Author Archives: Legalpro

Should I speak with an attorney before giving my statement to the Insurance carrier?

Hi, Clay Morgan here, of the Morgan and Barbary Law Firm in North Brevard County.

After someone has been in an auto accident, I am often asked whether it is acceptable to provide a recorded statement to the insurance carriers, before talking to an attorney. My advice is that it is always better err on the side of caution and talk with an attorney, before giving a recorded statement to an insurance provider or adjuster. An attorney can review the facts of your case with you, and help ensure the way that you state the facts allows for no misunderstandings about how the accident occurred or who was at fault.

I then often hear: “But Clay, you are an attorney. Everyone knows that attorneys known to twist the truth, but my insurance carrier would never do that. If I’m telling the truth, then there will be no problem… right?”.  Wrong.

Let me share a recent situation that occurred to my wife following an accident.  My wife accidentally ran into another vehicle.  She was driving down US-1 in the middle lane, when she glanced in her side mirror and changed into the right lane.  Unfortunately, she didn’t see the other smaller car coming up in her blind spot, and she ended up hitting the left front tire area.  There was quite a bit of vehicle damage but no one was injured.

My wife felt horrible. She apologized profusely to the other driver advising them the accident was her fault and not to worry.  A police officer came to the scene and she told him, unequivocally, that she was at fault in the accident. The policeman agreed and gave her a ticket for her actions.  I agreed with her she was at fault, and I assured the other driver that we had insurance that would pay for their property damage.  My wife then called our insurance carrier and told them directly that she was at fault in the accident, that she had in fact been ticketed for her action, and that she accepted liability for the accident… all in a recorded statement.

Imagine my surprise when I got a call from the other driver, telling me that my insurance carrier was claiming that he was 20% at fault in the accident. They informed him they were only going to pay 80% of his $5,000 in automobile damage, leaving him to come up with over $1,000 just to get his car fixed. I could not believe it, I immediately called my insurance adjuster who confirmed they put 20% liability on the other driver because: “he saw your wife coming into his lane and he should have taken evasive action to avoid the collision.” I asked to speak to his manager, and the manager repeated the same thing; the other driver should have avoided being hit by your wife.  This 20% ruling came from the fact that the other driver phrased his sentence in such a way, that admitted seeing my wife change lanes before she hit him. This gave them what they needed to say he had “comparative” fault of 20%. No amount of argument on my part could convince the insurance carrier that what they were doing was wrong.

The lesson to come out of this for everyone is: no matter how clear the liability against the other party, no matter how right you are, please make sure you talk to an attorney before giving any recorded statement.  The way your phrase a certain sentence can result in your being unjustly assessed for “comparative” fault, which could end up costing you money.  If the other driver had simply said, “I saw Ms. Morgan coming into my lane but it happened so fast, I had no time to react,” the carrier would have a much harder time finding him partially at fault.

People often think that giving a recorded statement is a simple matter. “The truth is the truth,” as my mother used to say, “and the truth will set you free.”  Unfortunately, in my experience, the truth can often be twisted by someone else who has a motive to save money.  Insurance companies always have a motive to save money. Protect yourself. Take the time to discuss the facts with an attorney before giving a recorded statement, as it might just save you time and trouble.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns following an accident, call my office to speak directly with an attorney about any legal questions you may have. Or, contact me through my website at legalproblem.com.  Don’t go it alone; we are here to help.

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The Effects of Divorce: Investment or Savings Vehicles

The Effects of Divorce on 529 Plans, College Saving Plans, Qualified Tuition Plans, Custodial Accounts and Trusts, or other investment or savings vehicles.

Equitable distribution is a basic component of Florida divorces. People are oftentimes consumed in dividing their marital assets like real estate property, boats, automobiles, bank accounts, retirement accounts, and the like. However, 529 Plans, College Saving Plans, other qualified tuition plans, or other investment or savings vehicles such as custodial accounts and trusts are lost in the mix of the dividing chaos. They become either forgotten, neglected, or assumed to simply be the property of the child and therefore not subject to equitable distribution.

Whatever the situation might be, the college savings plan is most often an asset of the marriage. It is important to know that because of the marital nature of this asset; college savings plans are subject to being divided as part of an equitable distribution scheme and should be taken very seriously.

Take for example a Florida 529 Savings Plan. The Florida 529 Savings Plan allows parents to start this fund at any time and for as long as they would like to fund the plan. The Florida 529 Savings Plan should simply be viewed as a savings account, albeit with special incentives, but is nonetheless an account. As such, this account is an asset that will be divided equally pursuant to Florida law, specifically Florida Statute 61.075.

Protecting your assets so that you have a full and fair settlement agreement, or that you don’t forget about certain property, is fundamental while going through a divorce. This is not only about protecting your assets, but also protecting your child’s future. Untying the mesh of financial disarray during a divorce is already stressful enough and most people are prone to overlook some assets.

Divorce is complex. Don’t go at it alone. Contact us today to talk about how family lawyers at Morgan & Barbary, P.A. can help you navigate the cloudy waters of equitable distribution in Florida.

John V Moore, Esquire

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“I was in a car accident and I can’t afford to go to the hospital!”

As a personal injury attorney, many people come to me following an automobile accident and they are frightened.  Whether they accidentally hit another motorist or someone hit them, they all have the same concern:  How am I going to afford to pay medical bills?

Most people earn enough to pay their monthly bills and expenses, but most have very little extra at the end of the month.  An unexpected emergency room bill or the need to pay a doctor for medical testing following an automobile accident are usually more than enough to tip the budgetary scales over the edge. Often times I see people in severe pain, refusing to go to the doctor because they think they can’t  afford it.

Luckily the Florida Legislature has designed an insurance system to protect consumers that incur medical bills following an automobile accident. All automobiles lawfully insured in the state of Florida are required to carry Personal Injury Protection insurance that is  designed to substantially cover medical bills incurred in an automobile accident.  Personal Injury Protection Insurance (PIP) is required insurance coverage in Florida.  PIP insurance pays 80% of any medical bill and 60% of any lost wages incurred as a result of an automobile accident. PIP covers the owner of a vehicle, any resident relatives in the car who do not have their own insurance (such as kids), and even passengers in the car who don’t have insurance from another source.  These benefits pay regardless of whether the accident was your fault or the fault of the other vehicle involved. It is very much like a health insurance policy that follows you wherever you go and protects you if you are injured in by an automobile.

What does this mean to you? If you own a vehicle that is properly insured, or you live with parents or a spouse that has a vehicle properly insured and you are injured by an automobile, you will have 80% coverage of any accident related medical bills up to the policy limit which is usually $10,000. This includes if you are a pedestrian struck by a car, or you’re on a bike struck by a car.  It covers you child if they are struck by a car or in another persons car that is in an accident. Even if you accidentally exit your car while it is in neutral and it runs over your foot, you have coverage.

Be aware that delaying treatment can limit PIP coverage.  In order to obtain PIP benefits, individuals injured in an auto accident must seek medical treatment within 14 days.  PIP benefits can be denied or severely limited if medical treatment is sought after the 14-day window has expired. PIP benefits can also be limited if the injured person is not diagnosed with an Emergency Medical Condition within that 14-day period following the accident.

Understanding insurance coverages following an accident will alleviate your fears and give you the confidence to get the treatment you need to stay healthy.  If you have questions about your automobile coverage, please contact us a Morgan & Barbary at 321-951-3400 and speak to a Personal Injury attorney about your questions, or visit us at Legalproblem.com. We are here to help.

Clay Morgan, Esquire and Personal Injury Attorney

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We’re Honored to be Your Melbourne Truck Accident Attorney

At Morgan and Barbary we are committed to providing our clients with competent, effective legal representation in several areas of practice. We are aware just how devastating trucking accidents can be and we are prepared to fight for your rights.

As your Melbourne truck accident attorney, we have seen what the aftermath of a tractor-trailer accident can do to your entire family. Because of the sheer size of the involved vehicles, a crash between a commercial vehicle and a passenger vehicle is much more likely to cause death than two passenger vehicle crashes. We are dedicated to your recovery in three aspects: physical, mental, and financial. We believe that you should be compensated fully for your losses endured as the result of a commercial truck accident.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of an unfortunate trucking accident, then we would be honored to serve as your legal representation during your recovery process. Contact your Melbourne truck accident attorney today about getting started on your case.

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Happy Thanksgiving from Your Melbourne Attorneys

As your Melbourne attorneys we are excited to celebrate the upcoming holiday season. Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and we hope that you will get to enjoy the holiday with your friends and family. We remind you that the holidays can be a scary time for driving on the road, and encourage you to practice aware and safe driving.

As your local legal problem solvers we are grateful for each and every one of our clients we have had the pleasure working with throughout 2014. Whether you came to us for personal injury, criminal defense or family law—we’d like to thank you for your loyalty as our client. While the holidays are certainly a time to be grateful for what we have, we also need to be mindful of the dangers around us. Driving on the road during the holidays can lead to disaster and we remind you to remain aware.

Your Melbourne attorneys wish you a very happy Thanksgiving and remind you to stay safe on the roads throughout the upcoming holidays.

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