Settling a Personal Injury Claim for a Minor

Minors have no say over legal matters due to their age. While in many cases, this means parents are responsible for making decisions, the court will often step in and make sure a child’s best interest is protected when it comes to settling a personal injury case. This can add time and expense onto a case, which is why it’s important for parents to understand how this process works.

An Added Layer of Protection

Parents are supposed to protect their children, which is why they will typically work with an experienced personal injury attorney to handle their child’s case. However, sometimes the dollar signs can cloud judgment and parents make decisions that aren’t particularly in the best interest of their injured child. Requiring approval from the court prior to accepting a settlement will ensure a neutral third party is looking at it from the child’s perspective, providing an additional layer of protection to ensure a child is compensated appropriately for the injuries they have suffered.

Protecting the Assets

Once a settlement has been reached, the courts require the funds received in the settlement are placed into a conservatorship so they will be used for the child’s needs. Even parents with the best intentions can make mistakes that lead to using the money in a way it shouldn’t be. This process works by naming a conservator to take control of the settlement funds. In many cases, this money is placed into a high-interest bearing account so it can grow and the child will have the finances needed to maintain a good quality of life as they go through their lives. If the money isn’t required immediately, it’s best to leave it to gain interest. However, if the parents do need assistance with bills and other costs directly associated with the injury, the conservator can withdraw the funds as needed. This money cannot be used for clothing, food or shelter because these are considered basic needs every parent should provide.

Who Can Be Conservator

Anyone can be named conservator over a personal injury settlement. When the settlement is on the lower end, the parents are typically named as conservators because there is little risk of abusing the money. However, when a larger sum is obtained, it is often wise to choose an outside party who has nothing to gain personally by controlling the money. In these situations, the conservator must be bonded and will be required to check in with the courts on a regular basis to ensure the money is managed properly. Any conservator must be approved by the court.

No one wants to see their child injured, especially when someone else is at fault. However, if this does occur, it’s important to understand how these settlements work so you can more easily navigate through the case and get the compensation your child deserves.

4 Major Costs for Your Minor Wreck

The expenses that go along with vehicular accidents is enormous. And while a lot of people don’t know this, taxpayers actually foot the bill on many auto repair costs that is incurred by vehicles belonging to the city, county, and state. After many years of service within the several practice areas of law, it has become easier to see which expenses are the most major even in the most minor of wrecks. Let’s take a quick look at the four major costs that can be endured in a minor wreck.

Peace of Mind

Sometimes, what you lose in a wreck does not have a monetary value, such as your peace of mind. When your family is accustom to having a vehicle, or perhaps even more than one at any given time, and one of them is damaged in a wreck, this can become very stressful. Not only are you stressing about replacing the car or truck, but in the meantime you are having to get your entire family to wherever it is that they need to go with one less vehicle. From having to get up earlier to picking up the kids late from school, your peace of mind is likely to go out the window until you can afford a vehicle replacement.

Loss of Life

The year 2016 brought about one of the worst years in regards to lives loss from vehicular accidents. There were nearly 40,000 vehicular deaths in 2016, which was a six percent rise from the year 2015 and a 14 percent rise from 2014.

Medical Expenses

Repairing and/or replacing damaged vehicles can be quite costly, especially when one of the cars involved does not have insurance on it. What is even more costly is the associated medical bills that are often incurred. And what is sad is that a large number of people drive around with no insurance on their cars and trucks, meaning if medical expenses need to be covered, there is no insurance to cover it.

Loss of Insurance

After you are involved in so many accidents or incur so many traffic violations, you will likely be unable to acquire insurance. And even if you are able, the premium rates are going to be outrageous. This is why so many people drive around with no insurance at all — it’s not that they don’t want to purchase it, it’s just that they don’t have the money to afford it.

To learn about receiving proper compensation for your wreck, contact a qualified personal injury attorney today.

How to Make a Successful Wage Loss Claim

After being in a car accident that wasn’t your fault and losing time at work, victims can often feel overwhelmed and anxious about their finances. If this has happened to you, it’s important to file a wage loss claim.  To do this successfully, there are some things you need to know.

For starters, what is considered lost wages? This is any income you lost because of the accident and includes the following scenarios:

  • Lost wages for the time you were not able to go to work
  • Lost earning capacity if the accident leaves you disabled and unable to work.
  • Lost opportunities, such as having to turn down a promotion, contract job, or other means of income because of the injury or injuries sustained.

If any of the above apply to you, you can make a wage claim loss.  Here is how to to bring about a successful outcome.

Document lost wages

In order for the insurance company to pay out your lost wages claim, they need proof.  This means you must have documentation that proves you can not work because of your injuries.  Examples of this documentation includes:

  • Medical records and/or a letter from your doctor that clearly proves you can not work due to your injuries.  This should include dates and a description of the injuries.  Your doctor would have also sent a letter to your employer explaining that you are unable to work.  You will need a copy of this letter.
  • A letter from your employer that shows dates you missed work due to your injuries.
  • If you are a contract worker, business owner, or self-employed, you will need your tax returns to prove your income.

Calculating lost wages

Depending on your work status, calculating lost wages differs.  If you are an employee who works for an hourly wage or a salary, it is simple to calculate lost wages. You multiply the number of days or weeks missed by your hourly rate or weekly salary.  When you work on commission, this is more difficult but can still be done with the help of an experienced attorney.  Something you should also note is that you can include lost vacation and sick days in your claim if you used them because of the injury.

What if you are disabled?

If you cannot return to work due to the injuries you sustained, there are many variables that go into determining your loss of income.  Typically, it will require experts to determine lost wage amounts and fair compensation.  These experts can include economists, life-care planners, future medical needs experts, and more.

If you were in a car accident that wasn’t your fault and lost money from being unable to work, you need an experienced personal injury lawyer to help you with your wage loss claim to get the financial compensation you deserve.  Call Hastings and Hastings at 800-975-0080 today.

How Long Can an Insurance Company Take to Settle a Personal Injury Claim?

When a client has been in a car accident and is seeking damages, a frequently asked question is, “How long will it take to settle my case?”.  That depends since there are two ways to resolve a personal injury case: settlement out of court or verdict at trial.

The first step towards settling a claim is to file a lawsuit and then decide if you want to settle out of court or go to trial Typically, both parties decide to settle out of court.  If one part refuses to settle out of court, the lawsuit will go to trial.

As a general rule, settlements tend to be resolved quicker than trials, one of the reasons why most parties choose former option.  So if you do decide to settle out of court, how much time can you expect this process to take?

Let’s start from the beginning since there is really no specified time period.  However, the following will give you a general idea of what to expect.

Whether the claimant has a claim against  an individual or a company, he has two years from the date of injury to file a lawsuit.  However, this time period can be longer or shorter depending on the facts of the case.  Any experienced attorney can help pinpoint time frames on a case-by-case basis.

Once the claimant files, the two insurance companies can spend up to two years trying to negotiate the claim out of court.  If the claimant wants to go to court, they must file a claim within that time frame.  Once the expiration date is reached and a lawsuit has not been filed, the opportunity to file passes forever.  If the entity at fault is a government agency, the claimant only has 180 days from the date of injury to file a claim.  This claim needs to be filed with the right representative of the government agency being sued and using a professional attorney is the best way to see that the claim in filed correctly and with the right person.  The deadlines put on claimants as to how much time they have to file a lawsuit is called “statues of limitations”.

As far as the amount of time it takes to settle a case in or out of court, there is no deadline.  Typically, the length of time can depend on many variables, including the complexity of the case, the extent of the injuries,  and whether or not both parties are cooperative.

To learn more about how long it could take to settle your personal injury claim, call us at 800-975-0080 and a friendly attorney will discuss your case with you during a free, no obligation consultation. Call us today!

Social Media’s Role in Car Accidents

Social media allows us to stay in contact with whoever we want whenever we want and where ever we want, and that means while we’re driving, too.  For the newest generations raised in a world dominated by social media sites like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, staying updated and keeping everyone else updated can become a constant obsession.  And this can be very dangerous, especially when people use these sites while driving.

You and Your Smartphone

With a smartphone at your fingertips you can check stock quotes at a red light, snap an Instagram picture of a funny named road sign, take a selfie while your driving, update your feed, and on and on.  When a driver does any of these actions while driving, he becomes a danger for everyone on the road.  Playing around on social media sites while driving is a major distraction.  In fact, anything that takes your eyes off the road for any longer than the time it takes to blink is a distraction. That goes for adjusting consul controls, turning around to talk to someone in the back seat, and fumbling to find your ringing phone.

The Evidence

Studies have found that the social media sites most visited by drivers are Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.  A study done by Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) concluded that there are thousands of drivers on the road using social media sites everyday.  The numbers get worse.  Of the thousands who frequently use social media while driving, many admitted they are looking at their smartphone 60 percent of the time rather than at the road.  Organizations are now calling on the government to make an action plan about educating the public on the consequences and risks involved when using a smartphone while driving.  To avoid the temptation of texting while driving, you can install an app that blocks testing.  Perhaps similar apps will be created when it comes to social media sites.

At Hastings & Hastings we understand that distracted drivers are a major cause of accidents, many of which could have been avoided.  When a person is using a phone to update their status on Facebook and gets into an accident, they are liable for damages. If you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident due to a distracted driver using social media sites while driving, or using their phone in a different way that led to the accident, call us at 800-975-0080.  Our friendly team of attorneys will listen to your experience and answer all of your questions. Call us today for a free, no obligation consultation.

One Common Mistake an Injured Party Makes After a Car Accident

Getting into a car accident can make a person feel rattled, nervous, and anxious.  You may have had a slight injury or something more serious, but either way, it can be easy for an injured person to make mistakes when dealing with the aftermath, especially when it come to the other party’s insurance company. After an accident, the other party’s insurance company will call the injured person. At this time, the insurance company will ask the injured party questions as well as make other requests of the them, many of which may seem perfectly logical and reasonable.

What kind of requests? For starters, the other party’s insurance company may ask the injured party for some of all of the following:

Medical Records and Medical Bills

This is one area where injured parties can make a common mistake.  The insurance company will call and ask for your medical records related to the suffered injury.  They may tell you they need the records to consider your claim.  While this could be true, what they also want to see is your medical bills.  However, it should be known that they are not legally entitled to see all that is on your billing statement. To avoid the mistake of handing over documents you shouldn’t to the other insurance company, it’s important to have a trusted attorney representing your claim.

For example, let’s assume that the injury sustained from a car accident of which it was the other party’s fault ran up $75,000. The hospital, however, gave you a discount of $20,000.  If the other insurance company sees that discount, they will only compensate the injured party for $55,000 instead of $75,000. Again, they are not entitled to this information so there is no reason to give it to them.

To avoid making the common mistake of giving an insurance company too much information , it is best to retain the services of a lawyer immediately after you are in a car accident.  As an injured party you are entitled to fair and just compensation for the injury you sustained by the other driver’s negligence.  At Hastings & Hastings, we have represented hundreds of individuals who have been the victim of a car accident.  If you would like to discuss your claim and receive a free no obligation with one of our experienced attorneys, call Hastings & Hastings at 800-975-0080. We will listen to your story, answer all your questions, and make our professional legal recommendation.  Call today.

Understanding an Insurance Company’s Case Evaluation Process

A car accident can rattle even those with nerves of steel.  Oftentimes, there is also a sense of confusion after an accident and involved parties may disagree who is at fault. One may not have insurance or may object to having the police called, wanting to just settle it between you and them.  In a worst case scenario, someone is injured. If this is the case, it is important to file a personal injury claim with a reputable law firm as soon as you’ve received treatment for your injuries.

For individuals in car accidents it can be easy to make a mistake following the accident. You may forget to get witness information, take pictures, or miss something else important. One of the most common mistakes that victims make is giving the other insurance company too much information.  After being in a car accident where the other driver was at fault, you can expect to be contacted by the other driver’s insurance company who will ask you for the following information:

Medical Records and Medical Bills

While in some cases,  medical record and medical bills may be needed for the claim, you should be aware that you don’t have to hand over billing statements that contain any discounts given to you by the hospital after treating you for your injuries.  For example, if your injuries cost a total of $200,000 but the hospital gave you a discount of $50,000 and the other insurance company sees this discount, they will only reimburse you for $150,000 instead of the $200,000 you are actually entitled to.  To be safe and to avoid losing money in a personal injury case, contact a lawyer in Arizona immediately after a car accident to make sure you make all the right decisions, starting with the phone call from the other insurance agency.

To prevent making mistakes with the other insurance company, as well as other mistakes during your personal injury claim, it is important to retain an experienced lawyer in Arizona.  The legal team at Hastings & Hastings can guide you from start to finish during your personal injury claim in Arizona.  We offer a free, no obligation initial consultation where we will listen to your story, ask questions and answer all of your questions. We will give you our expert legal advice at no-obligation. To speak with a friendly, experienced member of our legal team, contact Hastings and Hastings at 800-975-0080.

Documenting Your Pain and Suffering After an Accident

After you’ve been in an automobile accident, or any type of accident that resulted in an injury, you’ll find yourself left with pain, suffering and possibly functional limitations. Your individual pain and suffering that you experience after an accident will signify a major component of your future lawsuit or legal claim. Therefore, it is important to thoroughly document your pain and suffering throughout your recovery.

Pain and Suffering is Difficult to Prove

Since pain and suffering can make or break a case, it’s a significant factor that is a challenge to prove in the court of law. You need to take every necessary step you can to document your experiences following the accident or injury that was caused by someone else being negligent.

Keep a Simple Journal

The easiest and most effect step to take is to keep a journal. With every journal entry, discuss the pain and suffering you experienced that day. Be as detailed as you can in order to make a compelling case for the legitimacy of your case. You don’t need to make this an overcomplicated or even time consuming process; simply record your daily experiences before bed each night (or whenever works for you).

Make note of when you feel pain, where you feel it and what motions it’s inhibiting. Include the time and date of every journal entry. Additionally, it’s worth developing a rating system so that you can assign a numerical value to your pain. A simple 1-10 system is often all that’s required. A ‘one’ represents minimal pain, while 10 represents intense pain.

If you experience any persistent pain, be sure to record this in your pain journal. Discuss what’s hurting, how long it hurts and what, if anything, provides any relief.

Retain All Medical Documents

It’s vital for your case that you retain a copy of all medical documents related to life in the aftermath of your accident or injury. Keep everything the doctor gives you, and even write about each visit in your pain journal. Not only does keeping all medical documents help prove pain, but it will also help prove the financial burden that’s been placed on you since the accident. You can staple important documents to your journal, or simply keep them in a folder.

Consider Hiring the Professionals

Working with a personal injury lawyer will be advantageous to documenting and proving your pain. These specially trained lawyers are skilled at knowing what the courts need to see in order to prove the hardships caused by the accident or injury. Contact us today to setup an appointment to determine how we can best protect your interests in your personal injury case.

Calculating Lost Wages in a Personal Injury Case

Were you injured because of the negligence of someone else?  Are you spending nights awake worrying about lost wages and your financial future?  For injured parties who are out of work, this can be a frightening and overwhelming time for the injured person and their family.  If this has happened to you, then it’s time to get back your wages in a court of law and secure your financial future.

What Qualifies as Lost Wages?

When it comes to the courts, they want to see documentation of lost wages, such as a W-2, 1099, or other tax document.  For individuals who have multiple jobs, this can prove difficult.  For example, people who perform non-traditional, part-time jobs like lawn care, weekend waitressing, babysitting, or bartending a couple of nights a week may have a harder time proving the worth of their lost wages.  Sometimes, these jobs cannot be included when calculating lost wages due to a personal injury case.

As the plaintiff, you are owed lost wages as part of the compensatory damages incurred by your personal injury case.  At this point, the plaintiff needs to examine their overall income and where it comes from for the attorneys to determine which sources are eligible for lost income. If a tax documentation is not available, there must be some reasonable documentation to prove the lost wages, like receipts for example.  This would especially be the case for income earned from a source that is less than $600 for the entire year.

What about Future Lost Wages?

It is also important to consider future lost wages at this point.  To determine this, an attorney will look at the plaintiffs’ current level of income to determine future loses that also include recovery time.  If a person’s injuries need three months, six months, or even a year or more to heal, the plaintiff is entitled to compensation for lost wages during this recovery time.  The estimated recovery time is determined by a formal medical recommendation. The court will only accept reliable documents that prove your current income, future income and time needed to recover.  This documentation will go on the record and will ensure that you receive the appropriate amount for lost wages to be awarded.

At Hastings and Hastings we successfully win personal injury cases everyday.  We will win yours too.  For a free consultation about your personal injury case call us at 800-975-0080 and we will listen to your story, answer all of your questions, and give you our professional recommendation.

Dangers of Emotional Driving and Other Distractions While Driving

Our lives are filled with hills and valleys and in between these ups and downs of life, we need to keep on driving – even on bad days. We drive when we’re feeling sick, tired, mad, sad, and glad.  However, did you know that feeling overly emotional or agitated when you drive can be as distracting as trying to balance a hot cup of coffee, talk on the phone, text, or reach for the radio controls?

In fact, researchers at Virginia Tech Transportation Institute conducted a study that came up with some startling results about emotions and distracted driving; drivers who feel emotions like extreme anger or sadness are ten times more likely to get into an accident than an emotionally stable driver.  The researchers also studied the effects of distracted driving in general. Their findings stated that drivers increase their chance of getting into a crash by 50 percent when they are distracted.  Furthermore, the researchers found that drivers typically engage in distracting behavior while driving half the time they get behind the wheel.  Many of these distracted drivers, the study found, are younger generations of drivers, particularly teenagers.

Being a distracted driver means your eyes are not on the road at all times.  Eating a taco and trying to drive at the same time is like playing Russian Roulette with the road. The same goes for driving while crying or feeling another intense emotion, like rage.  Anything that takes your attention from the road and the task of driving in general, such as turning around to talk to someone in the back seat to reaching for a ringing phone or feeling agitated, dramatically increases your chance of an unavoidable car accident.

If you or someone who love has been injured in a car accident because of a distracted driver, there are actions you can take. In fact, holding a distracted driver liable for your injuries is within the law.  At Hastings and Hastings, we have the experience to see your case financially resolved. You probably have many questions, such as how you will pay your bills while you recover and how long it will take to see compensation. You may have questions about the particular injury you sustained. We can answer these questions and more.  Let our team take care of the financial aspects of your case while you focus on recovering.  For help getting just compensation for injuries caused by a distracted driver, call our compassionate and experienced legal team at 800-975-0080 for a free no-obligation consultation. Our friendly team of experts are here to listen to your story and be your voice to fight for the compensation you deserve.