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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Boise has had a large number of pedestrian accidents reported lately.   Be careful out there.   As a driver of a car or a pedestrian, refresh yourself on the rules of the road in Idaho.  Generally speaking, Idaho first requires that drivers exercise due care to avoid colliding with a pedestrian:  

… every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian or any person propelling a human-powered vehicle and shall give an audible signal when necessary. Every driver shall exercise proper precaution upon observing any child or any obviously confused, incapacitated or intoxicated person.

(Idaho Code § 49-615).  Of course, pedestrian have to exercise reason care, too, and they have to follow the traffic signals and markings to keep a driver from claiming that the pedestrian is at fault.   Stay in a cross walk to have the right-of-way.  (Idaho Code § 49-702).  And, mind the pedestrian lights.   Technically a pedestrian can only enter a crosswalk managed by a light  when facing a “Flashing or Steady "Walk" (Idaho Code § 49-803(1)).  A pedestrian is not supposed to enter a crosswalk when seeing a “Flashing or Steady ‘Don't Walk’ or ‘Wait.’" (Idaho Code § 49-803(2)).    

The situation where a pedestrian misses the “walk” light but sees the flashing, but not solid, “Don’t Walk” light and enters the crosswalk is all too common.  Pedestrians who do this do not have the right-of-way and, if hit by a car, can be found negligent. 

Any pedestrian who is hit by a car should contact a lawyer immediately.  Pedestrian-automobile accidents require a firm understanding of Idaho’s rules of the road.  But, best approach for pedestrians is to follow the rules so they are sure to have the right-of-way.  Having the right-of-way is the best defense to a driver trying to blame a pedestrian for the injuries the driver caused.   

Posted by eswartz at 4/14/2016 12:17:00 AM
Sunday, February 22, 2015

People often say that they want the best injury lawyer for their claim.  I can’t say that I blame them.  I, too, would want the best lawyer handling my claim.  So, who is the best injury lawyer? 

Believe it or not, the best injury lawyer is not necessarily the lawyer plastered all over the phone book.  The best injury lawyer is not necessarily the lawyer paying the most in google ad words.  The best injury lawyer is not necessarily the lawyer with television ads.  The best injury lawyer is not necessarily the lawyer who helped a family member or friend with their claim. 

The best injury lawyer is a lawyer who is responsive to your needs, a lawyer who you feel comfortable with and trust, and a lawyer who is competent to handle your claim.  So, how to do know who that is?  Meet them.  Meet with many lawyers.  Get a feel for how they interact with you.  See their office space to get a sense of who they are.

You are likely to be working with the lawyer you select for a minimum of many months, if not many years.  Select a lawyer you feel is going to be as easy to work with on the day they seek your business all the way through your claim.  And, if you choose the wrong lawyer, do not be afraid of switching.  You need to look out after your own best interests.   So, first thing’s first – find a lawyer who agrees that you come first.

At Jones & Swartz PLLC, we strive to put our clients’ first.  We assign two attorneys to each claim along with a paralegal.  With three points of contact for our clients, it is our hope that we can be available and responsive to our clients’ needs.  Calls are returned and emails are responded to and face-to-face meetings are always welcome. 

Injury claims can be difficult situations for clients.  At Jones & Swartz PLLC, we strive to make the injury claim process as easy as possible for the client.   It is out hope that our way of handling injury claims allows our clients to focus on getting better and getting back to being the person they were before they were injured.  

Posted by eswartz at 2/22/2015 6:24:00 PM
Tuesday, January 27, 2015

What is the value of your personal injury claim?  It depends.  The value of your personal injury claim against the person who caused your injuries can include damages like medical bills, lost wages from missed work, or use of sick leave or comp-time as a result of the accident.  If you suffer from physical or psychological injuries into the future, the value of your personal injury claim can include money for future medical treatment and future pain and suffering.  The value of your personal injury claim might also include other losses like reimbursement for mileage to and from doctor appointments, child care, or other costs incurred as a result of being injured and not being able to do daily activities that you used to do before being injured.  These types of damages are called economic or special damages. 

Pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and inconvenience as a result of the accident is another type of damages.  These damages are called non-economic or general damages.

The value of your personal injury claim depends upon how badly you were injured and how being injured impacted your life.  Only you can really know the value of your claim.  But, unfortunately, you are not the one who gets to decide what the person at fault, or their insurance company, will pay you.

The insurance company will only pay what they think your claim is worth.  The value that the insurance company places on your claim is affected by every aspect of you injuries and loss.  If the insurance company does not understand your claim, the insurance company will not pay you what your claim is worth.  If the insurance company thinks a jury in Boise, Idaho won’t give you any money for your claim, then the insurance company is not going to pay you what your claim is worth.

Did you know that Idaho law also dictates what your claim is worth?  It is true.  Idaho’s legislature has limited the amount of non-economic damages that an injured party can get.  The cap is currently set at $324,478.18.  That’s right.  A person can be rendered completely disabled and suffer pain for the rest of their lives, and Idaho law only allows them $324,478.18 for their general damages. This is true even if a jury wants to award more.  A judge would be required by Idaho law to lower the amount that a jury awarded in non-economic damages in excess of $324,478.18.

Of course, that assumes that a jury can understand the magnitude of a person’s injuries.  Often, members of a jury have not been through the same or similar experience as an injured person.  As a result, juries often have a difficult time calculating a sum of money that is reasonable to compensate a person for their injuries.  A jury member’s perception of a dollar may also impact how they value a claim.  The value of a dollar to a jury member who makes minimum wage is very different than a jury member who make an executive’s salary.         

Other things can drastically impact the value of your claim is whether your insurance company or medical providers have subrogation interests or liens placed against a settlement of judgment.  While these interests can sometime be negotiated down, these types of claims impact the value of an injured person’s claim.    

With all these challenges to claim valuation, an injured party’s best bet to hire an experienced injury attorney.  An experience injury attorney will know how to minimize potentially negative aspects and challenges to your claim while maximizing your recovery.     

Posted by eswartz at 1/27/2015 8:08:00 PM
Saturday, December 21, 2013
In the chaos following an accident, preservation of evidence is one of the last things that you will probably think about. But, if there is a lawsuit, preservation of what happened is the best way to reconstruct and tell an accurate story. Pictures, videos, and journals at the time of an accident or very soon following are the best way of preserving the story. As time goes by, memories fade or become inaccurate through countless retellings. If too much of the story is forgotten, there is too much guess work for the responsible party to be held accountable. Accurately preserving the story can create a powerful case. 
 
In the recent Idaho Supreme Court case, Liberty Northwest Mutual Insurance Co. et al. v. Spudnik Equipment Co., LLC, the Court affirmed a grant of summary judgment for Spudnik by the trial court in a claim for product liability against one of the manufacturers. In Liberty Mutual, a worker was injured by a series of potato conveyor belts, but the insurance company did not accurately capture which conveyor or the condition of the conveyor. In reaching its conclusion, the Court determined that Liberty was unable to show which of the potato conveyors actually caused the injury that gave rise to the lawsuit. Liberty was also unable to show the configuration of the particular conveyors on that day that caused injury. 
 
Liberty only recorded the serial number of one of the seven potato conveyors on site and failed to accurately document which conveyor actually caused the injury. Specifically, there was no evidence to show whether the conveyor that caused the injury was new, used, modified by a previous owner or current owners. Therefore, the court concluded, there was no way to show that there was a design problem with Spudnik's potato conveyor.   
 
With a complex accident, as demonstrated in Liberty Mutual or even a basic fender bender, an accurate preservation and documentation of what actually caused the injury is important. Had photos been taken of the actual configuration of conveyors that caused injury, the proper question could have been possible presented to the jury: Did the design of this particular conveyor injure the plaintiff. Instead, Liberty Mutual tried to present a vague story: one of these conveyors injured the plaintiff and one of them was manufactured by Spudnik. Preservation of a story can remove the speculation when trying to later apportion fault. It can clearly show a jury what caused the injury and who was responsible for that injury. 
Posted by eswartz at 12/21/2013 7:47:00 PM
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