Friday, July 22, 2011

Motor Vehicle Roll Over Accidents With Passenger Injuries

   Over the last week, there has been 2 sad motor vehicle accidents in which vehicles with several passengers rolled over.  One accident involved a prominent state senator from the Midwest.  The other accident involved high school students from Chugiak.

    These accidents involve significant issues for the passengers.  One involves the question of whether the friend driving the vehicle was negligent in causing the accident.  People may be reluctant to make a bad situation worse by saying this but the reality is that good people can make mistakes and pointing out the mistake is necessary for the insurer to make payment.   If friendship is a concern, this can be done diplomatically.  There is truth to the saying that, in particular circumstnaces, one can be more effecting channeling Colin Powell as opposed to Donald Rumsfeld.

   The other issue for the passengers is that there may be more than one insurance company potentially responsible for paying losses.  These would include the vehicle owner's policy, the vehicle driver's policy, the personal policies of the passengers insuring other vehicles if there is a potential underinsured motorist claim, and even the motor vehicle policies of other household members.

    You have to play your hand smartly.  See

Monday, July 18, 2011

Maintenance and Cure for Injured Fishermen

  I am travelling to Denver this week in a case involving an injured seaman.  A fisherman suffered a serious low back injury and has become a chronic pain patient.  The legal issue is how long the vessel is required to pay both medical expenses which the law calls "cure" and living expenses which the law calls "maintenance."  This gentleman has been under treatment for more than 4 years and has not recovered.  While no one expects a full recovery, the issue is whether he can be physically improved by ongoing treatment.

  Injured fishermen are legally "seamen."  Under the law, the vessel must pay both medical expenses and daily living expenses until the injured seaman reaches "maximum cure."  Maximum cure is the date when physical improvement in the underlying condition stops and ongoing treatment is only "palliative."  To put it another way, the vessel is required to pay to make the injured fisherman "better" but does not have to pay for "aspirin."  

  This is a complicated area of the law, particularly for fisherman whose injuries require ongoing treatment or whose medical treatment causes other medical complications like depression and chronic pain.  See