Avoid Distracted Driving (and Distracted Drivers)

Distracted driving is a major cause of traffic accidents in the United States, and takes many lives each year. Distracted driving encompasses driving while texting, talking on the phone, eating, trying to find something in the car or change the radio, or any of numerous activities that take the driver’s attention off the road. It only takes a split second of inattention to cause an accident, and sadly many drivers do not bear that in mind on a daily basis. It goes without saying that you should avoid those activities while driving, but you can also be on the lookout for other drivers who may be distracted (or impaired) and more likely to cause an accident.

If you see another driver consistently driving significantly under the speed limit for no apparent reason (i.e., it is not icy, or pouring rain, etc.), he or she may be distracted or impaired. Likewise, if a driver is remaining in the left (passing) lane, but not passing slower-moving traffic, he or she may not have the attention available to change lanes, and may not be someone you want to remain close to. If another vehicle is repeatedly crossing into the shoulder or median, taking more than a few seconds to proceed through a green light or stop sign, or otherwise exhibits delayed responses to normal traffic situations, it is probably in your best interest to remain as far behind that car as possible or to pass it when safe to do so.

If you or a loved one has been injured due to another driver’s negligence, we can help you assert your rights to fair compensation for injuries, medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, and more. And you pay no attorneys’ fees until we recover money for you first. Call (360) 603-9545 for a free consultation.

Stay safe.

FAQ Spotlight: Do I Need to Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?

Many of those injured in car, motorcycle, or bicycle accidents, by defective products, or in other circumstances wonder whether they should hire a personal injury attorney at all. After all, most people think, lawyers are expensive. And the insurance company or opposing party may already be offering some quick money to settle the case. Some also associate lawyers with going to court, which can be stressful and time-consuming. That is what insurance companies want injured people to believe.

In fact, hiring a personal injury attorney will usually yield better results. It is not uncommon for an attorney to obtain a recovery for a client that is 5 to 20 times what the insurance company initially offered. Insurance adjusters often try to get injured people to agree to quick, small settlements early in the process, knowing that their claims could be worth much more. And at the La Rocco Law Firm, P.C., if a potential personal injury client would be better off pursuing the claim on their own, we will be the first to say so—we want to help where we are needed. Moreover, hiring a lawyer does not necessarily mean going to court. Our attorneys are prepared to litigate to protect our clients if necessary and if that is what the client wants, but at the end of the day nearly 95% of personal injury cases in the United States are resolved by pretrial settlement, which often works out better for all parties.

If you or your loved ones have been injured in Washington State, remember: It costs nothing to talk with us to find out what your claim may really be worth and if you are being treated fairly by the insurance company or at-fault party. We stand by our clients, and our goal is to provide you with the highest quality representation and guidance, as well as peace of mind throughout the process. Consultations are always free — it costs nothing to sit down with us to talk over your case, discuss your options, and determine if we are a good fit for you. And you pay no attorneys’ fees unless we recover compensation for you; in short, we don’t get paid unless you do. For more information or to schedule a free consultation with an attorney, call The La Rocco Law Firm, P.C., at (360) 603-9545.

Tips to Prevent and Respond to Identity and Credit Card Theft

  • Steps to take to prevent identify theft
    • Use only the last four digits of your account number when paying your credit card accounts.
    • Use your work phone number and a PO Box (if you have one) instead of your home phone and address.
    • Do not have your Social Security Number printed on your checks.
    • Keep photocopies of important records in a safe place.
    • Write “photo ID required” on the back of your credit cards, instead of signing them
  • How to limit the damage if your identity or credit card information is stolen
    • Cancel/freeze your credit cards immediately
    • File a police report immediately
    • Call immediately to place a “fraud alert” with the three major credit monitoring agencies: Equifax: (800) 525-6285; Experian (formerly TRW): (888) 397-3742; Trans Union: (800) 680 7289

Are You Covered? What You Need to Know About Auto Insurance.

Of course, we hope that you are never in a motor vehicle accident and never have to use this information. But things happen, and it is important to be prepared. You are required by law to have basic auto insurance, but most people don’t think too much about their coverage beyond paying the bills. But when you need the coverage itself, it can be life-changing. If you have been injured in an accident caused by another’s negligence, it is important to speak with an attorney to discuss your insurance coverage, options, whether the other party’s insurance company is treating you fairly, and the best course of action. But there are several relatively easy steps that you can take to be better prepared. Here are some important things to keep in mind when considering, selecting, or modifying your auto insurance policy:


1) Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage matters: If you or your loved ones are ever seriously injured due to the negligence of someone without insurance coverage, or with minimal insurance coverage, you will need to turn to your own uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) policy to cover medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses. You do not want to find yourself in a situation where you have $100,000 in medical bills but only $25,000 in UIM coverage (the minimum on most policies). It is generally the best practice to maintain at least $100,000 in UIM coverage. Oftentimes, the increase in your insurance rates for this potentially crucial coverage is minimal – talk to your insurance company to see what it would cost to be sure you are covered against those with minimal insurance coverage or none at all.


2) Liability insurance really matters: Liability insurance is the main requirement imposed by law; it helps cover expenses for those injured in an accident that you caused. Of course, no one wants to think they may cause an accident and injure someone else, but things happen, and the best thing you can do is ensure that you have adequate coverage should that situation arise. What many people don’t realize, however, is that someone injured in an accident that was your fault can sue you personally, and try to recover from your personal funds and assets, if your liability insurance coverage is inadequate. That’s a scary thought. Everything from your savings account, to your vehicles, to your home can potentially be the subject of a lawsuit to recover for damages that your insurance policy did not cover. And the best way to avoid that possibility is to maintain high liability coverage. Keeping your coverage over $300,000 is a good idea, and coverage over $500,000 is even better.


3) Bodily Injury Liability (BIL) and Personal Injury Protection (PIP): Bodily Injury Liability (BIL) coverage pays for injuries and medical expenses of those injured in a crash that you caused. Like liability coverage, it can help shield you from personal liability for those expenses. Personal Injury Protection (PIP) is usually for you and your passengers – if you or a passenger is injured in an accident, PIP will pay your medical providers directly when you need treatment. This is important, because it prevents you from having to pay those expenses out-of-pocket only to try to recoup them later from the other party’s insurance company. After an accident, you don’t want to be worried about whether you can pay your medical bills, particularly if you are forced to miss work or are unable to operate your business. PIP can provide important peace of mind, and ensure that you and your passengers are able to get the treatment you need.


Again, we at the La Rocco Law Firm, P.C. hope you never need this information. But good insurance coverage can mean the difference between an accident that negatively impacts your life forever and an accident that is simply an unpleasant event from which you can move on with peace of mind as soon as possible. If you have been injured in an accident, again, it is important to speak with an attorney to see what your claim is worth, whether the insurance company is treating you fairly, and whether you need to hire an attorney. Consultations and case evaluations are always free, so give us a call at (360) 603-9545 to see how we can help. Save travels, everyone.

Divorce Do’s and Don’ts

Do:

  • Do use common sense and walk away from confrontations.
  • Do change your passwords for accounts which are not joint.
  • If you are moving out, do copy all important records and documents to which you have access and change your address with USPS.
  • Do continue to prioritize good parenting of your child(ren).
  • Do make a strong effort to be civil with your spouse and take steps to be reasonable and responsible.
  • Do document everything:
    • With a witness present make a recording:
      • Verify the date of the recording with the date of a newspaper.
      • Video or photograph the interior of real property as well as personal property.
      • Inventory expensive or sentimental property items.
      • Inventory the items of a safe and safety deposit box.

Don’t:

  • Don’t violate the temporary restraining order, or any other court order.
  • Don’t threaten your spouse in any way.
  • Don’t speak in anger or negatively about your spouse within earshot of your child(ren).
  • Don’t use your child(ren) as messangers or intermediaries between you and your spouse.
  • If you want to keep your home after the divorce, don’t move out voluntarily. It is hard to retain control of something which you voluntarily have given up.
  • Don’t behave in a way that undermines your credibility to the Court.
  • Don’t leave the State or Country with your child(ren) without written permission of your spouse or a court Order.
  • Don’t post anything about your dissolution, your spouse, or your legal issues on any social media site. Social media sites are public record and can be used against you in court.
  • Don’t sign any document without getting your attorney’s advice.

DUI Tips: Seven Things You Should Know

 It is not illegal for a police officer to lie to you; however, it is illegal for you to lie to a police officer.

 If you are a student and you are convicted of possession of marijuana, you can lose your Financial Aid.

 Parts of Whatcom County are on federal land where marijuana is still illegal even if you are over 21.

 If you are under the age of 18, a conviction for Minor in Possession will suspend your Driver’s License.

 If you are under the age of 21, the legal limit for alcohol to operate a motor vehicle is actually .02 (lower than the per se limit for those over 21).

 If you are over the age of 21, you still can be charged with a DUI even if you blow under the per se limit of .08.

 You may be charged with a DUI for driving while using medical marijuana even if you have a valid prescription.

After a Motor Vehicle Accident: Six Personal Injury Do’s and Don’ts

If you have recently been injured in a motor vehicle accident, there are several things that you can do to protect your right to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages due to time off work, and pain and suffering.

  1. DON’T…sign anything! This is the most important rule here; if you have already signed away your rights, there’s likely nothing a lawyer can do to help. When it comes to injury claims, insurance companies’ number-one goal is to get consumers to sign away their rights before they fully understand those rights or the extent of their injuries. By their logic, if they give you $1,500 and get you to sign a release form soon after the accident (when you are still running on adrenaline and may not even have seen a doctor), then if in two months it turns out that you need expensive surgery for your injuries and will be off of work for a month…you’re out of luck, and the insurance company is off the hook for thousands of dollars. You may not necessarily need a lawyer to settle your claim, but wait until you’ve spoken with one before you sign on the dotted line.
  2. DO…take photographs. Photos of the accident scene, photos of your damaged vehicle, and photos of your injuries can all make a big difference for you. Human beings often think visually, and insurance companies and insurance defense lawyers know that if you have photos, a jury is more likely to understand how serious the accident was, and how serious your injuries were. The old saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words” holds true in this circumstance.
  3. DON’T…Avoid medical appointments. One of the most important parts of a potential personal injury claim is showing objective medical findings (injuries). We understand that going to the doctor is often inconvenient and can even be frustrating. However, even if you are suffering badly but just “toughing it out,” if you haven’t been to a doctor or other medical provider in a long time, the insurance company or its attorneys will use that as evidence that you are not injured. If it hurts, go and get it on record, and see what can be done about it. It’s in the best interest of your health and your personal injury claim.
  4. DO…Be careful with social media. In today’s world, insurance companies and insurance defense lawyers regularly investigate social media as a way of undermining plaintiffs’ personal injury claims. If you are seriously injured, but post a picture of yourself skiing, even if you were only on skis for 5 minutes and were in too much pain to continue, it will hurt your case. If you have a pending injury claim, be generally wary of social media—don’t let it hurt your claim.
  5. DON’T…Give statements to insurance companies. Insurance companies will often ask you to give a statement before you are fully prepared to do so, or before you have consulted a lawyer. Politely decline, speak with a lawyer, and proceed from there. As with signing documents, it is virtually never in your best interest to move quickly. Insurance companies are counting on your desire to have the claim wrapped up quickly, so you can move on with your life. That feeling is understandable, but generally can only hurt your claim.
  6. DO…talk to a lawyer! We’re here to help. Most good lawyers will be the first to say something if you would be better off handling the claim on your own. We want to help where we’re needed. So take advantage of a free consultation; a lawyer can help you look at all the angles and contingencies, to determine if it’s the right time to settle your claim. And of course, if you are not being treated fairly, an attorney can fight on your behalf to get the compensation that you deserve. Either way, find out what your rights are, and what you need to do to best protect them.