SettersphotoWhen you're in a car accident, the second thing you need to do (after reporting the accident) is to see a doctor. Many people feel fine immediately after an accident only to learn in the coming hours and days that they were indeed injured.   It's typical to feel beaten up with strain/sprain injuries (also known as "whiplash") and it is common for  injured persons to suffer pain and stiffness for weeks or longer after an accident.  A medical doctor can prescribe anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants and/or physical therapy that will speed recovery.  If your injury persists, you need to go back to the doctor for further evaluation (MRI, X-ray etc) to determine whether you suffered a more serious injury.

Many people ask whether the value of their settlement is determined by the costs of medical treatment.  The answer is: sometimes.  Many people have heard an urban myth that their settlement is worth three times their medical bills, so they treat unnecessarily to drive up the cost of the settlement.  Insurance adjusters see through that.  They've heard the same urban myths.

The only legitimate reason to obtain treatment for an injury is because you need it to either recover from the injury or to alleviate pain or disability.  Obtain the treatment that you need and only the treatment that you need and worry about the settlement later.

For more information, visit FAQ page at  keenanpowell.com: http://keenanpowell.com/faq-mva.html.

Keenan Powell has more than 30 years experience representing injured Alaskans in Anchorage and the Valley. For a free consultation, fill out the contact form or call 907 258 7663.

 

 

 

A bicyclist was killed today crossing Northern Lights at 2:30 in the afternoon.  http://www.ktuu.com/news/news/cyclist-dies-after-getting-hit-crossing-midtown-intersection/-/21043658/23747610/-/7ilv1k/-/index.html

Everyone who uses the roads needs to be sensitive to the presence of cyclists.  The  cyclists need to be aware of their surroundings and avoid risk taking.  Vehicle drivers need to remember that cyclists, as well as pedestrians and wildlife, are entitled  to the use of roads and will at times get in the way.  Depending on the circumstances, the driver could well be legally responsible if he strikes a cyclist and, more importantly, will live with the consequence of his actions for the rest of his life. If you don't care about the well being of other people on the road, then you should consider how the a tragic accident will impact the life of the negligent driver.  Possible criminal charges, jail, attorneys fees,  fines, loss of driving privileges are just the beginning.

For a complete list of the applicable laws, see http://www.muni.org/Departments/OCPD/Planning/AMATS/Documents.  Search for the Adopted Bicycle Plan Appendices.

If you are riding your bike and are injured in a collision with a vehicle, call a personal injury attorney.  Contact Keenan Powell: keenan@keenanpowell.com, (907) 258-7663.

 

SettersphotoWhen you are in a car accident, you are required to stop, check to see if anyone is injured (call 911 if someone is badly injured), and render aid.  You are also required to exchange your name and insurance information with the other driver.  If any witnesses stopped, you should obtain their names and telephone numbers as well. The police will not take the witnesses names and numbers any more (new Municipal policy) nor will the police make a report unless someone is obviously injured at the scene.

As soon as you can, you must report the accident to the police department, call your insurance company and report the accident, call the other driver's insurance company and report the accident.  You'd be surprised how many at-fault drivers don't report their accidents to their own insurance company.

For more information, visit FAQ page at  keenanpowell.com: http://keenanpowell.com/faq-mva.html.

Keenan Powell has more than 30 years experience representing injured Alaskans in Anchorage and the Valley. For a free consultation, fill out the contact form or call 907 258 7663.

 

October is has the highest rates of pedestrians being struck by a motor vehicle.  Never good for the pedestrian.

According to the reasons for the increased rate are the shorter days and snow. Although we haven't had snow in town yet, the number of these accidents are on the rise.

http://www.ktuu.com/news/news/october-has-the-most-pedestrian-vehicle-crashes/-/21043658/22479434/-/dh0rsl/-/index.html

In addition, with no empirical proof to support me, I believe that drivers get crazier in October.

Although its legal to cross a road where no crosswalk is provided, the pedestrian still needs to keep a lookout for vehicles which may not have seen him. Alaskans favor dark clothes (they blend well with mud) which makes it harder to see them in the dark. Be aware that a car driver might not be able to see you whether you are in the cross walk or not.  And be aware that many drivers are not looking for you, they're in a hurry to get to wherever they're going.

If a vehicle strikes a pedestrian, he has the duty to stop, render aid and exchange information. Failure to do so is a hit and run. If the driver is at fault, his insurance will need to pay the damages.

For a free consultation, contact the Law Office of Keenan Powell. Fill out the contact form, use e-mail: keenan@keenanpowell.com or call 907 258 7663.

 

 

 

 

According to Allstate’s 2013 annual survey, every driver in Anchorage will be involved in a motor vehicle accident every 8.7 years.  Allstate Report 2013

The bad news is that our national ranking has been consistently slipping. In 2010, Allstate ranked Anchorage as the 124th safest city to drive in. In 2012, we were 128th. In 2013, we are now 132nd.

The good news is that the odds of being involved in an accident have not increased. Each one of us will be involved in an accident on average every 8.7 years and Anchorage’s relative accident likelihood is 15.3% greater than the national average. It appears that, Anchorage residents have not become worse drivers but the rest of the nation has become better drivers.

The really bad news is that our insurance rates are bound to go up, especially if you are insured by Allstate.

It is a good time to reevaluate whether your motor vehicle insurance is adequate. Alaska law requires you to carry a minimum of 50/100 bodily injury liability insurance. If you have the resources to purchase higher liability limits, you should do so. In the event that you cause an accident where the damages exceed $50,000 per person, then you will be responsible for paying the amount of any judgment obtained against you over $50,000. $50,000 is no longer adequate to pay for the most common injuries caused in motor vehicle accidents.

By the same token, if you have the resources you should carry both medical payments benefits and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. The minimum medical payments benefit available is $5,000, which these days may cover one visit to the emergency room, depending on the nature of the injury and treatment. After the ER visit, you’ll be on your own paying for medical treatment unless you have increased medical payments benefits which pays 100% of your bills, not 70-80% as some health insurance companies pay.

The purpose of uninsured/underinsured motorists coverage is to pay you for your damages in the event that the at-fault driver is not insured, does not have enough insurance or you are involved in a hit and run. Again, $50,000 coverage is inadequate. If you have the resources, you should select as much uninsured/underinsured motorists coverage as you can afford.

For more information, see:  http://www.keenanpowell.com/faq-wc.html.

Contact Keenan Powell for a FREE CONSULTATION through the contact form or call: 258-7663. Toll free: 888-368-5678.

mailto:keenan@keenanpowell.com.

 

A driver who is backing up has a heightened duty under the law to make sure he doesn't hit anyone.  The most common accidents occur in parking lots and driveways.

Tragic results can occur of a driver backs out of his driveway without first checking to make sure that there aren't small children behind the vehicle.  I handled one such case several years ago which resulted in a child's death.  Children, depending on how young they are,  are not legally responsible for their actions and if a driver lives in a neighborhood where he can expect children to be riding bikes or playing in the street, on the sidewalk, behind his car, it is his responsibility to watch out for those children.

In the event that a driver does cause injuries when backing out of his driveway, his automobile liability insurance is responsible for paying the damages.  He may have, as well, homeowner's insurance which might provide coverage, both medical and bodily injury, and umbrella insurance which would provide additional coverage.

Of little consolation to the injured child's family, if the responsible driver had inadequate resources to pay for the damages, his or her driving privileges can be revoked administratively, whether or not he is prosecuted.

For more information, see http://www.keenanpowell.com/faq-wc.html

Contact Keenan Powell through the contact form or call: 258-7663.  Toll free: 888-368-5678.

In a 2012 report created by the Department of Transportation,  over 900 hit and run accidents in Alaska in 2009, many of which resulted in serious injuries.   http://www.dot.alaska.gov/.

"Hit and run" refers to leaving the scene of an accident.   When a driver is involved in an accident, whether the driver is at fault or not, he has a duty to stop and render aid to any injured parties and also to exchange information regarding his identity and insurance.    Failing to do so is a crime.  If someone is injured or killed in the accident, leaving the scene is a felony whether or not the driver caused the accident.  If caught, the driver faces jail time and revocation of his driving privileges.

But what about the victim?

If the victim has automobile insurance with uninsured motorists coverage, she will be able to make a claim under her policy for medical bills, lost wages, disabilities and pain and suffering.  If she has medical payments benefits under her automobile insurance policy, she will be able to draw upon those.

If the driver is found, she will be able to make a claim against his insurance.

If the driver is prosecuted, then she can request restitution for her insured costs.  The request should be made through the prosecutor’s office.

Additionally, benefits and services are available to the hit and run victim from the State of Alaska, Violent Crimes Compensation Board because hit and runs has been classified as  a violent crime.  http://doa.alaska.gov/vccb/policy/hit_run.html.  Applications are available on-line at their website.

For more information, see http://www.keenanpowell.com/faq-wc.html

Contact Keenan Powell through the contact form or call: 258-7663.  Toll free: 888-368-5678.

If you decide that you want to hire an attorney for your personal injury claim, you should first interview a few to see who you like.  It is important to feel comfortable with the attorney and be able to communicate with him or her.  Most personal injury attorneys provide one free consultation.

When interviewing attorneys, you will want to know how long they have been litigating personal injury cases, what kind of associations they belong to, whether they take continuing legal education, whether they have malpractice insurance and what their fees are.

You are entitled to hire an attorney on an hourly basis rather than contingency fee however most attorneys will require a retaining if you choose to do so.

If you choose to hire an attorney based upon contingency fee, you need to know if you will be expected to advance costs and what the per centage of the fee will be.  Most attorneys start their fee  percentage at 33 1/3% if the case settles without filing suit.

Never consult or hire someone who is not licensed to practice law in the State of Alaska.  There are people who claim to be paralegals or some other kind of legal professional but they have not gone to law school, have not passed the bar examination, are not regulated by the Bar Association and do not carry malpractice insurance.  If they give you bad advise or make a mistake in your case, you have no recourse against them.

By hiring an attorney licensed to practice law in the Alaska, you have the comfort of knowing that they are required to take at least 3 hours of ethics classes per year, that they are governed by the Bar Association and should have malpractice insurance.   In the event that something goes wrong, you can file a compliant with the Bar Association and/or file a malpractice suit against them.  You also may file a fee arbitration petition in the event that you do not agree with the fees that were charged.

By hiring an experienced attorney, you have the comfort of knowing that, in your best interests, that person in considering the ramifications of every action taken or not taken which can be particularly important in proper documentation of the claim, negotiations, settlement and timely prosecution of the case.  People who do not practice law do not have this experience.

Finally, practicing law without a license is a crime.  It should be reported to the Alaska Bar Association and to the District Attorney’s Office.

An Explanation of Benefit (sometimes called "Explanation of Medical Bill Payment" or "Explanation of Review") is the document that an insurance company is required to send you when it receives a bill from your health care provider.  The insurance company is required to tell you if it is going to pay the bill and if it is not, why not.  The forms are difficult to read but it is important to take the time the time to understand what the insurance company is saying because it might be screwing you.

If the insurance company is denying the bill, then it needs to explain the reason.  Frequently the company will reference a code in its explanation but doesn’t give you the codes.  If that happens, send a letter (USPS priority so you can track receipt) demanding the codes.  And keep a copy of that letter.

Read the reason for denial.   If the insurance company is wrong, then follow the procedure that the insurance company provides for appealing the decision.  Some insurance companies will spell out a particular procedure on the back side of the form and there will be deadlines.  Follow the procedure to the letter.

If your EOB doesn’t have a procedure, write to the insurance company and explain to it why it is wrong.  Again, keep a copy of the letter and track its delivery through USPS.

Sometimes, your automobile insurance company may deny payment of a bill because the bill was not coded as a motor vehicle accident.  Assuming that the bill is a legitimate cost of treating your motor vehicle accident injuries, then you need to call the billing department of your provider and explain to them the coding problem.  The billing department’s telephone number will be on the bill that they sent you.  They are generally very helpful and would be happy to do what is necessary to smooth out a problem.

Insurance companies are under an obligation to deal with you in good faith and there are several specific mandates that they are required to obey:  A person may not commit any of the following acts or practices:

  • (1) misrepresent facts or policy provisions relating to coverage of an insurance policy;
  • (2) fail to acknowledge and act promptly upon communications regarding a claim arising under an insurance policy;
  • (3) fail to adopt and implement reasonable standards for prompt investigation of claims;
  • (4) refuse to pay a claim without a reasonable investigation of all of the available information and an explanation of the basis for denial of the claim or for an offer of compromise settlement;
  • (5) fail to affirm or deny coverage of claims within a reasonable time of the completion of proof-of-loss statements;
  • (6) fail to attempt in good faith to make prompt and equitable settlement of claims in which liability is reasonably clear;
  • (7) engage in a pattern or practice of compelling insureds to litigate for recovery of amounts due under insurance policies by offering substantially less than the amounts ultimately recovered in actions brought by those insureds;
  • (8) compel an insured or third-party claimant in a case in which liability is clear to litigate for recovery of an amount due under an insurance policy by offering an amount that does not have an objectively reasonable basis in law and fact and that has not been documented in the insurer's file;
  • (9) attempt to make an unreasonably low settlement by reference to printed advertising matter accompanying or included in an application;
  • (10) attempt to settle a claim on the basis of an application that has been altered without the consent of the insured;
  • (11) make a claims payment without including a statement of the coverage under which the payment is made;
  • (12) make known to an insured or third-party claimant a policy of appealing from an arbitration award in favor of an insured or third-party claimant for the purpose of compelling the insured or third-party claimant to accept a settlement or compromise less than the amount awarded in arbitration;
  • (13) delay investigation or payment of claims by requiring submission of unnecessary or substantially repetitive claims reports and proof-of-loss forms;
  • (14) fail to promptly settle claims under one portion of a policy for the purpose of influencing settlements under other portions of the policy;
  • (15) fail to promptly provide a reasonable explanation of the basis in the insurance policy in relation to the facts or applicable law for denial of a claim or for the offer of a compromise settlement; or
  • (16) offer a form of settlement or pay a judgment in any manner prohibited by AS 21.96.030;
  • (17) violate a provision contained in AS 21.07.

AS 21.36.125(a).

If you’ve done everything that you can do to get the bill paid and the insurance company is wrongfully refusing to pay it, you can file a complaint with the Division of Insurance:  http://commerce.alaska.gov/ins/Insurance/filingAComplaint.html.