Now that it’s the middle of winter, you’ve probably gotten the hang of driving in the snow again. However, there are nearly 157,000 traffic accidents each year due to snow and ice-covered roadways. Nearly 117,000 of those accidents cause injuries. Oftentimes, accidents in the winter happen no matter how cautious you are. There are some preventative measures you can take to keep yourself and others safe, though. Read on to see what they are.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but many people don’t take the time to remove the snow from their cars before hitting the road. However, skipping this imperative step can lead to major consequences. If you don’t clear your front and rear windshields and all passenger windows, you can’t see well enough to avoid accidents. You need to be able to see when you back up, switch lanes, and make turns--not just when you’re driving forward. Get an automatic car starter or start your car early. You might have to brush away some snow and ice, but it will take much less time if your car has been running for a while.
This seems like another obvious tip, but once people grow accustomed to driving in winter weather, they tend to speed up. Your tires won’t grip the road as well in snow or ice, and it will take longer to brake, accelerate, and turn. It’s best to drive 45 mph or slower in snow or ice. This can give you more time to react or reduce the damage if you are in a collision.
Maintain Your Car
It’s especially important to maintain your car in the winter. Worn wiper blades can leave snow, ice, and dirt on your windshield and block your vision, and low tire tread will give you less control on roadways. Replace them and make sure everything else is working properly to avoid breakdowns. Other drivers will be more likely to hit you if you break down on the side of the road during a blizzard or storm because they won’t see you or won’t be able to stop in time.
Many people are tempted to look at their phones or adjust the radio, but not paying attention in inclement weather can cause accidents. Remember that your car won’t stop, swerve, or turn as quickly in snow and ice, so you need to watch the road and keep both hands on the wheel. It’s even a good idea to lower your heat to stay alert. You will also want to make sure that your car isn’t multi-tasking--if you try to brake and turn at the same time, you might lose control. Be sure to slow down while you’re still going straight when the roadways are slick before making a turn.
In an Accident?
Many times, winter accidents happen despite your best efforts. If you hit someone or someone hits you, be sure to move to a safe area, stop, and turn off your car. Make sure you aren’t injured before you try to get out of the driver’s seat. If you’re okay, get out and see if the other driver, passengers, or pedestrians are okay as well. If anyone is injured, call 911. If everyone is alright, you should also call the police to file a report. Then, exchange insurance information. If you can, take a few pictures of the damage while you’re at the scene.
Get a Car Accident Lawyer
If you, the other driver, passengers, or pedestrians were hurt in the accident, you may want to get a car accident Lawyer or personal injury Lawyer. A car accident Lawyer can advise you on your next steps. You may not think that you need a car accident Lawyer or personal injury Lawyer; however, even if no one is exhibiting any signs of injury right away, it doesn’t mean they won’t later. It isn’t a bad idea to see a doctor after you’ve been in an accident as well. You can even consult with a car accident Lawyer or personal injury Lawyers to see if you will need to take any action. If the weather isn’t safe, it’s best not to drive in it. However, taking these preventative measures this winter can help you avoid accidents when you have to go out.
Three weeks ago I was at a retail store and tripped over winter matting near the entrance. I fell and broke my wrist. Today an Insurance adjuster called me. He said I was responsible to look where I was walking but he offered me $5000.00 to help me out as I have been off work. I am on sick leave and have not lost any income. Is there any reason not to just take the money?
Plenty of Reason. Leaving aside what happened, and what you might be entitled to recover as a result of your injuries, it is always a good idea to consult with a Lawyer before taking a settlement proposed by an insurance company. Insurance adjusters work for Insurance companies and they do not approach a settlement based on what you are entitled to. They offer money based on the risk of what you might receive by way of an award. Generally, they will try and settle a claim or potential claim for as little as they reasonable can in order to close off a risk.
A Lawyer will work for you. Many Lawyers offer a free consultation. I find I ask a lot of questions and do a lot of listening during a consultation. I try to give my client an understanding of the legal issues arising in their circumstances, and what the options are going forward.
Assert your rights. Over the years I have come to understand that people almost always benefit from at least consulting with a Lawyer before trying to settle with an insurance company. There is a significant imbalance between a lone individual and a huge insurance company. A Lawyer has the knowledge to help level the playing field. In my experience insurers will see a greater risk when dealing with an injured person who is represented by a Lawyer. Greater risk to insurers leads to better settlements.
I was a cyclist involved in a car accident. What are my rights?
In short, the same as those of a driver or passenger. Liability may be handled differently, but the cyclist maintains a right to claim against the at-fault driver and seek benefits from the applicable insurer. Your car insurance is meant to provide accident benefits if you're involved in a car accident. It does not matter whether you were actually driving a car. As long as you have car insurance, your accident benefits should kick in. If you don't have car insurance, the at-fault driver's insurance will provide accident benefits. Either way, you should be covered by a policy. If neither of you has insurance, there's still the motor vehicle accident fund which acts as a safety net in cases where insurance is not available.
Typically, there's an assumption that the cyclist was not at fault. This does not mean you can pedal around with no regard to surrounding traffic. You still have to be diligent and you still owe yourself an obligation to proceed with reason. Any contribution found on your behalf will reduce the value of your claim. You can be deemed contributorily negligent if you don't wear the proper protective gear, or if you don't abide by the rules of the road.
Seasonal changes in traffic will often give rise to increases in car accidents involving cyclist. A good portion of the driving population does not properly adapt to these changes. This causes drivers to make assumptions they shouldn't make: disregarding their blind spot, failing to keep track of cyclist in the bike lane, opening their doors without thinking of oncoming cyclist. Unfortunately, the injuries are often devastating. Even with protective gear, the force of direct impact may leave the cyclist with serious, life-changing and permanent injuries.
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What does "no fee unless you win" actually mean and how do most personal injury Lawyers get paid?
Answer: Taken literally and with knowledge of what goes into every account "no win, no fee" is a legitimate statement. That means: Yes, the Lawyer will not get a fee if you don't receive compensation. However, in addition to fees, there are also costs and disbursements.
Costs represent the defendant's legal costs that are due if you get an adverse judgment. These fall on your shoulders and not your Lawyers. Costs insurance can be available in some cases and should be explored in your initial meetings (the earlier you get it, the cheaper it is).
Disbursements are the funds paid upfront by your Lawyer to carry your file. They include things like photocopying, mail/postage, travel costs, filing costs and medical-legal assessments. A Lawyer can run up disbursements in the thousands and if successful, the defendant will pay the value of your claim plus these disbursements. However, if you're unsuccessful, these disbursements are typically due and owed by you. Meaning, if you don't "win" you owe the Lawyer what was spent to carry your file. Unpaid disbursements may also be covered through your costs’ insurance.
Most personal injury Lawyers work off contingency, meaning that they are compensated based on the result. They take a percentage of your settlement. That percentage is typically 30-35% depending on the Lawyer.
The fee isn't as simple as just taking a percentage of the overall settlement. It must be broken down in accordance with what a Lawyer is legally able to take. For instance, they cannot take more than the client receives. They cannot take "costs" which amount to about 15% of the value of your claim and are used to counterbalance your contingency fee.
Here's how it might play out:
Let's say the value of your claim is $100,000. In addition to the value of your claim, the defendant will have to cover disbursements (what was paid to run your file) and costs. A typical settlement could be broken down as follows:
- value of claim: $100,000
- disbursements: $15,000 (including HST)
- costs: $12,319.37
- DEFENDANT'S PAYMENT: $127,319.37
The Lawyer's fee is taken out of the value of the claim and not the defendant's entire payment. So if the contingency is set at 30%, the Lawyer's fee in the above example would be $30,000 + H.S.T.. The Lawyer will take the disbursements as well to cover the funds he or she spent on the file. You're left with the remainder. Here's how it works using the above example:
- defendant's payment: $127,319.37
- disbursements: (-) $15,000 (including HST)
- legal fee: (-) $30,000
- HST on legal fee: (-) $3,900
- IN YOUR POCKET: $78,416.37
The exact calculation used could change depending on the facts of each case. As a note, claims are typically subject to pre and post-judgment interest at a variable rate. This will be added to the defendant’s payment.
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