Each year, thousands of Americans are injured or killed on roads and highways simply due to poor road conditions. Poor conditions can be a result of natural events like flash floods or ice storms, but dangerous conditions can also result from poor upkeep and physical condition. Even though there are state and federal laws in place that require cities to maintain safe roadways, it’s impossible to ensure that every single road is totally safe.
Getting in a car accident is a scary experience. When you add the stress of having to negotiate and file a claim on the accident on top of that experience (and any injuries incurred), then you’ve got a real nightmare on your hands! But, with a little preparation and advice, it doesn’t have to be. Here’s what you should know:
The Five Elements of a Claim
A vehicle injury claim involves a series of negotiations between you and the driver-at-fault’s insurance company. The goal of these negotiations is simple - to get you, the claimant, the highest possible settlement.
Before you jump into negotiations, you must first understand that claims adjusters are expert negotiators; they will use their expertise and terminology to try to confuse you in hopes that you’ll accept a lower settlement. These proceedings may seem intimidating, but once you understand the process and terminology, you’ll be ready for action.
If you live in Mississippi, the following statistics may shock you. Did you know that in 2010 alone, there were 581 fatal car crashes in the state of Mississippi, with 236 deaths attributed to alcohol impairment? In 2012, drunk-driving fatalities represented 31 percent--almost a full third--of the total traffic deaths in the state. Statistically, two out of every three people killed in a Mississippi motor vehicle crash are not wearing a seat belt, with teens and their passengers the least likely group to wear a seat belt.
While refraining from drinking and driving is an obvious way to help avoid a car accident, there are other tips, which can help you avoid becoming a statistic in the state of Mississippi. Some of these include the following:
Secure Your Children Properly
One of the primary methods of avoiding a car accident is to ensure your children are safely buckled in car seats and safety belts, and understand they are not allowed to climb around the vehicle or fight with one another. Distracted driving has made it to the number one slot for causes of auto accidents. Parents are particularly susceptible to distractions when there are children and babies in the vehicle. A parent may attempt to pick up a bottle or toy for a baby while driving, or may turn around to see what the children are up to. These actions can be extremely dangerous, as the parent's eyes are off the road for several seconds. Considering a vehicle can travel the length of a football field at a speed of 55 mph in five seconds, turning around to tend to children is never a good idea. Never leave your driveway unless all children are safely buckled in, and teach your children from an early age they are not allowed to distract you while you are driving.
It happens every year. On January 1st, hundreds of new laws become effective in various places across the country. Mississippi is no exception to this, and when our calendars rolled over into 2016, we welcomed all sorts of new changes, ranging from health insurance policies to gun control. Here is a quick overview of new laws that took effect in Mississippi on January 1, 2016:
Changes to Regulations Governing Concealed Carry Permits
As of this year, not only will permit fees be waived for honorably retired law enforcement officers, but gun permits must clearly state that they are former officers of the law. This includes retired prison guards, as well. Again, they must have left the force on good terms in order to enjoy this benefit.
To learn more, see Senate Bill 2394
Changes Encouraging the Hiring of Veterans
If you are a business owner and you hire a veteran to work for you, you may be eligible for a tax credit of up to $2,000. The catch is that the vet must have served in the U.S. military after September 1, 2001, and he or she must have been honorably discharged. This credit is granted per veteran you hire, and it repeats for up to 5 consecutive years for each. The benefit will cut off when you reach a cumulative total of $1 Million for all of the veterans you hire.
To learn more, see House Bill 33
Automobile accidents are one of the leading causes of personal injury claims in the United States today. If you've ever been in an accident, you know that it can become quite a hassle. Fortunately, minor incidents (such as that parking lot "fender bender") can usually be resolved between the drivers involved. However, larger collisions with significant injuries or property damage will almost always require the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney.
Regardless of the magnitude of your collision, there are some universal "dos and don'ts" that you should keep in mind if you've had a run-in with another driver. Here are just a few of them:
Any type of car accident is frustrating, but car accidents involving uninsured motorists are even more exasperating. There is no guarantee that the other person will pay for damages, especially considering that they are not even willing to pay for the minimum state-mandated liability insurance. If your accident is severe enough that you require extensive medical attention or lose time from work, those expenses will almost certainly go unreimbursed. That is, unless you speak with a personal injury lawyer about filing a lawsuit against the uninsured driver (and it is determined that you have a viable case).
The average American spends thousands (sometimes tens of thousands) of dollars per year on various types of insurance. There is automobile insurance, homeowner's insurance, renter's insurance, professional liability insurance, health insurance, vision and dental insurance, disability insurance, and the list could go on. You can be sure that insurance companies will capitalize on anything that carries even the smallest chance of loss or liability.
So, when something goes wrong and you need to file a claim, it's absolutely reasonable to expect your insurance company to keep their end of your mutual agreement. After all, you continue to uphold your end of the bargain every month when you pay your premium. Unfortunately, because large losses happen relatively rarely in an individual's lifetime, most people are not particularly well-versed in the way that insurance providers operate. There's no question that those companies are taking advantage of your ignorance; they have a significant amount of money on the line.
If you're going to try to level the playing field, it's important to understand the most common tactics used by insurance companies in order to avoid paying your claim:
Determining who is liable for the injuries and property damage that has occurred due to an auto accident isn't always as simple as one would like to believe. Not only is this a complex and frustrating process, but you are probably more concerned with your own recovery after an auto accident to even begin thinking about who was most at fault.
Millions of students across the United States participate in competitive sports through their schools each year, and as a result, many of them are treated for sports-related injuries. Generally speaking, these injuries are almost always minor, but what should you do if your student-athlete incurs something more serious? Who is responsible for the associated medical costs?
Your mortgage documents require you to keep your house and property insured. If you let your homeowners insurance coverage lapse, the mortgage company will get coverage for you that protects the payment of the debt you owe them. This type of insurance is called force placed or hazard insurance, or sometimes referred to as lender placed insurance.
This insurance is BAD for the homeowner! It is very costly and does NOT protect you, the homeowner. Many people believe this coverage protects their contents. Wrong! The insurance your mortgage company gets for you is much more expensive than insurance you would obtain on your own. The mortgage company charges you an inflated price for insurance that does not protect you or your property at all.
Your mortgage company is not under any obligation to find the cheapest rates for you. They will not look around and try to find the best terms for you or the strongest insurance company. They are not required to protect the contents of your home or protect you from people who are injured on your property that may sue you. To make matters worse, the policy your mortgage company will obtain only covers the value of the property up to the loan balance. In other words, if does not cover any equity in the house. And the lender is the only one protected. If the house burns down, only the mortgage company is protected. You get nothing.
In most cases, you, the homeowner do not have the right to cancel the hazard insurance policy - only the lender can cancel it. Your mortgage lender has the right to purchase forced placed insurance to cover your house and they can do this if the property has no insurance or it does not have enough insurance.
Usually the premiums are higher for this type of insurance because the insurance industry believes these types of properties are at a higher risk of loss if the homeowner has chosen not to insure his own property. The increased cost of this insurance coverage is your responsibility. Any money your mortgage company spends for force placed insurance will be added to your loan.
Bottom line - protect your home and your property - get your own insurance coverage ASAP!