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Determining Liability in Multi-Vehicle Accident

A multi-vehicle accident is often called a pile-up, and it is a major accident where the insurance companies are faced with high payouts. Such accidents mainly occur on high-speed roadways, and normally involve four or more vehicles. Apart from high-speed roads, multi vehicle accidents can also occur at slower speeds at intersections. Since the payouts are huge, insurance companies assign the case to highly trained accident investigators, who are capable of finding out the underlying cause of the accident and driver/s responsible for the pile up.

Determining fault in a pile up is a very complex process, since the investigators have to identify the negligent act amongst multiple drivers. Several aspects are considered including:

     Drivers who were driving above the speed limit
     Which drivers were following too closely to the vehicle in front
     Which drivers were driving under the influence or were distracted by talking on a cell phone or other distractions
     Were there any mitigating circumstances such as bad weather, poor roads and so on
     Was more than one driver negligent
     Did any of the drivers violate any traffic rules

Usually for determining fault, the investigation team will:

§    Speak with the investigating police officers and review the police reports. The team will mainly look for any citations given by the police for traffic or other violations.
§    Carry out interviews with the involved drivers, passengers of those cars, and also interview witnesses
§    Take photographs of the accident scene, focusing on the vehicles, skid marks, and damaged objects in the vicinity.
§    Review the driving records of the drivers involved in the pile up, and look for prior tickets, accidents, and arrests.

By the Numbers

Since most states follow the rule of comparative negligence, liability can be spread amongst several vehicles involved in the accident, and each driver can receive compensation based on his percentage of fault.

This is why you are not supposed to tail gate. This means you are driving too close to the car in front of you. There are certain distances you are supposed to drive in relation to the speed you are moving at. To most people this is pretty much common sense but some people are just aggressive and rude. These same types of people could be road way bullies as well hoping to compel you to move out of the way so they can speed on by.

Aggressive Driving

These rude tail gaters can easily be the perpetrator of a large wreck because if some tule fog roles in, there is some debris on the road, if the front driver has to slow down quickly because of traffic concerns, the tail gater behind this person will rear end them and this could cause a large accident if some cars behind the tail gater join this collision. This does not happen all the time but it does happen nonetheless. Hopefully this tail gater can be found to be most at fault.
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Common Causes of Rear-End Collisions

Almost half of the total auto accidents are due to rear-end collisions. The most common causes of rear-end collisions are:

v    Tailgating: This is the most common cause of rear-end collision, where the driver of the vehicle behind you is not able to stop in time, when you come to a stop. The traffic code in most states, no longer specifies the distance a car is required to keep from the vehicle in front. Most traffic codes, simply mention a “prudent” distance. Hence, it will be decided by the judge or jury if the driver of the car behind you, was keeping a prudent or respectable distance or not.
v    Distraction: Even if the driver in the car behind you is keeping a prudent distance, he might be distracted by listening to loud music, eating, putting make up, glancing at the back seat, or using a cell phone. Such distraction can prevent him from braking in time.
v    Brake Lights Failure: When the brake lights of your car are not working, the driver behind may not get sufficient notice to stop, and ram into your vehicle.
v    Sudden Obstructions in Front: You might have to brake suddenly when you notice somebody wandering onto the road, or there is an accident, taking place in front of you.
v    Weather Conditions: Extreme weather conditions like snow, lashing rain, fog, slush, high winds, and ice formation could decrease visibility and affect the ability of the driver at the back to stop in time.
v    Defects in the Road: Potholes, road signs obscured by foliage, faulty traffic signals, can all contribute towards a rear-end collision.
v    DUI: Alcohol and drugs can compromise the reflexes of the driver at the back, and the intoxicated driver may not be able to gauge distances correctly.

Your Main Goal
 
While claiming compensation for personal injury due to rear end collisions, it is important to establish negligence of the driver behind.
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Claiming Compensation for Permanent Partial Disability

All employees are entitled to claim benefits from worker’s compensation insurance if they are injured on the job. These benefits include compensation for medical and therapy costs, related transportation costs, medications, and partial reimbursement of lost income. However, for permanent partial disability (PPD) the employee may be given a structured or lump sum settlement.

Not the Same

An employee who is permanently partially disabled will not be able to perform his former duties permanently, because of the job related injuries. The PPD settlement is to compensate the injured employee for his diminished capacity to earn, over the rest of his life. Even though the employee can still do some work, he is not able to perform the same work duties that he was doing prior to the injury. He may be able to do some job that pays less, compared to his former income.

If someone takes the spark out of someone’s life they should pay in some kind or another. Most of the time it is financial and if they do not have insurance then they should pay with their time. That is where the police and the district attorney will come into play. Even if they have money and they are insured, they should be punished criminally and civilly. O.J. Simpson knows all about this.

Just because someone is being punished criminally does not mean that will benefit you per say. You will not be directly compensated in this manner but it is your right to pursue a civil case. Society is punishing this person and society is being paid back under these charges.  

Injuries that Matter

Different types of work injuries can result in PPD. The most common injuries are:

o    Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
o    Back injuries
o    Vision lost in one eye
o    Knee injuries
o    Amputation of entire limbs, or of fingers or toes
o    Loss of hearing
o    Damaged nerve in neck or shoulder areas
o    PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)

Not Over With

PPD is determined after the employee reaches a level of MMI (Maximum Medical Improvement). This means, the primary doctor of the employee has reached a decision that the medical condition has stabilized, and it is not going to improve with further treatment. Once the employee has reached MMI, it does not necessarily mean the treatment is complete, as the employee might need ongoing therapy, chiropractic, or medical care, to stop the disability from worsening.

The Other Side

Once the primary doctor of the employee has declared MMI, a further IME (Independent Medical Examination) may be performed by the doctor of the insurance company. If there is a discrepancy in the evaluation, the worker’s compensation board will decide the claim benefits after considering several factors.
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Do You Need to Pay a Tax on a Personal Injury Settlement

Generally, injury compensation is not taxable; however, there are certain categories in the settlement that are taxable. The government will have full access to information about settlements and hence if you fail to pay the required tax, you will have to pay penalties and fines. Before you spend every bit of your settlement, make sure you set money aside to pay the tax.

The IRS is Growing Larger

Settlement payouts by insurance companies will usually be in a lump sum amount, and you have to figure out the category breakdown. Before you received your settlement, you would have paid for medical costs from your pocket and hence taken a deduction on the expenses while filing your tax returns. When you have done so, you need to pay income tax on that part of the settlement that covers medical costs. To figure out the amount for this category from the lump sum, you will have to refer to the copies of your medical and chiropractic bills that you had submitted to the adjuster.

America is Bankrupt and has a Spending Problem

Secondly, the IRS considers the settlement of lost income as ordinary income, and hence you will have to pay tax on that category as well. To comply with federal law, you will have to list the lost income received in settlement as “other income”.   

A Small Break

The part of your settlement that covers emotional distress and pain and suffering is generally not taxable. The pain and suffering you experience is considered by the IRS to be part of the injury and hence reimbursement for the same is taken to be reimbursement for the injury, and therefore not taxable. However, if you are awarded punitive damages, then it is not the same as pain and suffering, and this part of your settlement will be taxable.

Interpreting various sections of the Internal Revenue Code is quite complex and therefore it is necessary idea to consult a tax attorney or a public accountant to determine the taxable categories of your personal injury settlement. Unfortunately, America’s tax code is quite complicated.
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Understanding the Adjuster in a Personal Injury Claim

Thousands of claims are made against insurance companies each day. An insurance company will assign the task of investigating the claim to their employee called a claims adjuster. The role of the adjuster is to investigate the merits of your claim, but mainly the adjuster is given training to bring down the settlement amount or discredit the claim altogether. Hence, you cannot expect any empathy from your adjuster, and in fact, you have to be very careful what you say to this person.  

It does not matter if this person happens to like all of your sports teams. Most likely he or she does not care for those teams at all they are just saying anything to build some rapport with you. Since this rapport is built on a bed of lies and stories, this so-called friendship is fallacious. They do not care to hang out with you and they do not really like the movie that you saw two weeks prior, for example. They are there for one thing and one thing only and that is to try to entice you to sign some paperwork that does very little for you but plenty for the insurance company they represent.

If you are lonely and want someone to talk too, call up a friend, a relative, a family member, or the janitor you may see once in a while in the hospital.

Repercussions

When you make a claim for your personal injury, there will be a negotiations phase, where the adjuster will try to provide a cheap and quick settlement. A quick settlement is fine, but when the settlement is low, you will not be able to meet even the costs of your medical expenditures.

Your Interests are not Their Interests

You should understand that paying claims is a loss for the insurance company and the adjuster will try every strategy to pay less or not pay at all. The adjuster will be a fantastic salesperson and will try to convince you that settling quickly will work in your favor. However, this is not entirely true, since the adjuster will agree to settle for much less than what your case is worth.

The adjuster will be quite an expert, at tailoring his pitch to suit various personalities of victims. Being a skillful negotiator, the adjuster is usually able to convince a victim to settle for much less. Therefore, one has to be careful, especially when the adjuster becomes friendly and shows interest in your personal life.

The Opposition’s Tactics

The adjuster will try to pick up information that can be used to bring down the settlement amount or used against you at trail. It is therefore best to hire a lawyer to represent you during the negotiations. They know the ploys or schemes the opposition will try to employ.
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Recognizing Bad Faith Negotiating Tactics of the Insurance Company

When you make a claim for your personal injuries suffered in an accident, a claims adjuster will be assigned by the insurance company to process your case. The main job of the adjuster is to carry out investigations to find reasons for paying lesser amount of settlement or denying the claim altogether. In most personal injury claims, the line between good faith and bad faith negotiations is quite thin; however, denying a claim in bad faith is illegal, and punishable by punitive damages and substantial fines.

Bad faith negotiation tactics can happen:

Ø    When negotiations start, and the adjuster may deny your claim for no substantial reason
Ø    During the negotiations, where the adjuster wants to settle for a much lesser amount by wrongfully manipulating facts or the law 

There is not checklist available by which you can identify bad faith tactics. However, here are important things that a claims adjuster should not be doing according to the law:

v    Denying your claim at the beginning of negotiations without any legitimate reason.
v    Offering a settlement amount that is unreasonably low and not supported by the provided medical evidence or facts of the accident.
v    Denying your claim without carrying out any investigation of the facts of the accident.
v    Avoiding to answers your claim letters and telephone calls.
v    Even when statute of limitations is not applicable, trying to say that it is too late to file for compensation.
v    Saying that your claim has been misplaced and the whole procedure will have to be started again, and therefore there will be an indefinite delay.
v    Saying that since other cars were involved in the accident, you have to deal with the insurance companies of the other drivers first.
v    Refusing to reveal what the settlement offer is based on.

Keep Pressing

These types of games may be played at first but if you obtain an attorney, some of these aspects may change after that. They will know that now you have a credible witness to any of their bizarre delay tactics. Their immoral action can come to haunt them later on when the truth is revealed.

Go Public

Your attorney can file another lawsuit for this type of behavior. Most likely they will not employ these types of strategies if you obtain a solid and committed attorney. They will know you mean business and that you are expecting to be compensated for your pain and suffering. The court and the system does not tolerate those types of games above and if there is still some shenanigans going on, perhaps for political or some other type of reason, you and your attorney can always take this situation to the media to make it public.
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Our Arkansas Personal Injury Law Firm has a strong history of
helping folks with legal matters!

Our office will handle the entire process and negotiate with the
 adjuster  to get you compensated for your injuries. If property
   damage, workers' compensation or social security disability
     become involved, we handle that, too. We negotiate, settle,
       or file the case in court.

       If you'll give us a chance to help, we'll get on it right away.
        If you can't come to us, we'll go to you. We're looking
         forward to meeting you.
 
 
 
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FAQ


 Will the person who caused my injury be punished?

Not in the traditional sense of the word. Defendants in civil actions for personal injury do not receive jail terms or criminal fines as punishment. Those are criminal sentences, and personal injury cases are civil actions. However, in some cases, juries and courts can award what are called “punitive damages,” which are designed to punish defendants who have behaved recklessly or intentionally against the public's interest. The goal in ordering the payment of punitive damages is to discourage such defendants and others from engaging in the same kind of harmful behavior in the future.

 When will I get my settlement?

A personal injury lawsuit can average 2 to 3 years, but keep in mind that each case is unique, therefore one cannot predict the amount of time needed to bring you your settlement. Just keep moving forward in your lawsuit and make sure that your lawyers and their staff are getting the job done.

 What if a person dies before bringing a personal injury lawsuit?

It depends on whether the person died as a result of injuries from the accident or from unrelated causes. If a person injured in an accident subsequently dies because of those injuries, that person's heirs may recover money through a lawsuit known as a wrongful death action. Also, even if a person with a personal injury claim dies from unrelated causes, the personal injury claim survives in most cases and may be brought by the executor or personal representative of the deceased person's estate.

 What should I bring with me for my meeting with a lawyer?

You should provide a lawyer with any documents that might be relevant to your case. Police reports, for example, contain eyewitness information and details about the conditions surrounding auto accidents, fires, and assaults. Copies of medical reports and bills from doctors and hospitals will help demonstrate the extent and nature of your injuries. Information about the insurer of the person who caused your injury is extremely helpful, as are any photographs you have of the accident scene, your property damage, and your injury. The more information you are able to give your lawyer, the easier it will be for him or her to determine if your claim will be successful. If you haven't collected any documents at the time of your first meeting, however, don't worry; your lawyer will be able to obtain them in his investigation of your claim.

 How soon after I am injured do I have to file a lawsuit?

Every state has certain time limits, called "statutes of limitations," which govern the amount of time you have to file a personal injury lawsuit. In some states, you may have as little as one year to file a lawsuit arising out of an automobile accident. If you miss the deadline for filing your case, you may lose your legal right to damages for your injury. Consequently, it is important to talk with a lawyer as soon as you suffer or discover an injury.

 What is “negligence"?

The critical issue in many personal injury cases is just how a "reasonable person" was expected to act in the particular situation that caused the injury. A person is negligent when he or she fails to act like an "ordinary reasonable person" would have acted. The determination of whether a given person has met the "ordinary reasonable person" standard is often a matter that is resolved by a jury after presentation of evidence and argument at trial.

 How do I know if I have a personal injury case?

First, you must have suffered an injury to your person or property. Second, you should consider whether your injury was someone else's fault. It is not always necessary to have a physical injury to bring a personal injury lawsuit. Some personal injury claims could be based on a variety of nonphysical losses and harms. In the case of an assault, for example, you do not need to show that a person's action caused you actual physical harm, but only that you expected some harm to come to you. You also may have a case if someone has attacked your reputation, invaded your privacy, or inflicted emotional distress upon you.

 Why use a personal injury lawyer?

When you are hurt in a wreck, you have lost more than the cost of your medical expenses. Injuries affect your work, your leisure and your family. In other words, injuries can affect your whole life. It is important for you to obtain fair and reasonal compensation for the damage to your life which is caused by a personal injury.


Personal injury lawyers understand how injuries impact your life. Personal injury lawyers help you to understand the law concerning personal injury damages and they help to negotiate a reasonable settlement with insurance companies. If the insurance companies will not be reasonalbe, then personal injury attorneys help you tell your story to a jury so the jury will be able to provide reasonable compensation.


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