PIP waiver tricks- Stop paying for nothing

Imagine that I am making you a simple offer, and you must choose one of these options:

A) Give me $1.00 today, and each year after this one, and if you ever get in an accident I’ll give you $100. I’ll also give $100 to anyone else in your car. I don’t care who is at fault for the accident, I’ll give you the $100 because you got into an accident.

B) Give me forty cents today, and each year after this one, and if you ever get in an accident, too bad.

Which one would you choose? No-brainer, right? Regardless of the amount of money you’re being asked to give me, you’d expect at least something in return for it, right? In fact, as a lawyer, if I charged you money for absolutely no work or no benefit, I’d likely lose my license, or at least be sanctioned by the bar!

The problem is….insurance companies in Maryland are making this deal with drivers in the state ALL THE TIME, and they are getting people to choose option B far too often!

What am I talking about? I’m talking about Personal Injury Protection coverage, or PIP. I’ve talked about PIP countless times in various ways on my site, and to my clients. If you haven’t had a conversation with me about PIP coverage, you’ve probably never been my client.

The photo linked to this article is a scan of a real PIP waiver premium disclosure. This is a general document that is contained within every single auto insurance policy written in the State of Maryland. It discloses the cost of having PIP insurance, and it also discloses the cost to WAIVE that coverage. Yes, the COST to WAIVE the coverage. As you can see from the disclosure, most insurance companies charge a minimum of 40% of the normal premium to have the coverage in order to waive it. Over the years in this business, I have seen this number as high as 60%.

Yes, paying money to waive a coverage. This is an offer that is made in every auto insurance policy. We’re not talking about $100 here, either! The minimum PIP coverage on a policy that doesn’t carry this waiver is $2,500 per person, per accident. They don’t just give you this money for getting in the accident, but it can be used to pay for medical bills, ambulance bills,  and time missed from work.

Don’t do it. Don’t save a few dollars on your insurance policy, and lose out on important medical payment or wage payment coverage should you ever be in an accident.

Call us any time to talk about your insurance coverage. We’re not insurance agents, and we cannot sell insurance. What we are, is happy to talk to you about your policy, or a quote from a new insurance company, and let you know what we think about the insurance coverage that is being offered, and if anything is missing that you’d want to have if you were involved in an accident.

Our office always takes calls at 410-885-6200 and is happy and available to discuss auto insurance at absolutely no cost to you!

Guest Post: What You Need To Know To File A Medical Malpractice Lawsuit In PA & Maryland

Occasionally we have the opportunity to welcome some guest insight from a colleague either related to our profession and the cases we handle, or in this case an attorney from Pennsylvania who handles medical malpractice claims. Kevin R. Marciano, Esquire, is the Managing Partner of Marciano & MacAvoy, P.C. and shares with us insight about medical malpractice claims in Pennsylvania, and how they different from medical malpractice claims in Maryland.

A medical malpractice lawsuit is used by patients to try and protect them from a negligent doctor who either knowingly or unknowingly caused damage while performing a medical procedure.  As I state on MarcianoLegal.com, medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States. Specifically, medical malpractice can come from:

  • Prescribing improper medication or prescribing too much medication
  • Not using the basic standard of care to treat patients
  • Failing to warn patients about potential side-effects to medications or procedures
  • Making an incorrect diagnosis

The state of Pennsylvania has its own rules when it comes to preparing a medical malpractice lawsuit, and you should hire an experienced legal professional to help you understand and abide by those rules.

Standard Of Care

Before you can file a personal injury lawsuit for medical malpractice, you must prove that your doctor violated the standard of care for your state. Each state has nuances to their standard of care that your attorney will know, but standard of care is generally the accepted method for delivering safe and effective medical care in any situation. For example, the standard of care in most states says that doctors need to get patients to sign a document stating that the patient has been explained the risks of their treatment and accepts those risks.

A medical malpractice case can be brought against a doctor who either knowingly or unknowingly violates the state’s standard of care. If the doctor’s negligence and violation of the standard of care causes injury to a patient, then that patient can seek out a lawsuit that would award damages based on the decision of the state’s civil court.

A Medical Malpractice Case In Pennsylvania

The state of Pennsylvania has some rules regarding medical malpractice lawsuits that attorneys and victims must follow. When it comes to awarding damages, Pennsylvania does not put a cap on any of the potential awards a court might offer. The different types of damages awarded in a medical malpractice lawsuit are:

  • Compensatory Damages – These are the real damages such as lost wages and any medical bills the victim has accrued related directly to the medical incident.
  • Non-Economic Damages – This is the category of damages used to determine the value of the patient’s pain and suffering.
  • Punitive Damages – These are damages added to an award if the court determines that the doctor was purposely negligent. Compensatory and non-economic damages have no cap, but punitive damages are capped at a maximum of 200 percent of the compensatory award.

The Pennsylvania statute of limitations for a medical malpractice case has two parts to it. The patient has two years to file a lawsuit after discovering the error, or after it should be reasonably expected that they would discover the error. The courts usually decide when the patient should have noticed the damage based on the evidence that is available. However, there is a second limitation that says that no medical malpractice lawsuit can be filed seven years after the medical procedure has been performed.

The Difference Between Pennsylvania And Maryland

When comparing the process of filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in Pennsylvania to the process in Maryland, there are two significant areas to look at.

  • Statute of Limitations – The time frame for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in Maryland is much tighter than it is in Pennsylvania. While a patient has three years from the time they discover the doctor’s error to file their lawsuit, they only have five years from the date the procedure was performed to get their lawsuit filed. Any medical malpractice lawsuit filed after the five-year deadline will not get heard in Maryland.
  • Punitive Damages – Punitive damages are much more common in Pennsylvania than they are in Maryland. In Maryland, it is much more difficult to prove intentional negligence on a doctor than it is in Pennsylvania.

It takes an experienced legal professional to file a successful medical malpractice lawsuit in Pennsylvania or Maryland. If you feel you are the victim of a negligent doctor, then you should contact an attorney immediately to avoid running up against the ticking clock that is the statute of limitations.

Author bio:

Kevin R. Marciano, Esquire, is the Managing Partner of Marciano & MacAvoy, P.C. Marciano focuses his practice on representing catastrophic injury victims, including claims for medical malpractice, pharmaceutical liability, motor vehicle accidents, wrongful death, product liability, premises liability, construction accidents, liquor liability, personal injury and mass tort class actions.

 

Cecil County’s Top 5 “Hot Spots” for 2016 Accidents #4

We’re continuing out countdown of the most dangerous accident spots in Cecil County, Maryland for the calendar year 2016. Last week we saw the 5th most dangerous accident intersection(s) as rated by the cases my office handled in the 2016 calendar year.

4. Rt 40 and Rt 213 (Bridge St/Augustine Herman Highway)

rt40rt213elkton

If you were to have asked me what intersections I thought were the most dangerous in 2016 without actually looking at the numbers this one would have been my guess for the top spot. Surprisingly, this intersection ranked number 4 on the overall list for 2016 accidents.

Yes. That mean’s there are 3 intersections in Cecil County Maryland that we handled more accidents from than the interchange between Rt 40 and Rt 213!

This is likely one of the busiest intersections in Cecil County, right in the heart of Elkton. The intersection of 2 major county arteries is also the intersection of many many vehicles, not in a good way!

The lights here are on a timed sequence, but they’re not entirely consistent. If you’ve ever tried to turn left onto 213 from the eastbound Rt 40 lane, you know that left arrow lasts maybe 3 or 4 cars…if everyone is paying attention!

Be careful traveling through this intersection, and don’t try to “speed up” and beat any lights here, otherwise you might become a client of ours, or even worse create a client for our office. Don’t just be careful here, but also be careful in our #3 most dangerous intersection for 2016.

If you’re injured in an accident in Cecil County, or anywhere in the State of Maryland please call our office at 410-885-6200. We’re happy to discuss your claim, and handle all dealings with insurance companies on your behalf. Most importantly, we don’t charge you anything up front, and only get a fee if we are successful in getting you money.

Cecil County’s Top 5 “Hot Spots” for 2016 Accidents #5

Our injury law office here in Elkton, Maryland has grown quite a bit before opening up in late 2014. We handle a LOT of accident and injury claims throughout the State, but many of them happen right here in Cecil County or involve citizens of Cecil County. In our normal process of doing year-end reporting from 2016, we noticed some interesting trends when it comes to the location of many of the accident cases we handle. We’ve compiled a list of the Top 5 Accident Locations in Cecil County. You may want to take note of this list, and be extra aware when driving in these areas.

5. Rt 272 near the North East Walmart

272 at Walmart NE

The intersection with the 5th most injury related accidents in Cecil County in 2016 is really 3 different intersections that sit back to back to back in North East, MD. We’ve represented clients in a variety of accidents that have occurred entering and/or exiting the main entrance to the plaza where the Walmart is in North East. Just a bit north of this intersection is the main entrance to Timberbrook community, Rogers Road. We have almost as many accidents in 2016 at this intersection, as there are a few feet down the street.

272atRogers

Just a few hundred feet north of Rogers Road is the intersection at Nazarene Camp road. Not quite as many as Rogers Road or the Walmart, but just as close in location that we felt the need to lump this in. This grouping of 3 intersections is actually only our 5th most “dangerous” for 2016. Number 4 has us representing even more clients….

 

If you’re injured in an accident in Cecil County, or anywhere in the State of Maryland please call our office at 410-885-6200. We’re happy to discuss your claim, and handle all dealings with insurance companies on your behalf. Most importantly, we don’t charge you anything up front, and only get a fee if we are successful in getting you money.

The cost/benefit of increasing your PIP/Medpay Coverage in Maryland

Today I had the pleasure of meeting with one of my clients in the Elkton, MD office to discuss her current treatment progression as a result of an ongoing automobile accident case. Among the topics of conversation was her auto insurance policy, and the fact that she had switched insurance companies since her accident. As I experience many insurance companies who attempt to trick their clients into waiving PIP coverage, I wanted to double check her coverages and make sure she didn’t get duped.

Fortunately, her company has an app that allows her to bring up, and even modify coverage on the fly, which let us play around with possible scenarios for insurance coverage…

We quickly learned that she did have PIP coverage….that’s good. Don’t ever waive PIP coverage in Maryland!

The company she is now insured through does not offer more than the basic $2,500 PIP, but they do offer MEDPAY coverage. It works more or less the same way as PIP, except it cannot be used for wages.

The additional coverage was offered in the following increments: $500, $1,000, $2,500, $5,000. Each of these options would offer money toward medical payments above and beyond the $2,500 in PIP coverage, depending on which was selected.

We first clicked the $500 option, which immediately let us know that her premiums would increase by $2.55 if she were to add the $500 in medpay coverage. That’s not too bad. Doing the math, she’d have to pay this premium for 196 months (16 years) for her to pay more in premium than the benefit she’d gain as a result.

Medpay Premium in MarylandWe then clicked the $5,000 button…while it was loading I told her “i bet you anything it’s far less than 10x the price” and sure enough…to get $5,000 in additional medical payment coverage, it would cost her a whopping $5.88month. That’s double the premium for ten times the coverage! that’s a no brainer… She’d have to maintain this policy for $850 months (70 years) accident free in order to pay more in premium than she’d potentially gain in benefit! This is an absolute no brainer!

 

New Maryland Law- Proof of Insurance Required

Attention Maryland drivers! There is a new law that will go into force this October that you need to be aware of so that you’re not stuck with avoidable fines or trouble from the police during a traffic stop.

Each year Maryland’s legislature meets for a 90 day session that runs from January through April. The laws that are passed during that session typically go into act the first of October that same year.

This year there is a huge push from the legislature to crack down on uninsured drivers. Now, for the first time, there is a new law in place requiring proof of insurance during a traffic stop, should the officer demand/request it.

Beginning on October 1, 2016, all drivers in Maryland are required to carry valid proof of insurance, and present it during traffic stops, at the request of a law enforcement officer. During an initial introduction period, warnings will be issued to drivers who are unable to present valid proof of insurance. Beginning on July 1, 2017, drivers will be fined $50 for failure to provide valid proof of insurance.

For most of us, we keep our insurance cards inside of our glove compartment where the registration, owners manual, napkins from your favorite restaurant and whatever other random stuff is jammed in there. We’re urging you to double check that you’ve not only got your insurance card in that spot, but that it’s the current/valid insurance card. Most insurance companies re-issue a new insurance card with each renewal period that shows an effective date range (usually 6 months or a year). Every time you get one of these the only thing that normally changes is the effective dates, but it’s important that you pay attention when these come in the mail, or print them if they come to you online!

As always, be safe on the roads. Follow our firm on facebook or bookmark this blog for more future updates on important legal topics!

Policy Limits Offer- Motor Cycle Collision

Some of the most difficult claims to resolve can be Motorcycle accident claims in Maryland. Our firm recently represented a victim of a motorcycle accident, and achieved a policy limits result from the at-fault driver’s insurance company.

Like with many serious claims where we are able to achieve such a result for our client, our focus now shifts to finding other avenues of recovery for the client, and negotiating outstanding expenses on our client’s behalf.

 

A potentially dangerous time on the roads

By now most of us in Maryland and the surrounding areas have “dug out” of the recent blizzard that hit us late last week. While our roadways are seemingly cleared of ice and snow, that doesn’t necessarily mean the dangers that come from such a storm are gone.

While the roadways are mostly cleared, there still remain large piles of shoveled and plowed snow throughout areas along the side of roadways. Medians that were never touched, as there was to be no traffic there, and other adjacent areas that have remaining snow and ice will now begin to melt as the weather heats up a bit.

This can create unrealized dangers on the roadway, and extra care and caution should be used to avoid accidents!

Much like the time directly following the start of a rain storm can be a dangerous time to be on the road, the times of the day where the ice and snow begin to melt and run onto the roadways can be equally dangerous. The same aspect of water mixing with the oils on the roadway will happen whether that water is new rain, or run off of newly melted snow and ice.

Also, the evening hours as the temperature drops can be even more treacherous, as that water on the roadways can freeze, causing ice incidents.

Take extra care in these days and weeks following the blizzard, or any blizzard for that matter. Give yourself extra commute time, and extra follow distance between you and the vehicle in front, just in case a quick stop is required. The last thing you’ll want is to have your brakes lock up, tires skid across the recently melted water, and cause an avoidable accident!

As always, should the other drivers on the roadway not see this, not heed this advice, and put you in a situation where you’re the victim of such an accident, do not hesitate to contact our office as soon as possible at 410-885-6200. We can help navigate the insurance company nightmare, make sure you’re paid fairly for your injures, and in many cases recover for the diminished re-sale value of your damaged and repaired vehicle.

I love a good client success story….

I’ve spend my entire career as an attorney, and much of my career in the industry prior to becoming an attorney working to educate the community and clients of mine or the firm(s) I worked for about how to improve their automobile insurance in preparation for an eventual accident.

The reality of the situation is that accidents are actually happening more and more frequently, as the threats and risks created by distracted drivers texting, emailing and facebooking on their phones while driving have drastically outweigh the improvements designed to make vehicles safer, including those designed to have cars automatically avoid accidents.

Much of the education that I have provided to my clients and prospective clients can be found in the book I published in 2014 entitled ‘Making the most of your Maryland auto insurance policy‘ which is available on amazon.com or can be downloaded electronically via the web at no cost.

The success story for one of our clients comes from this educational outreach. One of the first clients our firm represented for an automobile accident was driving a vehicle owned and insured by his girlfriend. The owner of the vehicle had waived Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage on the policy, but the driver had not waived PIP on any policy he was named on, and was eligible for PIP. I took the opportunity to speak to the owner of the vehicle, even though she was not our client, nor was she involved in the accident herself. One of the major pieces of advice provided to her was to remove that PIP waiver, and increase the PIP coverage as much as she can afford and that her company would offer her.

Apparently she listened to me, and it’s turned out to greatly benefit her, as the advice provided in the book is designed to do. Later on in the year she herself was the victim of an automobile accident. Of course, she called our firm for representation, and as I was working on resolving her claim this morning, I looked through the file and realized that she carried $5,000.00 in Personal Injury Protection coverage, a big change from when she had waived it! In the end, this meant that the vast majority of her hospital, physical therapy, and doctors bills have already been paid. In the end, this means more money in my client’s pocket once the claim resolves! In fact, she will likely put as much as $5,000 more in her pocket than she would have if she had maintained the PIP waiver. That’s a real big deal!

This is the type of success story for my clients that makes me happy that I do what I do, and that I run my practice the way that I do. If you are a client or not, and would like me to take a look at your Maryland auto insurance policy, give me a call at 410-885-6200. I’ll gladly take the time to meet with you in my office, or review over the phone/fax/email and let you know what things I think you can do to improve your policy. No one wants to get into an accident, and I certainly wouldn’t wish it onto any of my clients or even any of my so called “enemies,” but it’s good to know ways you can prepare for the worst that will cost you very little, and in some instances even reduce your premiums. Final note: I don’t sell insurance, so the offer to review your policy is not a sales pitch. Any suggestions I make involving changes to your policy will have to be done through your own insurance agent, or by finding a new agent. So no worries calling for information and having to avoid a hard sell, it’s just not happening!

 

Policy Limits Offer- Rear End Motor Vehicle Accident

We’re proud to discuss a recent case result for one of our Cecil County Automobile Accident Clients. In a rear end loss from earlier in the year, our client suffered a variety of injuries as a result of the accident. We have presented the claim to the insurance company for the at fault driver, who has agreed that they owe the claim, and will be offering the limits of their auto insurance policy.

The next step in the process is to seek additional coverage, and negotiate the outstanding obligations to our client, mainly through the subrogation of the health insurance company.

We hope to have this case entirely resolved within the next two months, but the heavy lifting is over for now! Another great success for our firm and our clients!