Rainwater, Holt & Sexton | Injury Law Blog

The Reason You Were Denied Social Security Disability Benefits

by Mike Rainwater | April 19th, 2017

If you’ve never gone through the process, it may be news to you that not every disabled American qualifies for Social Security Disability. In fact, nearly two-thirds of all initial applications are denied. That’s thousands of people every year turning to the government as a last resort and having a door slammed in their face.

If you’ve been denied Social Security Disability benefits, we don’t have to tell you what’s at stake. You can’t work because of your disability, which means no money is coming in and it could be tough to make ends meet. An experienced Social Security Disability attorney from Rainwater, Holt & Sexton can review your denied application and help you figure out what went wrong.

We encourage you to give us a call immediately if you’ve been denied benefits. At Rainwater, Holt & Sexton, we know the system. We can help you put together an appeal that gives you the best chance of securing benefits the second time around. Contact us today for your free, no obligation consultation. You need these benefits to survive. Let us help you get them.

Monthly Charity Winner – The Other Side Ministries

by Richard Atkinson | April 18th, 2017

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The Other Side Ministries won this month’s vending machine charity. The Other Side works with people struggling with drug and alcohol addictions and helps them overcome those addictions using biblical principles. The program is a six month in-house residence program that incorporates community service and biblical teaching. The goal of the program is not just improving the life of those dealing with substance abuse, it’s also a way to improve families and communities that have been effected by addiction.

Our monthly charity giving is one of our favorite things to do. Each month employees nominate and vote on a charity in the community they would like to help. Throughout the month employees “donate” by buying snacks and drinks that the firm subsidizes. All the proceeds from the snacks are then matched by the firm. We are honored to have such great employees that not only pick out wonderful organizations, but also help by donating all month long.

How to Prepare for Your Accident Lawyer Consultation

by Mike Rainwater | April 17th, 2017

As you’re preparing for an initial meeting with a personal injury lawyer after a car accident, there are some considerations you should take to make sure your case gets off to a smooth and efficient start. During your consultation with an accident lawyer, you should be prepared with all documentation related to your accident and have a list of questions ready to ask the lawyer. A consultation is, as much a time for the lawyer to get up to speed on your case as it is for you to make sure you feel confident in the experience and knowledge the lawyer will bring to your lawsuit.

What to Bring to the Consultation

Be sure to bring copies of all documentation related to your accident. Your lawyer will need this information, and having it ready to go will help to keep the process moving efficiently and provide your lawyer with all the information they need right from the start. You should bring all of the following documents, if applicable to your accident:

  • Copies of police reports
  • Copies of records from all health care providers
  • Copies of bills from medical care providers
  • Insurance coverage information for medical bills
  • Details of any work you missed
  • A calendar with all important dates related to your injury
  • Copies of correspondence with your insurance company
  • Photographs related to the incident
  • Journal entries detailing psychological and emotional effects of the accident, injuries and medical treatment

Questions to Ask Your Accident Lawyer

 A consultation is an opportunity for you to ask your car accident lawyer questions, too. You should take the time to make sure you feel confident with the experience and approach of the lawyer. Prepare a list of questions before meeting with your lawyer. Some questions to ask include:

  • How long have you been in practice?
  • How much experience do you have with car accidents?
  • How long do you anticipate it will take to resolve my case?
  • What problems do you foresee with my case?
  • What are my options between resolving with an insurance claim versus a lawsuit?
  • How do you charge for lawyer/lawsuit expenses?

Have you been in a car accident in Northwest Arkansas? Schedule your consultation with a Conway car accident lawyer at Rainwater, Holt & Sexton.

RHS Attends ALS Walk

by Richard Atkinson | April 17th, 2017

ALS is a cause that is closely intertwined with our firm. When Stephen Holt was diagnosed with it in 2013 we quickly mobilized to do anything we could to help. One organization that we discovered was ALS Arkansas. They do fantastic work with ALS patients and their families. They not only provide equipment and expertise, but they also get to know the patients and their families and walk through the journey with them. They are hands on and strive to give support in any way possible to ALS patients all over Arkansas.

We were very excited to present ALS Arkansas with the Spirit of Arkansas award. We knew about the great work they do, and it was time all of Arkansas heard about their passion for people diagnosed with such a terrible disease.

We were happy to have over 50 people out for the check presentation at the annual ALS Walk. The walk, is held in April of every year and is the major fundraiser for ALS Arkansas. This year’s walk was the largest ever with over 750 people in attendance.

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Top Causes of Truck Accidents

by Mike Rainwater | April 12th, 2017

Commercial vehicle accidents are, unfortunately, a common occurrence. In 2014, there were a reported 379,000 accidents involving a commercial vehicle that caused property damage.

Between 2001 and 2003, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducted a study to determine the major causes of truck accidents. During the period of the study, they looked at 120,000 large truck crashes, each involving at least one large truck (over 10,000 pounds) and resulting in one fatality or injury.

The driver of the truck caused an overwhelming percentage of the accidents, with 87% of the accidents related to driver non-performance, recognition, decision or performance.

Breakdown of Truck Accident Causes

The Large Truck Causation Study segmented variables for accidents into Critical Events, Critical Reasons and Associated Factors.

Critical Events are described in the study as the action or event that puts the vehicle on a course making the collision unavoidable. The three major critical events for truck accidents are:

  • 32% caused by running out of the travel lane
  • 29% caused by vehicle loss of control
  • 22% caused by colliding with the rear end of another vehicle

Critical Reasons are described as the immediate reason for the critical event. The main causations for critical events in truck accidents are:

  • 87% caused by driver
  • 10% caused by vehicle
  • 3 % caused by environment

Lastly, Associated Factors are the person, vehicle and environmental conditions present at the time of the crash. These are the top ten associated factors in truck accidents:

  • Vehicle: Brake problems
  • Driver: Traffic flow interruption (congestion, previous crash)
  • Driver: Traveling too fast for conditions
  • Driver: Prescription drug use
  • Driver: Unfamiliarity with roadway
  • Environment: Roadway problems
  • Driver: Required to stop before crash (traffic control device, crosswalk)
  • Driver: Over-the-counter drug use
  • Driver: Inadequate surveillance
  • Driver: Fatigue

Have you been involved in an accident caused by a commercial vehicle? Discuss the situation with a Conway truck accident lawyer. Because of the many causes and variables in truck accidents, an experienced truck accident attorney can offer indispensable guidance.

There’s No Reset Button for Injury Claims

by Mike Rainwater | April 11th, 2017

In this digital age, the reset button is king. If you don’t like how your video game is going, just reset and start over. If your internet is running slow, the first thing you try is a hard reset, and nine times out of ten, it fixes it. We wish there were a reset button for car accident injury claims gone wrong, but there’s not. You only get one chance to get it right, and if you go it alone without an attorney, you could be left dealing with a financial nightmare.

Beyond your recovery, the number one thing you need to focus one following a serious car accident is how you and your family is going to financially survive. You need to estimate what this accident is going to cost you short and long term, and then negotiate that amount with the insurance company. If that were simple, we’d be out of business. The reality is the insurance company wants to pay out as little as possible for your injury claim. That’s just business. They’re not going to give you more than you’ll take, so expect a low settlement offer initially.

So how do you get more? The first step is calling an experienced car accident attorney. At Rainwater, Holt & Sexton, we have years of experience fighting for fair settlements for our clients, and when the insurance company refuses to play fair, we take them to court. We can help you determine what your case is truly worth and deal with the insurance company on your behalf so all you have worry about is getting better.

If you’ve been injured, call our experienced Arkansas car accident attorneys for a free, no obligation consultation. We’re ready to help, so contact us today.

5 Reasons Your Accident Insurance Claim Was Denied

by Mike Rainwater | April 10th, 2017

Nearly 60,000 people in Arkansas were involved in car accidents in 2012 alone. Knowing what insurance adjusters are looking for when considering your car accident insurance claim will better prepare you should you experience a collision caused by the fault of another. Here are five common reasons why insurance adjusters will deny your claim.

1. The Insurance Policy Has Expired

This one is simple – if the at-fault driver’s policy has expired, the claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company will be denied right away. This can happen inadvertently; so, be sure to know when your own policy expires and give yourself plenty of time to renew every year. When the at-fault driver has let his insurance policy lapse, you need to be able to turn to your own policy – to make an uninsured motorist claim. This is one reason you need to make sure you have purchased “full coverage.”

2. Your Plan Doesn’t Have Full Coverage

In Arkansas, an automobile owner is allowed to reject full coverage. The bare minimum car insurance plan that the law requires you to carry is a liability-only plan, which means if you are at fault, your insurance will cover the other driver who wasn’t at fault, but you will have nothing to pay you for your own expenses incurred and losses sustained. Full coverage includes liability insurance (that protects the other driver when you are at fault), Personal Injury Protection (that provides medical payment insurance to pay your medical bills and also provides some wage-loss protection), uninsured motorist coverage (which applies when the other driver is at fault but has no liability insurance), and underinsured motorist protection (which applies when the other driver is at fault but does not have enough liability insurance to pay your damages).  You might have selected a liability plan because it was the most affordable, but make sure you know what exactly is at risk when you choose the cheapest option.

3. You Didn’t Report the Incident on Time

Don’t wait to report an incident to your insurance company. They have the right to argue that they didn’t have enough time to research a claim if a significant amount of time has passed since the accident.

4. Liability Was Disputed

An insurance adjuster could reject your claim because there’s been a dispute about who was at fault. They could also disagree with the damages you’re claiming. To avoid a dispute with your insurance company, a police report and photos of the scene and damage and witness testimonials can help.

5. You Were Driving Under the Influence

If you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol and caused an accident, your insurance company will not cover expenses caused by your negligence.

For the most efficient outcome with your insurance company, take photos at the scene, get a police report and file your claim quickly. If your claim is denied and you’re unhappy with the insurance company’s decision, request a written explanation for the denial and contact an Arkansas car accident lawyer to review your options for covering expenses from the accident.

Arkansas Pride in a Job Well Done

by Mike Rainwater | April 6th, 2017

An honest day’s work ends in an honest day’s pay. We’ve all heard that. Arkansas families have been living by that code since 1836. It’s a way of life. But … and on-the-job accident can turn that way of life upside down.

Workers’ compensation insurance is a no-fault system designed to compensate a worker who has been injured on the job. Most often, these injuries occur in motor vehicles. And, they occur often on manual labor jobs where the daily work is strenuous and/or dangerous  —  like construction jobs or factory jobs. The law applies, however, to all workers  —  even those in office jobs or professional positions.

The compensation rates do not provide a worker full wage loss compensation, but it is what the law generally allows. In addition to wage loss benefits, workers compensation provides full medical payment benefits. The entire system is a social trade-off, of sorts, whereby the worker gets to get paid even if the in-the-job injury is the worker’s fault but the workers compensation benefits are all the benefits a worker can collect from his or her employer or co-worker. (If the on-the-job injury is caused by a third party  —  someone other than the employer of a co-employee  —  then the workers compensation benefits can be received and, in addition, a regular negligence lawsuit can be filed against the third party.

Inside the workers compensation system, there are many complicated rules. For example, the employer generally gets to choose the treating physician. So, there may be a built-in subjective bias on the part of the employer-chosen physician.  The injured employee cannot change physicians with permission from the Workers Compensation Commission.  Another example that the employer’s offer of light-duty work during the healing period cannot be refused by the employee without potentially disqualifying the employee from continuing benefits. Instead, the employee must generally go through the process of trying to do the offered light-duty work in order to be able to prove that the employee is or is not able to do the offered work.  No matter the circumstances, in our experience, the employee needs legal representation to get all the benefits due. Sometimes the insurance company will offer a cash settlement.  Generally, the  workers’ comp insurance offer is  lower than you’re going to need to fully recover. It all comes down to determining what this accident is going to cost you and your family in the long term. You’ve got to consider current and future medical expenses, lost wages for time out of work, and any missed opportunities your injuries keep you from taking. When you add all that up, we’d wager the amount the insurance company is offering for a cash settlement isn’t even close to either what you will need or what you would receive if you were to receive full benefits paid over time. We can calculate all that for you.

That’s why you should call an experienced Arkansas workers’ compensation attorney to represent your best interests. At Rainwater, Holt & Sexton, we’ve been helping the hardworking folks of Arkansas get the full compensation they deserve for decades, and we’re ready to help you too. Give us a call today for your free consultation. Let us put our experience to work for you.

Signs of Nursing Home Abuse in Arkansas

by Mike Rainwater | April 4th, 2017

Growing older is simply part of being human. We can only hope that when we’re no longer able to take care of ourselves that there is someone to provide that care with competence and compassion. For many aging folks in Arkansas, that means moving into a nursing home facility. And as a trusted member of their family, you help find the best facility they can afford with the understanding that all their needs will be provided while their rights are upheld. Unfortunately, not every nursing facility in Arkansas lives up to that responsibility.

As a nursing home resident, your aging loved one has a number of rights, the most important of which are the right to dignity, respect, and freedom and the right to be fully informed. In short, your aging loved one should retain the same freedoms every other American enjoys. Wherever those rights are compromised, nursing home neglect or abuse can exist.

But how do you recognize abuse or neglect? Look for the signs, including:

  • Abnormally pale complexion
  • Bedsores
  • Bruises in a pattern that would suggest restraints
  • Excessive and sudden weight loss
  • Fleas, lice, or dirt on resident or in resident’s room
  • Poor personal hygiene or other unattended health problems
  • Torn clothing or broken personal items
  • Odors of urine or feces
  • Untreated bedsores, wounds, cuts, bruises, or welts

If your aging loved shows indications of any of the above signs of abuse or neglect, call us immediately for a free consultation. Our experienced Arkansas nursing home abuse lawyers will fully investigate your loved one’s injuries and work to get them the justice they deserve. Don’t wait to get the help your aging loved one needs. Act now and give us a call.

What to do When You Hit Livestock in the Road

by Kirby McDonald | April 1st, 2017

While having a collision with a farm animal may seem like a freak accident, it is an all too common occurrence, especially in a rural state such as Arkansas. While practicing in Arkansas, I regularly hear people say, “I just hit a cow, what do I do now?”  So if you ever find yourself in this situation, here are a few things to keep in mind.

To begin, Arkansas case law defines livestock as including “horses, mules, cattle, goats, sheep, swine, chickens, ducks, and similar animals and fowl commonly raised or used for farm purposes.” Smith v. R.A. Brooks Trucking Co., 280 Ark. 510, 660 S.W.2d 1 (1983) 

The court has gone on further to delineate liability when an accident with livestock occurs. The court has stated, “It is well established that the owner of livestock is liable when damage results from intentionally or negligently permitting animals to run at large.” Smith v. R.A. Brooks Trucking Co., 280 Ark. 510, 660 S.W.2d 1 (1983). Therefore, if you are ever involved in a collision that results in property or bodily injury with a farm animal, don’t fret, because with little bit of leg work, you should be able to prove the livestock owner is liable for your damages.

To prove that the livestock owner is liable for the damages associated with a collision between their animal, and your car or person, Arkansas case law has set out what the plaintiff–the injured party–needs to show. First, in Oliver v. Jones, 239 Ark., 393 S.W.2d 248, 249, 1965 Ark., the court stated that the burden is on the injured party to show that the owner of the livestock is guilty of negligence in allowing their livestock to be on the highway.  The plaintiff in Oliver v. Jones, was able to do this through testimony of the Sheriff that the property owner had a plethora of complaints about cattle running at large on the highway, a witness testifying that he saw the livestock owner’s cattle on the highway at the point where the collision occurred, and another witness who testified that he too saw the livestock owner’s cattle in the highway the day the collision occurred.

The court went on further to state that mere knowledge of the animals being “at large” isn’t enough. This is due to the fact that livestock animals are generally large creatures that can escape their enclosures, and the courts don’t want to punish farmers for freak accidents occurring, such as cattle running through a fence during a storm. In Miller v. Nix, 315 Ark. 868 S.W.2d 1994 Ark, the court stated, “while the evidence showed that the owner’s fence was in need of repair, no holes were found through which a cow could escape. Further, the driver presented no direct evidence to prove the owner owned the cow that was struck[,]” therefore when you have a collision with a farm animal, you need to immediately start looking for an area where the property owners livestock could have escaped their enclosures, i.e. holes in fences, lack of a chicken coop, open or faulty gate, etc., take pictures, and find evidence of who owns the livestock and the property they escaped from. Once you have done that, you then need to see if any neighbors or witnesses have complained of such and check the sheriff’s log as well for complaints. If you are able to find all of these, or need help doing them it may be time to call an attorney. Call Rainwater, Holt & Sexton, let us do the work and guide you through the entire claim process.

 

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