drove to my closest McDonalds to fill up on some Chicken McNuggets and fries. As I was sitting in line, waiting to get my food, I knew what I was going to write about when I returned to the office.

The world was a much different place in 1992. The war in the Persian Gulf was behind us, the Summer Olympics were on their way to Barcelona (whatever happened to Dan vs. Dave,) and we were introduced to Crystal Pepsi. However, it was another beverage that made headlines in 1992. One hot cup of coffee would change the way a nation looked at lawsuits.

Even if you weren’t alive in 1992 you probably know something about the lawsuit involving McDonald’s and an older lady who spilled coffee on herself. It’s just another case of someone making millions because of their own negligence, right? Well, not exactly. What most people know is the bad early 90’s comedian version of that lawsuit. It’s far from the truth. There is a good chance that most of what you know about that case is wrong. However, Jay Leno and the writers of Jerry Seinfeld didn’t take the time to fact check the case. Laughs were more important.

In February 1992, Stella Liebeck spilled a cup of McDonald’s coffee onto herself and suffered 3rd-degree burns on 6% of her body. She was hospitalized for 8 days and had to receive skin grafts. The coffee Stella was served was 158 degrees. At the time, a Cincinnati burn center warned that anything over 130 degrees is dangerous.

Stella originally offered to settle the case for $20,000 to cover the cost of her medical bills. McDonald’s refused that offer, and the case went to trial. The jury awarded Liebeck $200,000 in compensatory damages. This amount was reduced to $160,000 because the jury found Liebeck 20 percent at fault in the spill. The jury also awarded Liebeck $2.7 million in punitive damages, which equals about two days of McDonalds’ coffee sales. Eventually, Ms. Liebeck settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.

Most people just assume the facts of that case were that someone spilled coffee on themselves and received millions of dollars. While we aren’t sure early how much she received, she did not ask for a million dollars originally. She was awarded punitive damages (which damage amount was altered, too). Punitive damages is the key thing to take away from this case. Do you know what punitive damages are? Honestly, until I worked for a law firm I did not know much about punitive damages. Think of them as a way to punish a person, group, or organization for negligence. According to the Cornell University School of Law, punitive damages are awarded in addition to actual damages in certain circumstances. Punitive damages are considered punishment and are awarded when the defendant’s behavior is found to be especially harmful. In this case, the punitive damages were awarded because McDonald’s showed negligence and had ignored hundreds of prior complaints about their coffee. Punitive damages are traditionally awarded in situations in which a person or organization acted with gross negligence or they had some sort of intentional misconduct.

A personal injury case, especially one that may involve punitive damages, can be difficult. The right attorney can help you navigate your way through the maze. Call us today for a FREE consultation. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you can’t talk now, fill out this form so that we may call you at a better time.

Springtime Driving Hazards

It’s March here in West Virginia, and that can only mean one thing; the weather will change practically on the hour. Many people only think that winter brings driving hazards, but that’s not true. The onset of spring can cause trouble for a lot of motorists too. The flowers may be in bloom, and the birds may be chirping, but that does not mean that the roads are any safer. Let’s look at some driving hazards motorists need to be aware of in spring.
1. Changing weather conditions. We had a very mild winter this year and I am the first to kick on a pair of shorts for the spring. However, weather patterns during this time of year fluctuate quite a bit. We can have bright sunshine one day with temperatures in the mid 60’s while the next day may see snow flurries and temperatures below freezing. These sudden changes can catch a lot of drivers off guard. Further, with the onset of more rain in the early spring, and continuing low temperatures, there is still a major possibility for black ice.
2. Keeping excess rain in mind, flooding of rural roadways is quite common in the spring. A flooded roadway is a danger for many reasons. Obviously, if the water is deep enough, your car can be carried away by the current, and a driver can easily be killed by this neglect. However, even a roadway that is barely covered by water can have many hidden dangers. There may be hidden debris in the road, large pot holes, or even missing pieces of the road.
3. Distracted driving is still a problem in the spring. You’ve likely heard countless times about how so many people use their phones while driving. However, warm weather brings out the old school distracted drivers too. As the weather becomes more pleasant, drivers are more apt to roll their windows down, turn their stereos up, and pay less attention to the road in front of them.
4. Animals don’t take the spring off. If you live here in West Virginia, you are used to deer terrorizing our roadways. Most people associate these animals with the fall, however, they are still a hazard. Other animals are also more prominent during the spring. Some animals may be coming out of hibernation during the spring, and thus are more active, and likely to be crossing the road during the spring.
5. After a long winter people are suffering from cabin fever and have a desire to leave their homes. This means people are more active on the roadways. People are more likely walking on the roads and engaging in outdoor activities. You may encounter more people riding bikes and motorcycles.
6. Poorly maintained vehicles. After a long winter, many people have worn out parts on their cars that need replacing. People may have windshield wipers that need repair, worn brakes, even bald tires. Too often a motorist will let these repairs go because they don’t associate spring with poor driving conditions.
7. Severe storms are more likely to occur between March and May. This means that there is a greater chance for fallen trees, downed power lines, and other road hazards. Further, driving in severe storms can be difficult due to visibility.
Take some time this year to make sure your car is in good driving condition and be sure to make yourself aware of these additional road hazards this spring. A little preventative maintenance can go a long way. Making a plan before you leave, and avoiding driving in adverse conditions can also be beneficial. If you are involved in an accident, be sure to give us a call to learn about the services we provide. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you can’t talk now, fill out this form to talk to one of our associates at a more convenient time.

10 Driving Tips for the Last Minute shopper

It’s Christmas Eve, a Saturday, and our economy is doing better than it has in years. If you need to shop today, you may be experiencing the perfect storm of shopping hazards. It’s no secret that conditions on the road get worse as the Christmas Holiday draws near. People are impatient, traffic is a mess, and no one wants to pay attention to their surroundings. However, with a little preparation, and a clear mind, you too can shop safely this weekend. Here are 10 Driving Tips for the Last-Minute Shopper.

  1. Plan your trip in advance. Too often people waste time and get distracted by heading into a shopping center without a plan. Any major shopping center will be congested this weekend. Try to plan where you want to go in advance. I made the mistake of trying to buy a gift on my lunch break yesterday. This was a huge mistake. I had no time to get what I need and I was almost involved in two accidents. Plan your route out before you go, and try to make use of surface roads or roadways that may be less congested. I personally have a special way of getting to my local mall that saves a lot of time and avoids dangerous intersections.
  2. Don’t drive distracted. This is a perfect rule for any time of year, but especially the holidays. You’re going to be experiencing much more congestion than you are used to. There will be a lot more opportunities to wreck. No one needs to see your Snapchat photo of what it’s like to sit in traffic. From a social media standpoint, that’s basic. We all know what it feels like to sit in traffic. From a safety standpoint, you’re acting in a dangerous way that may end with you getting a ticket.
  3. Lock your doors. This may seem obvious, but take a second to make sure your key fob is actually locking your doors. A few years ago, my key fob failed, but I was unaware of it for several weeks. I used it to lock and unlock my doors. But I would always wait until I was a few steps away from the car to hit the button. It turns out that my car was still honking when I pushed the button, but the doors were not locking. As soon as you get out of your car, hit your lock button, and make sure your doors are indeed locked.
  4. Don’t rely on your driving aids alone. Backup cameras are fun, but they are meant to aid you in your reversing. Be sure to use your mirrors and look around you as well when backing out of a parking lot. Also, if there is a bunch of salt on the road, your cameras will probably
  5. Don’t show off your purchases to potential thieves. My car is always a mess and I don’t utilize my storage space properly. I have a lot of stuff in the back seat taking up space and my trunk is full. So, most thigs that I buy are out in the open for everyone to see. Further, my car has very large non-tinted windows. It’s almost as bad as putting a sign on the roof that reads “please rob me.” It is easy for thieves to look in my car and see my purchases. So, you and I both need to see what we can do to hide our stuff. I’ve always been jealous of SUV owners because so many of these vehicles have shades for the back of the vehicle. Plus, many SUVs have dark tinted windows in the back. Between the dark tint and the cargo shade, it’s almost impossible to see in the back of most SUVs. There are other ways to hide your belongings, though. Hide things under the seat, make use of glove boxes, or even simply cover your items with a coat or tasteful sweater.
  6. Try not to leave your auto in one spot for too long. I love shopping at the Easton Town Center in Columbus. It’s not so much a mall as it is a shopping destination. It’s kind of like Jurassic World meets retail therapy. I’ve been there for more than 8 hours in one trip before. I’ve left my car in the same are for the entire time too. In fact, I walked back with my purchases to the car, put them inside and then left to go have dinner and watch a movie. If a thief was watching my activity, he/she would notice that my car had sat for a while, and it would be a good opportunity for them to break into my car. As a side note, I claim to have been cursed with amazing taste, so criminals definitely want my purchases.
  7. Good lighting is a must for perfect selfies, safe parking. I tend to park as far away from the entrance of stores as possible. It keeps my car from getting scratched up by irresponsible motorists and rogue shopping carts, but it usually means poor lighting. If you’re in an area with poor lighting you’re more likely going to be a target for someone to attack you or break into your car. Plus, the closer to the store you park, the more likely your car will be on a surveillance camera. Thieves are less likely to steal if there are witnesses or cameras nearby.
  8. Shopping Buddies make great friends and security guards. It’s no secret that shopping alone during the holidays can be difficult. It’s always a good idea to take someone with you. A lot of men will likely ignore this because they feel as if they are invincible. I am a large guy who is 6’4.” But if I am by myself and have to fight a group of people or one Rhonda Rousey, I am not going to win. Teamwork makes the dream work.
  9. Be aware of where you’re shopping. Once again, I travel to Columbus to shop often. I know which communities to avoid. In larger cities, there are places to shop that are in safer areas than others. Try to avoid areas with higher crime rates if possible.
  10. If you’re going to use Social Media, don’t tag your location. I am a social media guru. I love it all and know how to use it quite well. Let’s say we were all hanging out at a large shopping center like the Easton Town Center in Columbus. Well, if I get on Instagram, I can simply type Easton Town Center and Instagram will show me all the most recent photos taken there. As luck would have it, the third picture that showed up was a photo of someone’s vehicle, parked next to a sign for the garage they were in. Their caption said that they would return in an hour. So, in one post, I knew exactly where their vehicle would be, how long they’d be gone, the license number, and when I clicked on his account, I saw exactly what he looked like, so I would know if he was near his vehicle. Plus, he parked in an area where there would not be many witnesses. This is not smart. Do not geotag yourself.

Use these tips, common sense, and do a little planning this weekend and you’ll likely be fine. However, if you are involved in an accident, or if you’re injured, call us for a free consultation. Our Toll-Free number is 1-877-526-3457. If now isn’t a good time, fill out this form and we will be happy contact you at your desired time.

Parkersburg Car Wreck and Wrongful Death Attorney

Wrongful death lawsuits are never an easy ordeal – especially for those being sued in criminal or civil courts. Like the term suggests, wrongful death revolves around cases where someone has sadly passed away due to negligence on the part of another. This can include DWI, DUI, job-related mishaps, and especially automobile accidents. These situations are emotionally exhausting and leave permanent scars for family members that have to live with the loss of loved ones or friends. However, families do have a legal right to file wrongful death lawsuits to recover damages, restitution, and other finances for medical bills, burial costs, and other fees. No truer is this than for those that have lost loved ones due to medical malpractice and through no faults of their own.

Parkersburg Automobile Wreck Attorneys

With years of extensive legal experience, a Parkersburg car wreck lawyer specializes in all types of wrongful death cases. In fact, they have helped countless families secure restitution for loved ones that have passed away due to negligent or absent-minded drivers. The first step in any wrongful death case is to secure a complimentary consultation with a local attorney. This allows lawyers to do the following:

  • Listen carefully to your concerns and gather information about the situation or case.
  • Advise you on the best steps to take on filing wrongful death lawsuits against those responsible – this includes drivers, physicians (medical malpractice cases), employers (job-related accidents that resulted in death), and others.
  • Explain to you the legal processes, proceedings, and steps needed in taking your case to court – jury cases or judges.
  • Helping you gather all information and evidence that will strengthen your case and claim – coroner’s reports, hospital reports, doctor’s reports, police investigation reports, and other materials related to your case.

With just one phone call or e-mail, you will truly get the legal representation and services you deserve. Parkersburg attorneys are committed to excellence in all legal cases – and will truly fight all the way to protect your rights –and especially that of deceased loved ones or friends. Attorneys also work hard to ensure the person or persons responsible are prosecuted to the full extent of the law. This includes possible jail time, along with paying for emotional duress, distress, burial costs, medical fees, and any debt related to the wrongful death case.

Plaintiffs or Defendants

As legal experts in a challenging and competitive industry, there are times when attorneys have to protect the rights of defendants. Remember, in the U.S.A – you are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. With this in mind, defendants who believe they are innocent deserve the same legal rights and services that plaintiffs get. No truer is this then when it comes to automobile accidents that were caused by all parties involved. The same can also go for medical professionals who endlessly tried to save the life of your loved one – but were unable to due to natural death or other complications during surgery. Defendants may also countersue plaintiffs if they have experienced mental anguish, blame, torment, and loss of name and income due to any unfortunate circumstance where a person has died. It will be up to the attorney or firm to decide who they will represent.

Types of Wrongful Death Cases

In order to file a wrongful death claim with a Parkersburg law firm, you must first understand the different types of cases or lawsuits available. This is imperative since it will protect your legal rights while ensuring the parties responsible are sued in a timely manner – and especially before statute of limitations run out. According to Parkersburg car wreck and wrongful death attorneys, the following are considered the most common types of claims:

Car Accidents

With over 300,000 lives lost each year due to car accidents, automobile wrecks are definitely the most common and recurring claim filed by family members or friends. After accidents, injured drivers, passengers, and especially family members are left to deal with medical bills, insurmountable debts, and especially loss of household incomes. Wrongful death claims – especially when a family member has died – usually happens as a result of:

  • Negligent driving and speeding on the part of the offender.
  • Reckless driving, DUI, or DWI.
  • Distracted driving –texting.
  • Road defects, road repairs, or construction activities.
  • Automobile defects where the manufacturers of the vehicle are held accountable.

Truck Accidents

While under the auto wreck umbrella, truck accidents are considered more deadly and lethal. This is due to the size and weight of the truck in question – i.e. semi-trucks. These powerful trucks can seriously injure or even kill passengers if an accident with a smaller car occurs. In fact, there are several ways trucks can cause bodily harm, injuries, or wrongful deaths, including but not limited to:

  • Aggressive driving or road rage – cutting off smaller cars, motorcyclists, or other motorists.
  • Driving error and negligence – including failing to signal during lane changes, fatigue driving, or even jackknifing).
  • Driving recklessly during torrential downpours, storms, or adverse conditions.
  • Driving and swaying due to overweight loads.
  • Trucks that have mechanical defects – drivers and manufacturers will both be held accountable – especially if they knew of these defects and did nothing to resolve or repair them.
  • DUI, DWI, or driving while under the influence of medications.

There are other wrongful death claims as well. These stem from medical malpractice suits, workplace accidents, defective products, motorcycle accidents, and even slips and falls at residential or commercial establishments. Parkersburg attorneys handle all types of wrongful death cases – and work diligently to ensure favorable outcomes for those filing claims. In cases of defendants that feel they are innocent and are victims themselves – they too will receive top legal aid and representation against unjust or unlawful claims.

Why Wrongful Death Lawsuits are Important?

Wrongful death lawsuits are very important to family members that have lost loved ones. In fact, families rely on settlements to pay outstanding medical bills, funeral costs, and missed incomes. However, these cases are not about just securing compensation for fees and expenses. They are also designed to hold individuals, companies, and even employers responsible for their actions. Remember, negligence is also an action – and is never an excuse for any defendant saying he or she did not know what could have happened. Parkersburg attorneys have the skills to make sure defendants are found guilty in a court of law – while securing restitution for family members dealing the financial and emotional aftermath of a loved one’s passing.

If you have suffered the loss of a loved one due to another’s negligence, Parkersburg attorneys can truly help you and your families get what is owed. From wrongful death to personal injury cases and workman’s compensation, we are committed to getting families the justice they deserve. All it takes is a simple phone call or e-mail to schedule a complimentary consultation and get the services you need. Do not let the passing of your loved one due to another’s negligence go in vain. Please contact our office today.