How Home Insurance Helps During a Bodily Injury Lawsuit

If you were injured on someone else’s property and trying to decide whether to file a lawsuit, it is a good idea to know how the responsible party’s insurance policy can pay out for your injuries.Personal Injury Attorneys

A standard homeowner’s policy typically includes two types of liability coverage.

If you don’t file a lawsuit, the responsible party might file a MedPay claim with their home insurance carrier which provides limited repayment for injuries when a lawsuit is not presented. Most policies, however, place a maximum limit of $1,000 for this type of coverage. With medical costs rising this is often not enough to cover hospital and doctor’s bills, ambulance rides and other expenses related to your injury.

If you decide to file a lawsuit for your injuries, the responsible party’s home insurance policy might still come in handy. The other type of liability coverage included in a home insurance policy is called personal liability protection.

Personal liability protection will allow a policyholder to file a claim and receive financial assistance if he or she is being sued. The follow scenarios are examples of accidents that could qualify a homeowner for a claim: (1) Their dog bites you while you are walking past their home; (2) your child falls off a neighbor’s trampoline and fractures his ankle. (3) you are involved in an accident where another driver is at fault and their auto liability coverage is not enough to pay for your injuries

There are many reasons a person might choose to sue after such a mishap. Medical bills are costly, plus there are other associated expenses. The hurt party might miss weeks of work, or the injury could have negative long-term effects on the person’s health. These costs add up, and that is why many individuals seek legal action.

Standard home insurance policies typically include a minimum of $100,000 for a liability claim. Again, however, coverage can be increased to as much as $500,000. Criminal activity and other exclusions apply. The following circumstances probably won’t be eligible for home insurance coverage: (1) Transmission of a communicable disease. (2) Mental, physical or sexual abuse, (3) The selling, manufacturing or distribution of controlled substances.

So you know now how easily accidents can happen since you were the victim of one. So how can you protect yourself from the financial burden of a lawsuit? Of course, it’s always best to prepare for the worst-case scenario ahead of time. Consumers who feel that they’re at particular risk for a lawsuit can purchase umbrella coverage – which comes in increments of $1 million up to $5 million. These people might own a pool or live in a neighborhood with a lot of unsupervised children and worry that someone might get hurt on their property. Umbrella coverage kicks in once the limits of your personal liability have been met. It also applies to your automobile insurance once those liability limits have been met.

Whether you’re the plaintiff or the defendant, it’s good to know about financial options when facing a lawsuit. When in doubt about your insurance coverage, get in touch with a licensed agent. A professional can answer any question you may have and get you the coverage you need. You can discuss premiums, deductibles and other important aspects of a policy as well.

If you have been in a similar situation to the aforementioned, contact the law offices of Reeves, Aiken, and Hightower, LLP toll-free at 877-374-5999 for more information.

Hot Coffee – New Virginia Claim May Prompt More Discussion

Discussion of hot coffee cases has cooled down considerably in past years, despite the recent film Hot Coffee.  Hopefully that will remain the case even after a recent Virginia complaint where a “drive-through” customer at a Virginia Beach Burger king suffered third degree burns after she was handed a cup of coffee inside of a bag.   These hot coffee cases tend to make bigger news than cases like medical malpractice, defective products, or serious car accidents where liability is more widely accepted by the public.  This is unfortunate because hot coffee cases are precisely where proponents of tort reform would like to wage the battle for public opinion.

Most would agree that it is, at least initially, a little counter-intuitive to find negligence in serving hot coffee, or to find hot coffee to be a defective product (but since when do we expect the law to be intuitive).  However, after considering that many of the chains require that coffee be kept at temperatures between 180º-190ºF and that 180ºF is hot enough to cause third degree burns in as little as 2 seconds, one could conclude that it may not be prudent or reasonably safe to serve “drive-through” customers coffee that could cause serious injury.

Reasonable people differ on this.  People argue variously:

  • that coffee, to retain its characteristic flavor and aroma, must be served at high temperatures (generally the argument is temperatures 150°F or above) at which third degree burns would still happen in a matter of seconds (no safer alternative);
  • that coffee must be given to the customer at temperatures far exceeding the desirable drinking temperature to allow customers to stir in sugar or creamer and to allow drive-through customers to pick up coffee and still have hot coffee when they get where they’re going (no safer alternative);
  • that people when they order hot coffee expect coffee capable of causing severe burns, not just burnt tongues (assumption of risk);
  • that all food above 140°F pose burn risks, and thus people when they buy food should check its temperature before consuming (assumption of risk);
  • that the stern warnings are enough (an adequate warning renders a defective product not defective).

Responses to these arguments, generally attack necessity and point out restaurants could do more to make the coffee safer, e.g. by using more secure cups, better insulated cups to keep coffee warm longer, or serving coffee at the minimum effective temperature instead of at temperatures as high as 190°F.

The fundamental theoretical question is to what extent individuals should bear the risk of being careful with the food they order and to what extent people in the business of selling hot food should protect their customers.

The legal bottom line is that if someone is seriously injured by hot coffee, and they didn’t do anything stupid (like try to pour hot coffee into a different container over their lap or try to open the cup while driving), they’ll likely be able to prove negligence or product liability in a lot of jurisdictions.

Auto Insurance and UIM Coverage in SC

No one wants to get into a car accident in the first place, and matters are made even worse when the other driver doesn’t have adequate insurance coverage.  The best scenario in that situation is that a driver has uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage.  Even then, a driver must worry that his insurance company, as his UIM carrier, will dispute liability.  A recent South Carolina Court of Appeals opinion illustrates how complicated matters can become in what one might think should be a straightforward car accident case.  It also reveals some of the interesting decisions that a state might make when trying to regulate who, when, and how folks are compensated following a car accident.

In that case, Lincoln General v. Progressive Northern, the practical issue was which gargantuan insurance company would end up paying for damage caused by the negligent driver in a car accident.  One of these insurance companies, the trail court plaintiff, was the UIM carrier, who had already paid up (for the injuries caused by the negligent driver).  The other was the insurance company who had granted a policy to the owner of the negligently driven car.  The policy, however, had an “endorsement” specifically excepting coverage of an individual in the policy holder’s household whose driver’s license had been revoked by the SC DMV.  That sets up the legal issue:  whether an insurance carrier must provide coverage despite a “named driver endorsement” (i.e. a provision excepting a named driver).

The policy backdrop here is that South Carolina law will require liability insurance companies to pay innocently injured drivers except in very limited cases, whether the policy purports to exclude coverage or not.  The idea is that insurance companies should bear the loss, rather than the not-at-fault driver, whenever possible.

This case, however, deals with a specific exception made by South Carolina in the Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Act (the MVFRA) for these “named driver endorsements.”  Realizing that if insurance companies knew that anybody in a household would end up being covered in the event of an accident, insurance rates might become very expensive for drivers who had someone with a revoked license and bad driving record in their home, the SC legislature allows individuals to add to their policy a named driver endorsement, to specifically exclude the driver with a revoked license.

Despite the MVFRA clearly making this exception, the trial court read the MVFRA as generally requiring coverage up to state minimum policy limits in all cases.  The Court of Appeals rejected this because of the MVFRA’s clear exception for drivers whose licenses had been revoked.

The takeaway here for anyone who isn’t a subrogation lawyer is that named driver endorsements for folks whose licenses have been revoked will be respected and that UIM litigation is sometimes quite complicated.

The complete opinion is included below the fold.

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Rock Hill Man In Tractor-Trailer Accident- SC Attorney

A Rock Hill resident lost his life in a multi-car collision involving a tractor-trailer, that consequently ended in a massive fire on Interstate 85.

The accident occurred last Friday, around 1:45 p.m., on I-85 going southbound near the Statesville Road exit. The tractor-trailer was owned and operated by a Food Delivery Service, who had been travelling to Asheboro, N.C., and were on their way back to Rock Hill, SC. The tractor-trailer was empty at the time of the accident.

When the tractor-trailer slide out of control, it slammed into the back of a female driver’s vehicle, trapping her inside. This particular victim was the first one hit in the multi-car collision at hand.

Speed and alcohol have not been considered as attributing  factors to the crash.

York County Tractor-Trailer Accident Attorneys

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, a typical trucking accident or ” tractor-trailer” accident occurs when the larger trucks, usually over 10,000 lbs., collides with other vehicles, trucks, or even worse, pedestrians. The DOT statistics states that around 500 thousand of these accidents occur each year. Of these, 5,000 or so end in fatalities. Even more disturbing, one out of every eight traffic accidents that end in death, are involved with a trucking collision.

In the event that you, or someone you love has found themselves involved in a tractor-trailer, truck, or ” big rig” accident, please call the experience Commercial Truck Attorneys at Reeves, Aiken and Hightower, LLP to evaluate your claim and help get you the justice you deserve!

For more information about our law firm, please visit www.rjrlaw.com. Or call one of our attorneys directly at 877-374-5999.

SC Truck Driver Loses his Life- SC Accident Attorney

On September 5, Henry R. Womack of Turbeville S.C. lost his life while driving the treacherous streets of Chicago, Illinois. Apparently, Womack was the driver of a semi-tractor-trailer and was involved in a serious collision that cost him his life.

He was travelling on the Bishop Ford Freeway, when his semi-tractor-trailer collides with another vehicle, and abruptly took Womack’s life, where he was pronounced dead on scene.

The details are still hazy, as the accident did not occur in Womack’s hometown.

South Carolina Tractor-Trailer Accident Attorneys

If you or a loved one have been involved in a tractor-trailer accident during bad weather or road conditions, contact the experienced commercial truck accident attorneys of Reeves, Aiken & Hightower LLP.  With over 75 years combined legal experience, former insurance defense backgrounds, and a former Registered Nurse (RN), our team is standing by to help get you and your family through this difficult time. For more information, please visit our website at www.rjrlaw.com. Compare our attorneys’ credentials. Then, call us for a private consultation about your particular situation. Hire the best tractor-trailer accident attorney in whom you have the most confidence to get you the justice you deserve!