Archive for April, 2009

Do You Have To Insure Your Moped Or Scooter?

Monday, April 27th, 2009

When gas prices hit an all time high last summer, many people purchased a moped or scooter for transportation. Scooters have since become ubiquitous. With the recent explosion in popularity has also come a larger variety of styles and models.  Scooters are now bigger and faster than ever before.  If you own a moped or scooter or are thinking of buying one, you should know whether or not your moped or scooter needs to be insured.  If you fail to insure your moped and you are injured you might not be entitled to certain compensation and you might be subjected to criminal penalties as well.

Motorcycles are specifically exempted from Kentucky’s no fault reparations scheme.  Is you moped also exempted?  Well, it depends.  Kentucky law provides for the payment of certain PIP benefits if you are injured while operating a motor vehicle.  However, Kentucky law excludes mopeds from this definition. Kentucky courts have interpreted this to mean that since mopeds are not motor vehicles, the occupants injured while riding the moped are pedestrians.  Pedestrians are entitled to PIP benefits from the car that hit them. This is true whether they are at fault or not.

However, the definition of moped does not include every type of scooter or moped.  The statute specifically defines moped as a certain type of motorized bicycle that has no larger than a 50cc engine and capable of traveling no faster than 30mph.  This definition includes only the smallest of the mopeds seen on the road today.  75cc or higher motorized scooters that travel above 30mph do not fit this definition.  They are therefore considered motorcycles not mopeds.  If you are in an accident while using one of these “motorcycles” you would not be entitled to $10,000 in  PIP, unless you purchased it as optional benefits.  You would also be uninsured and responsible personally and legally for any damages you caused.

If you own or operate a scooter or moped that has an engine larger than 50cc, shifts gears, or travels faster than 30 mph you are operating a motorcyle, not a moped.  You are required to have that vehicle insured.  Other laws pertaining to motorcycles may also apply.  You should consider purchasing optional PIP benefits. Otherwise you or your family member might not be protected in the event of an accident.

Motorcycle Accident Victims Not Guaranteed PIP Benefits

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

Much has been discussed about PIP benefits in Kentucky for accident victims.  However, motorcyclists should know that Kentucky law specifically excludes motorcyclists from recovering PIP benefits unless they purchase these as optional benefits.  So, while car drivers in Kentucky are protected by a minimum $10,000.00 in coverage motorcyclists are not, unless they specifically pay for that coverage.  As you can imagine the coverage for motorcyclists is more expensive given the increased chance of injury.

However, just because a motorcyclist does not have PIP benefits does not mean that he cannot make a claim if he is injured in an accident due to someone’s fault.  A claim can, and if serious enough, should be made.  An experienced accident lawyer can then work to help reduce the amount paid to cover medical expenses, including the first $10,000.00 not covered by PIP.

Injured in a Car Accident? Do You need an Accident Attorney?

Monday, April 20th, 2009

Many people have asked whether they should hire an attorney if they have been injured in a car, motorcycle, or truck accident.  This concern is usually followed by, “how much will it cost?”  Today’s article will discuss some issues to consider in deciding if you need an accident attorney to handle your injury claim.

There are many facts to consider before you hire an attorney.  The first issue you must decide is whether you need an attorney at all.  Don’t think just because you’ve been a victim in a car accident or that many attorneys advertise for these cases, that you must have an attorney before filing an injury claim.  If you suffered only minor injuries, little or no lost wages, and only minor medical bills, you most likely do not need an attorney at all.  You can file a claim for the pain, suffering, and inconvenience you experienced as a result of the accident.  In this case your medical expenses and lost wages will most likely be paid from the PIP coverage you have available.  You can negotiate your settlement with an insurance adjuster without hiring an attorney.  Often these settlements are low enough that they do not warrant the hiring of an attorney.

However, if you sustained a serious or disabling injury, have lost significant work or can’t work at all, or have outstanding medical bills and require future treatment, then you should consider hiring an attorney to represent you.  At this point, several new concerns come into play.  You may need a skilled attorney to explain your options and see that your interests are protected, during any claim negotiations. The insurance adjuster will not look out for your interests or make sure your settlement is fair.

Many injured victims worry about the cost of hiring an accident attorney.  Most car accident attorneys will work on a “contingency fee” agreement.  This means that their fee will be “contingent” on the injured victim recovering for their injuries.  No recovery means no fee is paid.  Usually, a car accident attorney will take a percentage of any recovery you get in exchange for no payment up front and for bearing the risk if you don’t get a recovery.  The percentage will vary from attorney to attorney and may also be based on the length and complexity of the case.

Perhaps more important than determining if you need an attorney is determining which one to hire once a decision has been made.  We will discuss the qualities you might want to consider in an attorney in our next article.  Please check back for; “What to Look for in a Car, Motorcycle, or Truck Accident Attorney.”

What Is Meant By Kentucky No Fault?

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

Kentucky is a “no fault” state. Many people injured in accidents have been mistakenly told that if “no fault” is determined, then they don’t have an injury claim. This is not the case. In Kentucky fault is based on percentages. Each party is entitled to recover their damages for the other person’s fault up to 100%. For instance, if I am 35% at fault for causing an accident, I am still entitled to recover 65% of my total damages.

So what is meant by “no fault”? In Kentucky, injured person’s give up the right to sue the other person for their first $10,000.00 in economic damages, in exchange for receiving $10,000.00 in insurance benefits (PIP benefits). The term “no fault” means “no fault” is considered in the award of these benefits.  Even if a person is 100% responsible for a car accident, they are still entitled to certain benefits if they were injured in a car accident.

The belief is that if an injured person’s medical expenses and lost wages (up to $10,000) are paid, they won’t be forced to file a lawsuit to recover those damages from the other person. This is supposed to lead to less fights over “fault” and actually result in the prompt payment of these damages.

Unfortunately, Kentucky’s “no fault” procedure is a statutory scheme that can be quite complicated. Avoid basing decisions regarding your potential claim on the statements of police officers, medical personnel, insurance adjusters, relatives or friends. You may need the services of a licensed attorney if there is an issue regarding fault for your accident or if your PIP benefits or bodily injury claim has been reduced or denied due to “fault”.

Accidents Involving 16-19 Year Olds Higher Than For Any Other Age Group

Monday, April 13th, 2009

Accidents involving teen drivers cost more than $34 billion in ‘06.  That’s billion, with a “B”.  According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, crashes are higher for the 16-19 year old age group than for any other.  This massive figure includes $9.8 billion related to fatal crashes. Unfortunately, car crashes are the leading cause of death among teens, accounting for 36 percent, according to the Center for Disease Control. Fortunately, there is much that can be done to reduce and even prevent these tragic results.  According to AAA, graduated driver’s licensing programs (GDL) have a significant reduction in teen crashes and deaths. Every state has some form of GDL, including Kentucky. There is also much that parents can do.  For example, limit driving to purposeful trips with a anticipated start and finish. Parents can also limit teen driving at night, in bad weather, and during rush hour.

Driving is a right of passage for any teen.  Talk frequently with your teen about the responsibilities associated with driving.  Insure that your teen has the proper amount of time and instruction operating a vehicle with a parent or other licensed adult present.  Don’t assume just because your teen has passed his state mandated driver’s exam that he or she is ready, willing or able to assume a position behind the wheel.  The good news is the risk involved appears to decline as your child ages.  The risk for accidents is twice as high for 16 year olds as it is for 18 or 19 year olds.  While no amount of care can prevent all accidents, with time and proper preparation you can reduce the chance that your teen will be involved in an accident, and especially those involving a fatality.

Personal Injury Protection and the First $10,000

Friday, April 10th, 2009

Did you know that if your injured in a car accident, Kentucky law provides you with $10,000 of insurance coverage to pay for your medical expenses and partial lost wages? Known as “PIP”, this coverage is mandatory and is meant to cover the first $10,000 in economic damages suffered due to injury. If you’re injured do not avoid treatment for fear you can’t pay. If needed, seek help immediately. Most medical providers are familiar with this coverage and will help you set up a claim for prompt payment of bills. You DO NOT need an attorney to receive this coverage. Avoid attorneys or medical providers that seek to entice you with promises of $10,000 if you’ve been injured in a car accident.

Economy Leaves Millions Of Drivers Uninsured

Thursday, April 9th, 2009

MSN reports on an insurance industry study that warns that 1 in 6 won’t be covered by the end of the year.  According to one analyst; “When you see a multi-car collision on the freeway … if there’s more than three or four cars there, at least one of them is likely to be uninsured.”  Apparently, motorists are choosing to drop their coverage to offset tough times due to the economic recession.

According to law enforcement officials and insurance industry representatives, “dropping your auto insurance is one of the worst steps you can take.”  “Uninsured motorists face legal fees, fines (and)penalties, including a suspended license,” said Elaine Zeinner, a spokeswoman for AAA.”

Liability insurance is mandatory in Kentucky, but that doesn’t mean that everyone has it. As the article suggests many chose to break the law and forgo buying insurance to cover them in the event they cause an accident. Not only does this subject the person to criminal charges, but it is financially ill advised.  Injuries received in car accidents can result in thousands of dollars of damages. Many people simply could not afford to pay those damages out of their own pocket.

What can you do to protect yourself in the event you are injured by an uninsured driver? Purchase uninsured motorists (UM) coverage through your own insurance company. This coverage protects you in the event you are injured by someone who is driving without insurance.

In Kentucky UM coverage must be offered by your insurance company.  However, you can reject this coverage in writing. Often Kentucky citizens will reject the coverage to save a few dollars a month in premiums off their insurance bill. This is not wise. As the article suggests, by next year 1 in 6 drivers will likely be uninsured. Don’t rely on someone else. Protect yourself. Check your policy and make sure you have UM coverage. If not contact your agent and request it.