Car Accidents

What if I Wreck My Leased Car in Joplin, Missouri?

One of the common reasons people choose the leasing option when purchasing a new car is the ability to trade in for a newer vehicle for less money than buying a brand new car. There are certainly pros and cons involved in leasing a vehicle.But if you ultimately choose this option, be sure to read the fine print before signing the leasing contract. There may be consequences you would not expect, especially if you have a wreck in your leased vehicle. Let our Joplin car accident lawyer explain. Common Misconception About How Car Leases Work According to some experts, consumers often make mistakes when setting up their car lease agreement. A car dealership will advertise a low monthly lease payment, with relatively large payments at the beginning of the lease period. While this arrangement is meant to pay a portion of the car lease in advance, that prepayment can be an issue if the vehicle is involved in an accident within the first few months of the lease period. If a leased vehicle is wrecked, then the insurance company will reimburse the leasing company for the car’s value.  However, the money that was paid up front by the consumer is typically not refunded. That means the consumer loses the leased vehicle while also leasing the money paid in advance. What Should You do if Your Leased Vehicle is Involved in an Accident? With the popularity of leased vehicles increasing, it is important for consumers to understand the steps that need to be taken if they are involved in an accident in their leased car. Our Joplin car accident lawyer recommends that you should first make sure that you and anyone else involved in the accident are alright and seek emergency medical care if necessary. As with any other car accident, you should also contact law enforcement to report the accident. Also, like with any other accident, you need to exchange information with the other driver(s), including contact information and insurance information. You will need to contact the insurance company for the other driver. Take pictures of the accident scene, damage to your vehicle and your injuries, as appropriate. Dealing with the Insurance Company Covering Your Leased Vehicle Most, if not all, leased vehicles come with automobile insurance coverage.There is typically a provision in the vehicle lease agreement that requires the consumer to inform the leasing company that the leased vehicle was involved in an accident. You may also have an obligation to notify the automobile insurance company of the accident. You may also be expected to meet with a claims adjuster working with the insurance company so that the damage to the leased vehicle can be evaluated. You may be asked to take the vehicle to a particular repair shop to obtain an estimate of the cost of repairs. You will be instructed by the insurance company on which steps to take to get the leased vehicle repaired. Because the vehicle does not belong to you, it is expected that you will follow their instructions with regard to repairs. Having Your Leased Vehicle Repaired Pursuant to the Leasing Company’s Instructions According to our Joplin car accident lawyer, it is essential that the leasing company or auto dealer from whom you leased the vehicle be informed of the accident. That is the only way you can be sure to comply with whatever conditions or requirements they will have with regard to having the vehicle repaired. Some leasing companies may not agree to have after-market components on a leased vehicle repaired. Instead, the leasing company may decide to use only the original components provided by the manufacturer. The important thing to remember is that you could be forced to pay certain penalties or fees at the end of the lease period if you failed to meet all of the conditions required by the leasing company. No Right to Damages to the Leased Vehicle The primary goal of any lawsuit is to be compensated monetarily for the injuries you sustain because of someone else’s actions. As any car accident attorney will tell you, the purpose of the lawsuit following a car accident is to make the at-fault driver compensate you for your injuries and losses resulting from the accident. The amount and type of recovery to which you may be entitled depend on many factors.  In the legal arena, what you may recover is referred to as “damages.” Contact a Skilled Joplin, MS Car Accident Lawyer Today If you have questions regarding car accidents or any other personal injury matters in Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a free case consultation. You can reach us by sending an online message or by calling us toll-free at (800) 364-8305.

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Car Accidents

What is a Phantom Vehicle Claim in Arkansas?

Nothing can be worse than being involved in an automobile accident, except possibly when the at-fault driver leaves the scene. Most clients are concerned that automobile insurance will not cover a hit and run or phantom vehicle claim. An even worse situation is when a careless driver runs you off the road and never actually collides with your vehicle. These kinds of personal injury claims can be tricky to prove. You can still be successful in bringing these types of claims, with the right advice from a personal injury attorney. What is a phantom vehicle in Arkansas? The term “phantom vehicle” is used by insurance companies to refer to a vehicle involved in an accident, where neither the driver nor the vehicle can be identified. That is typically the situation in a hit and run, where the other car drives away from the accident scene before the vehicle could be identified.The term can also apply to a situation where a motorist claims to have been run off the road by another car, which could not be identified. Insurance Companies Are Not Fond of Phantom Vehicle Claims Theoretically, a hit and run case would be covered by uninsured motorist coverage. Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage, applies to situations where someone is involved in an automobile accident and the person who is at fault, either does not have insurance or does not have sufficient insurance, to fully compensate the injured party. In most states, uninsured motorist laws assume that, when an unidentified motorist causes an accident and flees the scene, that vehicle was uninsured.This is a good thing for consumers because the accident should be covered under an uninsured motorist insurance policy. However, many insurance companies insist that, when the vehicle is unidentified, some minimum physical contact with the vehicle is required. Their argument is that, without proof of a collision, a driver could simply lose control of their vehicles, and then make a claim for uninsured motorist coverage. How Do You Prove a Phantom Vehicle Claim in Arkansas? Obviously, these types of claims can be very difficult to prove. The results of a recent study show that plaintiffs in phantom vehicle cases are only successful 51% of the time. In other words, you have about a 50-50 chance of being compensated for your injuries and other losses, when you cannot identify the other driver.Not to say that the chances are drastically better when you can identify the other driver. In those cases, the other driver will most likely allege that you were at fault and responsible for his or her damages. Either way, there is a lot to prove. So, how do you prove your case if the at-fault driver leaves the accident scene without stopping? In those cases, finding witnesses to corroborate your version of the events can be critical. If anyone stops to help you after the accident, make sure you obtain that person’s contact information. You will likely need to get their testimony to prove your claim.  However, eyewitnesses are not always available. In that case, you can still be successful, if you remain a credible witness and you can obtain favorable testimony from an accident reconstructionist and other types of investigators. If you have questions regarding automobile accidents or any other personal injury concerns, call the Cottrell Law Office at (888) 433-4861.

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Car Accidents

Can a Car Accident Attorney in Rogers Help Me Avoid Mistakes?

If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident, contacting a car accident attorney in Rogers as soon as possible is important. If you are looking to secure the compensation to which you are entitled, there are several common mistakes that must be avoided. The Cottrell Law Office is here to help you avoid mistakes and secure your future. Be Careful What You Say at the Accident Scene It is never a good idea to say anything related to liability at the scene after a car accident. This includes saying the accident was not your fault or discussing what you recall happening. The best advice we can give is to say as little as possible. While you need to provide your contact information to the police and answer their questions, do not make accusations or admit to anything related to liability. Beware of Insurance Carriers Depending on your situation, you will likely need to report the car accident to your insurance carrier, just as the other driver will report the accident to theirs. You will be required to report the accident within a certain period of time. When you do, be sure to only give them the facts and nothing else. Do not discuss liability who you think was responsible. The mistake that many people make is assuming the insurance company is on their side. That is not the case. Their goal is to pay as little for the claim as possible. If they can get out of paying anything, they will do that as well. If you have already spoken to a car accident attorney in Rogers, let them handle the communications with the insurance carrier. Don’t Settle Your Claim Too Soon or for Too Little Another common mistake clients make is settling their car accident claims to soon.  First, remember that there is no obligation to accept the first settlement offer an insurance company makes.  You have the right to negotiate and it is usually wise to reject the first offer.  If you settle too quickly, you could be limiting your recovery because you may not know the true extent of all of your injuries or damages.  Immediately following the accident, the true extent of your physical injuries is not always known because it can take days or weeks for pain and some injuries to manifest themselves.  A car accident attorney in Rogers knows when to reject a settlement offer and how to negotiate for the compensation you deserve. Never Sign a Waiver or Release Before Conferring with a Car Accident Attorney in Rogers In addition to attempting to limit your settlement amount, car insurance companies often pressure car accident victims into signing a waiver.  The purpose of a waiver is to get you to accept a check while agreeing you won’t file a lawsuit for your claims.  If you sign a waiver or release you are forfeiting your legal right to recover for your injuries.  You should not sign a release until you are sure you are satisfied with your settlement, so do not be afraid to speak to your attorney first and let them review the waiver or release.  Once you sign, it’s too late. Provide Accurate Information on the Accident Claim Form When the time comes to fill out the insurance claim form, it is important that it is done completely and accurately.  If there are mistakes on the form, it could result in a delay in processing your claim.  It could even result in your claim being denied altogether.  You need to make sure you provide as much detail as you can about the accident.  The information you provide will be compared to the police report as part of investigating your claim.  The best choice is to have Rogers accident attorneys help you with your claim. What Should You Expect to Recover? The purpose of a lawsuit is to be compensated for the injuries you sustain as a result of someone else’s negligence.  The only way you can be compensated is monetarily.  Another purpose of the lawsuit is to hold the at-fault driver accountable for the injuries and losses you sustain during the accident.  The amount and type of recovery to which you may be entitled depend on many factors.  Rogers accident attorneys can help you with these and other issues following a car accident. If you have questions regarding car accidents or any other personal injury matters in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a free consultation. You can contact us either online or by calling us toll-free at (888) 616-6356.

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Car Accidents

Who is Liable for Car Accidents Caused by Sun Glare?

The issue of fault is the most important component of a lawsuit. If you cannot determine the appropriate person to sue you will be unable to file a lawsuit. If more than one party is accused of liability, determining who is at fault requires identifying the levels of fault. In other words, each party will only be responsible for the amount of damages that can be attributed to his or her actions. Your Joplin car accident attorney can review your case and help you determine who the appropriate defendants should be. But what happens if nature plays a role in the accident? The Dangers of Sun Glare for Drivers Every driver has experienced it. Driving due west at the wrong time of day and ending up with the blinding sun in your face. There is no real safe way to respond and you just pray that you don’t hit the car in front of you, or worse, strike a pedestrian or someone on a bike. Sun glare is actually a very common cause of accidents in the United States. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), sun glare results in hundreds of accidents each year in our country. That number is likely much higher as “the sun” is rarely cited as the cause of an accident. The question is, can you be held liable for an accident because the sun blinded you? Sun Glare Does not Qualify as an “Act of God” Unlike floods or earthquakes, sunshine does not qualify as an “extraordinary natural event” that cannot reasonably be foreseen.  Acts of God are unavoidable and, when they are exclusively caused by an act of God or natural disaster, and they cause an accident, that can be a defense against liability. Sun glares, however, do not qualify because they are not unforeseeable. We all know that the sun rises and sets and the general timing of those events, so by nature they are reasonably predictable. Because drivers are expected to operate their vehicles with reasonable care, that includes being prepared to deal with the potential of sun glare. If you have questions about other “act of God” situations, speak to our Joplin car accident attorney. How Can You Avoid Sun Glare Situations The best defense in a situation like this is to try your best to avoid this type of accident by minimizing sun glare and avoiding the situation as best you can. If you frequently find yourself faced with the glaring sun as part of your daily routine, find an alternative route during that time of day. Also, polarized sunglasses (often used by lifeguards) reduce blinding sun glare significantly. Also, be sure to leave sufficient space between you and the car in front of you and stay clear of the shoulder where bikers or pedestrians might be traveling. Accidents Can Be Caused By Something Other Than Another Driver Despite the fact that most auto accidents are caused by a negligent driver, there are many other causes of accidents that are just as common. Poor road conditions and weather conditions are frequent causes of auto accidents. Examples of dangerous road conditions include potholes, uneven expansion joints, and debris on the roadway.  A deep hole in the middle of a roadway can cause serious auto accidents, especially on interstates. Motorcycles are more likely to lose control from hitting a pothole than a car. Expansion joints usually connect a highway to a bridge. When the two parts are joined it can expose a rough surface and this unevenness can be dangerous.  Much like a pothole. Similarly, when a road has uneven lanes of different heights, it can be dangerous when a vehicle changes lanes. Debris or Animals on the Roadway Depending on the size of debris that is left on the roadway, it can cause a very dangerous situation for drivers. For instance, the debris left from blown out tires, especially from 18-wheelers, can cause damage to a vehicle or even cause the driver hitting the debris to lose control. The same is true for the debris left from a collision or objects that may fall off of other vehicles, such as trucks carrying items. As our Joplin auto accident lawyer can explain, state and local governments are liable for maintaining roadways that are free from obstacles. If they fail to do so and an accident occurs then the government can be held liable. If you still have questions, let our Joplin car accident attorney know. If you have questions regarding car accidents or any other personal injury matters in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a free consultation. You can contact us either online or by calling us toll-free at (888) 616-6356.

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Car Accidents

Who is Responsible When a Vehicle’s Autopilot Malfunctions?

Some believe that a self-driving car actually eliminates accidents because technology or robotics are more precise. However, the reality is autonomous vehicles cannot entirely eliminate car accidents. There are been several injuries and deaths across the country involving malfunction of an autonomous vehicle, like a Tesla or Uber. So, who should be held legally responsible for these accidents? If you are injured in an accident involving a vehicle being operated on autopilot, our car accident lawyer can help you determine who should be held responsible. Tesla Autopilot Crash in May 2018 Leads to Injuries In May of 2018, a woman was injured in Utah when her Tesla crashed into a fire truck while on autopilot. Although she was “operating” the vehicle at the time, she was looking at her phone at the moment of the collision. Her foot was broken and she also claimed loss of enjoyment of life, along with her physical impairments. This is not the only case like this. In fact, there have been at least two cases that were fatal. Tesla’s autopilot system, which was first implemented in 2015, allows the vehicle to automatically break, steer and switch lanes when the system is engaged. Of course, the autopilot program is not infallible. Instead, the system is susceptible to defects like most other machines and computers. Unfortunately, autopiloted cards are often advertised as preventing or avoiding accidents, but that is not always the reality. A Car Accident Lawyer Can Help With a Defective Product Claim In defense of many defective product claims, Tesla has argued that is Autopilot feature has effectively reduced car accident occurrences by 40%. Yet, there is very little scientific data to support this assertion. More importantly, though, Tesla argues that the person operating the vehicle still has an obligation to ensure that the autopilot is performing appropriately. Autopilot systems have not reached the stage where a driver can “go to sleep and wake up at their destination.” While this argument may seem reasonable, there is also the consideration that having an autopilot system lulls drivers into becoming passive passengers who pay very little attention to the road. As such, automakers who offer autopilot systems in their vehicles should reasonably foresee this danger. What You Need to Know About Determining Fault Sometimes, the most important aspect of a lawsuit is who is at fault in a car accident. In states which permit identifying one party as liable, this is often the most complicated and heated debate. Below is an explanation of how to identify who is at fault for an accident and how such determination can affect an award of damages. Why Determining Fault is So Important The issue of fault is the most important aspect of a lawsuit because without knowing who the party is you should sue, you cannot recover.  If you do not determine who that person or entity is, that party could escape financial liability for the accident. If more than one party is accused of liability, determining who is at fault requires identifying the levels of fault. In other words, each party will only be responsible for the amount of damages that can be attributed to his or her actions. Obviously, if a self-driving car is involved in an accident, there is no actual driver who can be held responsible. Many times, issues of product liability are applicable because you are dealing with a piece of machinery and a computer. If it was a human driver, then legal theories of negligence would be applicable. The only way to hold a computer responsible is by suing the entity that created and/or programmed the computer. Since self-driving vehicles are complicated pieces of equipment, there are other legal issues involved, as well. Determining Who to Sue for Car Accident Injuries In order to recover after a car accident, you have to first determine who is at fault.  Liability cannot be placed on anyone until it is determined who caused the accident or put another way, whose negligence lead to your injuries.  Depending on how serious the car accident is, there could be very significant repair costs and medical bills.  The person who is determined to be at fault is the person responsible for reimbursing the victim for their damages.  If you or someone you love, has been involved in a crash where a vehicle’s autopilot system was engaged, contact our car accident lawyer, to review the facts of your case and help you determine if you have a claim. If you have questions regarding car accidents or any other personal injury matters in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a free consultation. You can contact us either online or by calling us toll-free at (888) 616-6356.

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Car Accidents

How Long After My Accident Do I Have to Make a Claim?

There are deadlines for filing nearly every type of civil claim.  This time limit is referred to as the “statute of limitations.”  If you do not file your lawsuit before the deadline has passed, you will not be allowed to bring that lawsuit.  If you still file your legal claim after the deadline, it will likely be dismissed.  Each statute of limitations period depends on the type of legal claim you are bringing and the state law applicable to that claim. Your attorney will make sure you meet the statute of limitations period that applies to your car accident injury claim if you bring the case to them in time. The Purpose of the Statute of Limitations The primary purpose of the statute of limitations is a practical one.  The evidence that will either support or discredit your legal claims will likely be destroyed over time, just as the memories of relevant witnesses will be less accurate.  In accident cases, for example, the scene is most often altered over time.  Business records are usually destroyed in the normal course of business.  In order to preserve evidence, it is important to bring your car accident injury claim as soon as possible. “Tolling” of the Statute of Limitations Many jurisdictions “toll” or suspend the limitation period in special situations.  For instance, if the injured party is a minor or if bankruptcy proceedings are involved.  In those situations, the running of the limitations period is paused or tolled until the special situation ends. Equitable tolling can be applied for individuals who were intimated into not bringing the claim or who relied upon a promise that the period would be suspended.  In those case, it would be unfair or inequitable not to toll the period. What Is the Discovery Rule? The discovery rule also tolls or suspends the statute of limitations until an injury is or should have been discovered, depending on the situation.  The way the discovery rule works is that it effectively changes when the statute of limitations begins to run.  The discovery rule is most often applied in medical malpractice and wrongful death cases.  In those types of cases, the cause of the injury or death is not always apparent when it first occurs, due to the nature of the injury itself.  So, the statute of limitations period doesn’t start until the injury is discovered or reasonably should have been discovered.  Not every state applies the discovery rule the same way, depending on the injury and other circumstances. The Statute of Limitations for a Car Accident Injury Claim In Arkansas, most claims must be filed within three years of the injury. This includes a personal injury or car accident injury claim. Arkansas recognizes the “discovery” exception for situations where you could not have discovered your injury until some later time. This doesn’t usually apply to a car accident injury claim unless a specific injury is not discovered until years later, which is not very common. In Missouri, plaintiffs have two years to file a lawsuit for personal injury or a car accident injury claim.  The discovery statute can also apply in Missouri, for a maximum of 10 years from the date of injury. Deadlines for Filing Wrongful Death Claims Like all other legal claims, there is a deadline for filing a wrongful death lawsuit, which differs from state to state.  This deadline or time limit is commonly referred to as the “statute of limitations.” In both Missouri and Arkansas, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death action is three (3) years.  A car accident injury claim can involve wrongful death claims if someone involved in the accident dies as a result of their injuries. Claims Against the Government Arkansas has different rules when a claim is brought against a government entity.  In those cases, the statute of limitations period is five (5) years.  Likewise, in Missouri, an injury claim against a state entity must be filed with the Office of Administration’s Risk Management Division, within 90 days of the injury.  It is wise to seek the assistance of a car accident attorney if you have a claim against a government entity. If you have questions regarding the statute of limitations, a car accident injury claim, or any other personal injury matters in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a free consultation. You can contact us either online or by calling us toll-free at (888) 616-6356.

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Car Accidents

The Most Common Causes of Car Accidents

According to a U.S. Department of Transportation report, more than 37,000 people were killed in car accidents in the United States in 2017. The CDC reported that, in 2016, nearly 39,000 deaths were caused by motor vehicle-related injuries. Considering the likelihood of being involved in a fatal car accident, our Rogers car accident attorney believes it may be helpful to recognize the common causes of car accidents. Negligence of Other Drivers The unfortunate reality is that the greatest threat on the road is often other drivers.  Driver negligence accounts for more accidents and more deaths than any other cause. There are so many different ways that drivers can act negligently when operating their motor vehicles and all of them can be extremely dangerous. For example, driving while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs, driving while drowsy or fatigued, or driving distracted as all common examples of driver negligence. Speeding, particularly in bad weather conditions, is often an example of recklessness. All of these actions are dangerous, illegal, and cause hundreds of deaths every year. Distracted Driving is Still A Huge Problem Distracted driving is becoming a major concern for highway safety.  As the use of cell phones has increased, so has the number of auto accidents involving distracted drivers.  Although the campaign to stop texting and driving is in full swing, cell phone use is not the only form of distracted driving. Any activity that diverts a driver’s attention from the primary task of driving is a distraction and endangers the driver, passengers, and others on the roadway.  Distractions also include everyday tasks that many of us engage in all the time, such as eating and drinking, talking to passengers, grooming, using a GPS and adjusting the radio or other electronics. Dangerous Road Conditions Contribute or Cause Accidents While driver error is a major cause of auto accidents, there are other factors that play a substantial role in causing auto accidents, as well.  Roadway defects and engineering and design problems attribute to auto accidents as well.  Furthermore, many hazardous road conditions can make, what would have been a minor crash, a much more serious event.  Failure to properly maintain roadways is another common cause. Defective Motor Vehicles Cause Accidents or More Severe Injuries When vehicles have defective parts, were improperly designed, or were not maintained as necessary, the machine itself can be the cause of a treacherous auto accident.  No doubt, you have heard about the major cases against auto manufacturers for some of the following: Fuel system malfunctions Rollovers Airbag malfunctions Seat belt malfunctions Defective tires Acceleration problems These manufacturers, as well as auto dealers, rental companies, and drivers all have a responsibility to ensure the safety of their vehicles and must be held accountable when the reasonable standard of care has not been met. How Much Can You Recover in a Car Accident Case? The amount of compensation you may recover after a car accident depends on the type of damages you suffered.  Each claim is different, both factually and with regard to which laws apply to your claim.  The most important element used in determining the value of a car accident claim is the nature and seriousness of your injuries. Our Rogers car accident attorney can help you determine the potential value of your car accident claim. Roger Car Accident Attorney Can Explain Settlement Options If you have been injured in a car accident as a result of someone else’s negligence, there are two ways to receive compensation for that injury.  You can either settle the case out of court or obtain a judgment from the court.  Although a jury verdict in a civil lawsuit would likely result in a larger recovery, jury verdicts are never guaranteed.  Indeed, most car accident cases settle before trial and our Rogers car accident attorney can help you make that decision. Knowing When to Accept a Settlement Offer Of course, the goal of settlement is to negotiate for the best possible amount of compensation.  However, there may be times when it makes more sense to accept a settlement that is much less than a potential recovery in court.  For example, if your chance of proving the elements of your claim in court seems very uncertain, taking a settlement might be the best strategy.  This is where our Rogers car accident attorney can be extremely helpful. If you have questions regarding car accidents or any other personal injury matters in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a free consultation. You can contact us either online or by calling us toll-free at (888) 616-6356.

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Car Accidents

What if I Loan My Car Out and They Have an Accident?

So, a friend asked to borrow your car, you gave them the keys, and they were involved in a car accident. Most people who find themselves in this situation are fear they have made a huge mistake. This is mostly because they have no idea whether their car insurance policy will cover the accident and whether they will be held liable for any injuries or damages. The answer these questions is not simple and will depend on many different factors. If you find yourself in this situation and you have no idea what to do, speak to our Joplin car accident attorney. Will My Car Insurance Cover the Accident if I Loaned My Car to Someone? This is not a simple yes or no question. There are so many factors that must be considered. First, what does your car insurance policy cover? In most cases, car insurance applies to the vehicles that are insured, not the person who obtains the coverage. But, depending on the coverage provisions, your car insurance may or may not cover damages that occur when someone other than you or others in your household are driving. So, the first step is to look at your policy to see what is covered. Of course, determining whether the person to whom you loaned your vehicle is at fault in the accident is very important as well. If it turns out that the other driver was at fault, then that person’s insurance should foot the bill. Understand the Limitations on Coverage of People in Your Household It is also important to recognize that, simply because someone lives in your household may not necessarily mean they are considered covered drivers under your car insurance policy. Depending on your insurance policy, coverage may only extend to your spouse or people who are specifically named in the policy. There may also be exclusions for certain people. Your insurance carrier may not cover your children unless they are a certain age. You may also choose to specifically exclude certain people in your household because they are at-risk drivers for any number of reasons. If you have questions about your insurance coverage and potential liability, ask our Joplin car accident attorney. What Happens if There is no Insurance Coverage? Many states now impose serious penalties on drivers who do not have car insurance, particularly when those people are involved in a car accident. Some states, though, have taken further steps by passing so-called “no pay, no play” laws which prohibit uninsured motorists from receiving any compensation for non-economic damages, even if they were not at fault. Missouri is one of those states and our Joplin car accident attorney will explain the latest update on that law. The Premise Behind So-Called “No Pay, No Play” Laws These “no pay, no play” laws are based on the premise that uninsured motorists would not be able to compensate other drivers if they caused an accident, so their own recovery should be limited as well. There are currently 11 states that have enacted some version of this law.  Missouri has one but Arkansas does not. This year, however, there has been a Missouri state court decision that may lead to the law being held unconstitutional. If you still have questions about the laws in Missouri, our Joplin car accident attorney can help. Minimum Insurance Coverage Requirements in Missouri In Missouri, every driver is required to obtain auto insurance before they can legally drive their vehicle or even register the vehicle with the state.  Out-of-state drivers must also carry at least the minimum coverage amounts in order to legally drive in Missouri.  The minimum coverage amounts are as follows: $25,000 per person for bodily injuries suffered in an accident $50,000 per accident for bodily injuries, when more than one person is hurt, and $10,000 per accident for property damage What is Uninsured Motorist Coverage? Uninsured motorist coverage (UM) provides a minimum level of recovery for individuals injured by an uninsured motorist. Uninsured motorist coverage is different from liability insurance, in that it is more like bodily injury insurance coverage.  Underinsured motorist coverage (UIM) is similar to uninsured motorist coverage.  Its purpose is to provide additional coverage in the event the at-fault driver has insufficient coverage.  The law requires that consumers in Missouri be given the option of purchasing underinsured motorist coverage.  However, it is not required. If you have questions regarding car accidents or any other personal injury matters in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a free consultation. You can contact us either online or by calling us toll-free at (800) 364-8305.

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Car Accidents

Rogers Car Accident Attorneys Warn First Responders

It may not occur to everyone that drivers and passengers are not the only ones at risk of injury in car accidents.  Unfortunately, the men and women who respond to these car accidents to provide assistance and investigate face a risk of injury as well.  Every year, a significant number of first responders, law enforcement, tow truck drivers and others end up being struck by other cars while working the scene.  When this happens, Rogers car accident attorneys can help the parties sort through the possible legal claims. Avoiding the risk of secondary accidents As all Rogers car accident attorneys know, no one expects to be struck while standing on the side of the road assisting in a current accident.  It is likely assumed by these individuals that they are clearly visible by other drivers because of the multitude of vehicles and flashing lights.  But the scene actually tends to have the opposite effect. There are a few ways we can all work to reduce the risk of injury to first responders. First, obey so-called “Move Over” laws. Each state has its own version of a “Move Over” law.  In fact, you are likely to see signs on the major highways reminding you of this rule. Another way to avoid injuries to first responders is not to “rubberneck.” Trying to pay attention to an accident scene while you are driving is a very dangerous distraction that often leads to secondary accidents. Finally, be extremely vigilant particularly when you are approaching an accident scene. What does “Move Over” law refer to? In July 2012, Hawaii became the final state in our country to enact a Move Over law.  The purpose of these programs is to reduce the risk of injury to first responders and law enforcement and make it safe for them to do their jobs.  The basic principle is that, when motorists see flashing lights on the side of the road, they need to slow down and move over into the next lane if it’s safe to do so.  The further traffic is from the scene as it passes by the police, paramedics, fire crews, and tow truck drivers, the less likely first responders will be struck.  All it takes is a few drivers making the move, for others to follow. Arkansas’s “Move Over” Law Like many states, Arkansas has enhanced its move over laws to protect more than just law enforcement, fire trucks, and ambulances.  The law now requires drivers to move over for emergency vehicles, as well as any vehicles owned by the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department and its contractors. This would include utility vehicles, tow trucks, or authorized vehicles displaying, blue, red, amber, white, or green lights that are flashing, revolving or rotating.  Arkansas drivers are expected to move to the farthest possible lane or position from the authorized vehicle. If that is not possible, the driver must reduce speed and exercise caution.  The fine may be up to $500.00 and/or jail. The court may also order community service or suspend a person’s driver’s license for up to six months. Missouri’s “Move Over” Law Missouri also expanded its “Move Over” law in 2012.  Although the state’s law covering police and fire trucks has been in place for the past decade, the newly expanded law now includes emergency vehicles, such as ambulances and MoDOT Motorist Assist or Emergency Response vehicle operators.  In Missouri, also have signs in place reminding drivers to slow down or change lanes when approaching emergency or maintenance vehicles located on the shoulder. What to do if you are involved in a car accident A common question posed to every car accident lawyer is what to do after a car accident.  First, never leave the scene of the accident no matter how minor it may seem.  If you do not stop your care, you could end up facing a criminal charge for hit and run.  The first step is to call 911 to notify the police and to request an ambulance if anyone, including yourself, is injured.  If the injuries are not too severe, you can also contact your insurance carrier while you are at the scene. If you have specific questions, let our Rogers car accident attorneys answer those for you. You should always call the police Many people assume that if there were no injuries and the damage to the vehicles was minor, there is no need to notify the police.  That is not a good idea.  Regardless how minor everything seems to be, it is important to get the police involved so that a police report can be created.  This record will be crucial in case you are sued or later decide that you need to file a lawsuit yourself.  You never know, so it is good to have it just in case.  In most situations, you will need the police report to make an insurance claim as well. If you have questions regarding car accidents or any other personal injury matters in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a free consultation. You can contact us either online or by calling us toll-free at (888) 433-4861.

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Car Accidents

Can My Joplin Car Accident Lawyer Help Me Recover Damages?

Even the most experienced drivers can find themselves involved in a car accident. Regardless of how minor your injuries may seem at first, you should always seek medical attention as soon after a car accident as you can.  Remember to tell your doctor that you were involved in a car accident and describe exactly what happened. The next step should be to consult with a Joplin car accident lawyer. How much can you recover for damages? The amount of compensation you may recover after a car accident depends on the type of damages you suffered.  Each claim is different, both factually and with regard to which laws apply to your claim.  The most important element used in determining the value of a car accident claim is the nature and seriousness of your injuries. Our Joplin car accident lawyer can help you determine the potential value of your car accident claim. What is the real purpose of a damages award? The basic purpose of a damages award in a car accident case is to make the person who was injured “whole” again.  This essentially means compensating the victim for everything was lost as a result of the accident or injury.  As any Joplin car accident lawyer will tell you, the way to accomplish that is usually a monetary award. Compensatory Damages In most car accident cases, the primary component of damages is medical expenses incurred as a result of the accident.  Reimbursement for medical treatment basically includes compensation for treatment already received, as well as the estimated costs of any medical care that may be required in the future.  Additionally, the injuries suffered can have a substantial impact on the victim’s ability to return to work, either temporarily or permanently.  In that case, damages may include future income. Emotional Distress and Pain and Suffering Another important component of damages in nearly every car accident case is compensation for pain and suffering.  If you suffer pain and severe discomfort at the time of the injury, as well as ongoing pain, that is a separate type of damages for which compensation may be available.  Another thing to consider is the effect of more severe injuries, which often lead to emotional distress damages for the psychological impact of the injuries.  These types of damages can be difficult to prove so discuss your options with a Joplin car accident lawyer. Is a hit and run car accident different? Victims of hit and run car accidents can suffer injuries, property damage, or both.  You may be side-swiped on the road and the driver speeds off, or you may find your car in the parking lot with a huge, unexplained dent.  What your car accident lawyer will tell you is, your own insurance coverage will likely have to compensate you for your damages. What will my car insurance pay? Basically, the purpose of car insurance is to cover you if you become liable for the injuries or damages of someone else, following a car accident.  However, in a hit and run, you don’t know who the responsible party is, much less their automobile insurance information.  In that case, your own insurance will typically be your only source of compensation. Uninsured Motorist Coverage In some states, insurance carriers are required to offer a minimal amount of Uninsured Motorist Coverage to policy owners.  Some states go so far as to required drivers to carry a certain amount of Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UIM).  You have the option of purchasing more than the minimum coverage required.  You also have the option to purchase Underinsured Motorist Coverage, which is similar to UIM coverage, as it provides compensation when the at-fault driver has insurance, but not sufficient coverage in your case. Justifying Uninsured Motorist coverage In a hit and run accident, uninsured motorist coverage would most likely be the primary source of compensation.  Since the other driver cannot be found, it is analogous to the other driver not having insurance.  You need to report the accident to the police and your insurance company, as you would with any other auto accident.  Depending on the law in the state where the accident occurred, you may be required to prove physical contact by another vehicle or, at least, provide an eye-witness other than yourself or your passenger. If you have questions regarding car accidents, or any other personal injury issues in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the experienced a Joplin car accident lawyer Cottrell Law Office for a free consultation, either online or by calling toll-free at (888) 433-4861.

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