Auto Accident

The Realities of an Arkansas Car Accident

by Cary Graham | August 8th, 2016

If you think calling a lawyer is an option and not a necessity after a car accident, you might want to consider the following realities about car accidents in Arkansas. First of all, this accident is going to cost you. It’s a fact that if you’ve been injured and require medical treatment, the bills are coming to you. Without an attorney, it’s up to you to get the other driver’s insurance company to pay your current medical expenses and any future medical expenses as well.

Here’s the catch. You only get one shot to do so. After you sign a settlement agreement, the insurance company is off the hook for any future expenses. That means you have to negotiate not only your current medical expenses but also anticipate accurately what those future expenses will be as well. If you miscalculate, the bills are your responsibility.

Secondly, you’ll have to deal with the insurance company while you’re recovering from your accident. It’s within the insurance company’s best interests to settle as quickly as possible following your accident. Think you’ll be up for fighting that battle while dealing with hospital stays, doctor visits, and physical therapy? Probably not. An experienced lawyer fights those battles on your behalf, so you can concentrate on one thing: getting better.

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, it’s imperative that you consult with an attorney immediately. Give our experienced Arkansas car accident attorneys a call today for a free consultation. Going it alone could be detrimental to your claim, so call today.

Arkansas Bankruptcies Linked to Car Accidents

by Cary Graham | August 1st, 2016

In this blog, we talk a lot about fighting the insurance company for what you deserve after a serious car accident. On occasion, we also talk about your options in the form of bankruptcy when you and your family fall on hard times. Because they are usually in separate blog posts, it might be reasonable to assume that they are separate issues, but they are more related than you might think.

After a serious car accident, the main thing (other than your recovery) you should be concerned with is how much this accident is going to cost you. The number one expense for accident victims is medical bills. Those medical bills can add up quickly, and without an experienced Arkansas car accident attorney on your side, you might be left with the bills. The leading cause of bankruptcy in America today is unpaid medical bills. Getting the connection yet? Unfortunately, some of our bankruptcy clients wouldn’t be filing for bankruptcy at all if they had secured a lawyer to handle their personal injury claim.

Don’t let that happen to you.

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, give us a call immediately for a free consultation. Our experienced Arkansas car accident attorneys will fight to get you every dollar you deserve for your injury claim so that you never have to worry about whether or not you can pay your bills.

The Liability Insurance Company Does Not Have Your Best Interest at Heart

by Mike Rainwater | July 20th, 2016

Nobody likes a fender bender, let alone an accident involving serious injuries. But car wrecks happen all the time and the motor vehicle insurance insuring against the liability of the at-fault driver is supposed to pay for any damages to the vehicles as well as for any injuries to you.  The liability insurance company cannot be implicitly trusted to have your best interest at heart because of the following reasons.

Insurance companies are in business to earn a profit from the money they are paid in insurance premiums. Fundamentally, premiums are income and claims paid are expenses.  It is simple math; the smaller the expenses, the more the income.  Insurance companies are owned by shareholders who invest for the income.

Insurance companies want to hold onto their cash as long as possible and this is true regardless of who is to blame for the collision. Premiums are collected on the front end, but claims are paid on the back end.  In the middle, the premium income is invested. The longer the money is held before claim payment, the more investment income (interest and dividends) the insurance company makes.

Insurance companies make more money by paying less in claims. It’s just business to them. The goal is to pay you as little as is legal.  And, an insurance company will do whatever is “legal” to pay you as little as possible.

It is not illegal for an insurance company to wait until you have requested all the compensation to which you are entitled.

It is not illegal for an insurance company to wait until you have figured out the applicable law under which you are entitled to recover money from that insurance company.

It is not illegal for an insurance company to wait until you have presented proof of each and every element of damage you are seeking.

It is not illegal for an insurance company to pay you nothing at all until it gets every single element of the claim approved so that the whole claim can be settled and a release agreement is signed.

It is not illegal for an insurance company to NOT tell you about legal advantages that are due the claimant, such as “the made whole doctrine.”

It is not illegal for an insurance company to NOT tell you that certain medical liens and/or insurance subrogation liens are unenforceable.

It is not illegal for an insurance company to NOT tell you that you have the right to negotiate reductions in enforceable medical expenses and subrogation liens.

It is not illegal for an insurance company to NOT tell you that certain claim expenses are subject to payment by other insurance coverages at a lower rate than demanded by the service provider.

It is not illegal for an insurance to legally string you out so long that you are in a cash flow bind and have to accept less than you are actually entitled to receive.

It is not illegal for an insurance adjuster to NOT tell you something that is in your best interest or to tell you that his or her first duty is to the insurance company and not to you.

An insurance adjuster can be a “nice” person who has treated you in a “nice” manner but still not have a duty to tell you what is actually in your best interest.

An insurance has no affirmative duty to help you beyond receiving information and questions from you, and can simply choose to NOT lie but also NOT tell you what claim adjustment strategy is in your best interest.

Do not be tricked or trapped. The insurance company and the insurance adjuster are going to perform their legal duty – which is owed to the owners of the insurance company.

If you have been injured by the fault of another, the only way you will have an advocate on your side with an affirmative duty owed to you is to engage the services of an injury lawyer.

The ethical duty of an injury lawyer is to “represent [you] zealously within the bounds of the law.”

Things to do after a collision causing you to be injured by the fault of another:

1) Call Rainwater Holt Sexton.

We are Arkansas’ largest personal injury law firm.  We are dedicated to helping any person injured by the fault of another. We are zealous advocates for those wrongfully injured. We will work to get all the bills paid and maximize the money that goes into our client’s pocket.

2)    Do NOT trust the adjuster, subjectively.

The adjuster works for the insurance company. While he or she may seem like a nice person who wants to help, his or her ultimate loyalty is to ensure the insurance company pays you as little money as possible. Since the adjuster is NOT working for you, the insurance adjuster can actually be called as a witness to testify against you – telling a judge of the facts that you have told the adjuster.  Be very careful.  Words taken out of context can be misleading and not represent the whole truth.

3)    Assume all your communications with the insurance adjuster will be recorded.

Insurance companies often try to take recorded statements from the parties involved. If your statement is recorded, they may try to twist pieces of your statement against you. In general, other than reporting the accident to the insurance company on a timely basis, it is always best to work with an experienced personal injury lawyer and have the lawyer do the communicating with the insurance companies on your behalf.

4)    Don’t be afraid to tell the insurance company you will go to court

Actually, about 90% of all claims are settled by agreement with no lawsuit ever being filed.  While nobody wants stress of having to take a claim to court, it is advisable that you start out the claim process with the I-will-go-to-court-if-I-have-to mindset. This is a benefit of being represented by an experience personal injury lawyer. The insurance company will know up front that you will insist on a fair offer. Our firm represents injured persons on a contingent fee basis, which means that you will owe us nothing unless we recover money for you. The insurance industries own statistics tell us that the presence of an experienced injury lawyer can loosen the insurance company’s purse strings and make it more willing to settle for a reasonable amount.

If you’ve been injured by the fault of another, let Rainwater Holt & Sexton Injury Lawyers help you weather the storm!!

Why We Became Lawyers in the First Place

by Cary Graham | July 18th, 2016

If there’s one thing we can’t stand, it’s an unfair fight. That’s why many of us at Rainwater, Holt & Sexton became lawyers, because we knew that thousands of folks in Arkansas each year are thrust into a fight with an opponent that holds all the cards. Winning that fight on their own can be difficult, if not impossible. That opponent is the insurance company, and believe us when we say that they know how to win.

That’s why so many folks turn to us after a serious accident, because they know facing the insurance company alone can mean less money for their injuries, leaving their family in a financial crisis. Placing the experience of Rainwater, Holt & Sexton on their side evens up the fight. We stand up to big insurance everyday on behalf of our clients, and we’re prepared to do the same for you.

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, give us a call for your free, no obligation consultation. Our experienced Arkansas car accident attorneys will immediately begin investigating your case. Let us work to get it for you.

Fatigued Drivers Prosecuted in Arkansas

by Cary Graham | July 5th, 2016

Everybody knows the impact drunk driving can have on Arkansas families and communities. According to a recent study, alcohol consumption was a factor in more than 30% of all fatal car accidents. That’s thousands of deaths every single year. However, alcohol isn’t the only dangerous impairment for drivers. Fatigued driving-related crashes and deaths are on the rise, and if you get behind the wheel fatigued in Arkansas and cause an accident, you could be prosecuted for it.

Arkansas Senate Bill SB 874, proposed by Senator Jason Rapert, was put into law in 2013. It states that any driver in Arkansas who causes an accident and hasn’t slept in the last 24 hours will be prosecuted as impaired. At Rainwater, Holt & Sexton, we don’t venture into politics often, but we have witnessed the devastation impaired driving can cause. In this day and age, there are too many transportation alternatives available to justify ever getting behind the wheel impaired, and that’s why we hold those who do accountable for the injuries they cause others.

If you or someone you love has been injured by an impaired driver, give our Arkansas car accident attorneys a call immediately for a free consultation. We’ll fully investigate the at-fault driver to determine the cause of the accident and fight to get you maximum compensation for your injuries. The safety of our community is important to us, and we’re ready to protect it at all costs.

Distracted Driving Puts Arkansas Teens at Risk

by Cary Graham | June 13th, 2016

The current generation is easily the most electronically-connected ever. It seems like every teenager has a cell phone these days. Once used only for emergencies, cell phones have become a social lifeline for teens—one they won’t easily let go of, even while driving. Unfortunately, that infatuation with their phones could cost them their lives.

Every year, distracted driving kills thousands of people in the U.S. and leaves many more seriously injured. According to Distraction.gov, more than 400,000 people were injured and more than 3,000 were killed in car accidents where distracted driving was a factor. Of course, distracted driving isn’t limited to cell phone use alone, but the vast majority are, which is why you should speak with your teenager about the dangers before they get behind the wheel.

Here are 3 tips for when you do have the conversation:

  1. Give them the facts. Distraction.gov is a great resource for parents seeking facts about distracted driving. Do your research and share the facts with your teenager. For instance, five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road when texting, which is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field blindfolded.
  2. Make it law. Telling your teenager not to text and drive isn’t the same as making it a requirement to keep their driving privileges. Make it simple for them. If they text and drive, they lose their car.
  3. Set a good example. Practice what you preach. If you forbid your teens to text and drive, you shouldn’t either…ever.

If you’re a parent of a teenager, Rainwater, Holt & Sexton encourages you to have a conversation about distracted driving with your teenager. It could save their life.

Our Awards Are More Than Trophies

by Cary Graham | May 24th, 2016

Most athletes growing up have a special shelf in their bedrooms reserved for trophies. Whether for little league baseball or high school track & field, these trophies serve as a lasting symbol of the commitment they made to the sports they love and the excellence at which they played them.

At Rainwater, Holt & Sexton, we have a similar shelf reserved for the accolades our firm has earned over the years. Take a look at our homepage when you get a chance. About halfway down, you’ll see little circular icons that represent the national legal organizations that have recognized our firm for its accomplishments. Organizations like the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum—an organization that showcases the less than 1% of firms nationwide that have secured multi-million dollar verdicts for their clients. Or the Best Lawyers in America—the oldest and most respected peer review publication in the nation.

We showcase these accolades for one reason—to give you the confidence of knowing if you call our firm, we’ll do everything within our power to get you the best results in the least amount of time. We’re proud of our accomplishments and the reputation they have afforded us, but we’re not the type of firm to rest on our laurels…not while your case is yet to be won.

If you’ve been injured, give our Arkansas award-winning personal injury attorneys a call today. You deserve to have an experienced law firm on your side, and we’d be honored to represent you.

Why is a medical lien filed against me?

by Sarah Baber | May 11th, 2016

You were injured in a wreck that was not your fault.  You are hurt, scared, mad, and more than a little confused as to why you are getting the bills when you were innocent in all of this?  The bills you can handle, but A LIEN??!!  What is this document you just received and why are you getting it in the first place?

The first thing to do is calm down.  The lien may look scary and sound like you’re going to start being garnished, but that is almost never the case.  What really happened is the the medical facility who provided you care has simply placed themselves in line for payment directly from the at-fault party.  They certainly have a right to be paid for the services they rendered.  This lien is notice to all parties involved (you, your attorney if you have one, and the liability insurance carrier) that a bill exists which needs to be paid.  Your name is on that bill since you received the care, so the lien exists against the potential proceeds you might recover from the at-fault party.

A.C.A § 18-46-105 outlines the requirements of a valid medical, nursing, hospital or ambulance lien.  This statute is very specific and must be followed precisely in order for a lien to be enforceable.  In reality, many of the “liens” we see have not strictly followed the statute and are probably invalid, but it’s still important they are dealt with to ensure peace of mind for our injured clients.  The injury attorneys at Rainwater, Holt & Sexton are well-versed in how to read these documents and will counsel you the steps necessary to protect you and your settlement proceeds.

Can I Recover Compensation After a Hit-and-Run Collision?

by Mike Rainwater | May 4th, 2016

When two drivers get into an accident, they typically exchange insurance information so the at-fault party can pay for the damages with the help of his or her liability insurance provider.

But what happens when the at-fault party is a hit-and-run driver who leaves the scene before you can get their name?

First of all, leaving the scene of an accident is a crime, so report the incident to the police immediately.

Even if the identity of the hit-and-run driver is not learned, there is still a good chance that you can recover for his or her negligence. That is one purpose of uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance coverage and your personal-injury-protection (PIP) medpay coverage on your own policy.

These types of coverage are often optional. In Arkansas, you can waive the purchase of this important insurance coverage but it must be done by signing in writing. State laws vary on exactly what is included in that coverage. And, your own insurance company has the prerogative to deny your claim by asserting that the hit-and-run driver was not liable to you. This can be done in a variety of ways, including: i) alleging that the collision was partly your fault and ii) alleging that the vehicle that caused the collision never made actual contact with your vehicle.

This is why it’s extremely important to have a detailed police report if you’ve been involved in a hit and run accident and to hire an experienced personal injury attorney to deal with the insurance company. Stay at the scene and call the police to make an on-site report of the collision facts. Call Rainwater Holt & Sexton for help.

While you may be covered by your own insurance policy, there is no such thing as a guarantee when it comes to settlement terms.  If you’ve been injured, Rainwater Holt & Sexton will help you navigate through the insurance claim process, making sure that you receive the compensation you deserve.

How do I handle property damage after an accident?

by Vincent France | April 27th, 2016

 

The moment an accident is over one of the most common things to do is get out and look at the car. Why? Because everyone is worried about their property damage. Fixing a car that has been in an accident can be expensive and take a long time. There are several important things to remember when handling your property damage after an accident.

First, it is important to get the name and insurance information of the other driver, especially if the accident is their fault. If the accident is their fault it will be their insurance company that will be paying for repairs. Along with that it is important to take pictures of the damage at the scene of the accident. The photographs will be helpful in resolving your property damage, and often the photographs can be used to help illustrate how the accident occurred.

If your vehicle is damaged badly enough that it needs to be towed, time can become a factor. Unless you specify a repair shop, often times the wrecker service will tow your vehicle to storage facility that charges fees for each day your vehicle is there. If your vehicle is towed and is at a storage facility, it is important to determine as quickly as possible whether your vehicle is a “total loss” or is “repairable.” The insurance company will make that determination.

If your vehicle is repairable find a repair shop that is willing to repair vehicles that have been in an accident. You will need tell the repair shop where your vehicle is being stored and ask the repair shop to have it towed to their shop. The bills for towing are usually paid by the repair shop and included in the repair shop bill. The sooner your vehicle is out of storage the sooner it will get fixed and you will not have to worry about extra storage fees.

If your vehicle is a “total loss,” you are entitled to the fair market value of the vehicle immediately prior to the accident. Once the insurance company has made you a reasonable fair market value offer, you have a reasonable time (on average less than a week) to accept the offer. After such time, you could be responsible for excess storage fees.

Lastly, you may find that the liability insurance company is not responding or not treating you right. If you find yourself in this situation, consider contacting your own insurance company. Often they are more willing to assist you since you are their customer.

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