Things to Know about Underinsured Motorist Coverage

Underinsured motorist coverage is the important part of your insurance policy that covers property and bodily damage caused by a negligent driver with inadequate insurance coverage. Simply put when a party causes an accident but does not have sufficient insurance to compensate you, your own underinsured coverage can take care of the difference.

The Insurance Information Institute reports that over 13% of motorists have no adequate insurance coverage.  A greater amount have low limits that may not compensate you adequately as an injured party. Therefore, underinsured motorist coverage is essential to for accident victims to receive basic compensation for their injury in the event that the at-fault driver does not have adequate coverage.

Why is underinsured motorist coverage necessary?

Individuals may take a lower coverage limits for a number of reasons including the financial costs, or a lack of understanding of appropriate amounts of insurance coverage. While most drivers follow the law and have basic insurance coverage, the minimum coverage requirements in most states are extremely low and are only adequate to cover minor accidents. Personal injury lawyers, like a person injury attorney Milwaukee trusts, have the experience to understand insurance policy and how an accident may be covered by multiple policies of those involved.

What underinsured motorist coverage do I need?

As a personal injury lawyer advises, your coverage for underinsured motorist should be adequate to cover both bodily injury and property damages in the event low insurance coverage from an offending party cannot provide proper restitution.

When to make an underinsured motorist coverage claim

As soon as you are in an accident, depending on the severity, you will want to speak with your insurance carrier and put them on notice that there may be a claim.  When an accident happens, you will exchange insurance information with the other driver and may need to call the police for a proper investigation. You may not know the extent of damage caused immediately, and also the amount of liability the other driver’s insurance will cover. The ultimate costs will be determined by the degree of your injury, missed work, and any property damage to your vehicle.  A personal injury lawyer can help you understand your policy limits and type of action to take next.

What is the total amount of coverage I can have?

Most insurance companies do not allow you to carry a higher underinsured motorist coverage than your personal liability coverage. If you need more information about the amount of coverage you can take, you can talk to a qualified insurance agent. They are in better position to give you relevant information regarding underinsured motorist coverage and any other vital information particular to your situation.


Thanks to our friends and co-contributors from Hickey & Turim, S.C. for their insight into underinsured motorist coverage.

Comparing Civil Suits to Criminal Charges | Motorcycle Accident Lawyer DC

There are significant differences in how civil cases and criminal cases are adjudicated.

For starters, civil suits are tort law cases where one private party is claiming they have been a victim of the neglect of another individual. This can be a personal injury situation or a contractual dispute. Contract disputes can be both oral implied agreements and written definitive agreements, complete with signatures and exact language. Civil suits can involve governmental agencies. The plaintiff’s attorney in a civil case is the prosecutor in the tort matter, but if the civil case reveals activity that is against codified law, then the state may still step in and apply the criminal charges. Criminal charges may be brought by an individual, but the case is actually prosecuted by the state or federal government.

Burden of Proof in Civil Cases

The burden of proving guilt in a civil tort case is the duty of the plaintiff’s attorney. However, there is still a major difference in determining the final outcome of the claim.

Civil cases are decided by a “preponderance of the evidence based on a totality of the circumstances” instead of the commonly thought “beyond a reasonable doubt” that is applied in criminal cases. Even though a civil case may be supported by a large amount of evidence, technicalities can still matter when the question is one of reasonable duty of care or intended deceit by the respondent party. Preponderance is generally considered by the legal profession as an easier standard to meet. When a defendant loses a civil case, they do not face jail time but are usually subject to paying a monetary award to the plaintiff, the amount being decided upon by a jury or judge. The amount is often based upon the damages put forth by the plaintiff but the actual award granted can be for more or less than that amount.

Case Remedies for Criminal Charges

Remedies for criminal charges are usually incarceration or a fine, or both, with many times the defendant being placed on probation if it is a first offense.

Certain criminal charges require mandatory jail terms, such as a conviction for driving under the influence, and many times the punishment is severe in terms of a jail sentence. Fines can be extensive as well, depending on the criminal charge. Civil cases are remedied with money in most instances and only result in incarceration when a crime has been committed during the negligent or deceptive act claimed by the plaintiff.

Representation and Court Costs

It is not a requirement for an individual to have a legal representative to file a civil case, as pro se filings are legal. It is also not a requirement for the respondent to have legal counsel unless the civil case also connects to a criminal case that could result in incarceration.

A criminal case representative is not necessarily the legal counsel for a civil suit either because they are legally two separate issues. The tort suit is filed by the victim and the criminal case is filed by the state authorities. The court costs in a criminal case are paid by the convicted defendant, while the court costs in a civil suit are paid by the plaintiff. They are, however, recoverable in the final settlement as determined by the court. All individuals who may face incarceration for a criminal charge are required by the Constitution to have legal representation.

Courtroom Proceedings and Hearings

A final major difference in civil suits and criminal cases is that many civil cases never even make it to court.

The complaint is delivered to the respondent well before the court date and many times the opposing attorneys can work out a settlement before the court hearing. This never happens when criminal charges are pressed. The criminal defendant must be arraigned in an open public court hearing with an appropriate bond arrangement made at that time. All civil suits are settled financially, while criminal charges can result in major fines along with being incarcerated or having the case deferred if the attorney cannot win a dismissal. All criminal defendants also have their sentencing pronounced in an open public hearing after the state attorney proves the charge.

If you are facing criminal charges or a civil suit, contact an attorney like a skilled criminal defense lawyer Phoenix AZ relies on. Some attorneys offer a free consultation.

Lorona Mead LawThanks to our friends and contributors from Lorona Mead for their insight into the difference between civil and criminal cases.

Motorcycle Road Rage

Road rage incidents can be frightening to witness or be a victim of, due in large part to the fact that they can occur in an instant. Road rage typically happens because of a perceived careless action of one driver that causes harm or almost causes harm to another driver. As a result, the “victim,” which could be either driver, might become so enraged that they attempt to punish the other person. The end result can be violent and possibly deadly.
Examples of Motorcycle Road Rage
 
One of the primary aspects of road rage is that there’s never a good reason for it, even if the carelessness of another driver puts the motorcyclist in danger. Because of this, what causes a road rage incident can be due to something as mundane as:
●      A car driver neglected to turn on their turn signal before switching lanes.
●      A car driver followed too closely behind the motorcycle.
●      The car driver exhibits road rage after a motorcyclist passes them too quickly.
●      The car driver exhibits road rage after the motorcycle accidentally swipes the car when driving too closely.
Who is Liable for a Motorcycle Road Rage Incident?
 
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, around half of all drivers who are victims of some form of aggressive behavior admit that they respond in kind with similar aggressive behavior or with an even worse action. To determine who is liable for a motorcycle road rage incident, it’s important to understand that the original act of aggression might not be considered a crime. Though tailgating and rude gestures can be frustrating or even dangerous in some cases, they aren’t necessarily crimes. If a motorcyclist on the receiving end of an aggressive action responds by assaulting the other person, they would be held liable for the incident.
Common examples of assault and battery involving road rage include:

●      One driver intentionally hits the other vehicle.

●      The driver of one vehicle intentionally runs the other off the road.

●      One driver leaves their vehicle and attacks the other driver.

If any of these aforementioned issues take place, the driver who committed them could be held liable for battery and even assault.
Penalties Associated with Motorcycle Road Rage
 
In the event that a motorcycle road rage incident involved battery or assault, the penalties can be both civil and criminal in nature, which is why it’s recommended to seek representation for your case from motorcycle accident lawyers Fort Collins, CO relies on. If the other driver is at fault, you might consider filing a lawsuit or claim against them for damages. Restitution could include medical bills, wage loss, and even punitive damages if the crime was intentional.
Along with the civil suit and insurance claim, it’s also possible for the victim of a road rage incident to contact the police to pursue criminal charges. In this case, testimony from witnesses will probably be necessary. Punitive damages cannot be collected in a criminal lawsuit. One of our attorneys will be able to better identify the options you might consider in your case if you were a victim of road rage.
Cannon Hadfield Stieben, LLCThanks to our friends and contributors from Cannon Hadfield Stieben, LLC for their insight into motorcycle road rage.

Medical Lien

After a car accident, it is always a good idea to seek medical attention and be sure that you have not sustained any major injuries. If the accident was the fault of another driver then any medical bills will eventually be paid for by their insurance or through civil litigation, if necessary. However, in the event you had to seek emergency medical care from a hospital after an accident, but did not have insurance to pay for treatment, you may receive a “notice of intent to file a hospital lien” in the mail afterwards.
This document is part of the legal procedure that a hospital must go through in order to file a lien against a patient who was not able to pay for their medical services. The lien itself is a legal document that informs the courts that the hospital still needs to be paid if there is any settlement in the case. Bring this “notice of intent” to your attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney will review the lien and make sure that the hospital is not asking for any bloated or outrageous amounts. Your attorney will also make sure that the hospital has followed the proper protocols in filing their lien.
In most cases, the lien is nothing for you to worry about if you have a pending settlement with the insurance company. However, it is still better to pay for medical bills outright and be reimbursed in the settlement. This way there are less parties involved in the case, and less negotiating for your car accident lawyer Dekalb County GArelies on to do.
It is also important to finalize the lien claim before finalizing a settlement with the negligent driver’s insurance. This way you ensure that the insurance company is compensating you for the full amount of your medical bills.
A lien in a personal injury case cannot adversely affect your credit, and cannot be used as evidence of failure to pay a debt.
Having a lien filed in your personal injury case certainly does make things more complicated, but an experienced personal injury attorney will know the proper path to take. It is absolutely crucial that your attorney be informed as soon as you receive a “notice of intent”, so that they may review the specifics of the lien and put together to best case to ensure you are compensated for the damage inflicted on you and your property by a negligent driver.
logo.fw_Thanks to our friends and contributors from Attorney R. Lynch, P.C. for their insight into medical liens.

Smart Ways to Spend Your Tax Refund

It’s tax season again, and many of us have visions of tropical vacations running through our heads.  While luxury is a valid way to spend your tax refund, there are more financially responsible actions you can take, especially if you are facing debt.  As a Clearwater debt collection attorney, we know how hard it is to get out of debt collection once the process has begun.  Here are some smart ways to spend your tax refund this year.

Pre-Pay Some Priority Bills

Maybe you’re not in debt, but you’re basically just covering expenses each month with little to spare.  Wouldn’t it be nice to take a little break from barely meeting your payment deadlines?  Apply your tax return to your most crucial bill (mortgage, rent, etc.) and enjoy a brief period of financial freedom.  You can use the time to keep paying ahead so you have a security net if you get behind, or you can take the extra money and get started on your savings account.  Just be sure that the company allows you to pre-pay.  Some companies, like loan companies or many mortgage companies, will apply the extra payment to the total, but that doesn’t decrease your immediate commitment.

Avoid Future Problems

There is a saying, “It’s expensive to be poor”, and it refers to the fact that when you are just getting by, you can’t afford preventative measures.  When you get a little extra boost in your finances from your tax return, use it to prevent future expenses.  Get your car checked out and see if there are any issues that need to be addressed, especially if they may escalate over time.  Have someone come and check your home for leaks or small issues that could end up getting worse.  This is a great time to be proactive and save money in the long run.

Pay Off Debts

If you’re in debt, pay it off as soon as you can.  Try not to use your tax return for other items if you owe money.  Instead, use it to pay off your smaller debts and clear them once and for all from your record.

Start Planning for Retirement

This is a great time to start a retirement fund!  An IRA or other retirement fund will yield high returns, and a contribution like your tax refund can really get the ball rolling.

There are so many ways you can plan ahead with your tax refund!  What do you plan to do with your return?

Ziegler Law OfficeThanks to our friends and contributors from the Law Office of Michael A. Ziegler, P.L. for their insight into smart ways to spend your tax refund.

What is Probate

Probate is a legal proceeding used to settle the estate of a person who has died.  The judge appoints an executor or executrix who becomes responsible for gathering the assets of the decedent, paying off the creditors and then distributing the assets to the beneficiaries.  Any interested party such as beneficiaries or creditors can open probate.  There are three reasons why every family would want to avoid the probate process: (1) it is expensive; (2) it is time consuming; and (3) it is public in nature.

While the fees for probate will vary from state to state, it is reasonable to use an estimated fee equal to 5% of the fair market value of the probate assets.  Probate assets usually include all assets you own except life insurance, annuities and retirement plans (although sometimes these assets do become probate assets).  At a fee of 5%, the probate fees can get very high.  Probate normally takes at least 9 months, although it does vary from state to state.  Finally, all probate procedures leave a public record open to financial predators who may be looking for families to trouble.

How to Avoid Probate

To understand how to avoid probate, we need to understand what triggers the probate.  Normally, a probate is opened if a person dies with real estate in their name or a certain minimum amount of other assets in their name (for example, if you have over $25,000 in bank accounts or brokerage accounts).  Therefore, if you want to avoid probate, you simply need to gift your real estate and other assets out of your name before you die.  The problem is that you will lose control if you gift the assets to another person.
Living Trusts Make Avoiding Probate Safe and Easy

probate attorney Las Vegas trusts can form a Living Trust that gives you 100% control over all assets it may own.  So the simple trick is to transfer all the assets you own to the Living Trust.  That will leave you with no assets in your name for probate purposes.  You will have the same amount of control over the trust assets as you did when the assets were in your name.  There are no income tax consequences for making the transfers, and most banks will permit such transfers if there is a mortgage on the real estate.

Other Solutions Only Delay the Probate

Some folks will suggest that to avoid probate you merely need to have a co-owner for all your assets.  However, that will only delay the probate until the co-owner dies; but eventually, there will still be a probate.  Meanwhile, you have over-exposed the assets to the financial troubles of your co-owner such as lawsuits, bankruptcy and divorce.

The probate process creates extraordinary fees, time delays and exposure for your family.  Living Trusts are a cost effective way to avoid probate while at the same time keep you in total control of your assets.

Gary L. Fales and AssociatesThanks to our friends and contributors from The Law Offices of Gary L. Fales & Associates for their insight into the probate process.

Reversing Roles as Your Parents Age & Initiating Difficult Conversations

When we were younger our parents attempted to shield and protect us from situations that could harm us. They often hovered over us until we completed tasks or reminded us over and over again until it was accomplished. As we get older and our parents, aunts, uncles or loved-ones age; the roles are now reversed within society. The difference is that we are unable to provide the same approach to our parents when we are concerned for their health and well-being.

It is our personal job to ensure their safety and we now have become their guardians, literally. As a parent, you never want to be a burden or admit that you need help or assistance especially to your own children. Many people will contact a third party facility for assistance than burden their children with their worries or concerns. I bet you are wondering how can we break this cycle? How can I effectively communicate with my parents that I am their biggest advocate, supporter and I want to be their go to person?

Being a Senior Paralegal for a skilled elder law attorney Arlington TX trusts, I have the pleasure of getting to sit in with clients and have first hand knowledge of having these difficult conversations with our clients. I get to assist with strategizing finances, planning for retirement, Medicaid, VA Benefits, Wills, Trusts and Life Planning Document Preparation, Probate and Estates, Guardianships and Social Security Disability.

I also get to be an advocate or voice for our clients when it comes to Elder Law, which is another section of Law that our Firm provides. Elder Law consists of many different varieties of things such as demands for payment of loans, disputing Power of Attorneys or Medical Power of Attorneys due to mental capacity issues.

In dealing with these types of law, I have had numerous years of experience in discussing the most difficult of topics. I have come to find that the best remedy with starting these types of conversations is to simply be honest, open and direct. A listening ear and closed mouth at first often allows you to discover the most important first steps…. Being heard.  Taking the time to sit down with your loved ones and truly listen to their wishes is the biggest part in gaining trust and understanding of the situation. At some point, when dealing with Dementia or Alzheimer’s of course you are not able to do as they so may direct you; however hopefully by the time they are diagnosed you’ve already come up with a strategy as to financial planning and healthcare needs.

All of these areas of law have one thing in common; no one wants to plan for the inevitable. No one likes to discuss death or growing old. When is the last time you sat down for dinner with the family and discussed burial plots or your last wishes? I believe the consensus would be unanimously across the board with a huge slim to none chance. Even in the line of work that I am in, I have brought up some of the most awkward topics of conversation at the most inopportune times with family members and the expressions or reactions still amaze me. For example, I will be driving down the road and turn to my spouse and state “I want lilies and white roses at my funeral!” The usual response is, “What is wrong with you, don’t say that?” I have rambled off so many different ideas’ that of course no one is going to remember them all, so I have literally compiled a list of all my wishes down to the music, poems, colors of my attire, photos and even my fragrance I wish to wear. Does this make me crazy? 

We grow up planning for graduations, weddings, birthdays, vacation trips, purchasing our homes and some even have the whole Retirement thing accomplished. Yet as a society we do not want to discuss these difficult topics let alone sit down and plan for them. I have always had a motto of you can either be prepared for your future or your future will consume you. In dealing with Wills, Trusts and life Planning Documents I get to gather information to pass down to their loved ones once they are gone. I get to have that difficult talk when a clients son or daughter contact us to inform us of their passing and need direction as to where to go from here. When dealing with Probate and Estates, they often come back to our Firm to Probate the Will or Administer their Trusts and in doing so I get the pleasure of letting them know what we discussed at their meetings. I personally encourage our clients to write a little note to their loved ones, or tell me a joke that they would want me to share with them. A phrase that every member of the family knows them infamous for making or a memory that they want me to share with their family.

Often the saddest part of sharing these things is that a lot of the time in discussing their loved ones lives, I have had numerous clients tell me that they did not know these things about their loved ones lives. A common response is that, “They simply would not open up to me about these topics”. All you simply have to do is to stop and take the time to listen to them. Do not be afraid to ask questions or even show interest in planning for their futures. With all the technology nowadays and society being so fast paced we often forget to stop and have an actual conversation.

Brandy Austin LawThanks to our friends and contributors from Brandy Austin Law Firm for their insight into nursing home malpractice litigation.

Appealing a final judgment to the Court of Appeals

Steve Harrelson is a personal injury lawyer Little Rock, AR trusts.  As such, the Harrelson Law Firm is familiar with pursuing and prosecuting personal injury claims in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas.  Sometimes, for a wide array of reasons, it may be necessary to appeal a judgment.  Once the decision has been made to appeal a final judgment, you should mark your calendar for several deadlines.  Miss any one of these deadlines, and it may be fatal to your appeal, so it’s important to ensure compliance with every deadline.

Entry of Final Judgment – Filing a Notice of Appeal: 

Once a judgment has been rendered, you must make sure to await entry of the judgment into the record.  Once final judgment is entered, you have 30 days in which to file a Notice of Appeal.  Second, besides “entry,” the other operative word here in “final.”  In Arkansas for example, while it is possible to file an interlocutory appeal, the topic of “finality” is reserved for a specific blog for next week.  When filing your Notice of Appeal, ensure that it contains the requisite information included in Rule 3(e) of the Arkansas Rules of Appellate Procedure.

Order the Transcript:

Simultaneous with preparing the Notice of Appeal for filing, you must contact the court reporter to order the entire transcript from the hearing or trial (if your appeal is more targeted, you may order only the relevant parts of the transcript).  You must also make arrangements with the court reporter to provide payment for the transcription services you are ordering.

Call the Circuit Clerk to notify them of the appeal:

Simultaneous with preparing the Notice of Appeal for filing and contacting the court reporter, you must also contact the circuit clerk (if your case is being appealed from circuit court – if your case is being appealed from district court, county court, or another inferior court in the state, contact me for details on appealing adverse rulings from those courts).  The clerk will then prepare the official record, which will be lodged with the appellate court.  This must be done within 90 days of the filing of the Notice of Appeal.  Otherwise, you must request and obtain an extension.

Appeal — Where taken

Once you have complied with the three steps discussed above, you must also decide whether to appeal the case to the Arkansas Court of Appeals or to the Arkansas Supreme Court.  Depending upon the type of case, that decision will probably already be made for you.  However, if you have a case that could be a case of “first impression” for the court, it is possible to appeal directly to the Arkansas Supreme Court.  Consult the Arkansas Rules of Appellate Procedure for specifics.

For these reasons, it is imperative to hire a veteran litigator and experienced trial lawyer who has been involved in wrongful death cases for years.  If a loved one has been injured or killed due to the negligence of another person or company, the lawyers at the Harrelson Law Firm stand ready to help.

Harrelson Law FirmThanks to Steve Harrelson and our friends and co-contributors from Harrelson Law Firm, P.A. for their added insight into the appellate process in personal injury cases.

Driver Responsibility for Tire Blowout Accidents

Each year, many motor vehicle accidents are caused by tire blowouts. Drivers, passengers and even pedestrians can be injured in these accidents, just as a tire blowout can cause property damage.

If you suffered property damage or injury because of a tire blowout accident, an experienced Phoenix auto accident lawyer can help you gain compensation for your damages.

Tire blowout accidents are often the responsibility of the driver whose vehicle suffered tire damage. Sometimes the liability falls on others’ shoulders, also.


When Tire Blowout Accidents Are the Driver’s Responsibility

Drivers are required to drive according to their state’s laws and the circumstances of the environment in which they are driving. Drivers have a duty to make reasonable decisions behind the wheel.

If a driver is following laws and their vehicle suffers a blowout unexpectedly due to unavoidable roadway debris, he or she will likely not be held liable for an accident that follows their blowout. This is because the cause of the accident was the unavoidable debris, not the driver’s behavior.

However, if a driver experiences a flat tire and uses poor decision to handle the flat, he or she will possibly be at least partially responsible for an accident that results from that reaction. For example, swerving and slamming on brakes when a flat occurs will likely result in an accident. To avoid causing an accident, the driver should react to a flat by slowing the vehicle’s speed, signaling and pulling off the roadway.

Beyond a driver’s duty to regulate how they manage their vehicle while behind the wheel, there are other duties of driving. These two duties can also affect liability in a car accident after a blowout.


Duty to Inspect the Vehicle

When providing a citizen with driving privileges, the state is also entrusting that citizen with the duty to keep their vehicle in safe operating condition.

It is not necessary for a driver to know how to fix their car like a mechanic would. A driver should inspect their car for obvious hazards before getting behind the wheel, however.

If tires are not well maintained and become thread-bare or have an obvious defect, repair of these issues is the responsibility of the driver. He or she should not operate the vehicle until the problem is fixed. If a blowout causes an accident and the investigation determines the blowout was the result of an over-worn tire, the driver cannot claim they were unaware of the tire’s problem. This is because every driver has a duty to know if their tires are safe for the road.

If your accident involves a blowout caused by a defect in a tire, the driver’s mechanic or automotive specialist could also be found liable for the accident. Such would be the case if the vehicle was inspected by a mechanic who neglected to alert the car’s owner to the defect. In this situation, it would be up to a jury to decide whether the mechanic or the driver should have discovered the problem and fixed it before operating the vehicle.


Duty to Not Drive with Defective Equipment

When a driver is aware that their tire has a dangerous defect, they are obligated by law to not drive that car until it has been repaired. This duty has the same effect on a driver as the duty to inspect. If a tire blowout causes an accident, a driver who had a defective tire and operated the car without fixing it will be found liable.


When Tire Blowouts are Not the Driver’s Fault

There are instances where the driver is not at fault for a tire blowout that causes an accident. As previously mentioned in the defect situation, if a mechanic fails to do his duty during work on the vehicle or an inspection, he may be liable for the tire blowout accident.

Along the same vein, an improperly installed tire or installation of an ill-fitting wheel resulting in a blowout accident can be determined the fault of the mechanic or tire installer.

Manufacturers and retailers can also be held liable for these types of accidents. If a tire is defective as a result manufacturing or design, the manufacturer may be held responsible. Likewise, if a retailer damages a tire on the showroom floor and sells it anyway, that retailer can be held accountable for a tire blowout accident.


An Experienced Attorney Helps Victims of Car Accidents Due to Tire Blowout

When a tire blowout causes a car accident, the case of liability and compensation for damages can become complicated. A highly skilled car accident attorney will help you prove your case through expert testimony about the tire’s condition, possible prevention of the accident, whether the blowout was caused by a defect and who was responsible for such a defect.

 

cantor-crane-website-logo-1Thanks to our friends and co-contributors at CantorCrane for their added insight into tire blowout safety.

Driver Responsibility for Tire Blowout Accidents

Each year, many motor vehicle accidents are caused by tire blowouts. Drivers, passengers and even pedestrians can be injured in these accidents, just as a tire blowout can cause property damage.

If you suffered property damage or injury because of a tire blowout accident, an experienced Phoenix auto accident lawyer can help you gain compensation for your damages.

Tire blowout accidents are often the responsibility of the driver whose vehicle suffered tire damage. Sometimes the liability falls on others’ shoulders, also.


When Tire Blowout Accidents Are the Driver’s Responsibility

Drivers are required to drive according to their state’s laws and the circumstances of the environment in which they are driving. Drivers have a duty to make reasonable decisions behind the wheel.

If a driver is following laws and their vehicle suffers a blowout unexpectedly due to unavoidable roadway debris, he or she will likely not be held liable for an accident that follows their blowout. This is because the cause of the accident was the unavoidable debris, not the driver’s behavior.

However, if a driver experiences a flat tire and uses poor decision to handle the flat, he or she will possibly be at least partially responsible for an accident that results from that reaction. For example, swerving and slamming on brakes when a flat occurs will likely result in an accident. To avoid causing an accident, the driver should react to a flat by slowing the vehicle’s speed, signaling and pulling off the roadway.

Beyond a driver’s duty to regulate how they manage their vehicle while behind the wheel, there are other duties of driving. These two duties can also affect liability in a car accident after a blowout.


Duty to Inspect the Vehicle

When providing a citizen with driving privileges, the state is also entrusting that citizen with the duty to keep their vehicle in safe operating condition.

It is not necessary for a driver to know how to fix their car like a mechanic would. A driver should inspect their car for obvious hazards before getting behind the wheel, however.

If tires are not well maintained and become thread-bare or have an obvious defect, repair of these issues is the responsibility of the driver. He or she should not operate the vehicle until the problem is fixed. If a blowout causes an accident and the investigation determines the blowout was the result of an over-worn tire, the driver cannot claim they were unaware of the tire’s problem. This is because every driver has a duty to know if their tires are safe for the road.

If your accident involves a blowout caused by a defect in a tire, the driver’s mechanic or automotive specialist could also be found liable for the accident. Such would be the case if the vehicle was inspected by a mechanic who neglected to alert the car’s owner to the defect. In this situation, it would be up to a jury to decide whether the mechanic or the driver should have discovered the problem and fixed it before operating the vehicle.


Duty to Not Drive with Defective Equipment

When a driver is aware that their tire has a dangerous defect, they are obligated by law to not drive that car until it has been repaired. This duty has the same effect on a driver as the duty to inspect. If a tire blowout causes an accident, a driver who had a defective tire and operated the car without fixing it will be found liable.


When Tire Blowouts are Not the Driver’s Fault

There are instances where the driver is not at fault for a tire blowout that causes an accident. As previously mentioned in the defect situation, if a mechanic fails to do his duty during work on the vehicle or an inspection, he may be liable for the tire blowout accident.

Along the same vein, an improperly installed tire or installation of an ill-fitting wheel resulting in a blowout accident can be determined the fault of the mechanic or tire installer.

Manufacturers and retailers can also be held liable for these types of accidents. If a tire is defective as a result manufacturing or design, the manufacturer may be held responsible. Likewise, if a retailer damages a tire on the showroom floor and sells it anyway, that retailer can be held accountable for a tire blowout accident.


An Experienced Attorney Helps Victims of Car Accidents Due to Tire Blowout

When a tire blowout causes a car accident, the case of liability and compensation for damages can become complicated. A highly skilled car accident attorney will help you prove your case through expert testimony about the tire’s condition, possible prevention of the accident, whether the blowout was caused by a defect and who was responsible for such a defect.

Contact a local car accident lawyer today!


cantor-crane-website-logo-1Thanks to our friends at Cantor Crane for their insight into workplace injury reporting.