Monthly Archives: May 2014

Understanding What Your Kansas Automobile Insurance Covers: Part II

Do you fully understand your car insurance policy?  Would you be covered in the event of an accident?  In Part I of our two part series, we began our look at some vital facts all drivers should be aware of concerning their car insurance.  In Part II, we continue our list with the hopes that after reading, you will re-examine your insurance policy to make sure it protects you and your family.

  1. Drivers you live with are not covered—this is an important caveat that many insurance holders are not aware of, and can come at significant costs.  If you loan your vehicle to a relative or friend and they are in an accident, your insurance will generally cover the collision just as it would if you were the driver.  However, if you loan that same vehicle to a relative or friend who resides in your household but is not included on the insurance policy, your insurance will not cover damages or injuries that arise in an accident involving that driver.  You must declare anyone living with you to the insurance company and either elect to add them to the policy or exclude them, and not allow them to drive the vehicle.  This policy exists to prevent safe drivers from essentially obtaining car insurance policies for risky drivers that they live with.  Accordingly, the insurance companies will only provide coverage for drivers listed on the policy and those that live outside the home and borrow the vehicle.
  2. Uninsured motorist coverage is extremely important—in the event you are in an accident with a motorist who lacks car insurance, uninsured motorist coverage will prove vital.  Many states require automobile insurance companies to offer you uninsured motorist coverage, but providers do not tell you how high-risk your state is.  Nationally, an alarming one in seven motorists lack car insurance.  In Kansas, 10% of all drivers lack insurance coverage.  Spare yourself the heartache of unpaid medical bills and property damage; call your insurer to make sure you have a sizable uninsured motorist policy in place.
  3. Your credit score will impact your rates—in Kansas, as in all states except Hawaii and California, your credit will be a major factor in determining your insurance rates.  Better credit equates to better rates.  Other variable factors include: gender, age, marital status, frequency of use of the vehicle, length of time driving, accident history, and safety features of the car, such as anti-lock brakes or airbags.
  4. Minimum liability varies greatly by state—states have the right to set their own minimum liability requirements, and these values can range drastically.  In Kansas, drivers must carry at least $25,000 for bodily injury per person, $50,000 for total bodily injury, and $10,000 for property damage.  Drivers must also carry personal injury protection and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Know your states minimums and be sure to obtain at least the minimums within 15 days of establishing residency.
  5. You may need specialized coverage—if you have a specialized ride, such as a motorcycle, collector car, or mobile home, you will likely require a specialized insurance policy.  Motorcycle policies generally have their own minimums

 Contact Kansas City Automobile Accident Attorney Michael R. Lawless Today for a Free Consultation

If you or a loved one has been involved in car accident, Michael R. Lawless is a Kansas Automobile Accident Attorney with more than 27 years of experience helping his clients receive the compensation they deserve.  Car accidents can lead to serious injuries or even death.  Victims can require months of time away from work and medical treatment.  For the victims of car accidents, medical expenses will quickly mount and accident victims should act fast to preserve their legal rights.  To schedule a free consultation to discuss your potential car accident case, contact Michael R. Lawless, PA by calling our office locally at (913) 681-5566, or you may call us toll-free at (800) 734-3771.  You may also contact us online and we will respond to your inquiry as soon as possible.

Understanding What Your Kansas Automobile Insurance Covers: Part I

Obtaining an automobile insurance policy is often overwhelming, confusing, and stressful.  There are so many carriers and countless options.  After obtaining quotes from several companies, most drivers will settle on coverage and faithfully make their payments, believing that in the event of an accident, they will be fully covered.  The shock comes after an accident occurs and automobile drivers uncover their property damage, damage to the other driver, or personal injuries are not covered by their insurance.  To avoid this potentially devastating experience, it is vital that every vehicle owner or driver understand what is covered by their automobile insurance—and what is not.  Following an accident, no driver wants to be left wondering who will cover their medical bills, how their car will get fixed, and what to do if the other driver does not have insurance.  Gaining a full understanding now as to what your coverage will avoid much confusion in the event you are in an accident.

Car insurance is complex and varies significantly from state to state, as well as policy to policy.  “Full coverage” means different things to different people and insurance companies.  Most companies offer dozens of polices that may not always match an individual’s definition of full coverage.  According to a study conducted by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, over half of all Americans do not know basic facts about car insurance and less than half feel confident making decisions about it.

The following is a list of the first two things you should know about how well your car is covered in the event of an accident.  Our list will continue in Part II of Understanding What Your Kansas Automobile Insurance Covers.

  1. Your rental car is covered…sort of—two out of every five automobile drivers express confusion over the purchase of rental car insurance.  According to the founder of Esurance, John-Bernard Duler, if you rent a vehicle, then get into an accident, the damage to the rental car should be covered by your regular automobile insurance.  However, expect to incur additional charges.  The rental company may charge you for the loss of the use of their vehicle which is not covered by insurance.  Further, your insurance might not pay the full value of the damaged rental vehicle.  Most policies will only provide compensation for either the actual value or the cost to repair, whichever is less.
  2. Car insurance covers the car, not its contents—thousands of automobile thefts occur each day across the U.S.  Comprehensive automobile insurance will compensate you if your car is stolen, but will not generally cover its stolen contents.  If the property taken is of specific use to the car, like a CD player, it might be covered.  If, however, a personal item, such as a laptop, was taken, this will not ordinarily be covered.

Contact Kansas City Automobile Accident Attorney Michael R. Lawless Today for a Free Consultation

If you or a loved one has been involved in car accident, Michael R. Lawless is a Kansas Automobile Accident Attorney with more than 27 years of experience helping his clients receive the compensation they deserve.  Car accidents can lead to serious injuries or even death.  Victims can require months of time away from work and medical treatment.  For the victims of car accidents, medical expenses will quickly mount and accident victims should act fast to preserve their legal rights. To schedule a free consultation to discuss your potential car accident case, contact Michael R. Lawless, PA by calling our office locally at (913) 681-5566, or you may call us toll-free at (800) 734-3771.  You may also contact us online and we will respond to your inquiry as soon as possible.

Frequently Asked Questions About Workers’ Compensation in Kansas: Part II

Injuries on the job can be devastating, leaving an employee unable to work, in pain, and traveling to and from doctor’s offices for sometimes extended periods of time.  Workers’ compensation is intended to provide injured employees with reliable coverage for their medical bills and lost wages stemming from an on the job injury.  However, the workers’ compensation system does not always make it easy for employees to obtain the benefits to which they are entitled.

In Part I of this two part series, we began our list of questions frequently asked by employees who have been injured on the job.  In this segment, we continue our list, delving further into some specifics concerning workers’ compensation in Kansas.

What types of injuries or illnesses are covered under workers’ compensation?

Virtually any type of work-related injury or illness will be covered by workers’ compensation.  Some commonly covered conditions include: back injuries, traumatic brain injuries, broken bones, wounds, bodily reactions to substances, burns, and repetitive stress injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome.

What is arising out and in the course of employment?

The only requirement for the injury or illness is that it must arise out of or in the course of employment.  “Rising out of” refers to some connection between the employment and the injury.  “In the course of” refers to injuries occurring while at work or during the course of work.  For instance, an employee who suffers from carpal tunnel due to typing at work has an injury that arose out of employment.  An employee who suffers an injury while punched in is in the course of their employment.

Do I need a workers’ compensation attorney to help me obtain the benefits to which I am entitled?

A workers’ compensation attorney can prove vital to navigating the intricate workers’ compensation system and fighting for your full coverage.  While not every injury will warrant the assistance of an attorney, those who have sustained a serious injury that will require time off work and significant medical expenses would be wise to consult with a workers’ compensation attorney from the start.

What if my claim for workers’ compensation is denied or not fully covered?

If your workers’ compensation claim has been denied or not fully covered, it does not mean you are out of options.  A workers’ compensation attorney can assist you in appealing the decision and obtaining your maximum coverage.

What if my injury was caused by a third party?

If your injury was not caused by another employee, but by a third party, you may be able to sue that third party outside of the workers’ compensation system.  Employees injured by a defective product or an at fault driver could seek recovery in separate action.  Your experienced workers’ compensation attorney can evaluate your case and determine all possible avenues for recovery.

Contact Kansas City Workers’ Compensation Attorney Michael R. Lawless Today for a Free Consultation

Workers’ compensation claims can be complex and stressful.  Those injured on the job may experience uncertainty as to whether they should file a workers’ compensation claim.  It is important that any injured worker fully understand their rights and obligations that are attached to filing a workers’ compensation claim before actually deciding to file a claim.  To better understand what to expect, and what you might receive after filing a workers’ compensation claim, you should consult with a Kansas Workers’ Compensation Lawyer right away.  Kansas workers’ compensation attorney Michael R. Lawless of Michael R. Lawless, PA, devotes his practice to helping injured clients get back on their feet.  To schedule a free consultation with Michael R. Lawless, contact our office today by calling locally at (913) 681-5566, or you may call us toll-free at (800) 734-3771.  You may also contact us online and we will respond to your inquiry as soon as possible.

Frequently Asked Questions About Workers’ Compensation in Kansas: Part I

Hundreds of thousands of workers will be injured on the job each year.  For most employees, workers’ compensation insurance will offer the sole avenue for recovery of medical bills and lost wages.  However, countless workers will have their claims denied or receive less than they are entitled to.  Kansas employees injured on the jobsite are often confused concerning their legal rights following the accident and how best to protect them.  In an effort to help you better understand workers’ compensation insurance and your rights under it, we have prepared a two part compilation of frequently asked questions.

What is workers’ compensation?

Workers’ compensation is a mandatory insurance contract, required by law to provide compensation for injuries sustained which arise out of and in the course of employment.  The workers’ compensation system is designed to offer a reliable procedure for compensating employees for work-related injury or industrial illness.

Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system.  Injured workers will be covered for their injuries regardless of whether they acted negligently or contributed to the accident.  In exchange for such broad coverage, the employee is prevented from suing the employer for the injury, except under limited circumstances.

Most employers are required by law to carry workers’ compensation, but certain small or agricultural employers will be exempt.

What are the time limits in a Kansas workers’ compensation claim?

In Kansas, workers are required to orally report the accident or injury to the employer with ten days of its occurrence.  In some cases, an employee will be allowed 75 days if just cause is shown for the delay.  The employee then has 200 days from the date of the accident to serve a written claim upon the employer.  Within three years of the accident, an Application for Hearing must be filed with the Division of Workers’ Compensation.

Failure to notify your employer of the accident within the requisite time periods can forever bar your claim.  Therefore, it is important to act fast and report your accident as soon as possible.

What benefits does workers’ compensation provide?

Workers’ compensation will provide medical and disability benefits.  Kansas’ workers compensation insurance offers 100% coverage for medical expenses incurred due to an accident, including prescription drug coverage, medical appliances, physical therapy, transportation to and from doctors offices, and the like.  The employer does have the right to select the medical provider, but the employee has a fund of $500 to spend on unauthorized medical treatment.

Disability benefits are both temporary and permanent.  The maximum benefits are capped at two-thirds the employees’ average weekly wage, up to a maximum amount which changes annually.

Contact Kansas City Workers’ Compensation Attorney Michael R. Lawless Today for a Free Consultation

Workers’ compensation claims can be complex and stressful.  Those injured on the job may experience uncertainty as to whether they should file a workers’ compensation claim.  It is important that any injured worker fully understand their rights and obligations that are attached to filing a workers’ compensation claim before actually deciding to file a claim.  To better understand what to expect, and what you might receive after filing a workers’ compensation claim, you should consult with a Kansas workers’ compensation attorney right away.  Kansas Workers’ Compensation Attorney Michael R. Lawless of Michael R. Lawless, PA, devotes his practice to helping injured clients get back on their feet.  To schedule a free consultation with Michael R. Lawless, contact our office today by calling locally at (913) 681-5566, or you may call us toll-free at (800) 734-3771.  You may also contact us online and we will respond to your inquiry as soon as possible.

Mock Accident Demonstration Held to Increase Pedestrian Safety

Last year, thirty pedestrians were hit by cars in the capital city of Topeka, Kansas.  Four of these pedestrian accident victims died.  Recently, in an effort to promote pedestrian safety, the Topeka Police Department held a mock accident demonstration outside Highland Park High School.

The demonstration was initially shielded by multiple Topeka Metro buses, parked so as to obstruct the view of the accident scene.  After the hundreds of Highland Park High School students took their seats, the buses pulled away, revealing an appalling scene.  In the reenactment, two students were hit by a car while crossing the street.  The driver of the automobile was texting and driving when he crashed into the crossing students, killing one and critically injuring the other.  The blood on the scene was realistic and the ambulance sirens were authentic, as actual emergency personnel took part in the demonstration.

Students seemed to have received the message.  High school senior Kameron Clark said that seeing the accident, rather than just talking about it, had a big impact.  Another student, Andrew Jackson, stressed that the accident could happen to anyone.  He hoped that everyone would learn from the demonstration to be more aware of their surroundings when both walking and driving.

The demonstration strikes close to home for many in the Topeka area, as there has been a rash of pedestrian accidents in recent years.  In November, a Hayden High School student was hit by a car while using his phone.  He was crossing at the intersection of 8th and Gage, and an oncoming vehicle failed to stop, critically injuring him. The student was hospitalized but thankfully recovered.  Four other pedestrians in the Topeka area were not so lucky.

Pedestrian accidents in Kansas result from a variety of circumstances, but officers at the recent mock accident demonstration stressed the danger of distraction.  Distraction comes in two forms when a pedestrian accident is involved:

  • Driver Distraction: A study recently published by the Office of the U.S. Surgeon General and the journal of U.S. Public Health found that distracted driving is the main cause for the rise in fatal pedestrian accidents.  The study determined that distracted drivers were involved in 18.5% of all pedestrians accidents.  In fact, one out of every 10 traffic fatalities is attributed to distracted driving.
  • Distracted Walking: Distraction is a significant problem among pedestrians as well.  Walking without paying attention to the road ahead is considered a major reason for the surge in pedestrian accidents.  The use of cell phones and other mobile technologies is thought to be largely responsible for the increase in distracted walking, though the use of headphones has also played a large role.

Contact Kansas City Automobile Accident Attorney Michael R. Lawless Today for a Free Consultation

If you or a loved one has been involved in car accident, Michael R. Lawless is a Kansas City Automobile Accident Attorney with more than 27 years of experience helping his clients receive the compensation they deserve.  Car accidents are often caused by the negligence of at fault drivers.  Driver distraction plays a role in a large number of accidents on the roadways today.  Attorney Michael R. Lawless, P.A. will thoroughly investigate the facts surrounding your accident and uncover all potential avenues for recovery.  To schedule a free consultation to discuss your potential auto accident case, contact Michael R. Lawless, PA by calling our office locally at (913) 681-5566, or you may call us toll-free at (800) 734-3771.  You may also contact us online and we will respond to your inquiry as soon as possible.

 

Kansas City Car Accident Lawyer Warns: Dust Leads to Multiple Kansas Accidents

Swirling, high speed gusts have created dust storms throughout Kansas, leading to several serious car and truck accidents.  A fatal collision occurred recently near Great Bend on U.S. 65.  Brandon H. Stein, 30, perished in an accident when his vehicle collided with a semi-trailer truck that had stopped in the eastbound highway lanes due to visibility problems caused by blowing dust.  Near Liberal, Kansas, more than a dozen vehicles were involved in a pileup accident.  Police found that a dust storm had reduced the visibility to almost zero.  Six of the vehicles involved were cars and trucks, while the other six were tractor trailers.  One accident victim was pinned in her vehicle and had to be extracted with the jaws of life.  Others sustained minor injuries, and one horse in a trailer was also hurt.

The Kansas Department of Transportation is advising motorists not to drive through dust storms or smoke from burning, if possible.  If drivers are on the road, they should pull off as quickly as possible.  Once off the road, KDOT urges drivers to turn off all lights, as other drivers may mistakenly use the stopped vehicle’s lights as a guide.

The following is some more information concerning KDOT’s warnings and other safety tips for navigating through dust storms this spring and summer.

    • Heed warnings: During threatening weather, listen to the weather forecast concerning dust storm warnings.  If forecasters predict storms with limited visibility, steer clear of the roadways if possible.  If work or other obligations force you to drive, follow the safety suggestions below.
    • Pull off if you observe dense dust: If you see what appears to be dense dust ahead of you, pull off the roadway as far as possible.  Do not enter the dust storm if you can avoid it.  Never stop in the highway lane, as you could be hit from approaching vehicles.
    • Turn your lights off once parked off the roadway: As KDOT advised, it is best to turn your lights off once you have safely pulled far off the highway. This is because vehicles approaching from the rear may view your lights and inadvertently leave the roadway in an effort to follow them.  This can cause vehicles to collide with your parked vehicle.  Accordingly, be sure to turn off all lights once you are parked off the roadway.
    • Use caution driving through dust:If you cannot pull off the roadway, proceed through the dust at a speed suitable for visibility.  Turn on your lights and sound your horn occasionally.  Use the painted center line to help guide you when visibility is low.  Look for a safe place to pull off.

Contact Kansas City Truck and Automobile Accident Attorney Michael R. Lawless Today for a Free Consultation

If you or a loved one has been involved in car or truck accident, Michael R. Lawless is a Kansas City Car Accident Lawyer with more than 27 years of experience helping his clients receive the compensation they deserve.  Car and truck accidents can lead to serious injuries or even death.  Victims can require months of time away from work and medical treatment.  For the victims of car and truck accidents, medical expenses will quickly mount and accident victims should act fast to preserve their legal rights.  To schedule a free consultation to discuss your potential car or truck accident case, contact Michael R. Lawless, PA by calling our office locally at (913) 681-5566, or you may call us toll-free at (800) 734-3771.  You may also contact us online and we will respond to your inquiry as soon as possible.

Kansas City Personal Injury Attorney States: Youth Sports Injuries are on the Rise

Youth sports have become extremely popular throughout the U.S., with the number of student athletes growing by the year.  Today, over 60% of all school aged children play some sort of sport outside of school.  This amounts to over 4.5 million children in the U.S. playing a youth sport each year.  While youth sports are just a fun hobby for some, other children quickly dream of the big leagues.  However, for an increasing number of young athletes, this dream is shattered due to serious injuries.

New studies demonstrate that an alarming 3.5 million school aged children are injured playing sports each year.  These injuries consist of more than minor bumps and bruises.  Over 1.35 million children become seriously injured playing sports, requiring a visit to the ER.  Across the U.S., a child athlete will visit the emergency room for a sports-related injury every 25 seconds.

While these statistics are troubling, perhaps even more concerning is the fact that the rate of youth sports injuries appears to be on the rise.  The number of injuries sustained by school aged athletes playing football and baseball has increased by 60% in just the past few years.

Young Athletes and Concussions

Concussions are one of the most serious injuries sustained by children sports players and they occur with regularity.  Almost 150,000 child and teen football players suffered a concussion last year alone.  Concussions account for nearly 15% of all emergency room visits.  The number of child football players suffering from concussions has doubled in the last decade.

High school football has actually become more dangerous than college football.  High school players sustain twice as many concussions as their college aged counterparts.  Further, while children generally heal quicker and more efficiently than adults, recovery from a concussion is an exception to this rule.  Children actually take longer to heal from a concussion than adults.  This increased recovery period is due to the fact that children’s brains are still maturing and thus more vulnerable to brain injury.

The dangers associated with concussions have caught national attention with the recent NFL litigation and several high profile, serious injuries occurring to football players, young and old.  In response to the new evidence as to the dangers of concussions and the rising rates of injury among young sports players, President Obama has scheduled a conference to discuss the issue and strategize ways to make sports safer for children.  The conference will be held on May 29, 2014, and is slated to include athletes, parents, children, coaches, and experts.  It is entitled the “Healthy Kids & Safe Sports Concussion Summit,” and the President hopes it will lead to new commitments from both the public and private sector to research and prevent sports related concussions.

Contact Kansas City Personal Injury Attorney Michael R. Lawless Today for a Free Consultation

If your child has experienced an injury while playing youth sports, Michael R. Lawless is a Kansas Personal Injury attorney with more than 27 years of experience helping his clients receive the compensation they deserve.  Michael R. Lawless is a personal injury attorney with extensive expertise and knowledge in the field of sports related injuries.  As a parent himself, Michael Lawless knows how devastating it can be to see your child suffer an injury.  He will aggressively fight to see that your child is provided with the medical care and financial compensation to which he or she is entitled.  To schedule a free consultation to discuss your personal injury case, contact Kansas City Personal Injury Attorney Michael R. Lawless, PA by calling our office locally at (913) 681-5566, or you may call us toll-free at (800) 734-3771.  You may also contact us online and we will respond to your inquiry as soon as possible.

 

Kansas City Product Liability Attorney Discusses Dangerous Toys

Toys are synonymous with childhood, lovingly given to children of all ages to enjoy and entertain. Parents, grandparents, other relatives, and friends purchase children’s toys assuming them to be safe for their young recipient. However, a glance at recent news headlines reveals that a number of recalls of defective toys and children’s products have occurred in recent years. Every year across the U.S., approximately 18 children are killed in toy related accidents. Another 230,000 children will sustain toy related injuries that require treatment in the hospital. Sadly, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the number of injuries associated with toys is actually on the rise. The majority of these accidents and injuries occur to children under the age of 15.

Common Types of Defective Toys

Defective toys can cause injuries in a number of ways, from parts that break off and choke a child to toys made toxic by lead. While any toy can be defective, the following toys have been found to harbor defects most often:

• Playpen
• Tricycles
• Crib
• Clothing
• Toy guns
• Stuffed animals
• Magnetic toys
• Rocking horses
• Kitchen sets and ovens
• Games
• Dolls
• Scooters
• Balls
• Swimming pool toys
• Car seats

Notable Recalls and Lawsuits

Several recalls have made headline news in recent years. Lead has become a serious concern in children’s toys, and Mattel was involved in a high profile suit for its lead containing toys. Mattel and its Fisher-Price subsidiary agreed to settle a lawsuit over the 2007 recall of millions of toys manufactured in China which were found to have high levels of lead.

Toymaker Henry Gordon International settled a toy gun defect claim for over $1.1 million. The toy dart gun involved was sold in Family Dollar Stores. The gun was linked to the deaths of at least four children, caused by placing the gun in their mouths and firing the dart. The dart became lodged in their throats, blocking their air passages and leading to suffocation. Over 1.8 million such toys were recalled.

Manufacturer’s Liability for Defective Toys

Toy manufacturers and makers have a legal duty to make safe toys. Suppliers and distributors have a further duty to keep the toys in undamaged condition for the child’s use. When a child is injured or killed due to a defective toy or product, the manufacturer and possibly the supplier or distributor could be held accountable. If your child has been hurt or killed by a defective toy, you should seek the representation of a knowledgeable personal injury attorney as soon as possible.

Contact Kansas City Personal Injury Attorney Michael R. Lawless Today for a Free Consultation

If your child has been injured or killed due to a defective toy, Michael R. Lawless can help. Michael Lawless is a Kansas City Product Liability Attorney with more than 27 years of experience helping his clients receive the compensation they deserve. Michael R. Lawless is a personal injury attorney with extensive expertise and knowledge in the field of defective products and personal injury.  As a parent himself, Michael Lawless knows how devastating it can be to see your child suffer an injury. He will aggressively fight to see that your child is provided with the medical care and financial compensation to which he or she is entitled. To schedule a free consultation to discuss your personal injury case, contact Michael R. Lawless, PA by calling our office locally at (913) 681-5566, or you may call us toll-free at (800) 734-3771. You may also contact us online and we will respond to your inquiry as soon as possible.