Personal Injury Law (Accidents/Slip & Fall)/Question about an Accident

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Question
Hello, first let me thank you for making yourself available for questions, it is very much appreciated. I'm not sure if you can help but if you can't perhaps you can point me in the right direction.

My son was in a motorcycle accident Monday, June 2, 2014. It occurred on a four-lane highway, my son was in the left lane traveling at approximately 60 mph and a tractor trailer was in the right lane. At some point, the tractor trailer for whatever reason pulled into the left lane where my son was which cause him to wreck the motorcycle. Thankfully, he survived with only road burns and a sprained ankle but needless to say, he is in quite a bit of pain and will probably not be able to go back to work for a couple of weeks.

There was an eye witness that said the truck was at fault but we are unsure at this time if the truck even stopped. The insurance appraiser called me today and said that they were going to total the bike out because it was beyond repair, however, what they are going to pay does not cover the full loan amount. I don't know, I guess I just need to know if we should contact a lawyer in our area or just wait and see what happens with our insurance company? We have never had to deal with anything like this so we are not sure what to do. Any advices you could give would be greatly appreciated. We live in the state of Delaware if that helps any. Thank you in advance for you time.

Take care,
Diana

Answer
Diana,

I am sorry to hear about your son's crash, though glad to hear that he will be okay.

I practice in New York and am not expert in the laws in your state, but can offer some general guidance. In determining reimbursement for property damage, the insurance company will first look to the insurance policy to determine coverage. From the information that you provided, you and your son believe the other driver should be liable. In those cases, the insurance company will look at two factors: the value of the property (in this case, the motorcycle) and the liability for the crash. (Total value = value of the motorcycle X the other driver's liability). In determining the value of the motorcycle, the insurance company will rely upon industry standards which rate the dollar value with some variation based on mileage accumulated and general wear and tear before the crash. Your son should ask how much they valued the motorcycle and the methodology used to come to that valuation. If he disagrees, he can discuss it with the adjuster and perhaps present evidence to demonstrate that the motorcycle had greater value.

Your son should also ask how the insurance company determined liability. Did they find the other driver 100 percent liable or was there shared liability? If your son disagrees with the adjuster, he should discuss the difference and see if he can present evidence to persuade the adjuster. It is possible that the two insurance company's disagree and your son's insurance company will make one determination now and arbitrate the issue with the other insurance company. If your son's company prevails, they will pay the balance of the money owed to your son.

If your son is still not satisfied most insurance companies provide for arbitration of a dispute. To determine your rights (or your son's rights), you should carefully read the insurance policy. You may want to check with a local attorney who handles insurance issues.

I hope this information helps.  

Personal Injury Law (Accidents/Slip & Fall)

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Carol L. Schlitt

Expertise

I am a New York personal injury attorney with over 20 years experience handling car accident and motor vehicle cases, slip and fill cases, medical malpractice, premises liability, pedestrian and bicycle accidents and personal injury cases. I have been named Municipal Attorney of the Year in New York City and had my cases listed among Top Ten Verdicts in New York. I publish the leading legal blog, New York Law Thoughts. I am active in the New York Trial Lawyers Association, and the Bar Associations of the Bronx, Brooklyn and Suffolk.

Experience

I am a New York personal injury attorney with over 20 years experience. I previously served as Associate Corporation Counsel in the New York City Law Department and was named New York Municipal Attorney of the Year. I served as Lead Trial Counsel for Manhattan Law firm of Acito and Klein. I have led my solo law practice for over ten years focused on personal injury and medical malpractice awards. My cases have been listed among the Top Trial Verdicts. I publish the leading legal blog, New York Law Thoughts. I am active in the New York Trial Lawyers Association and the Bar Associations of the Bronx, Brooklyn and Suffolk and I serve as a judge in the national collegiate moot court competition. I am admitted to practice in New York and the Federal District Courts, Eastern and Southern Districts.

Organizations
• American Trial Lawyers Association • New York State Bar Association • New York State Trial Lawyers Association • Bronx Bar Association • Brooklyn Bar Association • Suffolk County Bar Association • Holy Cross Alumni Lawyer’s Guild • St. John's University Alumni Association • National Association for Female Executives

Publications
My writings have appeared in Newsday, The Long Islander, the Times of Huntington and the legal blog, New York Law Thoughts.

Education/Credentials
I received my undergraduate degree from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts and graduated from St. John’s University Law School. I have taken graduate courses at New York University.

Awards and Honors
• Named Municipal Attorney of the Year • Cases listed among the Top Ten Verdicts in New York State • My blog, New York Law Thoughts, has been listed as one of the leading U.S. Law Blogs

Past/Present Clients
I have had hundreds of clients over my 20 plus years as an attorney. All of my current clients are individuals living in the New York metropolitan area (Brooklyn, The Bronx, Manhattan, Queens, Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester). I can provide references upon request.

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