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  • What are Personal Injury Claims?
    When cleared from the fog of legal-speak, personal injury simply means you were injured by the carelessness of someone else. In vehicle terms, carelessness could stem from a range of infractions including speeding, fleeing the scene of an accident, improper lane change, or driving under the influence of alcohol. Personal injury can take many forms and a few of them are listed as follows: ​ Automobile accidents Neck and Back Injuries Motorcycle Accidents Traumatic Brain Injuries Wrongful Death At Wagner Law Firm, we represent individuals whose lives have been significantly changed as a result of another’s careless acts. Going it alone as an injured against an insurance company is difficult because the adjuster is trained to pay you as little as possible and has access to the legal department of the insurance company to back them up. You need an attorney on your side to make sure the insurance company fully investigates your claim and pays what is due to you. Should you seek compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, or emotional trauma, the burden of proof, unfortunately, weighs on you. And, quite often during this negotiating process, many personal-injury claim victims discover that some insurance carriers are foes rather than friends. The insurance company hires adjusters and attorneys to review and handle auto accident cases in the best interest of the insurance company, not you. Hiring an attorney to look out for your best interests is a must and most people experience less stress and recover more money with an attorney fighting to enforce their rights.
  • What to do if you are in an Automobile Accident
    An automobile accident can be a life changer or a real pain in the neck for a couple of years depending on the collision. If you are not taken from the scene by an ambulance here are some suggestions. Call 911 and let them know an accident has happened and be ready to give your location and some basic information about the severity of the accident. Approach the other driver and be civil as it is an unfortunate situation for everyone. An appropriate remark would be something to the effect that this is an unfortunate event and the insurance companies will sort things out. If you admit to the other driver it is your fault, your statement will be held against you even if it turns out you are not at fault. Ask for their name, address and insurance information. Look around and see if there are any witnesses to the accident. Sometimes the other driver blames you when it is their fault for a variety of reasons, and a witness is vital to refuting their misrepresentations. Make sure you get the cell phone and address of any witnesses. Ask them what they saw and make a brief note. Next, get your cell phone out and start taking pictures of your vehicle and their vehicle and the location of the collision. Finally, once law enforcement arrives on the scene, try to talk to them first and give your recollection of how the accident occurred. My general observation is that the first person to the officer to tell their story usually has their story in the report as to what happened. Law enforcement should do the above, but they are often managing several calls at a time and the reports can be lacking in necessary information that causes your claim to take longer to resolve. If you can, gather the above information yourself and you will minimize the chance of a report that compromises your rights. Finally, go to an urgent care or ER and have a doctor give you an exam the same day. It is very common that the adrenalin rush due to the event will mask pain and injury, and about two days later you will feel the effects of the accident. If you do not see a doctor the same day as the accident, the insurance company will hold it against you and assert you must not be hurt since you did not see a doctor after the accident. Within a few days, call an automobile accident attorney and ask for a free consultation on your case. Initial consultations are free at Wagner Law Firm.
  • Why You Need an Attorney for an Automobile Accident
    If you are the at fault driver, then your insurance company will defend against claims from the persons you injured and the damage you caused to their property. In this situation, you usually do not need to hire an attorney. However, if you did not cause the accident and have injuries and your property is damaged you should at the very least contact an attorney for a free consultation on your case. Most law firms, Including Wagner Law Firm, will discuss your case with you and provide a free opinion on whether or not you should hire an attorney. Why hire an attorney? Because the person that hit you has an adjuster, in house attorneys and the insurance company working to pay you as little as possible on your claims. Insurance companies are in business to make money. They need to bring in more money from premiums than the pay out. You are on the pay out side of this business model , and the less they pay out, the more they can pay themselves and take trips to Hawaii. The motivation of the insurance company is to pay you as little as possible. In fact, a major insurance company made it part of their incentive pay program for the adjusters to receive credit for the amount of money they under paid each claim compared to the actual value the insurance company placed on the claim. For example, the insurance company evaluates your claim and believes it is worth $20,000.00 and the adjuster gets you to settle for $10,000.00, then the adjuster receives compensation at the end of the year on how much money they saved the company by not pay out the full value of claims. Hiring an attorney levels the playing field for your claim. Hiring an attorney means you focus on getting well and putting your life back together while your attorney fights for your rights. Hiring an attorney on a contingent fee basis for your claim means you spend zero out of pocket and pay the attorney a percentage based on the amount of money the insurance company pays on your case. Hiring an attorney enables your claim to be managed to maximize your benefits and prevents mistakes in the processing of your claim that can cost you large amounts of money.
  • Uninsured and Underinsured Coverage for Your Vehicle
    Automobile Insurance policies vary from company to company, but there are some general items you should consider when deciding upon coverage. The “declaration” page of the policy is like a summary sheet of your insurance. Each section has a specific purpose and if you read the policy it tells you exactly what is covered and what is not for each section. A good way to think about each section or coverage is as bucket of insurance and your policy is made up of several buckets of insurance. The first is bodily injury and property damage that you cause to others. Most policies provide coverage in blocks of $25,000.00 or more. In Montana, you must carry by law $25,000.00 or more in coverage to pay for the damage you cause to someone else. However, $25,000.00 is not enough coverage considering the cost of vehicles and medical expenses and many people only carry $25,000.00 in coverage or none at all. Therefore, you must buy insurance on your policy in case someone with little or no insurance causes the accident. The two separate coverages are Uninsured Motorist (UM) and Underinsured Motorist (UIM). UM covers you if the other person has no insurance and UIM covers you when the other person runs out of insurance money to pay for your expenses due to the accident. UM and UIM are equally important and you need to ask yourself how much money do you need available for you if the other person has no insurance or is under insured. I suggest a minimum of $100,000 UM and UIM coverage and it is surprisingly affordable from most companies. An automobile accident is bad enough. But, lack of UM and UIM coverage on your policy can cause you financial trouble and heart ache that can easily be avoided.
  • Medical payment coverage for your vehicle
    Medical payment coverage on your automobile insurance should not be overlooked. It is my experience that most people do not know what the coverage is and why it is important. This has led to them purchase less of this coverage than they should. It is coverage that provides medical payments for your injuries in an automobile accident. Most insurance policies will provide coverage regardless as to whom is the at fault driver. This means you likely have coverage if you collide with someone else or if they collide with you. Medical payment coverage is a great benefit if you have no medical insurance or have high deductible medical insurance because your medical bills will be paid up to the policy limits for injuries due to a motor vehicle accident. Many insurance companies offer $5,000 per person per accident as the standard amount. However, you should consider the cost to raise the limits higher and decide if that is a good financial decision for you to purchase more insurance. Usually, the cost to have more coverage for medical payments is low and the addition money in coverage will be worth every penny if you ever need it due to a motor vehicle accident. Most companies will offer medical payment coverage of $5,000, $10,000 and $15,000. Some will offer higher amounts so shop the companies to determine who can provide the coverage you prefer at a reasonable price. Remember, medical payment coverage is only part of your insurance policy. Review each part of your insurance policy with a representative of the insurance company to make sure you understand the coverage you are buying.
  • Do you need an attorney for a real estate purchase? Maybe.
    A common question people ask is why do they need an attorney involved in a real estate transaction. The answer is that it depends on the individual transaction. An attorney can write the contract and work with you to close the transaction. Or, you can hire a real estate agent or broker licensed by the state of Montana to write contracts for real estate transactions. However, they should not be advising you on legal issue beyond the contract and are told in countless continuing educations course not to do so, but to recommend that the client visits with an attorney. My experience in real estate litigation often stems from the agent or broker doing something they should not be doing, like giving legal advice. A good guide line as to whether you should hire an attorney is you gut instinct. If you are getting nervous about the answers and explanations you are receiving in a transaction, consult an attorney. If you are purchasing a piece of property that is unique, large and expensive, you should consult an attorney. Many times a review of the transaction is affordable and it gives you piece of mind that an attorney has reviewed the transaction and their malpractice insurance will likely cover a mistake they make. If your transaction involves land, easements and water rights, I suggest you visit with an attorney. The most common real estate disputes I see are over easements, water rights and boundary lines. All of these issues become relevant when the land is being split into smaller parcels that were once a large tract of land and this happens all the time in Montana. An attorney can review the legal history of the property and provide an opinion that states what you easement is and is not, etc. If you are looking to purchase real estate in Montana and do not know if you should hire an attorney, call Wagner Law Firm because the initial consultation is free.
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