The Ins and Outs of Auto Accident Attorneys

Frequency of Car Accidents in the United States

According to the Institute of Insurance Safety, the number of motor vehicles involved in crashes and the number of fatalities have remained fairly consistent despite advancements in safety systems. This may be in part due to the fact that more drivers are on the roads and driving more dangerously than ever as they rely too heavily on safety features.

It may also be due to the fact that there is no level of safety equipment to compensate for the lack of fundamental safe driving skills. For example, it is part of building automatic safety habits to stop at every stop sign and slowly recite the letters S-T-O-P before moving out of place. Many drivers today don’t come to a dead stop. They don’t pay attention and are distracted by cellphones. In their minds, if no one appears to be coming at first glance, why bother waiting. Others may do what is called a rolling stop by impatiently slowing down and rolling right through stop signs or red lights.

The enforcement of red-light cameras in the city and speed controls appears to do very little. We might even say that the more speed patrols there are on the roads, the more incentive drivers have to speed together in more dangerous bumper-to-bumper gridlock to avoid being singled out for a ticket. There are lots of additional factors when it comes to automotive safety beyond the laboratory four-star crash test data. Many accidents today are between mismatched vehicles. When vehicles are mismatched in height and mass, an automotive collision comes down on top of the drivers in the compact vehicle at a trajectory that the vehicle is not ordinarily designed to withstand.

What’s to Blame for More Frequent Accidents?

A greater number of people are on the roads and driving while half asleep to meet the demands of our hustle-bustle post-recession world. The number of smartphones and GPS apps distracting drivers or giving them bad directions creates a whole different set of problems. As vehicles become more expensive and difficult to repair, it may not matter how safe that vehicle was when it was manufactured. The planned obsolescence of car manufacturers creates a disadvantage when problems arise that no one is able to repair and owners are stuck with problematic electronics or brake systems.

People are also taking more prescription drugs and under the influence of legalized drugs like medical marijuana more than ever before. A large volume of people are impaired but forced to drive while taking muscle relaxers or psychiatric medicines that cause drowsiness. Over 70% of the drivers who are killed in serious car accidents are males. Chalk it up to male dominance and testosterone.

The number one cause of automotive accidents is speeding. Over 100,000 fatal car accidents from 2006-2015 were as a result of speeding. This number is 30% of the total fatal car accidents in that period. It is estimated that half were at highway speeds exceeding 55mph.

Nearly 30 people are killed every day from drunk driving accidents in the USA. This is the second leading cause of accidents because alcohol slows down reaction times and dulls the standard of care perception. Drunk drivers wind up in big trouble with the law and may be forced to pay on settlements to their victims for life.

It is statistically demonstrated that distracted driving accounts for the third leading cause of fatal car accidents. Texting and driving, adjusting the central console controls, eating, and talking to passengers or over a cellphone, are often just enough time for drivers to put the importance of something mundane over highway safety.

Cellphones lead the pack in distracting drivers and causing fatal accidents. It is easy to get emotionally attached to the conversation or task you are consumed with on your cellphone. Your mind is designed to keep a central focus and cancel out other distractions. Multi-tasking has its limitations when there is no room for error. It only takes one second to miss important driving information that is forever impossible to replace, like a loved one.

What an Auto Accident Attorney Can Do to Help

If you are the helpless victim of an automotive accident or may have caused the automotive accident yourself, it is important that you retain competent legal help immediately. A car accident can get you in big trouble. These cases can lead to criminal charges with life-changing consequences. An attorney will mitigate penalties or prevent you from getting into trouble with the law altogether. If they specialize in personal injury or defenses for automotive-related charges, they will generally be able to help you after a free consultation. Because they have a full understanding of the applicable laws, they are the only ones who can get you out of trouble.

Deciding Which Attorney to Choose

When it comes to attorneys, you often get the help you paid for in most cases. The amount of hard work that is needed to help you is exhausting. Lawyers have to battle insurance companies and state prosecutor offices with nearly unlimited budgets and underlings to even mitigate the trouble you face. A good attorney has to consider preserving errors on appeal. This means that he has to spend hours and hours strategizing the case to help you. He has to boil the arguments down into concise poetic verses.

The briefing limits on appeal are very narrow and require lawyers to present and preserve those same issues objectively to the judge below. Very few attorneys can help you win on appeals because the time needed to conceptualize the claims is draining and takes decades of experience to master. The years of opinions that may present nuances of support for your arguments over your opponent’s can be endless arcane publications that must be sifted through with a fine-tooth comb. A general practice attorney cannot simply pick up a factually complex case and expect to be successful.

The state and insurance companies often work on salary and have all the time in the world to draw out litigation if the damages are serious enough. Prosecutions like to pick on the lowest hanging fruit. If you don’t have strong counsel to help you, they may become overzealous to make an example out of your case. If you are guilty of any vices like drugs or drinking, they will be used to smear your good image and expose you to more trouble.

Attorneys can turn on you in litigating insurance claims in your favor or in fighting criminal charges. After they are paid a retainer or have negotiated a settlement they are happy with, for their time spent, there is usually very little you can do to get your money back or get out of the contract. Legal malpractice cases against attorneys are very hard to win. This means that you should hire an attorney who has a reputation to keep up. An attorney who isolates themselves from public and customer opinions on their website is likely more of a manipulator who is not dedicated to his clients’ causes.

If your attorney seems to be giving you the run-around with incoherent answers and asking you for more money without producing any work-product as proof of spending time on your case, you can bet that he is sailing off with the easy cash. This is especially true if you have criminal charges pending and can be stigmatized if he blows your case. It is important that you switch counsel immediately if you encounter a lawyer who you feel is treating you disrespectfully.

The standard for legal malpractice in criminal cases is nearly impossible to substantiate in many states. See Bailey v. Tucker, 621 A.2d 108, 533 Pa. 237 (1993). States like Pennsylvania require that you be found innocent by the courts because your counsel was ineffective. You still have to file the Complaint within two years of the injury unless it is a strictly construed breach of contract case. You are then forced to prove a standard that is used virtually nowhere else in law of “gross dereliction of duty” to reclaim anything more than the money paid to the lawyer. It is hard to imagine an example of gross dereliction of duty other than your lawyer doing nothing at all to help you.

Although there is usually a lawyer’s fund set up in each state to help when attorneys commit misconduct, these are usually a dead-end in a criminal case where the state wants to retain the verdict and admit no fault. The State Bar Association disciplinary proceedings are likely controlled by the same Supreme Court that affirmed your criminal appeal and thus have a conflict of interest.

If your case involves lawsuits against an insurance company or others when you or a loved one is the victim, a personal injury attorney who has the best feedback from clients is the way to go. If a law firm has won many large awards in the past, this is a good indication that they like to fight and get the maximum benefit for their clients. Most cases end in settlement before trial because it is a convenient way to hedge against the risks of loss. This may exemplify a law firm that is too lazy to prepare for trials and appeals because they want the easy money. We would suggest avoiding such law firms.

Possible Consequences of Fault in an Automotive Accident

You can be charged with anything from manslaughter to second-degree murder if the police believe you were at fault for the death of occupants or others. This is often under the theory that your vehicle was a deadly weapon. Cases, where the defendant was sleeping behind the wheel, intoxicated, or has a habitual offender record, may lead to the most aggravated charges. The reason why sleeping behind the wheel charges are so serious is because the person has many warning signs before taking the vehicle and its occupants into the danger zone. In this sense, it is like consciously making the choice to drive while heavily intoxicated. One can always pull over to the side of the road and take a power nap.

In some states (e.g., Louisiana), vehicular homicide charges may lead to 30-years in prison (a potential natural life sentence for middle-aged or older people). You may also be charged for DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) and face up to five years in prison in some states, hefty fines, and probation if this is a subsequent offense with no victims. Violating any traffic laws that can demonstrate your negligence is usually enough to make an objective case for a personal injury tort in any state. These cases may require expert testimony to reconstruct the accidents and record the extent of injuries for maximum compensation.

Possible Damages You may Be Able to Collect in Personal Injury Cases

If you or a close loved one is the victim, a lawyer who specializes in personal injury cases and has real clients you can meet is your best bet. Any lawyer who works on contingency may be your only choice if you do not have the budget for an attorney’s upfront fees. There is a limited set of attorneys that specializes in wrongful death cases. These cases require a special skill set in calculating the prospective lost income and various damages accurately. You may be able to collect for pain and suffering, loss of property, medical bills, disability, quality of life issues, lost wages, wrongful death on behalf of an estate, or loss of consortium if a close loved one was injured.

Most of these issues are common sense calculations that estimate the full collateral impact after the accidents. However, insurance companies often cap coverage in most of these cases to state law minimums. These minimums can be as low as $10,000 per person and $20,000 per collision total coverage for liability when there is bodily injury. The highest insurance coverage caps are $300,000 per person and $500,000 per accident. However, If a person is disabled or experiences significant quality of life issues, this may be a drop in the bucket after lawyer fees take 30% or more.

This doesn’t even include the property caps that may be below the value of the vehicle(s) and many other contractual options that require the insured driver to pay higher premiums each month. That being said, you may be facing an uphill battle if the insured driver at fault has little personal income and relies solely on state minimum insurance. You might drive a little further back next time you see that jalopy speeding down the highway when you consider the realities of insurance limits. Underinsured and uninsured driver insurance options on your personal plan may also seem more valuable.

Donate Cars in Massachusetts

Do you have a used car just sitting in your driveway and collecting dust? Do you want to give to a good cause? While these two questions may seem unrelated, donating your used car to a charity can save you money at tax time. Even better, your donation can do some good in your community.

Before you head out to donate your car in Massachusetts, there are some items to consider. By following these tips, you can be better prepared for giving your car to charity the right way.

How will the donation be used?

When searching for an organization, you should find out how the car will be used. For situations where the vehicle will be used by the charity or given to a person in need, the tax deduction will be based on the fair market value of your car. If they decide to sell the car instead, the deduction amount will be based on the amount they receive after the sale.

In the case of selling the car, many organizations may team up with a third party to handle the sale. These businesses will manage the sale of the vehicle and even pick up the car in some cases. You should ask to know what percentage the charitable organization will receive to see if the donation would help them.

Check the tax status of the organization

To receive a tax deduction for your donation, the organization has to be registered as a 501(c)(3) organization/nonprofit.* Instances where they don’t have to register as a nonprofit include governments, churches, mosques, synagogues, and temples. For other nonprofit organizations in Massachusetts, you can contact the Public Charities Division or the IRS Tax Exempt/Government Entities department.

Document your vehicle

How much is your car worth? In general, if your vehicle is worth more than $5,000, you need to have the vehicle appraised by an independent appraiser. Get this value in writing and make sure to fill out IRS Form 8283 at tax time.

Once you donate your vehicle to a charitable organization, have them provide a written acknowledgment of the donation and a receipt as well. If they sell the car, you should also receive a receipt for the sale. Having more documentation at tax time can save on headaches later if you’re audited.

For vehicles valued below $5,000, you can determine the value using sources like Kelley Blue Book, National Auto Dealers Association guide, or the Hearst Black Book. A word of caution with this method–you will want to ensure that you’re accurately using the mileage, condition, and date of purchase for your vehicle. You should also take photographs of the odometer and car for extra documentation.

What other information should you gather? In addition to the previous information, you should keep a record of the name and address of the organization, along with recording when your vehicle was picked up. You should also have records of when and how you obtained your vehicle backed up by documents such as your title, registration, and receipt copies.

What can be donated?

Massachusetts has an active boating community, and some charities will accept your boat as a donation. Other vehicles can include RVs and motorcycles as well. If you have a broken down car, some charities will take those as well to either fix them up or sell them for parts to help benefit the organization’s mission.

While many charitable organizations offer free pickup services for your vehicle, it can often reduce the amount of donation they receive. If they will let you, and the car is operational, you can offer to drive it to them and drop it off to help them benefit more from your donation.

Finding the right charitable organization

How do you find the right charities to donate to? You can either start your search online or by contacting your local organizations. Ask them questions so that you can find the best fit for your donation. Many charities will be happy to talk about their group’s mission and how your donation can help them with their program. Some may even send you additional information so that you can make an informed decision.

Many for-profit websites and businesses offer to take your used vehicle and transfer the proceeds to your chosen organization. While many of these are reputable businesses, adding in a third party will lessen the benefit to charities. These businesses will generally deduct their costs for picking up your vehicle and processing the sale then will give a percentage to the charities. The process is relatively simple and straightforward, but you are generally better off contacting the charitable organization directly to help maximize your donation.

Donating your vehicle

Once you’ve located the right organization, you’ll want to sign over the title to them. This releases you from being liable for the donated car. If the vehicle was produced before 1980, Massachusetts doesn’t require you to have the title.

Talk with the organization to see who should be listed in the “buyers” section of the title. In most cases, this will be the organization’s name or the name of the third party agent.

Once the transfer is complete and you’ve received all of your documentation, all that’s left is tax time. You can feel better that you’ve helped out a charitable organization while getting rid of unwanted vehicles from your house at the same time.

Affordable Auto Insurance

Rising fuel prices significantly affect the cost of owning a car. Something most people don’t consider is that you can considerably reduce your vehicle’s operating expenses by finding affordable auto insurance. It is vital that you evaluate the various components of the insurance policy to obtain the right value for your money.

Ways to research available options for car insurance

  1. Check rates among insurance providers on an annual basis

Compare insurance rates among insurance companies to ensure you get the best offer. You can visit state insurance departments to learn about available services. You can also compare insurance provider offers by checking their websites to save some time.

  1. Settle on reputable insurers

Check whether an insurance firm and their services have been rated. Rated companies provide quality services, and you can feel more comfortable about considering establishing a policy with them.

  1. Coverage reviews

Conduct reviews on liability coverage to ensure the plan covers bodily injury and damage to property proportionate to a level of risk you are comfortable with.

  1. Find more about crash repairs

Check to determine that your insurer would not send you to repair garages that fix your vehicle using cheap parts instead of using original manufacturer parts. Even though these parts might be a perfect fit, they are probably of low quality and won’t last long.

Top 10 tips for finding the right car insurance policy

When a cheap insurance plan might make sense

  1. Type of vehicle and its usage

You can opt for a cheap insurance plan if you own an ordinary vehicle that would have modest repair costs and has a minimal chance of getting stolen. Additionally, if you rarely use your car, it might make sense to get a cheaper insurance plan since your chances of making an insurance claim after an accident are lower.

  1. Area of residence

The probability of being involved in a road incident, and consequently being in need of making an insurance claim for your car, varies from one region to the other. If you reside in an area with relatively few road incidents, it could be reasonable to cover your vehicle with cheap insurance. For example, it could be an area where it rarely rains or snows.

  1. Driver’s experience

It could make sense if you are an experienced and mature driver to cover your vehicle with a cheap policy. However, you should have a good driving record for insurers to agree to provide you with a lower policy premium. Your chances of being found at fault after an accident are lower if you have no accident history. Keep in mind that the driver who is at fault is held responsible for repairs to the other car, so you won’t have to worry about accidents you don’t cause.

  1. You have never filed big-payout claims to insurers

If you have never made large-payout claims to your car insurer in the past, it could make sense to get a cheaper insurance plan. Most of the time, people with premium insurance plans do not make use of the extra features that are included, such as towing and recovery. Generally, the insurance firm covering the driver who was at fault covers these services for them instead.

10 reasons why your car insurance is so expensive

Disadvantages of having a cheap car insurance plan

  1. Insufficient Coverage

A cheap insurance plan generally only covers the basic requirements in the event of an accident. If you are at fault for an accident, you may have to foot charges on towing and recovery for the other person, renting a replacement vehicle for you and/or them, and living without an income in the event of permanent disability after an accident.

  1. Poor Customer Service and Claim Processing

Cheap auto insurance may not provide quality customer service. The company might not have an online presence, making it necessary to physically visit their office when making a claim, which could be an unnecessary waste of time. Many companies offering cheap car insurance are start-ups that might have a longer processing time for your claims to be settled. This could be due to financial challenges or even just a lack of standard operating procedures.

Is cheap car insurance really worth it?

Comparing a cheap car insurance plan to a more expensive one

  1. Essential features

You should consider the extra benefits made available to you in an insurance plan, even if they come at a higher price. Premium car insurance plans have additional benefits such as personal accident coverage, rental reimbursement, and roadside assistance riders, among others.

  1. Insurer’s reputation and financial capacity

Find out the reputation of the insurance company for claim settlements. Look out for things such as how long it takes before compensation is made, the kind of customers being served by the company (individuals vs. businesses, luxury car owners vs. modest car owners, etc.), and amount of payouts to customers.

  1. Customer service

You should also consider the insurer’s soft skills and how they handle their customers. Check whether the insurer has a social media presence and how they respond to customer queries and complaints.

  1. Out-of-pocket costs

You should consider the deductible amounts you would be responsible for in the event of an accident. You could choose a plan with lower monthly premiums and higher deductibles that covers fewer situations. Alternatively, a plan with higher monthly premiums and lower deductibles might cost you more to insure but covers all costs when you need to file a claim.

6 factors to consider when choosing a car insurer

Donating Your Car To A Charity In California

There are so many people in California who have old or damaged cars that they are not using and want to find places where they can donate them. Are you someone considering donating your car to a charity in California? Donating your car to a charity in California can be a wonderful decision for several reasons. Some of the cars which are donated can be recycled and used as emergency vehicles while others are sold away. The funds from the sales of these cars can be used to help any cause in the state of California. Here are some of the many benefits of donating your car:

  • The car that you donate may be able to assist a great cause
  • It can be a wonderful way to remove your old car from your property without having to pay anything
  • You will also be able to claim the donation of your car as a tax deduction
  • Regardless of the condition, make, or model of your car, the charitable organization will be able to accept your car and make some good use of it (sometimes unusable cars will be auctioned off or sold for parts)

What do I need before I can donate my car?

When you donate your car to charity you will receive a tax break, which is based on the value of your car. However, before you donate your car in California, there are some things that you must consider. Some of them, which specifically relate to the car donations in California are:

  • You must have the title of your car before you consider donating it (you will be required to hand this document over to the organization).
  • With your title in hand, start looking for an organization in California that you think would be the best recipient for your vehicle and find out if they accept car donations. You should verify that the charity is properly registered as a 501(c)(3) organization (per IRS standards) by confirming with the organization and/or the IRS. Also, find out if the organization you are giving your car to is the charity itself or a broker. If possible, avoid giving your car to a broker since they will liquidate your car and give you credit for only a portion of what the charity receives from the sale.

What steps do I follow to go through the donation process?

To donate your car in California, start by contacting the charitable organization that you wish to donate your car to. In case you would like to claim your car donation as a tax deduction, you have to confirm that the charity is recognized by the IRS as a non-profit organization (a 501(c)(3), as mentioned above).

The process for receiving the tax receipt for your donation may vary depending on the organization’s terms and conditions. Some charities will have the towing service give you the receipt when they are picking up your car while others will email you the initial receipt. This receipt will enable you to claim the tax deduction of an assigned amount, not more than $500. It is strongly recommended that you research and understand how the charity you are making your donation to handles this process before you consider making your donation.

In case your car qualifies for fair market value or sells for more than $500, you will be eligible to claim an increased tax deduction after the sale of the car takes place. The amount of money that you will be allowed to deduct when filing your tax return can vary depending on some factors such as the prices for which the car is sold.

Is there anything else to worry about?

In California, the license plates will remain with the car; therefore they should not be removed before the charity picks up the car from your property.

Another important step that you must not miss when donating your car is filing the release of liability at the California Department of Motor Vehicles. This document will release you from any kind of liability which may arise in the future, after the car has been donated. To complete this process, complete Form REG 138 and submit it or the pink portion of the car title to the local Department of Motor Vehicles. If you are unable to do this, you can also file online for the release of your liability at Do not wait too long if you opt to take care of this process after-the-fact.