I Got into an Accident with a US Postal Service Vehicle. Now What?

Accident with a US Postal Service vehicle

With over 200,000 vehicles on the road every day, accidents involving US Postal Service trucks are an inevitability.  These accidents range in severity from minor fender-benders with neighborhood delivery vans to fatal, catastrophic collisions with long-haul 18 wheelers. Complicating matters further, the US Postal Service often subcontracts many of its delivery services to third parties. If you are unfortunate enough to get into an accident with a US Postal Service vehicle, or a vehicle contracted by USPS, the claim process can be enormously difficult to navigate.

Filing Suit Against the Federal Government

As the name suggests, the United States Postal Service is a part of the Federal Government, and as such, any claims against it are governed by the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). The FTCA essentially protects individual government workers from being sued, which means that suit must be brought against the entire US Government rather than the postal worker who hit you. The rules surrounding this claim process must be followed to the letter, else the entire suit be thrown out of court – even if the postal worker was clearly at-fault!

Cowan & Hilgeman can help you navigate the steps required to file your claim and ensure that you are able to receive fair compensation for your injuries in the event you have been involved in an Ohio motor vehicle accident with a United State Postal Service vehicle.

Time is of the Essence

Cowan & Hilgeman will help you fill out Form 95, which is the essential first step that must be followed in order to pursue a tort claim against a government agency like the USPS. This form asks for the details of your accident, along with the ‘sum certain’ of your claim – in other words, how much you want in compensation for your damages and injuries. This must be done within 2 years of your accident, but your claim will be much stronger if filed as soon as possible after the accident.

Once you have submitted Form 95, you must wait at least six months before filing a claim in Federal Court. This mandatory waiting period is to allow the government agency time to conduct their own investigation into the merits of your claim. During this time, they may also attempt to settle your case or engage in negotiations with your attorney to avoid going to court. After the six month waiting period is over, you are free to file a lawsuit in Federal Court.

For more information on the USPS Tort Claim process, please visit https://about.usps.com/postal-bulletin/2005/html/pb22170/a-c4_002.html

Suing the Federal Government in Federal Court is an uphill battle from the very beginning, and it’s never one you should wage alone. Top-rated Dayton personal injury attorney, Cowan & Hilgeman, has years of experience cutting through bureaucracy to get you the compensation you deserve. Don’t go up against the United States Federal Government alone. If you have been in an accident with a US Postal Service vehicle, call 937-222-2030 for your FREE consultation.

The Dangers of Driving While Under the Influence of Prescription Drugs

Driving under the influence

It is a well-known fact that driving under the influence of alcohol is illegal, but not everyone realizes the dangers of driving after taking drugs — including prescription and over-the-counter medications. Many legally obtained and commonly used OTC and prescription drugs can affect a user’s ability to drive safely. 

Antidepressants, opioids, and other prescription drugs may cause impairment.

If you are taking a prescription drug, or get a prescription for a new medicine or a higher dose of a current drug, do not drive until you know what effect it has on your judgment, coordination, and reaction time. Additionally, certain medications may not impair you on their own, but if taken with a second medication or with alcohol, they may cause impairment. Know that warnings against “operating heavy machinery” include driving a vehicle.

Commonly used over-the-counter medications can put drivers at risk.

Cold and allergy medicines, sleep aids, and other OTC medications can cause side effects, including drowsiness, nausea, and blurred vision — all of which can put everyone on the road at risk. 

There’s more than one way to be under the influence.

It doesn’t matter what term you use: If a person is feeling a little high, buzzed, stoned, wasted, or drunk, he or she is impaired and should not get behind the wheel. Before leaving the pharmacy, understand the warnings about the drugs you are taking. If you are taking a prescription or over-the-counter medication that may impair your driving, you should not drive.

If you or a loved one has been injured by a person driving under the influence of prescription or over-the-counter medication, call the trusted Dayton Personal Injury Attorneys, Cowan & Hilgeman, to schedule your FREE consultation – (937) 222-2030.

The Dangers of Distracted Driving

Whether you’re browsing online, playing games, or sending a quick text, anything that takes your eyes off the road when you’re driving puts you and other road users at risk. Distracted driving has potentially enormous real-world consequences.

In fact, using a handheld device while driving can be even more distracting than driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, as it makes you twice as likely to take your eyes off of the road.

While drink-driving receives significant media attention, the dangers of distracted driving are seemingly less well known.

In 2017, 13,997 drivers in Ohio crashed while being distracted by something within their vehicles, according to O.D.O.T. Fifty one of these crashes were fatal, resulting in 55 total deaths. Another 4,668 drivers were in injury-causing crashes resulting in a total of 6,988 injuries, O.D.O.T. reports.

The number of reported distracted driving fatal crashes nearly doubled from 2016 to 2017 (96 percent).

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 10 percent (3,196) of U.S. fatal crashes in 2015 were reported as distraction-affected.

That’s more than 7 million people using distracting hand-held devices while driving.

What is distracted driving?

Distracted driving is more than just using a mobile phone while driving. Anything that takes your focus away from your driving is a distraction. The US government breaks down these forms of distraction into three different categories.

Visual
visual distraction is anything that causes you to take your eyes off the road. Looking at your satnav is an example, as you have to shift your focus away from where you’re going to look at the screen.

Manual
Taking your hands off of the steering wheel for any reason is a manual distraction. Eating or drinking in the car is a very common distraction, along with changing a radio station or adjusting the air-conditioning.

Cognitive
The least obvious of the three, a cognitive distraction is when you are thinking about something other than driving.

This can be anything from daydreaming to having a conversation with your passengers, and it’s something that almost every driver would have to admit they have done on many occasions.

man using phone while driving the car

What makes cell phone use so dangerous is that it is an example of all three categories at once. You manually operate your phone while looking at the screen and concentrate on the phone rather than the road ahead.

The move by most car manufacturers towards touchscreen infotainment systems is a real issue for distracted driving, as touchscreens require significantly more attention from the user to use. This is largely because the buttons are not in one fixed place and there is no real haptic feedback to know if you have successfully pressed the right button.

You need to look carefully to see where you need to be touching the screen and then take your hand off the wheel for quite some time to touch the screen and input a command. Because the car is moving and the button positions are not consistent, it requires considerable cognitive effort compared to pushing physical buttons.

Obviously, not every distraction is going to result in a fiery car crash. But it’s also impossible to argue with the fact that you can’t prioritize your attention on your driving if you are attending to something else at the same time.

If something happens in front of you while your focus is elsewhere, at best it will give you less time to react once you return your focus to your driving. At worst, an accident can happen in a flash and you will never know what happened.

Drive safe, not distracted

Remember that if your hands off the wheel and you are looking away from the road, you may not be able to react fast enough to avoid a collision. Keep yourself and others safe by keeping your hands, mind, and eyes focused on driving.

How Soon After a Car Accident Should I See a Doctor?

Dayton, Ohio – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last reported that nearly 3.9 million people were treated in an emergency department following a motor vehicle accident.

With so many injuries resulting from motor vehicle accidents on an annual basis, it is no wonder a frequently asked question shortly after an accident is about medical treatment and what type of physician should be consulted.

Lawyers are not doctors and should not give medical advice. However, the only way to ensure that you are free from injury is to be evaluated by a physician. So, when is the best time to see a physician and what type of physician should be seen? The answer is simple: after you experience or recognize any physical abnormality.

When Should I See a Doctor?

The sooner, the better. A delay in medical treatment can significantly jeopardize your claim. Insurance companies typically criticize claims that do not include medical treatment within 72 hours of the accident. The rationale (which we disagree with!) is that those injured in an accident would not wait 72 hours or longer to receive medical treatment. Therefore, any complaints forming after 72 hours “must not be related” to the accident.

Insurance companies will use any argument, even frivolous arguments, to minimize your claim and deny you compensation. If you have been in an accident and sustained any physical injury (headaches, soreness, stiffness, loss of range of motion, loss of strength, etc.), it is important to seek medical treatment immediately.

What Type of Doctor Should I See?

It is recommended that you seek medical treatment from a hospital emergency department if you experience any injuries after an accident. While this is common sense for catastrophic and obvious injuries, medical treatment options can be more confusing if you have not sought emergency treatment and experience a slow onset of physical problems. Primary care physicians and chiropractors are often good places to begin treatment. Primary care physicians will provide a basic and general diagnosis, then make the appropriate referral to a chiropractor, physician or physical therapy office. Chiropractors often deal with soft-tissue injuries which are commonly associated with motor vehicle accidents and are trained to treat soft-tissues injuries while also making referrals for more specialized care (neurologist, neurosurgeon, etc.).

Who Pays for All This Medical Treatment?

There answer is not as simple as you think! There are various options governed by law and an experienced personal injury lawyer should help navigate these bumpy waters. Typical considerations include private health insurance, Medicare and Medicare Advantage Plans, Medicaid and Medicaid Management Health Organizations, Medical Payments Coverage (Med Pay), Personal Injury Protection (PIP), Liability Insurance and No Insurance. You can read more detail about this process in our previous blog post found here.

The personal injury lawyers at Cowan & Hilgeman have recovered millions in compensation for our clients. Our lawyers create plans of attack for each case specific to the client’s needs and expectations. The lawyers at Cowan & Hilgeman handle claims involving personal injury, medical malpractice, nursing home negligence, product liability and wrongful death. We routinely recover compensation on cases that other law firms reject.

Cowan & Hilgeman offers free personal injury case evaluations and only get paid an attorney fee if we win your personal injury case.

Call 937-222-2030 to get your free case evaluation.

What is Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage?

Unfortunately, despite Ohio law requiring that motor vehicle operators carry auto insurance or a bond, it is estimated that 12.4% of Ohio drivers do not have auto insurance.

If you are involved in a car accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, it is unlikely that many of your medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering would be compensated by them.

Given that more than 1 in 10 of all drivers are uninsured, it is important that you take steps to protect yourself in the event you sustain injuries as a result of another’s negligence.

Uninsured/Underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage will pay for your medical expenses, prescription costs, out-of-pocket expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and permanent impairment and disfigurement that exceed the limits of the uninsured/underinsured driver’s policy in the accident. If interested, read ‘What Makes a Good Personal Injury Claim’.

As the Ohio State Bar Association stated, underinsured motorists coverage applies if your underinsured limits are greater than the liability limits of the underinsured driver. This point at which underinsured motorist coverage kicks in is called a “limits trigger.” Your available underinsured motorist coverage is based on the difference between your underinsured motorist coverage and the underinsured driver’s liability limits. For example, if the underinsured driver has $25,000 in liability limits, and you have $50,000 in underinsured motorist limits, you would be able to collect up to $25,000 ($50,000 – $25,000 = $25,000) from your underinsured motorist coverage.

However, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is not required under Ohio law. Therefore, it is crucial that all motor vehicle owners contact their insurance agents to confirm that they have adequate uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. It is generally a very affordable coverage to add on your policy and the benefits can be the difference between financial protection and ruin.

The personal injury lawyers at Cowan & Hilgeman have recovered millions in compensation for our clients. Our lawyers create plans of attack for each case specific to the client’s needs and expectations. The lawyers at Cowan & Hilgeman handle claims involving personal injury, medical malpractice, nursing home negligence, product liability and wrongful death. We routinely recover compensation on cases that other law firms reject.

Cowan & Hilgeman offers free personal injury case evaluations and only get paid an attorney fee if we win your personal injury case.

Call 937-222-2030 to get your free case evaluation.

Do I have a claim if I was a passenger in a car accident?

The answer is YES! As the passenger, you cannot be at fault for the accident.

A passenger in a car accident will have either a claim against the driver of the other vehicle or a claim against the driver of the vehicle in which he or she was a passenger. Regardless of who caused the accident, a passenger may file a personal injury claim to recover maximum compensation.

Presenting a personal injury claim as a passenger involved in a car accident is only the start. The injured passenger must understand who pays for medical treatment and how claims can be presented to insurance companies so that all of his or her damages are recovered.

To make matters more confusing, there can be restrictions on the amount of compensation available if there are multiple claimants and the at-fault party has state minimum or low insurance policy limits. Unfortunately, this may force all of the injured parties to work together to formulate a settlement that is fair for everyone.

If you are a passenger in a car accident, it is important to do the following:

  • Identify all potential avenues of recovery from those involved in the car accident and put all insurance companies on notice of a claim.
  • Consider bringing a claim for uninsured/underinsured motorists benefits under your own policy of insurance.
  • Interview a personal injury attorney that will protect your interests against not only the insurance company of the at-fault party, but also consider the claims being brought by other potential claimants.
  • If your claim is reduced due to multiple claimants and state minimum or low policy limits, make sure to consider Ohio Revised Code §2323.44 in any settlement discussions.

The personal injury lawyers at Cowan & Hilgeman have recovered millions in compensation for our clients. Our lawyers create plans of attack for each case specific to the client’s needs and expectations. The lawyers at Cowan & Hilgeman handle claims involving personal injury, medical malpractice, nursing home negligence, product liability and wrongful death. We routinely recover compensation on cases that other law firms reject. 

Cowan & Hilgeman offers free personal injury case evaluations and only get paid an attorney fee if we win your personal injury case. Call 937-222-2030 to get your free case evaluation.