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Category Archives: Personal Injury

Injury Attorneys: Low-Impact Crashes Cause Injuries

One of the most common arguments made by insurance companies is that “your low impact car accident did not cause your injuries.” At Althauser Rayan Abbarno, our injury attorneys won’t let the insurance companies discount your injuries and bully you to settle for less than you deserve.

Injured? Injury Attorneys Althauser Rayan Abbarno.
Call Althauser Rayan Abbarno at (360) 736-1301 for a FREE Injury Consultation in Olympia or Centralia.

We have all heard or seen the stories where a car was totaled in a collision but the driver walked away unharmed. We also have seen the story where a relatively minor car accident resulted in major injuries that caused a lifetime of problems for the driver or passenger. At Althauser Rayan Abbarno, we have seen just about everything.

In most car accidents, regardless of the severity of the impact, the driver’s and passengers’ bodies are jolted and jostled in various directions. They may be sitting straight, reaching for the radio at a red light, or turning their head to speak to another occupant of the car. Speed, direction, and body positioning are all factors that determine the severity of an injury.

Too often, insurance companies equate minor vehicle damage with a minor physical injury. It is also true that the driver and/or passengers may also believe they are not hurt from a low-impact collision because they do not experience immediate symptoms. It is not uncommon, for victims of an automobile collision to wake the next day stiff and in pain.

Victims of car accidents should not be punished for the negligence of other drivers. Insurance companies often fail to realize that it is costly and time consuming to obtain reasonable medical care, coordinate the repair of a vehicle, or lose precious time with family and friends because of pain, discomfort, and physical limitations. Our legal system can’t take pain away or rewind time. All it can do is compensate the victims financially. Don’t give up your legal rights.

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Injury Attorneys in Centralia and Olympia! Call (360) 736-1301 for Free Consultation.

Proving to insurance companies that your injuries are worth compensating financially is what Althauser Rayan Abbarno attorneys do daily. If you are a victim of a car accident, don’t delay, call (360) 736-1301 for a FREE Injury consultation and evaluation in Olympia or Centralia.

For more than 70 years, the Injury Attorneys with Althauser Rayan Abbarno have been representing injury victims in the South Sound, Southwest Washington, and throughout the State of Washington.

Automobile Collision: Does your child have the right restraint?

According to the CDC, Motor vehicle injuries are a leading cause of death among children in the United States. But many of these deaths can be prevented.

  • In the United States, 663 children ages 12 years and younger died as occupants in motor vehicle crashes during 2015, and more than 121,350 were injured in 2014.
  • One CDC study found that, in one year, more than 618,000 children ages 0-12 rode in vehicles without the use of a child safety seat or booster seat or a seat belt at least some of the time.
  • Of the children ages 12 years and younger who died in a crash in 2015 (for which restraint use was known), 35% were not buckled up.

You can help protect children from an injury in an automobile collision by using the correct restraints!

  • Based on strong evidence of effectiveness, the Community Preventive Services Task Force recommends car seat laws and car seat distribution plus education programs to increase restraint use and decrease injuries and deaths to child passengers.
  • Car seat distribution plus education programs are also recommended in a more recent review for increasing restraint use.
  • A study of five states that increased the age requirement to 7 or 8 years for car seat/booster seat use found that the rate of children using car seats and booster seats increased nearly three times and the rate of children who sustained fatal or incapacitating injuries decreased by 17%.

The attorneys with Althauser Rayan Abbarno want to remind you to properly fit your child with a car restraint. If you need assistance, watch this short video to help!

What You Should Bring to Your Free Personal Injury Consultation

When you meet with your Althauser Rayan Abbarno personal injury attorney, here are a few tips to help us fully evaluate your automobile collision or personal injury claim:
1) Medical Records: If you were injured, you likely sought medical help either from a doctor, clinic, or emergency care facility. In either case, the medical provider should have given you records on what procedures were performed, diagnosis, and contacts for the medical professionals who treated you. To evaluate the extent of your injuries- to date- medical records and objective diagnosis are very helpful. If you don’t have the medical records or treatment is ongoing, an Althauser Rayan Abbarno injury attorney can help obtain the records following your free consultation.
If you have yet to seek medical care, your Althauser Rayan Abbarno injury attorney can provide you options for your medical care and guide you through the process.
2) Police or Accident Report: You may have a police report associated with your collision and injuries. This information is important for your Althauser Rayan Abbarno injury attorney to assess liability and information about the at-fault driver. If you don’t have a copy of the police or incident report, an Althauser Rayan Abbarno injury attorney can help obtain the report following your free consultation.
3) Insurance Policy Information: Your Althauser Rayan Abbarno injury attorney can help you determine what is and isn’t covered by your automobile insurance policies; such as Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and Under- and Uninsured Motorist coverage. If you don’t have a copy of your insurance policy, an Althauser Rayan Abbarno injury attorney can help you obtain the policy following your free consultation.
4) Private Health Insurance Information: Your Althauser Rayan Abbarno injury attorney can help you determine how to pay your injuries by reviewing your health insurance policy. Private health insurance coverage can greatly influence your case; especially if you have an ERISA plan. If you don’t have a copy of your health insurance card or policy, an Althauser Rayan Abbarno injury attorney can help obtain the health insurance policy following your free consultation.
5) Correspondence: Provide your Althauser Rayan Abbarno injury attorney with any written communication from the at-fault driver, your insurance company, or the at-fault driver’s insurance company. The communication may have a significant impact on your case or a case under the Insurance Fair Conduct Act (IFCA).
6) Witnesses: Provide your Althauser Rayan Abbarno injury attorney with a list of any witnesses of the collision, whether they were in the vehicle or not. Also provide the witness’ contact information.
7) Medical History: Be prepared to discuss previous medical history with your Althauser Rayan Abbarno injury attorney. Pre-existing conditions and injuries, whether arising naturally, form previous personal injury cases, or worker’s compensation cases, may have an impact on the method for evaluating your case.
Arriving prepared gives your Althauser Rayan Abbarno injury attorney a better chance to accurately evaluate your claim and successfully fight for your rights, benefits, and compensation.
If you or someone you know was injured in an automobile collision, contact Althauser Rayan Abbarno in Centralia or Olympia by calling (360) 736-1301 or visiting CentraliaLaw.com

Experienced-Dedicated-Local Personal Injury Attorneys!

For more than 70 years, Althauser Rayan Abbarno has provided experienced – dedicated – local personal Injury representation from the bumper-to-bumper collisions to catastrophic injuries and wrongful death claims.  Our attorneys Todd Rayan and Peter Abbarno are trial ready and will fight for all your rights and benefits.

Listen to our new Personal Injury advertisement running on Live 95.1 and KITI 1420AM.

For a free injury consultation in Centralia or Olympia, call 360-736-1301!

Automobile Collision? Let your car tell the story!

When it comes to proving your side of a case, you expect those representing you will use everything in their power to create a compelling story. The more quality evidence you collect, the better your case.  Today, technology has given us ways to know what happened in automobile collisions that people never thought before. The injury attorneys with Althauser Rayan Abbarno explain how a “little black box” and some high-tech know-how can make your case.

Everyone knows airplanes have a black box that help answer questions following a plane crash. But what you may not know is that some more modern automobiles also have them. Called an Event Data Recorder (EDR), these boxes can make a huge difference in your case. That’s why Todd Rayan and Peter Abbarno, partners at Althauser Rayan Abbarno, have made it their business to know all they can about them.

“The black box is important because the facts are often disputed in automobile collisions, whether because of inattentiveness to details at the time of collision or injury prevents accurate recollection,” Peter Abbarno says. “The black box can determine a number of facts that eliminates human memory or perception errors.”

The EDR system can give lawyers like Todd Rayan and Peter Abbarno critical information, including GPS location, acceleration and braking, degree the steering wheel turned, and timing on all of these things. In some vehicles, sensors give it the ability to tell what positions the people in the car were in. For example, was the driver leaning out of their seat to reach for something on the floor? All of this, can make or break a case.

But knowing about the technology isn’t enough. Your law firm needs to act quickly to retrieve the EDR data, especially in cases where the car has been labeled “totaled” by the insurance company. Once the car is compacted, the EDR is destroyed forever. In addition, there are standards to follow, including Civil Discovery Rules, to preserve the evidence from a collision scene.

Read more in the article about Althauser Rayan Abbarno at Let your car tell the story!

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The “Phantom Vehicle” is not a Halloween Movie!

The “Phantom Vehicle” is not a Halloween movie. A Phantom Vehicle is a vehicle which causes bodily injury, death, or property damage to an insured person, but the vehicle has no physical contact with the insured or the vehicle the insured is driving or in as a passenger. Insured drivers and passengers may be covered by Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and Uninsured/Under-Insured Motorist (UIM/UM) insurance in these types of collisions. Phantom Vehicle collisions include accidents caused by a hydroplaning into an object because of excessive rain or slippery surfaces or even a hit and run. If you were injured in a single car collision, you don’t have to suffer with your injuries or be burdened with excessive out of pocket medical expenses. For more information about making a claim in a Phantom Vehicle collision or for a free consultation in Centralia or Olympia, contact the injury attorneys with Althauser Rayan Abbarno at (360) 736-1301. With offices located in Centralia and Olympia, our attorneys represent clients throughout Washington state, including Centralia / Chehalis; Lacey / Olympia / Tumwater; Kelso /Longview; and Aberdeen / Hoquiam!

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How your health insurance plan can hurt your personal injury case!

When a person is a victim of another person’s negligence, they expect to be compensated for their medical bills and out of pocket expenses, loss of income and for their pain and suffering.

Insurance plays a vital role in securing recovery for these losses. But what happens if the medical expenses exceed the amount of insurance coverage available to compensate the injured party?

Though no two injury cases are the same, some similarities exist in coverages which can be used to illustrate a typical coverage scenario.

Scenario One: Suppose Dorothy is driving and Sam fails to stop at a stop sign and T-boned her vehicle. Dorothy is injured and is taken to the hospital. She has car insurance, including PIP (personal injury protection) in the amount of $10,000, as well as health insurance. The hospital bills skyrocket because she needs surgery and the $10,000 PIP coverage is quickly exhausted. Her health insurance begins to pay for her care.

After Dorothy is fully recovered and ready to make a claim to recover for her losses her medical bills total $100,000, $10,000 paid by PIP and $90,000 paid by her health insurance. These policies paid for injuries that arose out of someone else’s negligence so the insurance companies are entitled to be paid back, this is called subrogation. Dorothy was out of work for two months and has lost income of $7,000.

Scenario Two: Suppose the at fault driver had insurance coverage in the amount of $250,000 and Dorothy had UIM (Underinsured Motorist) coverage in the amount of $250,000. After negotiations the case settles for $360,000, $250,00 from the at fault driver and $110,00 from Dorothy’s UIM. The PIP is entitled to be paid back as is the Health Insurer’s subrogation lien, and Dorothy would receive the rest, $260,000, to pay the expenses and to compensate her for her pain and suffering and future medical expenses.

Now, let us suppose the same scenario exists but the at fault driver only has $25,000 in coverage and Dorothy only has $50,000 in UIM coverage. There is not enough to pay back the PIP and the Health Insurer and there is certainly not enough to make Dorothy “whole”, so the law in the state of Washington would apply which states that an injured party must be fully compensated before any other party is entitled to receive anything. Clearly Dorothy will not be made whole so she will get the entire $75,000 and the PIP and Health Insurer will get nothing. The at fault driver has no assets to collect.

These principals are fairly static. However, there is one factor that can impact this analysis with sometimes devastating consequences. If a person’s health insurance is an ERISA plan, the injured party is not entitled to be made whole which, under the above analysis, would leave Dorothy with nothing.

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) covers certain insurance plans that are established or maintained by an employer or by an employee organization. The act does not apply to public health insurance programs or by plans provided by the government as an employer. When a plan does fall under the scope of ERISA they are in most cases exempt from state regulation as federal law preempts state law under the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution. ERISA plans that have language requiring reimbursement to the plan for costs expended for services to the insured due to the fault of another must be repaid if any recovery is made from the at fault party, without regard to whether or not the insured is made whole.

As one can imagine, this can create significant obstacles to recovery, especially where there are very high medical expenses.

ERISA Scenario: John and Susan were driving along a two lane highway when an oncoming vehicle entered their lane and struck them head on. Both passengers had to be taken by ambulance to the hospital and both suffered life altering injuries. The medical expenses after multiple surgeries exceeded $700,000. John and Susan had policy limits of $100,000 each and the at fault driver had $100,000 in limits for a total amount available for recovery of $400,000. John and Susan had PIP in the amount of $10,000 each, leaving the rest for their health insurance to pay, which they did. Because their health insurance was an ERISA plan, the Insurer was entitled to receive the entire $400,000 and John and Susan are left with nothing but their injuries.

Had it not been an ERISA plan the entire $400,000 would have been available to John and Susan as state law requires them to be made whole before any subrogated interests need be satisfied.

What can someone do to avoid this unjust result?

You have a choice of insurance plans through an employer, research them and get copies of the plan documents so you can review them to make sure you select a plan not administered under ERISA. If you do not have a choice, as in many cases where employers simply provide health insurance, get a copy of the plan documents and review them. If it is not an ERISA plan you will not be subject to the injustice John and Susan suffered. If it is an ERISA plan, increase your insurance limits and if possible, obtain an umbrella policy to limit the risk of being injured and having no means for recovery. If your employer changes your plan from one year to the next, make sure you check each time you have a new plan and proceed accordingly.

You cannot rely on other drivers to be adequately insured as the minimum amount required by law is only $25,000, and many times people simply do not insure themselves. Also, you should consider increasing your PIP coverage to the highest amount you can afford. Most people only maintain $10,000 in PIP. That can get exhausted almost immediately if an ambulance or ER visit is required, so increase those benefits!

Most of our clients who are put in one of these unfortunate situations have never considered the topics covered here. Take a few moments and protect yourself by asking a few simple questions and making sure you have an avenue for recovery if you are the victim of another’s negligence.

If you have any questions regarding these issues feel free to contact Todd S. Rayan or Peter J. Abbarno with Althauser Rayan Abbarno, LLP at 360-736-1301 or www.centralialaw.com. We offer free injury consultations and evaluation in our Centralia and Olympia offices.

Most people have heard of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS).  Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is caused by compression of the median nerve in the carpal tunnel. Symptoms of a compressed nerve include numbness, paresthesia, and pain in the radial palm and palmar aspect of the thumb, index, middle and sometimes ring finger. In other words, numbness, tingling and loss of strength.

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CTS is commonly thought of as a condition or occupational disease caused by repetitive  hand and wrist movements. In our workers compensation practice, we often see CTS in office workers who consistently use keyboards. We also see CTS in trade workers like carpenters, pipe fitters, and loggers, who climb, grasp tools, and use vibratory machinery and equipment. But, what about traumatic CTS?

According to Dr. Elliot L. Ames, carpal tunnel syndrome can also result from acute injury, like an automobile collision.  As indicated in a retrospective study, symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome developed in 96 patients within 2 months after an automobile collision. Forty-four (44) of these ninety-six (96) patients underwent carpal tunnel release with successful resolution of the symptoms. It is postulated that the mechanism of injury is blunt trauma from the steering wheel or dashboard. (see Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Motor Vehicle Accidents, Journal of American Osteopathic Association, Dr. Elliot L. Ames, 1996).

Dr. Ames is a clinical assistant professor of surgery, division of orthopedic surgery, School of Osteopathic Medicine, Stratford, NJ. The carpal tunnel joint on the wrist are in close proximity as the hand grasps the steering wheel, and as a result, are vulnerable during impact. The injury can occur when the hand is braced on the steering wheel at the time of a front or rear-end collision. Because the base of the thumb can be injured by the steering wheel and the carpal tunnel is in close proximity, it is reasonable to calculate the carpal tunnel takes blunt trauma during impact.

How is it diagnosed?

CTS can be diagnosed by your doctor by reviewing your medical history, work history, and activities during your leisure time to determine if your lifestyle may have led to the symptoms. Your doctor will likely also conduct a physical exam to compare strength and range of motion, as well as nerve conduction studies. Other tests such as x-rays and MRIs may be conducted to rule out other conditions.

What are the treatments?

The severity of your CTS must be determined by your doctor and your doctor will prescribe a treatment plan. Conservative treatments include home exercises and wrist splints. CTS sufferers may also be prescribed corticosteroids and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Unfortunately, some CTS sufferers require surgery to release the nerve, and other may already have nerve damage.

If you or someone you know developed carpal tunnel syndrome at work or due to an automobile collision, contact the injury attorneys at Althauser Rayan Abbarno for a free injury consultation in Olympia or Centralia by calling (360) 736-1301 or visiting www.CentraliaLaw.com

The this article should not be used to diagnose or develop a medical treatment plan for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. If you believe you have CTS, contact your treatment provider.

 

Althauser Rayan Abbarno Injury Attorneys explain; Why do I need Automobile Insurance?

Althauser Rayan Abbarno Injury Attorneys explain;  Why do I need Automobile Insurance?

Among the first questions we ask our clients after an automobile collision is 1) Do you have insurance? And, 2) Do you know if the negligent driver has insurance?   Too often we consult with clients and either they or the negligent driver does not have insurance. Worst case- neither has any insurance!  Without insurance, your medical bills, wage loss, a rental car may become your personal responsibility until the claim is resolved through settlement or trial.

We can’t stress enough the importance of automobile insurance, under/uninsured motorist insurance (UIM), and Personal Injury Protection (PIP).

UIM protects an insured driver from losses due to another driver who doesn’t have auto insurance or who is not fully covered. PIP helps victims pay for medical expenses, wage loss, child care expenses, and other potential losses as a result of the collision. Insurance companies must offer PIP and UIM as part of the policy unless the client specifically waives the coverage in writing. child care expenses and other losses as a result the collision. Insurance companies must offer PIP and UIM as part of policies unless the insured specifically waives them in writing

Aside from the practical reasons to have automobile insurance, UIM, and PIP, the State of Washington has mandatory auto insurance laws (RCW 46.30), which requires anyone who drives a motor vehicle in Washington to do one of the following: 1) Carry liability insurance with liability limits of at least in the amounts of $25,000 for injuries or death to another person, $50,000 for injuries or death to all other people, and $10,000 for damage to another person’s property; 2) apply for a certificate of deposit to pay for your liability insurance with the Department of Licensing; or have a liability bond of at least $60,000.

If you don’t know your insurance coverage limits, request a copy of your policy or review your insurance card. Insurance companies send you a proof-of-insurance card that should show your limits.

If you’ve been in an automobile or motorcycle collision, contact Althauser Rayan Abbarno at (360) 736-1301 for a Free injury consultation in our Centralia or Olympia offices or visit us at www.CentraliaLaw.com