How Social Media Can Affect Your Personal Injury Case

Social media is the place where people tend to “tell all” about themselves. From what they’re eating to where they’re vacationing and, in general, how they might be feeling that day, people post both personal and impersonal posts about their lives on social media. While this may seem harmless in most circumstances, when it comes to any kind of accident you may be involved in, posting about that accident and a personal injury claim on social media could come back to haunt you.

If you’ve been involved in an accident and are filing a personal injury claim, it is best to keep this to yourself and avoid any social media posts pertaining to the accident and claim. Why? Because anything you post, no matter how innocent it may appear, can be used against your personal injury claim. At Hastings & Hastings, we always urge our clients to refrain from social media posts that could influence the outcome of a claim. Read on to learn some tips and suggestions that you can follow when it comes to social media and your personal injury claim.

Privacy Rights and Social Media

Did you know that anything you post on social media can be used in a court of law? Because social media posts are considered public despite any privacy settings you may have implemented, they can still be accessed through various ways. For example, a person could use a fake identity to access your posts. In other cases, the insurance adjuster can request access to your social media posts in order to build a case against your claim. For this reason, we recommend refraining from social media while going through a personal injury claim.

How Can Social Media Damage my Personal Injury Claim?

Once you submit a personal injury claim, the insurance adjuster starts to do his job. This means he intends to prove that you were responsible for the accident and/or your injuries are not present or are not as serious as you claim. They will try to use any social media posts to verify their findings against you. In general, the insurance adjuster will look for the following types of social media posts to prove their case. These include:

Pictures: If you’ve claimed an injury, the insurance adjuster will look for any posts that contradict this. These types of posts include your being active, such as playing a sport with friends, going for a jog, dancing at a party, and more. Even a simple picture of you smiling and looking happy than ever can be used against you.

Videos: Any videos you post that give the appearance you’re feeling just fine can seriously weaken your claim. Any video that contradicts your injury claim or shows that you could be exaggerating your claim can be used against you in court.

Comments: If you’ve posted about your accident and injuries, the insurance adjuster will take the time to read through any comments you have made. This information, which is typically considered privileged between you and your attorney, can easily give the insurance adjuster a heads up about your case. Furthermore, the insurance adjuster may even go back years through your social media accounts to look for any other personal injury claims you may have made in the past with a focus on finding deceptive claims.

How can I Protect Myself on Social Media?

During a personal injury claim, the best way to protect yourself is to stay away from social media altogether. This may seem like a tall order, especially since many individuals rely on social media to stay in touch with others and to even run their businesses. However, if getting off of social media is not an option for you, then we recommend you follow these three tips.

Adjust privacy settings: Be sure your privacy settings are set to only friends and family being allowed to view your posts. As stated above, this is not a flawless plan, but will help you to maintain a certain degree of privacy.

Think before you post: Before posting anything on social media, try to think like the insurance adjuster. Would he be able to use this post against you? If your answer is yes or even if you’re not really sure, don’t post it. Never post anything about your claim or the events that led to it.

Alert friends and family: Give your friends and family a call and let them know what is happening. Ask them not to discuss your case on social media at all because the insurance adjuster can use any of this information against you.

To learn more about protecting yourself on social media during the claim process, contact Hastings & Hastings today at 480-706-1100 today.

Why Car Accidents Increase During the Holidays

The holidays are usually known as a happy and exciting time, but unfortunately, this time of the year is also recognized for reasons that are less than jolly. The sad truth is that the days surrounding Christmas and New Year’s are among the deadliest in the country as far as traffic is concerned, and the numerous vehicle accidents that do not result in a fatality often still come with lasting repercussions. But just why do car accidents increase during the holidays in the first place? By recognizing the most common causes of auto collisions during this time of the year, you can better understand what types of claim you may be able to file in the event that you are the victim of one. And of course, knowing the risks will also help decrease your chances of getting into a new accident.

Traffic Increases During the Holidays

Many people are quick to point the finger at careless driving or getting behind the wheel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol (which we’ll go into momentarily), but the truth is that sometimes the cause is very simple. The holiday season equates to more vehicles or traffic volume on the road, which of course just increases the risk of collision. It is therefore important that you take certain precautions, such as allowing yourself extra time to reach your destination and leaving as much room between yourself and other drivers.

Holiday Gatherings Often Involve Alcohol

Many people enjoy a cup of spiked eggnog or holiday punch at parties and other gatherings throughout December, though of course there are plenty of other alcoholic beverages going around as well. There’s nothing wrong with having some fun with friends and family and enjoying a drink or too, but there is a problem when drunk driving is involved. In fact, the National Center for Statistics and Analysis has found that almost 40 percent of all accidents during the week of Christmas resulted from at least one of the drivers being under the influence of alcohol while operating the vehicle. So for those planning on drinking during the holidays, it’s important to be responsible and keep alcohol limited and/or have a reliable designated driver lined up.

Keeping Vehicles Maintained Is Not a Priority

Many of us often are not as on top of vehicle maintenance as we should be, but the truth is that it tends to fall even more to the wayside when holidays like Christmas are swiftly approaching. After all, why spend all your money on new brake pads or replacement tires when you have gifts and decorations to buy instead? But while it can seem like the prudent choice at the time, making sure you have enough funds for holiday spending by skimping on vehicle maintenance can prove to be a deadly decision. After all, many of us live in areas where the weather is more difficult to drive in this time of year, and again, the roads are also more congested with general traffic and drivers who may already be making unsafe decisions. You can drive as carefully as you like, but the fact is that not investing in proper vehicle maintenance can leave you with a car that is unresponsive when and where you need it to be.

Holiday Stress is Very Real

The holidays are fun and all, but let’s face it– most of us are also very stressed out over a lot of things during this time. There are presents to buy, cooking to be done, things to finish at work, events to attend (or host) and for many people, traveling to do. It’s all a lot to deal with, and it’s imperative to take time for yourself to de-stress and calm down before you get on the road. If you find that this is hard to do, try doing some slow breathing techniques or even squeezing a stress ball before you start the engine.

The Bottom Line

Sometimes accidents still happen despite precautions being taken. If you are involved in an auto accident, it is important that you reach out to an experienced attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options. This is particularly true when you are the victim, as you may be entitled to compensation. While nothing can take back the accident from happening, your attorney will be there to help you navigate what happens next. In the meantime, stay safe this holiday season!

Common Accidents During the Holidays and How to Avoid Them

The holidays are for friends and family to kick back and enjoy time together, but it’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt. Unfortunately, accidents during the holidays are all too common, and there’s nothing that can kill the holiday spirit faster. The good news is that you can take steps to avoid such incidents, and it all starts with recognizing the risks. Our legal experts have worked through plenty of holiday seasons, and we have long noticed a pattern in the types of claims that result from the days surrounding Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s. Here’s what you need to know in order to stay safe and avoid common accidents this holiday season:

Vehicle Accidents Rise this Time of Year

With so many people traveling, it’s only natural that the rate of car accidents ticks up during December. People also tend to be more stressed around this time, and this combined with the fact that alcohol is often plentiful during holiday events just creates a recipe for disaster. It also doesn’t help that people have other costs this time of year thanks to traveling and giving gifts, and so vehicle maintenance tends to not be a top priority. You can help lower your own risk though by staying off the roads as much as possible, making sure your car is in good shape, driving with awareness (and when you’re not fatigued) and of course avoiding driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Alcohol-Related Incidents Are All Too Common

It’s no secret that alcohol consumption often rises around the holidays. After all, many of us are attending parties and gatherings during the evenings, and it’s only natural that alcohol be involved. Unfortunately, a lot of people do not drink in moderation, and this can lead to unsafe or careless behavior not just on the roads but while we’re on our feet. Alcohol-related incidents can happen both inside and outside of the home, and they can be anything from a car accident to someone slipping and falling in a living room. The best way to avoid such incidents is of course to moderate alcohol consumption, but additional precautions (like making sure a space is clean and safe before a party) can be taken as well.

People Suffer From Product Injuries

Many people celebrate by putting up holiday decorations, and new products in general are often abundant thanks to gifts and parties. However, product-related injuries are also abundant (though the good news is that you may actually be entitled to a liability claim in these cases), and there’s no faster way to ruin a holiday than with a trip to the hospital. Nevertheless, you can do what you can to avoid product injuries by always reading and following instructions as well as keeping them away from children.

Cooking Accidents Rise

Who doesn’t like eating all the great food and treats that come with the holidays? Unfortunately, more time spent in the kitchen combined with the regular distractions that come with the holidays means a greater risk for cooking-related incidents. It is imperative that proper safety methods always be practiced in the kitchen like putting away utensils and equipment once they are no longer needed, cleaning thoroughly and frequently, and making sure that there are not too many people in the kitchen at once.

Holiday Fatigue and Stress Affect Even the Best of Us

Let’s face it— the holidays are fun, but they sure can be tiring. After all, there are presents to be purchased and wrapped, special foods to be made, work to finish before days off and family and friends to see in the middle of all of it. Even those who are the most excited for them often find themselves having to contend with long lists of things that need to get done. But while it can be easy to brush holiday fatigue and stress aside as just minor annoyances, the truth is that the situation can be pretty serious. When our bodies are stressed out and / or lacking in sleep, we become more prone to making errors and getting into accidents. It is therefore crucial to make rest a priority during the holidays, and potentially dangerous activities that require focus (like driving and cooking) should be avoided when fatigue sets in. For those who just can’t seem to stop being busy, it is always a good idea to ask others for help as needed.

Know Who to Call If Accidents Happen

Sometimes accidents still happen even when we do take careful measures to avoid them. But instead of panicking, the best thing you can do next is to take control of the situation. Making sure you have the right legal assistance lined up will help you file any necessary claims with ease. When you’re ready, please feel to contact us for more information. If you or a loved one have already been involved in a holiday-related accident, we’re here to help you get any compensation you may be entitled to.

Prevent Dog Bites By Knowing the Signs

With the large number of households that have dogs as a pet, it’s important for families to understand the risks that come along with pet ownership. One of those is injuries due to dob bites, which can lead to a lawsuit if the dog bites a visitor in your home or can cause a lot of heartache if your beloved pet bites a family member living in the home. It’s important to note dogs of any breed can bite and cause significant harm. The good news is most dogs give off warning signs before a bite occurs. This means if you’re aware of what to watch for and can teach your children to do the same, you can significantly reduce the risk of a serious injury or even worse.

Stress

One of the first signs a dog may be getting ready to strike show the dog is feeling stressed. You are likely to notice the dog’s ears lie flat back and they may begin panting. They may also crouch close to the ground and keep their tail pointed down and still. One sign that is less evident is dilated pupils. If you do notice any of these signs, it’s best to remove yourself and anyone else from the situation, providing a safe place for your dog to unwind and return to a more relaxed state.

Fear and Anxiety

Another major reason dogs may bite is due to feelings of fear and anxiety. If your dog feels threatened, biting is their only means of defense and their instincts will kick in, which means there’s little chance of stopping the bite once it reaches that point. Therefore, it’s critical to know what to look for to identify these feelings so you can provide a source of comfort to your pet instead. Once again, the dog is likely to crouch close to the ground, keeping its tail down and its ears laid back against its head. A dog who is worried or anxious may also avoid eye contact or may even lick or paw at the air.

Aggression

Some dogs are naturally dominant and will show warning signs that indicate they may be aggressive, which can lead to damaging bites. A dominant dog may curl back its lips and bare its teeth, which can also cause its snout to wrinkle. It will often stand stiffly with its hackles raised. The tail may also bristle and stand straight. However, if the dog is aggressive due to fear, they will show some slightly different symptoms. These dogs are more likely to growl as a warning sign they are about to strike, although the other signs are similar to those of a dominant dog.

Avoiding the Bite

Whenever you identify your dog may be uncomfortable and about to attack, it’s important to take the right steps to avoid an attack in the first place. Separating your dog from anyone else in the area is one of the best things you can do. Because it may be dangerous to approach the dog or interact with it, it’s typically best to remove yourself and any others from the situation instead. Once you have given your dog space and they have calmed down again, which will be evident by a change in their demeanor and the absence of the above warning signs, you can resume safely interacting with your dog.

Bicycle and Pedestrian Injuries and Deaths Increase

The United States is a country dependent upon cars to get around. However, many communities across the nation are trying to encourage and implement more environmentally friendly modes of transportation. With the help of the US Department of Transportation, these communities push for residents to choose walking, biking, and using public transport instead of relying on a car for transportation. Unfortunately, pedestrians and cyclists make up 16 percent of transportation fatalities in the United States and the numbers appear to be rising.

What’s the Problem?

Roads are built to limit the amount of traffic a city or town experiences. Governments build numerous driving lanes and install traffic lights. However, this design does pose risk to those who choose to walk or bike to get around because there just isn’t enough room to fit all the cars plus the cyclists and walkers. While pedestrians can utilize a sidewalk to stay safe, cyclists can not. They are also not allowed to ride in car lanes. However, the number of bike lanes available throughout the country are few and are, in fact, beginning to disappear. Traffic lights are not pedestrian and cyclist friendly either. This is because the person only has few seconds to cross the road before the light turns green.

Although there are indeed cities that have implemented cost-effective strategies to protect pedestrians and cyclists, cars still remain a big risk. Here are a few statistics supporting this:

  • Approximately 80 cyclists die every year in the US
  • One-third of cyclist fatalities is linked to drunk driving
  • California has the highest amount of cyclist deaths per year

Even as pedestrian and cycling deaths increase, many people still choose walking and bicycling over driving. Why? Because choosing these alternative methods of transportation prove cost effective, decrease the carbon footprint, provide exercise, and even reduces stress.

Are You the Victim of a Pedestrian of Cyclist Accident?

If you have been involved in an accident with a car where you were the pedestrian or cyclist, it is important to contact a lawyer immediately. Get compensated for the accident and the results you experienced, such as medical bills, loss of income, and more. Contact Hastings & Hastings who serve Phoenix and the surrounding areas at 800-975-0080.

What Is A Medical Lien?

After being in an accident where you’re injured, you will file a claim with your insurance company or the faulty party’s insurance company to pay for the medical costs incurred by the accident, as well as any property damage and other compensation. However, there are times when a third party may make a claim for part of your settlement, which is referred to as as lien. Generally speaking, a lien is considered a demand for payment from the settlement amount you receive after an accident. For example, if you owe money to an individual, company, or organization, this party may file a lien against your settlement.

When it comes to a medical lien, this party is usually the one who provided you with medical services. The fact is that you are obligated to repay the lien. Otherwise, the party filing the claim will take you to court to receive the money owed. However, in the event that you require emergency medical care after a hospital or other medical practice places a lien on your settlement, it is important that you speak with an experienced attorney who will help you through this time.

Which Parties Can Place a Lien on Your Settlement?

There are a couple of different parties that can place a lien on your settlement. This includes your insurance company who may seek repayment on your medical care costs. However, the amount of the lien will depend upon the accident’s circumstances and the extent of medical treatment you received. Oftentimes, even when the accident is not your fault, your insurance company will step up and pay for your medical costs with the expectation that you will file and win a claim against the party at fault. The reason your insurance company may pay upfront costs is because they can put a lien on your settlement, guaranteeing they will get their money back. If you need medical treatment right after an accident has occurred this is usually the process that will come about.

The other entity that can place a lien on your settlement is the medical provider or providers who treated your injuries. Sometimes, however, your insurance company may put off paying your medical bills as you wait for you settlement to hit your bank account. Either way, it’s important to receive medical treatment for your injuries right away rather than waiting for a settlement award. The treatment you do receive will cost money and if your insurance company won’t take care of the bill right away, the medical practice will place a lien on your settlement for all outstanding medical bills.

How Common are Medical Liens?

In reality, medical liens are quite common. This is because hospitals and other medical facilities find it easier to treat you right away and then place a lien on your settlement rather than waiting for the settlement to hit before treating you. Medical professionals understand that delaying care after a car accident can lead to increased medical bills by letting your injuries go untreated. For this reason, you can expect to receive medical care right after your accident.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Negotiate a Lien?

In some cases, an experienced lawyer will be able to reduce the amount of the lien.  A good lawyer will negotiate with your medical providers to lessen the amount of the lien. Sometimes, although rarely, the lien you owe can be more than what you received in your settlement.  If this happens, your attorney will negotiate a smaller pay off amount. This is not something you can or should do on your own. Instead, use a lawyer who is experienced in handling these kinds of personal injury cases.

What To Do If You Are In An Accident With An Uninsured Driver

Having car insurance is a law in Arizona. Still, there are those who choose to drive without car insurance and sometimes these drivers cause accidents. The question then is, “What do I do if I’m involved in a car accident with an uninsured driver?”. This is a very good question and one that needs to be answered immediately if you’ve found yourself the victim of an uninsured driver car crash.

In Arizona, approximately 20 percent of drivers are uninsured. This is a big number when you think about it and doesn’t include those who are underinsured. It means that there are thousands of people driving on Arizona roads without car insurance or with not enough coverage. While uninsured drivers have absolutely no coverage, underinsured drivers have some coverage, typically only the state minimum that is required. When considering the numbers, the chances of your being involved in an accident with one of these drivers is one-in-five. While the odds may still be in your favor, accidents with these drivers do happen and present some challenges.

Filing a Lawsuit Against an Uninsured Motorist

When an uninsured motorist causes an accident that involves you, there are many questions you are probably asking, such as who will pay your medical bills, cover your lost wages, and atone for any trauma and suffering the accident caused, especially when there is permanent injury damage.

Sometimes, it is your insurance company who ends up paying compensation. However, they may be reluctant to do so. In this case, your best option is to work with an experienced attorney who has dealt with many of these cases. Your attorney will help by filing a claim against the uninsured motorist as well as negotiating with your insurance company.  Because this type of case can prove complicated, it is best to leave it up to an established attorney. At Hastings and Hastings, we work for your best interests. Therefore, if you’ve been the victim of an uninsured motorist’s negligence in Arizona, call our team today at 800-975-0080.

Who is Liable in a Pile Up Accident?

There’s no question that every car accident is dangerous and that most have the ability to result in injuries; however, pile-up accidents are unique. In these situations, it is extremely rare that no one gets hurt.

Knowing who is actually liable in these types of accidents is crucial to ensuring you have the resources to recover the compensation you deserve. Unfortunately, determining fault in a pile up is especially challenging. In most cases, while two cars actually start this type of accident, as more and more cars are added to the mix, it can become confusing who hit who.

In the end, it is often left up to the insurance companies, along with the court, to figure out who was actually responsible for the accident that occurred. The good news is, there are some things you can look for.

Liability Explained

Car accident liability means that the party who was negligent or who was actually responsible for the accident that occurred is the one who will be liable, and they will have to pay for any damages that occur in the case. If a particular person is deemed to be the “at fault” party, then in some cases, insurance companies will actually cover the damages.

However, when pile-ups, where there are many injuries and multiple damaged vehicles, not everything is always covered. Figuring out how to determine fault is crucial in these situations to ensure that you receive the full amount of compensation that you deserve.

Liability that Occurs in Multi-Vehicle Accidents

A traditional rear-end vehicle accident is considered much easier for you, the police or the insurance company to determine liability in. It’s pretty straightforward – the person who hits someone else from the back is at fault (while there are some exceptions). In a multiple car accident, the car is still going to be considered at fault when they hit another vehicle that is already crashed or stopped, unless it was pushed by another vehicle. In these situations, the first vehicle that did not stop and that results in the chain of vehicles hitting one another is going to be the one considered liable.

Sometimes, there is the misconception that the party that actually caused this type of accident to begin with, is the party that is actually responsible for the entire accident. While, in some cases, this may be the case, there is usually more than one party that is at fault. Even if someone is targeted, they may not be the individual responsible for the injuries or damages you suffered.

Vehicles that are involved after the fact may be the ones that are actually liable for the injuries that you suffered. In some situations, there may be several different parties responsible for a single person’s injury or damages. One example of this is if a person has stopped their vehicle in a pile up and then it is hit by two other cars after this happened. Each of the cars that actually hit them are considered responsible. In this situation, it may require that you contact several insurance companies to make a claim and there is one that may pay 60 percent of the total damages while the other only pays 40 percent.

Regardless of the situation, there are steps that you can take to ensure you receive the most compensation for your claim possible. Being informed and knowing what to do is the best way to get the compensation you deserve.

In some situations, the best thing you will be able to do is hire an attorney. They will be able to make sense of the situation and ensure you receive the compensation that you rightfully deserve.

How To File A Car Accident Report In Arizona

If you are involved in a car accident in the state of Arizona, you need to know how the process of filing a car accident report with the police in the state works. To help you along the way, use this list of helpful do’s and don’ts.

Do be prepared to provide the officer or the other driver with your actual driver’s license, your car insurance information and your vehicle registration.

Don’t argue with any of the officers or interfere with what they need to do. Even if you think that they are somewhat biased in the other driver’s favor, you need to remain cooperative and respectful at all times.

Do make sure to report the accident if there was any other vehicle involved, even if the person claims they aren’t injured. While the law in Arizona doesn’t always require a police report if there is only damage, you will be better protected if you opt to report the incident.

Don’t admit any type of wrong doing in the situation. You can describe the event and all the details of the accident while still remaining honest and truthful. However, the key is to limit yourself to only facts. Don’t try to add your opinion regarding legal liability. The fact is, there may be some contributing factors that you aren’t aware of, which means you should never accept the blame.

Do make sure to document the roadway, as well as the weather conditions. Use anything you can, such as pictures on your phone or written notes.

Don’t answer any type of question that may wind up incriminating you. You are not required to answer questions about your physical or mental condition, or if you were driving while under the influence.

If you are involved in a car accident in the state of Arizona be sure to keep the do’s and don’ts listed here in mind.

Cell Phone Usage Prohibited for Teen Drivers in Arizona

Arizona has recently joined the other 48 states regarding placing limitations and prevention of cell phone use while behind the wheel. Today, the only state that has no type of law in place that prohibits calls or texting while driving is the state of Montana.

The new law in the state of Arizona is not quite as restrictive as many of the other state laws; however, it does present a number of important implications for drivers and visitors in Arizona. This law specifically applies to teen drivers. It can also impact legal situations that involve accidents which are the result of teens who use their phones while driving and leads to an accident.

Here, you can learn more about the new teen driver law regarding cell phones in Arizona and how it affects you and your teenager.

The Basics of the New Cell Phone Law in Arizona

This is a law that applies specifically to any new driver that is between the ages of 15.5 and 18. It was put in place to prohibit the use of a cell phone while the individual is driving – except in a “specific emergency situation,” or in order to listen to the “audible turn-by-turn navigation,” or another map app.

Similar to the previously set up laws for various teen drives, the new law makes these drivers subject to what is referred to as “secondary enforcement.” What this means is that a teen cannot be pulled over or even cited just for being seen using a phone while they are behind the wheel. What the law actually means is that the teen will have to be pulled over for some other type of violation before the police officer can issue a citation for the use of their phone. Also, if a teen does not receive a citation for the use of a cell phone, driving at night or for having extra passengers in the vehicle for a period of six months, then they are no longer affected by the law.

In regard to other laws that are currently in place, this one is not very restrictive. However, it does carry a few penalties for any violation, which include:

  • For a first violation the individual can face a fine of up to $75 and a 30-day extension of the six-month period
  • For a second violation, the individual will face a fine up to $100 and a 60-day extension of the six-month period.
  • For three or more violations, the individual can face a fine of up to $100 and a 30-day license suspension.

Why is the Law Targeted to Teens?

There have been several attempts made by Arizona lawmakers to introduce laws that are more stringent for the use of a cell phone while driving. To date, these have not been successful. However, the law for teens received a higher level of support.

If you consider the statistics related to vehicle accidents that involve teens, it is no surprise that this new law has been enacted. According to a recent study from AAA, drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 have the highest level of crashes than any other driver in the U.S.

What to Do if a Distracted Teen Hits Your Vehicle

If you are involved in an accident with a distracted teen driver, then the best thing you can do is contact an attorney. They can help ensure that the needed evidence is gathered to prove your case and help you recover compensation for the injuries and damages you incurred. In the long run, proper legal representation will help in these situations. To find out more, contact the offices of Hastings and Hastings at 800-975-0080.