Peer-to-Peer Carsharing: A Sunday Drive or a Nightmare Ride?

Not all side hustles are created equally, but they all come with serious considerations. Of course, the first consideration for most is financial. After all, the whole point is to supplement your income. The upside must be worth the investment of time and capital, if any, as well as the relevant risks. Even if all you are doing is selling homemade peanut brittle to people you know, there is a risk. What happens if your product makes someone seriously ill or even worse? Risk assessment must be part of that initial analysis, and the side hustle trends seem to get riskier every day.

Just like that mountain cabin or that spare room, many have turned to peer-to-peer car rental services to make an extra buck. These services function much the same as their property rental cousins. Vehicle owners rent their vehicles to other drivers through an app like Getaround or Turo, and the rate is typically hourly. Renters might need the car only for part of the day to run errands or make a special trip to a location devoid of access to public transportation. It seems like a great idea to make money with a car that would have sat unused while helping someone in the process. However, there are many unfortunate places where this type of arrangement could lead.

The two main concerns are damage to property and injury to individuals. When you drive your car, you rely on your insurance coverage to protect against those risks, but that coverage as written could prove worthless in a peer-to-peer car rental scenario. The Pennsylvania legislature has recognized this issue and has passed Senate bill 1222 as a result. This bill, as amended, requires carsharing companies to provide additional insurance to fill the gap when a vehicle owner’s policy excludes the peer-to-peer rental from coverage. The problem is that the coverage provided by the carsharing company might be much less than the vehicle owner enjoys under his or her own policy, meaning that an accident still could pose an unreasonable risk when compared with the relatively meager income gained from this enterprise.

When we think about lending someone a car, we might think that damage to the car is the big risk, but a dented fender or a cracked windshield really sits on the conservative side of the damage spectrum. The truth is that damage to the car might be the least significant risk you take when lending your wheels to someone else. Consider that any motor vehicle accident could result in significant damage to another’s property or the death of anyone involved. The potential litigation could be something much more than most would envision ever encountering. This is why it is important to understand fully the risks involved in these trendy ventures before handing over those keys.

Whether you are considering starting this kind of side business or any side business, or whether you already started and are in need of legal assistance, the attorneys at Cornerstone Law can help. Call us for a consultation today.

Evaluating Injuries After a Car Accident

When you’ve been in a car accident and are in the process of making an insurance claim, often the most crucial part of the process is to properly evaluate the cost of your injuries. Many victims injured in car accidents ask our Personal Injury Attorneys:

“How do I appropriately value the pain I’ve suffered”?

This article covers just a few of the factors that we use in working with insurance adjusters to come to the appropriate value for your injury claim.

The Amount of Your Medical Bills

The primary factor in determining the value of an insurance claim is the amount of your medical bills. This includes not just the outstanding bills that you owe, but also the bills that have been paid by your insurance or even Medicare or Medicaid. Pain is hard to quantify, but bills are not. The dollar amounts that you have paid to hospitals, ambulance services, and rehabs, the costs of prescription medications and more, are all relevant in determining the size of your claim.

Lost Wages

Although not directly related to pain specifically, the amount of money lost from missed work or the number of personal days you have had to take can be considered in your claim. Attending appointments or time spent dealing with the car accident in general are considered “out of pocket” expenses for which you should be reimbursed. This includes not only visits with your doctor, but also consultations with your attorney or days spent in court dealing with your personal injury claim.

Permanent Damage

Are your injuries temporary, or will they be permanent? Has a doctor told you whether you can expect a full recovery, or will these injuries linger and cause you pain and suffering indefinitely? Permanent injuries are weighed heavily when considering the value of your claim.

Length of Time for Treatment

Another important factor in determining the potential value of your claim is the length of time that treatment will be required. For example, if treatment was required for only a few days or weeks after the accident, the claim is worth less than if treatment were required for months or years. The value of the claim is also impacted by how quickly after the accident treatment was sought and initiated. Was it started, in earnest, quickly? Did it require a trip to the hospital immediately? Was the injury something that developed weeks or months later? The answers to all of these questions can assist in evaluating your claim.

Future Medical Expenses

Just as the length of time that treatment was required can impact the value of your claim, so also can the potential for future medical expenses. If you will need surgery because of your injuries, or if you will need long term treatment and care, that will increase the value of your claim in most cases. Conversely, if no future medical treatment will be required and you have made a complete recovery, that often can put a cap on your potential damages.

The Effected Parts of the Body or Types of Injuries Involved

Another factor considered for your claim is the type of injuries you sustained. Is it a back injury, or a neck injury? Is it a head injury? Each of these have different potential impacts on you and your future quality of life and can be valued differently because of that.

Conclusion

If you have been injured in a car accident, it is vital that you have an experienced Personal Injury Attorney to help you with your case. At Cornerstone Law Firm, our Personal Injury Attorneys help people every day to get the settlement that is right for them. Call us to learn more.

Three Risks for Small Businesses

If you’re a business owner assessing risks and legal problems, there are three concerns that should be at the top of your list. Appropriately preparing for these risks can help you to avoid drawn out litigation and financial catastrophe.

1. Ownership disputes

Unfortunately, small businesses are more prone to ownership disputes and corporate freeze-outs than larger businesses. This is for a host of reasons, but one of them is because small businesses do not always adequately document their ownership structure. This can even be true in situations where there’s only one owner.

If you have a 50/50 business arrangement, do you have adequate safeguards in place to allow for what happens in a deadlock? Even with a larger board of owners, what happens when you have a tie? Or what happens when the board room becomes increasingly heated, and one group of voters feel that they’re being frozen out of the company by virtue of not having sufficient voting power? In all of these situations, expensive lawsuits can result, and the discord that goes along with such a lawsuit can kill your business success.

To avoid these problems, it’s important to have a sufficient operating agreement or bylaws to document contracts with highly compensated employees and ensure that frequent communication keeps your boardroom out of chaos.

2. Contracts with vendors

All too often, small-to-medium sized businesses rely on “course of performance” contracts, which are essentially unwritten deals between the business and its vendors. This can be acceptable when the deals are small and the amount of money being risked in each transaction isn’t enough to sink your business. It becomes very serious when large customers suddenly stop paying or large suppliers breach on essential terms of the contract and refuse to work out even a partial refund for their failures.

Businesses often find themselves in the difficult position of having to decide whether to bring an expensive lawsuit without clear contractual remedies to recover their attorneys’ fees and other costs. A business attorney can advise you on how to draft good contracts with your vendors that don’t tie anyone’s hands, and which allow for flexibility as your business relationship matures. This is another area where having a dedicated corporate council can be extremely helpful.

3. Insurance

Is your business properly insured? Having general liability and business insurance is important not just for slips and falls and delivery drivers, but also for situations where someone accuses you of using their artwork on your website, sues you for trademark infringement, claims you’ve violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, and more. Obtaining proper insurance means not only that you are covered for any damages that you are found to have caused, but more importantly, a good insurance policy will ensure that your attorney is paid by insurance and not out of your general operating budget.

Running a business doesn’t have to be risky

These are just a few legal risks you should consider regarding your business. Give us a call today to speak with one of our attorneys about how we can protect you from legal risks and help you maximize your business success.

Hail Damage

Hail storms, like the one we just experienced here in Berks County, Pennsylvania, can cause a surprising amount of damage in a very short time. Unfortunately, insurance companies often go out of their way to avoid paying for hail damage by pointing to various exclusions in contracts or otherwise claiming that the damage cannot be covered under the policy for one reason or another.

If you’ve sustained hail damage to your home or other property, here are a few things to consider in dealing with an insurance company on your damage claim.

Pennsylvania Law Requires that Insurance Contracts Be Conformed with the Reasonable Expectations of the Insurance Purchaser

If you purchased insurance on your home, the typical process is that you requested a policy, paid money in advance, and then received a massive stack of insurance documents in the mail. Unfortunately, what often happens in these situations is that the insurance policy that you received in the mail and maybe never even read, included all sorts of “exclusions” which limit your ability to recover in the event of hail or certain other natural disasters.

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania and other Courts within the Commonwealth have grown skeptical of this practice of insurance companies, because it essentially acts to change the contract between the insured and the insurer. If you believe you are purchasing comprehensive coverage and the insurance company put exclusions to that coverage in the policy, courts will often ask whether you reasonably purchased that exclusion in the policy or whether the exclusion was an ineffective attempt by the insurance company to add it in after the contract had already been formed.

Some of these holdings have been called into question in recent years, and if all of this sounds a little bit complicated, don’t panic. The point is simple: just because an insurance company says there’s an exclusion in the policy that prohibits you from recovering from hail damage, that doesn’t mean the exclusion is necessarily legally binding.

You Are Entitled to Independent Valuation of the Damage

Another method that insurance companies sometimes employ to reduce the value of the claim that they have to pay out is by claiming that their adjuster’s evaluation of the damage is final and binding. This is not the case. You are entitled to have your own appraiser look at the damage and give you an assessment.

The proper value of hail damage may be difficult to determine, but having more than one opinion in regards to the damage can be helpful. In many cases, insurance companies and their claims adjusters do a good job of assessing the damage. In that case, there’s no need to pay for an appraiser.

But just keep in mind as you have your discussions with an insurance company that you’re entitled to your own second opinion if you wish to pay for one.

The Value of the Damage May Be Reduced by the Age of The Roof or Other Property Involved

Most insurance policies provide that the value of replacing the roof must be diminished by the percentage of a typical roof’s lifespan that has elapsed on the house.

In other words, if you have a thirty-year roof on your house and your twenty years in to the thirty-year roof when the hail damage occurs, the insurance company will only pay out a third of the value of a new roof. This is generally a valid limitation, but it depends on circumstances and the precise policy language involved.

Conclusion

At Cornerstone Law Firm, we deal with insurance companies every day. Our attorneys have experience in negotiating and litigating the proper amount of insurance pay-out on damages.

If you feel you’re not getting the proper value on your insurance claim, call our attorneys for a free consultation on your case.

I Missed Work Because of My Car Accident: Does Somebody Have to Pay for That?

After you’ve been in a car accident, there are a lot of details to figure out. In addition to payment for medical bills, surgeries, rehab and so many other things, many victims of injuries find themselves asking, “Who’s going to pay for the time I missed from work?”

Lost wages are a significant component of the cost of a car accident to the injured party. Lost wages from time off from work can result not only in the immediate aftermath of the injury but far down the line, as well.

Lost Time and Wages

Whether attending doctors’ appointments, going to repeated rehabilitation sessions, having consultations with orthopedic specialists, and even in some cases, attending court proceedings arising out of the accident, car accidents result in lost time and wages.

In all of these instances, the wages lost should be calculated as part of the damages that the insurance company is required to compensate you for as a result of your accident. In some cases, insurance companies will tell the injured party that they are not entitled to compensation for lost wages. They may give the victim of an injury a hard time about claiming lost wages, particularly where someone’s job makes wages a little harder to calculate.

For example, a salesperson who is no longer able to do the physical demands of a job, such as getting up on a roof or otherwise doing physical labor to determine the appropriate amount to quote on a job, may see their earnings diminish significantly. Yet an insurance company may claim that these damages are speculative or that they cannot be appropriately quantified.

In another example, an individual who loses out on seasonal overtime pay or a second job for a holiday weekend may be told that they can’t claim these damages from insurance.

Maximize Your Appropriate Recovery

Insurance adjusters are paid to keep your damages at a minimum after a car accident. Shouldn’t you have attorneys on your side to maximize your appropriate recovery?

If you’ve been injured, call the Cornerstone Law Firm to speak with one of our personal injury attorneys. The consultation is free, and we don’t get paid unless you get paid. Call us today to discuss your case.

Injured as a Pedestrian

Injured as a Pedestrian

Every day, throughout the United States, pedestrians are injured by cars, trucks, buses and other automobiles. For purposes of the discussion below, it doesn’t matter what type of vehicle hit you, nor does it matter what you were doing when you were struck (that is, whether you were running, crossing the street, walking on a sidewalk, or something else).

If you’ve been hit by a vehicle as a pedestrian, here are three things you should consider in evaluating your right to compensation.

1. Your car insurance will pay for your medical bills

First off, many people are surprised to learn that their car insurance is involved at all in an injury in which they were not in their car. But your car insurance covers you, not only when you’re driving in a car, but anytime that you are injured in a car accident.

This includes when the negligence of another driver causes your injuries, even if you were outside of the car at the time. The other party’s car insurance will be liable for some aspects of your injuries (more on that below), but your car insurance will pay your initial medical bills.

The other party’s car insurance will be liable for some aspects of your injuries (more on that below), but your car insurance will pay your initial medical bills.

hit by a vehicle a a pedestrian

That’s right. Even though you may not have been at fault at all for your injuries, your car insurance will pay the first several thousand dollars of your medical costs. Sometimes, an injury victim doesn’t like to hear this. They want to “go after the other guy” to make him pay for the injuries. But Pennsylvania law provides that everyone’s car insurance should cover the first several thousand dollars of injury coverage (and sometimes more) in order to ensure that you are able to immediately seek medical treatment.

There’s no copay associated, which means that even if you have health insurance, you should send the bills to your car insurance first, until they no longer have any coverage left for you. This type of insurance is called “Personal Injury Protection,” or “PIP.” So, make sure that your car insurance pays the first bills that you receive.

2. You’re entitled to recover for pain and suffering as well as lost wages in most cases

When you are hit by a car while walking, you are entitled to payment for your medical bills, of course, but you’re also entitled to recover from car insurance for your pain and suffering, for lost wages, and for the inconvenience that the injuries have caused you. Just paying your medical bills doesn’t make you “whole.”

After a personal injury, you will deal with the inconvenience of your life being disrupted, of being able to do daily activities such as exercise or sports you enjoy, or even shop for yourself or play with your kids. You are entitled to compensation for all of this. The car insurance should also pay for your lost wages and for other damages.

An experienced personal injury attorney can help you identify these and other types of damages you’re entitled to under the law.

3. What if I’m “Limited Tort?”

In Pennsylvania, “limited tort” insurance designations do not apply to pedestrians who are injured by a car, truck or other vehicle. This means you will be considered “full tort” by your car insurance in assessing your right to compensation.

Conclusion: You need an experienced attorney by your side to resolve your charges.

If you’ve been injured while traveling on foot, call the experienced attorneys at the Cornerstone Law Firm. We want to help you get the help you deserve and need. It’s important that you not merely take an offer provided by an insurance company for your injuries. You should have it carefully reviewed by an injury attorney who is experienced in reviewing these types of offers and in maximizing your compensation. Call us today!

You should have it carefully reviewed by an injury attorney who is experienced in reviewing these types of offers and in maximizing your compensation. Call us today!

Understanding Your Car Insurance

Good car insurance is one of the most important assets that an individual can have.

A car accident can wreak havoc on an individual’s life—and insufficient car insurance can make it difficult or almost impossible to catch up on the medical bills that result and to seek treatment from injuries. Unfortunately, too many people don’t take a look at their car insurance coverage until after a car accident has already occurred. So, here are three things that your car insurance should cover for you after a car accident:

1. Car Insurance Protects You – Personal Injury Protection (PIP)

Personal Injury Protection (also known as “PIP”), is one of the least understood and most important aspects of comprehensive car insurance. We’ve covered PIP in more depth before, but in short, PIP coverage is your insurance provider’s obligation to pay your medical bills regardless of who’s at fault in the accident. You can be assured that your car insurance will pay your medical bills up to a certain amount. Why is this?

Sometimes cases can get bogged down into litigation for years, and the insurance companies can’t agree who’s at fault. Accordingly, PIP coverage is required to be offered by insurance companies in Pennsylvania so that, after a car accident, you have a reliable source of payment for those medical bills from your own insurance company.

2. Underinsured and Uninsured Motorist Coverage

But what happens when you’re hit by someone else, they cause injuries and their insurance doesn’t cover the extent of your injuries? What if someone is driving without any car insurance at all, and they hit you? In these cases, your own insurance may cover you under the “uninsured motorist coverage” portion of your policy. Similarly, if they don’t have sufficient insurance, underinsured coverage provides extra money for you to cover your injuries.

In Pennsylvania, you are always given the opportunity to “waive” uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage—that is, you may decline the coverage in exchange for a lower premium. This is generally a very bad idea. You should not waive this coverage, because this might be the only way that you can be covered if you’re in an accident and your damages are serious. The law only requires drivers to carry $15,000 in coverage.

If you’re in a serious car or motorcycle accident, this won’t be nearly enough to cover your medical bills, time off work and compensation for your pain and suffering. In that case, while your own insurance will have to cover your medical bills up to a certain point, after that you will be unable to obtain any additional payment for your pain and suffering or any medical bills that are in excess of that amount.

You can’t control whether other drivers are responsible, but you can insure against their irresponsibility. It’s important that you have substantial underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage in case you’re in a car accident so that you aren’t left without anyone to pay for those bills.

3. Third Party Liability

This third one is the least exciting of all insurance coverages, but it’s extremely important. Your car insurance indemnifies you in the event that you are in an accident that causes someone else harm. Hopefully, all of us try to be safe and careful drivers, but accidents do happen.

In the event that you cause a car accident and someone else is badly injured, you are personally on the hook for any injuries that you cause. This means that if you own a home, that house could even be in jeopardy if you injure someone badly enough. It doesn’t take much to be seriously injured in a car accident or a motorcycle crash.

Accordingly, you can do substantial damage that could wipe out all of your assets after a car accident. That’s why third-party liability coverage on your insurance policy is so important.

Conclusion: Car Insurance, a Social Safety Net

Car insurance plays an extremely vital role in our society, ensuring that anyone who’s injured on the road has a path to recovery. At Cornerstone Law Firm, we help people navigate the confusing world of car insurance claims after a car accident.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle or car crash, or if you’ve been hit as a pedestrian by a vehicle, please call the personal injury attorneys at the Cornerstone Law Firm today so that we can discuss how to properly handle your insurance claim.

Who’s going to pay for my car?!

When you’ve been in a car crash and your car is totaled, one of the first and most frustrating lessons that you learn is that car insurance companies do not put as high a value on your car as you do. Cars, trucks, motorcycles, and our other “toys” of the road often have a special sentimental value to us and a practical long-term value. With care and maintenance, most of us hope to drive our cars forever!

Unfortunately, car insurance companies frequently try to give you the bottom-dollar for your car, truck or motorcycle after an accident. So what do you do when the car insurance company makes a low offer? Worse, what if the insurance company says your car isn’t worth as much as the loan you still have to pay off?

  1. You have a right to insist on the actual value of your car, truck or motorcycle after a crash.

In most cases, your insurance company is responsible for paying for the value of your vehicle. Although value can be subjective, the market value of your car is the proper amount that the insurance should pay you.

So, in other words, don’t be afraid to insist on the full value of your car and don’t be afraid to submit supporting documentation such as the Kelly Blue Book value or other objective measures of the value of your car. The car insurance company shouldn’t get away with undervaluing your car any more than a used car dealer would when you trade it in! So push back and insist on full value.

  1. Property Damage vs. Injury Damage

Your car insurance covers you for very different types of damage. It covers you for your immediate medical bills. It covers you for property damage to your car or belongings. It covers you in the event of an injury and ensures that you will receive compensation for your pain and suffering and the medical cost of your injuries. It also may cover other things such as time that you lost at work.

Sometimes insurance policies can be confusing. The declaration page from your insurance company may break down eight different types of recovery, and despite showing that you have “coverage,” a claims adjuster may tell you there’s no money for your situation. In these situations, you should consider retaining a car accident attorney to help you understand your declaration page and to help negotiate with the insurance company.

  1. A car accident lawyer can help you determine the value of your car—and your injury claim.

When you’ve been confronted with an insurance company that doesn’t believe that the value of your car or the value of your injury is as serious as you do, you should contact an experienced car accident attorney. One value to having an experienced car accident lawyer by your side is that an experienced attorney can tell you what the proper valuation of your claim is.

At Cornerstone Law Firm, we deal with injury claims all the time. We know the ins and outs of dealing with a car accident case, and we can help you determine whether you’re getting proper value for your car and proper value for the injuries that you’ve suffered.

So if you’ve been in a car accident, a motorcycle accident, a truck accident, or any other vehicle crash, call us at the Cornerstone Law Firm today to discuss your case and see how we can help you.

Three Things to do after a Berks County Car Accident

If you’ve been in a car accident in Berks County, Pennsylvania, there are three things you should consider doing right away. In this video, Attorney David Crossett breaks down immediate steps you should take.

If you’ve been injured in Berks County or elsewhere in Pennsylvania, give us a call. We’d be happy to talk with you about your case.

What to do when insurance denies your car accident claim

When you’re injured in a car accident or a motorcycle crash, one of the most stressful details you will have to deal with is filing an insurance claim. On this blog, we’ve discussed what to do with the medical bills that start piling up. But what happens when your claim is denied or when the insurance company won’t give you an appropriate settlement? What do you do when you feel like the insurance company is not giving you a fair valuation of your claim or keeps giving you conflicting information about how to seek a settlement from them? Here are three signs that it’s time to hire a personal injury lawyer to help you with your car accident claim.

  1. The insurance company denies liability for the accident

If the insurance company for the other side denies that their driver was responsible for the accident or wants you to go on record making recorded statements about what happened during the accident, it’s time to get a personal injury attorney involved. The claims adjusters you deal with are trying to do their job, which includes protecting their company’s bottom line. The claims adjuster does not work for you.

This doesn’t mean that they’re bad people—it just means that they are going to try to find ways to say that their driver is not liable for the injuries you’ve suffered in the accident. They may call you and ask to record you speaking about the facts underlying the accident. This is a good time to reach out to a personal injury attorney who can represent you in the matter. A personal injury attorney can serve as a buffer between you and the claims adjuster who is seeking to take your statement, ensuring that your case is properly presented to the other side.

  1. The insurance adjuster gives you a low offer

Properly valuing a person injury claim requires experience and an understanding of the insurance landscape. An experienced personal injury attorney is able to help you to determine the value of your car accident claim and to understand the limits that insurance might place on a potential recovery. In some respects, you can think of a personal injury attorney as an experienced guide who is helping you to walk through a landscape you’re unfamiliar with but which he has traveled many times. If you’re concerned about the value that the insurance company is placing on your claim or the initial offer that they’ve made to you, that’s a good time to get a personal injury lawyer involved.

  1. Your claim is denied

Of course, the most obvious time to get an injury attorney involved is when your claim is denied. An insurance company says that they will not pay you or refuses to renegotiate a claim on a level that you think is fair, you should contact a car accident lawyer for a second opinion. Car accident attorneys, such as those here at the Cornerstone Law Firm, are able to help you determine whether that denial is appropriate under the terms of the policy and whether there are additional insurance policies that may apply to your situation. Sometimes, victims of car wrecks are surprised to find out that their physical injuries may be covered under a family member’s car insurance policy who was not involved in the car accident.

If you’ve struggled with an insurance claim you’ve filed, call the Cornerstone Law Firm today and let us help you determine what your next steps should be.