It’s so much easier to prevent accidents than to deal with the painful consequences of a chance encounter. However, most motorists spend very little time learning how to drive more safely. Everyone is in such a rush to arrive that we cut corners and take chances. We would like to put a stop to that by providing a list of commonsense safety reminders. Following the tips below and incorporating them into your driving habits will greatly increase your chances of safely arriving at your destination.
1. Carefully look both ways twice before entering an intersection. It’s easy to miss an oncoming car at first glance because it’s hidden by your car’s windshield frame. A second look only takes a second and it might avoid a serious collision.
2. Don’t accelerate into an intersection the instant the light turns green. This is a good way to get rammed by someone running the red light who’s coming from the other direction.
3. Look right before pulling out. After waiting for traffic from the left to clear before you make your right-hand turn, don’t forget to look to the right again just before you proceed. Pedestrians or cars may have suddenly materialized in your path while you were waiting to turn.
4. Anticipate unexpected changes in traffic. For example, if you’re in a fast-moving lane with empty road ahead and the next lane over is backed up, be prepared for impatient motorists to dart into the lane in front of you.
5. Know your blind spots. Find out where your blind spots are when checking the road behind you in your mirrors. You might have to turn to look directly into the lanes beside you to avoid missing something left undetected by your mirrors. This is particularly important when changing lanes don’t just rely on your mirrors.
6. Watch other drivers’ blind spots. Practice extra caution when passing large vehicles, such as semi trucks, which have less maneuverability and even larger blind spots. If you can’t see a truck’s mirrors, chances are its driver can’t see you.
7. Watch for children and pets. Pay special attention to posted speed limits around schools and in residential areas; children and pets may unexpectedly dart into the street.
8. Don’t tailgate. Leave enough space between yourself and the car ahead of you, when traveling and when stopped. On the highway, this may save you from a fender bender. Remember to leave even more room if the roads are slick. If you stop on a hill behind a car with a manual transmission, the extra room may save you from being rammed if the car slides back. Leaving yourself extra room can also help you make a quick exit if you’re approached by a carjacker in a dubious neighborhood.
9. Keep your car operating safely. Don’t procrastinate about performing safety maintenance and repairs on your car. Check tire tread depth and pressure regularly. Have your brakes checked and wheels aligned as soon as they need it.
10. Go back to school. Go to a high-performance driving school to learn accident avoidance maneuvers and how to control skids. Understanding how to make your car do what you want it to do in emergency situations could save your life.
What is “totaling,” and why is it bad?
If you look at your auto insurance contract, you’ll notice a provision that if your car is damaged in an accident, your insurer doesn’t have to pay you more than your auto is worth. If it would cost more to fix the car than a certain percentage of the car’s value, your insurer will consider your car a total loss, i.e., “total” it. All you’ll be able to get is a check for the value of the car. This is bad, because it usually won’t be enough to replace your car, and it won’t be enough to fix it. Plus, if you get back your car and use the money to fix it, insurers may refuse to provide more than basic liability coverage on it.
How do insurers decide what a car is worth?
Insurers keep proprietary databases on car prices, similar to the Blue Book or the National Auto Dealers Association (NADA) Official Used Car Guide. The insurer’s valuation of your car is mostly based on its age. So, your car might be totaled if it’s thirteen years old and receives only minor damage, and it might not be if it’s a brand new Porsche that has been in a devastating collision.
What can I do if I disagree with the insurer’s valuation?
Valuation problems arise in two ways. The most common problem is that the insurer’s valuation isn’t anywhere near enough to actually buy an equivalent car in the marketplace. For example, if a driver’s six-year-old Mazda Protege is totaled, the driver will understandably want enough money to buy another six-year-old Mazda Protege with comparable options. The less common scenario is where an older, more valuable car has been babied so that it is in mint condition and has only a small fraction of the expected mileage on the odometer. Such a car will be worth much more than the run-of-the-mill cars of its age on the road.
If you don’t agree with an insurer’s estimate of your car’s cash value, your best bet is to pay an independent appraiser to provide an estimate. You may need to bring in more than one, so the car will have to be fairly valuable to make this process worthwhile.
When communicating with your own insurance company after an accident:
Inform your agent of the accident as soon as possible. Describe the accident honestly, even if you were at fault. Your agent needs to know exactly what happened.
Read your insurance policy to see whether you’re covered.
Find out whether your claim may be covered under more than one kind of insurance (auto, homeowners, disability, general “umbrella” policies, etc).
Carefully document all your expenses (car rental, medical bills, etc.) so that you can be reimbursed.
Take photos of any damaged property or injuries as soon as possible after the accident.
Cooperate with your insurance company’s adjuster in making damaged property and witnesses accessible.
When dealing with the other person’s insurance company:
You do not have to give the other person’s insurance adjuster any information other than basic information such as your name, address and phone number.
If you are feeling hassled or pushed by the other person’s insurance company, you can refuse to communicate with them at all, or you can insist that further contact be in writing.
Don’t provide the other person’s insurance company with any information regarding your injuries until your medical situation has stabilized and you’re sure of the full extent of your injuries.
Consult with an attorney before you make any statements regarding the details of the accident to the other person’s insurance adjuster.
Don’t try to negotiate with the insurance company by yourself. Hiring an attorney to help you in this process will bring much better results.Contact The Haverman Law Firm.
Married or single women in relationships that are plagued by domestic violence or abuse can obtain a Protection From Abuse (PFA) order from a judge or family court.
PFAs establish legal protection, authorizing law enforcement officers to intercede on behalf of women or children in danger to prevent abuser harm. The court can order an abuser to stay away from a woman and her children at home, at work, or at school.
In granting PFAs, judges can simultaneously give woman child custody, financial or child support and home or auto property rights.
PFA violations are crimes. Courts can order abusers to stop violent mistreatment, threats, harassment, phone calls, e-mails, or property destruction. Unfortunately, a PFA is not a personal safety guarantee. Some abusers violate them. Woman who suspect risk should call the police immediately, escape a residence, and document violations.
Consult Attorney Holly Gayle Gershon for more information.
You’ve found someone you want to live with, but marriage isn’t in the cards right now. Before you move in together, it’s a good idea to think through the legal implications of sharing a life and a home. A little bit of communication about your expectations can go a long way toward avoiding future problems.
When you’re not married, you don’t have many of the legal protections given to those with a marriage certificate. Until the relationship is firmly established and you have a long history of stability, you’ll probably want to:
- Keep separate bank accounts
- Avoid contributing financially to buy an asset which will be held just in your partner’s name
- Maintain your ability to support yourself separate and apart from any promises of support made to you by your partner
- Avoid making promises to support your partner, either now or in the future
- Take care not to present yourself as “husband and wife” or adopt the same last name of your partner as if you were married
When you’re starting into the process of adopting a stepchild, there are lots of things to think about and decisions to make. Here’s a checklist of some of the steps to take and things you’ll want to discuss with your attorney:
- If you’re adopting a stepchild, you must have the other biological parent’s written consent to the adoption or go through a complicated process to terminate the biological parent’s rights.
- Find out whether the biological parent will no longer be responsible for paying child support for the child after the adoption. If so, this may affect your decision to adopt.
- If you’re adopting an older stepchild, talk it over carefully with the child and make sure you have the child’s consent.
- If you’re adopting a stepchild, find out whether state law or local court customs require you to have been married to the biological parent of the child for a minimum period of time.
- Come to an agreement on attorney’s fees early in the process, and get the agreement in writing. Be clear about the exact hourly rate your attorney is charging you.
When separation or divorce proceedings don’t go well–and tempers flare–many of our clients have heard bullying and guilt-inducing comments from their spouses. If you hear one of the following comments or anything else that alarms you during your case, take a deep, cleansing breath–then contact your lawyer right away.
- “Is money all you care about after all our years together?
- Do you want me to take a second job to pay all that support?
- I’ll disappear with the kids before I pay you a red cent.
- Let’s save some money and let my lawyer handle both out sides in this divorce.
- I’m going to tell the judge all about those bad things you’ve done. You’ll never get custody of my children.
- Go ahead. Demand all the documents you want. You’re only racking up your lawyer’s fees.
- My lawyer will litigate this divorce for five years.
- If you don’t agree to my terms, I’ll go to Nevada or Mexico for my divorce.”
Consult Attorney Holly Gayle Gershon for more information.
No one should ever drink and drive. Individuals who are separating or divorcing need to be particularly cautious.
A driving-while-intoxicated arrest, and especially a conviction, may have serious consequences in marital proceedings.
First, there is the potential embarrassment of relatives and friends reading about the incident in a newspaper article or police blotter report. Second, the arrest may mean taking time off the job to attend court dates and could lead to docked salaries or loss of employment. Third, a conviction could mean performing community service, paying serious fines, or even serving jail time.
For individuals in separation or divorce proceedings, an arrest or conviction can give an opposing spouse a stronger case for child custody, child support, and other negotiated matters.
While in separation or divorce proceedings, do not drink and drive. Go to parties if you wish, but always designate a sober driver or take a taxi home.
Please contact Attorney Holly Gayle Gershonfor more information.
A premarital, or prenuptial, agreement is a legal contract through which intended spouses clarify their respective rights should the marriage fail. The agreement may cover many issues, but most common are property division, spousal support, and bases for divorce filing.
Couples who have previously been divorced, who hold significant individual assets, or who marry late in life often sign premarital agreements.
The courts have sometimes agreed to hear challenges to prenuptial agreements when there was evidence of the existence of specific conditions or situations.
- A spouse felt pressure to sign and did not enter the agreement voluntarily.
- One or both parties failed to accurately disclose all assets at the time of the agreement.
- The terms of the contract were unfairly one-sided, unconscionable, or illegal.
- One or both spouses never had a real opportunity to consult with attorneys or have lawyers review the agreement before signing it.
Please contact The Haverman Law Firm for information on premarital agreements.
Cell phone cameras and minicams in public places have helped law enforcement officers to identify law breakers, such as toll evaders and shoplifters. Anti-terror officials also have used cameras to identify suspicious individuals and criminals. Ordinary people with minicams have filmed tragedies ranging from tsunamis to auto accidents, and happier events such as family celebrations and children’s sporting events. However, when photographers put their minicams to use for deliberate invasion of others’ privacy, the courts provide remedy.
When a husband discovered that his wife had hired a private detective agency to secretly videotape him in the couple’s bedroom, he hired Holly Gayle Gershon to sue the firm for invasion of privacy. The court ruled that the husband had a right to expectation of privacy in the seclusion of the marital bedroom and awarded him significant money damages.
Please contact The Haverman Law Firm for more information.