In his Legal Beagle podcast, Jonathan Negretti talks about the three core beliefs of Negretti & Associates: No Pressure, Honest Evaluations, and Giving Back. Watch now to get the true meaning behind these words.

By Jonathan Negretti

This is the first in a series of articles designed to help new and prospective clients become acquainted with Negretti & Associates. We’d like to offer this “peek behind the curtain” to showcase the inner workings of our firm — how we work and what we believe in.

At Negretti & Associates, there are three tenets, or beliefs, that we stand for each and every day — 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. These are: No Pressure, Honest Evaluations, and Giving Back. Collectively, these are our core values.

No Pressure

When I started to do more personal injury work, I quickly realized how highly competitive this area of law can be. There are a lot of law firms. You hear them on TV. You see them on billboards, light-rail trains, and buses. There are a lot of people out there doing this work, and a lot of them are very good attorneys. The fact that they advertise or market their services takes nothing away from them or their work. However, because there are so many people doing this work, the search for new cases is highly competitive. It has also become high-pressure. Clients are encouraged to sign immediately with the first law firm they talk to. This didn’t feel right to me.

If I were injured and looking for representation, I’d want someone to talk to me like a human being. I’d want to have a conversation, and I’d want to feel like I have the opportunity to reflect upon what was said, talk to my loved ones, and then decide what’s best for me. I wouldn’t want to be put in a situation where I’d feel pressured — like a customer at a used car lot, where if I didn’t buy the car now, it would soon be gone. That’s just not the way that the legal profession works, and it’s definitely not the way that I think personal injury law should work.

For this reason, at Negretti & Associates we have a no-pressure environment. If you’d like to talk to us about your case? Great! And if you’d want advice? Awesome! We’re happy to help!

When you talk with us, you won’t be pressured into signing with us. We’ll tell you about what we charge. (We explain this on our website, too, and we’ll talk about that in a future podcast and blog post. Talking about fees is kind of a taboo in our profession.) We’ll share with you our thoughts about your particular situation, and then we’ll tell you to take time to think about our conversation.

If you want to hire us because you think we’re the right folks to be representing you, then great. We want this to be a marriage, in a way — a partnership where you’re just as committed to what we’re doing as we are to what you’re doing. That’s the only way this works.

So, no pressure!

Honest Evaluations

If Negretti & Associates can’t benefit your situation, then we don’t want to steer you in the wrong direction. There are many law firms that will take cases regardless of client fit, and the law firm will be the only party to benefit in the case. In such instances, the client won’t receive anything. But that’s never stated up front, or even discussed. Many law firms will gobble up a bunch of cases, to the detriment of the clients they represent.

We don’t do that. When we look at a case, we’ll tell you, in all honestly, whether we think there’s something that we can do. We’ll see if we can help you — and we’ll want to help you.

We handle a wide variety of personal injury claims. Personal injury is a big category of cases, spanning dog bites, automobile accidents, product liability (for example, airbags and fuel tanks that explode), medical malpractice, diminished value claims, electric scooter accidents, slips and falls, and more. We take on all of these types of cases. But, in order to perform well, we need to be honest with every client that we represent. We don’t take cases where we don’t think that we can benefit people.

We try to be a resource. We share lots of information with people. In the event that we can’t help prospective clients, we at least equip them with information they can take and move forward.

We don’t reject cases because of size. We don’t turn down clients because their case isn’t worth enough to us. We say, “Look, if we can’t provide a benefit to, and you can’t see a benefit, then there’s no reason you should be hiring us.” Honesty is the best policy.

Giving Back

Negretti & Associates has a charitable arm, called Negretti & Associates Making a Difference. Every year, we donate thousands of dollars to charities, both local and national. We partner with a different charity every quarter.

It’s really important to us as a firm to support these charities and do more than just write a check. While the money that we offer to these charities is incredibly important to them, so is the tangible work that we do. For example, we’ve had a partnership with a food bank, where we provided in-person volunteer work — filling bags of food, which we also delivered.

When a case reaches a conclusion, we offer our client the option to donate a certain portion of the settlement proceeds to the charity that we’ve partnered with during that particular quarter. When the client chooses to do give, we match the donation 100 percent.

After all, if the client is willing to forego some of the money that really was secured to make them whole — to put them back in the position they were before the personal injury — then we feel it’s only right that we match that. We’ll take some of the fees that we receive as the law firm and give those back to a charity.

While I do a lot of philanthropic work on my own, the Giving Back aspect of Negretti & Associates has been very important to us from the beginning. Over time, our charity mission has exploded. It continues to evolve and become even better each and every day.

If you have questions about your personal injury case, give Negretti & Associates a call. We’ll talk through your questions and make sure you walk away fully informed. For a free consultation with our legal team, contact us online, call us at 1-833-827-3535, or send us a text.

car accident claims - a wrong-way traffic sign

At Negretti & Associates, we’ve been handling car accident claims for many years. As prospective clients have approached us regarding legal representation, we have encountered a wide variety of misconceptions, myths, and bad advice about how to resolve car accident cases.

Let’s dispel those myths!

Myth #1: A traffic citation equals fault.

This is a common misconception. Traffic citations do not equate to fault.

In fact, the police officers who respond to a crash do not determine fault. They simply issue citations for committing a traffic offense, such as speeding. After evaluating the whole situation, the insurance companies involved will decide on fault. However, the insurance company’s decision is not final. Fault is really decided by a jury of your peers. Learn how fault is determined in car accidents.

You shouldn’t assume that you are in the clear just because the other party was issued a citation. Conversely, don’t think you are out of luck because you were issued a citation.

Myth #2: You don’t need to call the police at the crash site. You can just exchange information with the other driver.

This simply isn’t true. You should always call the police if you are involved in a crash. The police can be instrumental in helping to acquire information that will be necessary to pursue your car accident claim. Officers may also take photographs and document other evidence that could be utilized later on.

Parties involved in a crash may provide old, invalid insurance cards or licenses that don’t have up-to-date home addresses. People are less likely to do this with the police.

Myth #3: I need to give a statement to both insurance companies: mine and the other party’s.

Do not give a statement to the opposing party’s insurance company without the assistance of an attorney. This could be fatal to your case.

Here’s an example to illustrate this point. Negretti & Associates once had a client who called the other party’s insurance company and gave them a recorded statement. When asked how our client was feeling, he said of his party, “We’re fine.” His response wasn’t meant to indicate that members of his party weren’t injured. He was simply responding politely. The insurance company later refused to pay for our client’s medical treatment claiming that our client was “fine” right after the crash.

Further reading: How to talk to insurance claims adjusters after an accident.

Myth #4: If I just get a chance to tell my story, the insurance company will do the right thing.

Don’t ever give an insurance company the benefit of the doubt. If an insurance company can find a way to pay you very little — or not pay you at all — it will do exactly that.

Insurance companies increase their profits be denying, rejecting, and failing to pay fair value on car accident claims. Thinking you can convince an insurance company to do the right thing is like thinking you can trust a thief with your wallet!

Myth #5: Initial offers made by the insurance company following an accident need to be accepted — or else, they will disappear.

The initial offer from the insurance company is going to be the lowest offer that they will ever make to you. Accepting it would be a mistake. Notwithstanding, the insurance company documents the file with the offer that they have made and places a range of value on your case. The initial offer will never disappear. It would simply be foolish to take it.

Myth #6: I get to keep everything the insurance company is offering as a settlement.

If the insurance company makes a full and final settlement for your car accident claim, that settlement includes your attorney fees, costs, medical bills, health insurance reimbursements, and any other outstanding balances or loans related to your case. If the insurance company makes an offer to settle your claim, the real question that you should be asking is, “What is the net amount to me?” This will tell you what get to keep.

Myth #7: Insurance companies will make a fair offer to settle immediately after the accident.

The word “fair” is subjective. What is fair to one person is not fair to another person. At Negretti & Associates, our experience tells us that most insurance companies will offer roughly $500 to settle your car accident claim sight unseen. That may seem fair at the time, but let’s play that out. A day or two after you settle your claim for $500, you start to experience terrible back pain. That back pain wasn’t there before the accident. You go to the doctor to get checked out and after trying conservative treatment option, you are recommended for surgery. After your surgery, your medical bills total over $100,000. You owe most of those medical bills out-of-pocket. At this point, would $500 still sound fair to you?

Myth #8: You should definitely go to the ER — even if you are not injured.

This bad advice probably originated from personal injury attorneys that really don’t understand injury law. If you are hurt, you should go to the ER. If the first responders recommend that you go to the ER, you should probably go to the ER. What you shouldn’t do is take an ambulance to the ER for the sake of doing so. It’s a waste of time, money, and resources. However, the adrenaline of an accident can mask the way that you are feeling right after an accident. If you get home and start to experience issues, don’t be afraid to go to the ER to get checked out.

Myth #9: If you’re not that hurt, you shouldn’t hire a lawyer.

Imagine that you were going to go play kickball against a really good team. Would you show up by yourself? Of course not! You would put together the best possible team so that you can beat the other guys. The same logic applies here. The insurance company is an entire team of people looking for ways to avoid taking responsibility and paying you for your losses. Don’t go into that game without help.

Myth #10: You can’t resolve your property claim until you resolve your bodily injury claim.

We often get called with this question. You can resolve your property claim before your bodily injury claim. In fact, you not only want to, but the law may require this. When you are involved in a crash, you have a duty to mitigate your damages. This means that you have to take responsible steps to avoid running up bills. You can’t go rent a car for a year and expect the insurance company to pay for it — absent a really unusual circumstance.

Myth #11: I can determine the value of my case by “Googling it.”

Sure, the Internet is a terrific resource. However, the Internet can also provide you with some bad information. Some personal injury attorneys have created what they call settlement calculators for you to use. These let you plug in your medical bills and lost wages, and the calculator will spit out a case value.

Unfortunately, these calculators are wrong. They try to use a one-size fits all approach for personal injury claims, which are entirely unique.

Do you know who else uses a one-size-fits-all approach? Insurance companies!

Don’t trust these calculators and don’t rely on generic articles that may be published by the insurance industry telling you what your case value is. Instead, hire an attorney and talk to her or him about how case value is determined.

Myth #12: You only have 30 days to make a car accident claim.

You typically have two years to resolve your claim or file a lawsuit to protect your rights to bring a claim. There is no legal requirement that you have to make a claim within a certain number of days. It’s probably important to put insurance companies involved on notice of your intent to bring a claim, but this is a fairly easy thing to do.

Insurance companies like to tell you what you have to do and how much time you have to do it. Don’t let them bully you around. Have a conversation with an attorney to get proper advice on how to put people on notice of your claim.

Myth #13: You shouldn’t make a claim with your insurance company if you are not at fault.

Oh, unlucky Myth #13 … This myth reflects the biggest disinformation campaign we have ever seen! It makes politics seem like child’s play! This myth was started by insurance companies to stop people from making claims, which obviously cost them money.

Why would you purchase coverage to use in the event of a crash, but then not use it if you have a crash? This makes no sense! Your insurance coverages are there to help you in the event that you have a crash.

Your insurance company might make it tough for you to use your coverages, but this doesn’t mean that they aren’t available to you. In fact, there are laws in most states that prevent your insurance company from raising your insurance premium if you make a claim and you are not at fault for the accident.

Myth #14: The insurance company will pay all of my medical bills.

As stated above, insurance companies are only interested in one thing: keeping their money. An insurance company will not pay all of your medical bills. It is more likely to argue that the treatment that you received was unnecessary and that the billing for your treatment was unreasonable. In other words, it will contend that your medical provider charged too much.

At Negretti & Associates, we have experienced situations where insurance adjusters have told people that they will pay all of their medical bills, only to turn around later and refuse to make payments.

Don’t get trapped by an insurance company! Rely on an attorney to help ensure your medical bills are paid.

Myth #15: Personal injury claims resolve quickly.

Injury claims take as long as they need to. This ensures that the injury claimant is fairly compensated for what has happened to him or her.

Of course, the insurance company will be happy to pay you fast — as long as you are willing to take a huge discount on what you are owed.

But, ultimately, the claims process should not be rushed. You only get one bite at the apple, so to speak, so resolving a claim too quickly could result in leaving compensation on the table.

When you hire an injury attorney, he or she will be as interested as you in resolving things expeditiously. Your attorney won’t get paid until you get paid.

Any good injury attorney will tell you to be patient, allow your medical treatment to play out, and don’t hurry to the finish line.

Myth #16: I don’t have health insurance, so I can’t get medical treatment.

Whether or not you have health insurance, there are always treatment options available to you, regardless of your ability to pay. If you find yourself in a crash and don’t have health insurance, you can still go to the ER and you won’t be turned away. If you need follow-up treatment, give Negretti & Associates a call, and we’ll give you some recommendations. Don’t suffer through your injuries thinking that you can’t see a doctor because you don’t have health insurance.

Myth #17: When I sue, I’m suing the insurance company.

Wrong! Incorrect! When you file a lawsuit related to your crash, you are suing the person who caused the crash. The insurance company of the person who caused the crash will hire and pay for an attorney to represent that person. The insurance company is still very much involved, but you are not suing it directly.

No one wants to sue or be sued. A lawsuit is borne out of necessity. It’s important to remember that the insurance company is forcing everyone into court — not the injury claimant (the plaintiff) or the person who caused the crash (the defendants).

Myth #18: You are “being greedy” when you ask for money to pay for your injuries.

You are not being greedy when you ask for money to pay for your injuries. Rather, you are asking to be made whole for what happened to you. This is your legal right.

Our judicial system is not an eye or an eye. We provide monetary justice. You get paid for what happened to you. You are allowed to recover, in the form of money, what you lost. It’s not supposed to be a windfall. You don’t win the lottery. That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less.

You are not being greedy if you hire an attorney and pursue a claim. To the contrary, you are being smart.

Potential Myth #19: My past medical history has nothing to do with my current claim.

We would love to say this is a myth, but it remains a possibly true, on a case-by-case basis.

Your past medical history may not have anything with your current claim. However, if your injuries stem from prior issues, there may be a need to disclose parts of your past medical history. This can be a tricky situation. Having an experience injury attorney on your side is extremely important here.

What you don’t want to do is sign blanket authorizations for the insurance company and let it dig into your medical history. Not only are there privacy issues at play, but the insurance company is likely to point the finger at things that they find and say that your current injuries were not caused by the crash.

Potential Myth #20: I was a passenger in my friend’s car. Do I have to sue my friend?

This, too, remains a possibility — and not necessary a myth. Yet, this attitude reflects a misunderstanding of how things work. If you friend was at fault for the crash, then yes, there is a possibility that you will have to sue your friend to resolve your claim. But remember, as stated above, the insurance company for your friend would be the culprit here. If they would be fair and compensate you accordingly, there isn’t a reason to sue anybody.

If you have any questions regarding your car accident claim in Arizona, California, and Colorado, Negretti & Associates will be happy to help you find answers. For a free consultation with our legal team, call us at 602-531-3911 in Arizona, 619-777-3370 in California, or 720-636-3444 in Colorado. You can also contact us online or send us a text.

negligence law definition

To arrive at a negligence law definition, we must understand four core negligence elements, which are as follows:

  1. Duty
  2. Breach
  3. Causation
  4. Damages

To bring forth a negligence claim as a plaintiff, your case should have all four elements.

Let’s look at each of the negligence elements in greater detail, in the context of automobile accidents.

Duty means that people have a legal obligation to act as a reasonable person would. In other words, individuals are required to take reasonable care when they are out and about. In automobile accident cases, it is considered one’s duty to drive a vehicle safely, as a reasonable person should.

Breach of duty occurs when one is not driving a vehicle safely — whether it’s speeding, following someone too closely from behind, or turning left on a red light. Driving this way is breaching one’s duty to operate reasonably and use reasonable care.

Causation is when one’s breach of duty results in injuries or damages to another person.

Damages may include property damage, bodily damages, and pain and suffering.

All of these elements factor into a negligence law claim.

When a Determination of Negligence Is Unclear

Well what happens when you don’t have such a clear line of argument regarding the breaching party’s behavior? In such situations, it is important to look at two different types of evidence: circumstantial evidence and direct evidence.

I’ll use an example that stuck with me from law school, that I still think about today. (Thank you, Professor Sanders!) To explain the difference between circumstantial evidence and direct evidence in the context of negligence, let’s imagine that you wake up in the morning and everything is wet outside.

Circumstantial evidence suggests that it rained last night. You actually didn’t see the rain fall. You didn’t hear the rain fall. However, because everything is wet outside, you can draw the inference that it rained.

Direct evidence would be you watch it rain and then see everything get wet. This direct knowledge of the event enables you to affirm, “I saw it rain. That’s why everything got wet.”

The reason it’s important to understand the different types of evidence is because you can’t always a draw a direct line to the person that may have caused the harm.

Res Ipsa Loquitur and the Case of the Falling Flowerpot

Let’s imagine you are walking down the street and a flowerpot from an apartment above falls off the ledge and hits you in the head. There’s really no explainable reason why that would have happened.

negligence elements

Let’s look at how negligence elements apply to this example:

  • Duty: The person in the apartment who put the flowerpot on the ledge had a duty to operate in a reasonable manner. This does not mean they can’t put a flowerpot out on the ledge.
  • Breach: Where did the apartment dweller breach the standard of care? Well, probably in not securing that flowerpot in a way that it couldn’t fall from the ledge.
  • Causation: The flowerpot falls off the ledge because it is not secured.
  • Damages: The flowerpot lands on your head, causing you bodily injury.

Here, we can talk about the legal theory of res ipsa loquitur, which is Latin for “the thing speaks for itself.” We can use this concept to infer negligence in this case. We have circumstantial evidence to prove that the apartment dweller failed to secure the flowerpot.

A flowerpot is not supposed to fall by itself onto a sidewalk where people could be walking. At the same time, it is foreseeable that people will on the sidewalk below the flowerpot, traveling to and fro.

We can establish that the flowerpot is the reason for causing bodily harm. Ultimately, however, it is the apartment dweller who is responsible for the harm done. He or she did not properly secure that flowerpot and allowing it to cause the damage to a passerby below.

Res ipsa loquitur. The thing speaks for itself.

Negligence Elements in a Retail Setting

I want to use a third example from one of my actual cases to illustrate a negligence law definition in the real world.

I once represented a gentleman who was shopping at a big box retailer. When he reached up to select an item from the shelf, he reached over his head, tipping a box toward him. My client was unaware that debris was on top of that box. As the box tipped, debris cascaded down, into his mouth, causing him to ingest some of that debris.

It turns out that the debris included glass shards. Having swallowed glass, my client was immediately transported to the ER, where his stomach was pumped. Afterward, he was monitored for potential issues for a few days.

We had the task of proving how glass got onto the box and why the big box retailer would be responsible for the glass falling into our client’s mouth.

Here, we once again find the concept of res ipsa loquitur — the thing speaks for itself. That glass should not have been present on the box when our client pulled it from the shelf. The falling debris is what caused the damages.

See Jonathan Negretti’s video podcast episode on the topic of negligence law definition and negligence elements.

As we investigated the scene of where the client was pulling down this box, we found light bulbs above it. Our concept was there was a possibility that light bulbs go out from time to time. As they are changed, bulbs may break. Perhaps an employee was on a scissor jack or a ladder changing lightbulbs, and set them atop the the box, for the purpose of finishing what they were doing. Perhaps the employee intended to come back and clean the mess, but may have forgotten and left the debris on top of that box. That is exactly the theory of res ipsa loquitur.

Key Takeaways

In negligence cases, it’s not always easy to point to the bad actor and say, “Oh, you hit me,” “You mopped that floor right there and left it wet without a wet floor sign,” “Your dog bit me,” or “You have a product that’s defective.”

As an attorney, while working through a case, you often find yourself returning to the core elements that comprise the negligence law definition. You have to be able to prove that the bad actor had a duty. You have to be able to prove that there was a breach of that duty. You have to go prove causation. You have to prove damages.

You may not be able to point directly to the defendant’s actions, but you certainly can infer their responsibility. In turn, you can infer that the defendant’s breach of that standard of care caused damages and injuries to the plaintiff.

If you have questions about negligence, give Negretti & Associates a call at (602) 531-3911. We’ll talk through your questions and make sure you walk away fully informed.

A Guide for Attorneys

electric scooter accident claims collecting evidence

In this series on electric scooter accident claims, previous articles explored how fault is determined in scooter accidents, as well as themes commonly found in scooter companies’ user agreements. Here, we’ll conclude by sharing insights regarding collecting evidence related to a case, what you might be asked to provide after initiating a claim, and what you can expect to encounter during the claims process.

As we discuss evidence collection in this article, we should be mindful that scooter accidents can spiral into many directions. Scooter claims can be incredibly complex. Scooters can fail, riders can run into cars, and cars can run into riders.

For the sake of simplicity, we will confine this discussion to product liability — scooters that have malfunctions, resulting in rider injuries. This is the territory of product liability claims, where the scooter company is the defendant in a case. We will focus on what happens when a scooter company is responsible, and what remedies attorneys and their clients have available to them.

Evidence Collection

When working on an electric scooter accident claim, attorneys frequently encounter the problem of evidence collection. In a scooter accident case, the critical piece of evidence is the scooter that was involved in the client’s accident.

Locating and obtaining the client’s scooter can be extremely challenging for two reasons.

  • First, rental scooters are in a state of constant turnover. They’re routinely put into, and taken out of, circulation by companies and individuals who work on behalf of scooter companies as contractors. Scooters are used, collected, recharged, and put back on the street.
  • Second, because they’re constantly in use, scooters do not last long. A review of scooter usage in Louisville, Kentucky in late 2018 showed that the average lifespan of a shared scooter was just 28 days.
  • Third, it’s common for injured scooter riders to contact attorneys about their accidents well after their accidents have occurred. By the time you’re contacted, the defective scooter may have been serviced and put back into circulation multiple times.

With this said, when you’re working on a scooter accident claim, your evidence can disappear very quickly. If a scooter is damaged or involved in an accident, a scooter company might try to find that scooter through the GPS, remove the scooter from circulation, repair it, and redeploy it.

Finding the Scooter

As an attorney, knowing that you are working against the clock, how can you gain access to the scooter?

For starters, you should send a preservation letter to the scooter company, just as you would in any other personal injury claim. Send the letter by certified mail, FedEx, or UPS, so that you can track your letter and ensure it was received.

From there, be sure to identify the date and time of the ride. Ask your client to give you that information. Ask to see their app. Sometimes, ride information can be downloaded. Scooter company apps are generally good about saving all of this information. You can certainly take screenshots of the rides’ dates and times, and try to memorialize that information, so you have documentation of when the ride occurred, where the scooter was picked up, where the client rode it, and where it was eventually dropped off.

Photographs of the scooter after the accident also can be helpful. Especially useful are the identification numbers on the front of the scooter — right above the front wheel — or the scooter’s QR code. That information can help track the scooter’s current location.

Maintenance Records

Keep in mind that many, if not all, of the large scooter companies now collect robust data on their inventories. Therefore, it’s not impossible to determine whether a repair was performed on the scooter involved in your case.

Scooter companies most likely will have maintenance records on the scooter your client used. However, they will not turn these records over to you until you arbitrate and have subpoena power through the arbitration process. If you ask them to preserve their records, they may be available to you when you need it.

Witness Statements

Witness statements are critical to pursuing electric scooter accident claims. We’ve had a lot of claims come to us in which people were riding with their friends, but no one remembers exactly what happened, and no one actually saw the accident. Sometimes, the injured rider is behind the group when he or she falls, or encounters a dangerous condition. In these instances, there’s no viable statement that can be provided by any witness.

With this in mind, it’s critical to know who was with the rider at the time of the accident. Did anyone see the accident? Sometimes, the accident can be captured on video. Surveillance video is almost everywhere now. Do what you can to locate sources of surveillance video, which will be extremely helpful in explaining what happened and how injuries occurred.

Most of the time, when people are injured by some sort of accident that occurs on a scooter — unless it involves an automobile or maybe another person or something to that effect — people do not call the police.

Many of the potential claims we receive are single-rider accidents. People are injured because of a faulty brake or wheels; sometimes, they hit a pothole and go end-over-end. These types of accidents do not warrant police reports. For this reason, you cannot rely on police reports to be the saving grace that gets you the information you need as an attorney to pursue these claims.

In sum, the client will have to do much of the hard work regarding documenting the accident, so that you can assemble a clear narrative and make an adequate claim for the injured rider.

When you pursue a claim, it will be fairly common for scooter companies to respond with a request for a set of information, including:

  • Your client’s name and address, along with the username or email address associated with client’s account. This way, the scooter company can verify that your client rode a scooter at a given time.
  • Your client’s date of birth and Social Security number. As a matter of practice, at Negretti & Associates, we do not reveal our clients’ Social Security numbers. We may disclose the last for digits, for indexing purposes.
  • Medicare and Medicaid disclosure forms.
  • A description of the injuries, along with medical bills and health records.
  • A statement of loss — an account of what actually happened and how it happened, including photographs of the loss itself or the injuries to the rider and any witness information.

After providing this information, you’ll most likely be contacted by the scooter company’s insurance carrier. They will seek to have a conversation with you, asking to confirm the indexing information listed above.

Failure to Warn and Manufacturing Defects

All user agreements have one thing in common — they have detailed disclaimer language that says that the scooter company is not responsible to the rider if he or she is injured. The language shifts the burden to the rider to be responsible for any injuries suffered while on a scooter. According to these disclaimers, the rider assumes risk. The rider is expected to understand how dangerous scooters can be. If you’re hurt as a rider, it’s not the scooter brand’s fault, and you won’t have a claim.

This considered, if disclaimer language shifts risks upon the rider, how do you bring about a claim?

When you’re pursuing a claim against a scooter company, you’re essentially making a product liability claim, under the theory of failure to warn or the theory of manufacturing defect — potentially in the capacity of a design defect. This is where you can pinpoint negligence on the part of the scooter company.

Regardless of the complexity of scooter companies’ user agreements, or whether these agreements shift the burden of risk upon the rider, there remains the question of whether people are being properly educated when they’re agreeing to use scooter apps.

To their credit, some companies have videos showing you how to ride their scooters properly, while others encourage wearing a helmet. (Notably, they don’t require helmet use, even though local and state laws might mandate that riders must wear helmets.)

Still, there may be gaps in these tutorials. They may not address how to use the scooter’s brakes or mention how wheels may be too small to negotiate curbs and potholes on city streets. When you take everything into consideration, you’ll find that riders may not receive comprehensive tutorials about scooter usage.

The Mindset Required to Pursue a Claim

If there’s any one thing that I’ve learned from my experience in dealing with scooter claims, it’s that you have to be really diligent in your approach. You have to be really smart about your investigating style and how you look for evidence.

Likewise, you have to set reasonable expectations with your client. This may require a very up-front, candid conversation about how complex and difficult scooter claims are, because of the nature of scooter companies’ user agreements.

Ultimately, be aware of what you’re up against. You’ll find that scooter companies are willing to be fair. They really want people to enjoy their scooters, and their hope is that people will do so without incident. Scooter companies and their representatives will demonstrate a willingness to engage with you and have a conversation.

You may find that they are willing to resolve a case with you, through arbitration or litigation. That might be what you and you and your client want.

Conversely, you may get into a situation where this claim cannot be resolved without litigation or arbitration, without some sort of legal remedy. If you find yourself in this situation, give Negretti & Associates a call. We’ll talk with you about what we’ve dealt with in the past and share our playbook to help you. At the same time, if you want to get us involved to try to help you and your client, we’re happy to do that as well. Call us at (602) 531-3911.

A Guide for Attorneys

electric scooter accident claims user agreements

This article is the second piece of a three-part series on electric scooter accident claims. In out previous article, we outlined how fault is determined in scooter accidents. We’ll resume this discussion by taking a closer look at the role of arbitration in dispute resolution, as well as themes commonly found in scooter companies’ user agreements. The third article in this series surveys evidence collection following a scooter accident.

While we this has been written with fellow attorneys in mind, we hope that everyone can benefit from this article — especially if you ride electric scooters frequently or have been injured while riding an electric scooter.

Topics that we cover in this article include:

Getting Started: Arbitration Provisions

At the outset of an electric scooter accident case, it’s smart to carefully study a scooter company’s user agreement. It’s common for scooter companies to make their agreements available on their sites. Examples include:

  • Bird
  • Lime (includes Jump scooters; Jump was an Uber brand prior to August 5, 2020)
  • Skip
  • Wheels

Generally speaking, these agreements contain arbitration provisions that typically require scooter companies to be put on notice of a plaintiff’s intent to arbitrate. The rider’s party must comply with the terms of the agreement in order to elect for arbitration.

This process isn’t as simple as making a claim with the scooter company’s claims department or customer service team, who would put your case in the hands their legal team and start the arbitration process. At the plaintiff, you have to meet the terms of the agreement. Sometimes, doing so is a matter of sending a letter, by certified mail, informing the company that you’ve elected to arbitrate a claim, and you’re going to rely on that provision in the user agreement.

Statutes of Limitations and Accelerated Claim Deadlines

Scooter companies’ user agreements may have language about the deadline that you have to bring your claim. In the legal profession, this is commonly known as the statute of limitations, which specifies the number of years that a plaintiff has to bring a claim.

Statutes of limitations vary by state. For example, in Arizona and California, the statute of limitations is typically two years for a personal injury claim. In Colorado, it’s two years, as well, but cases involving car accidents are afforded three years to be brought forward.

Keep in mind that some user agreements accelerate the statute of limitations to up to one year. In fact, in one agreement we recently encountered, the scooter company stated that it had to be notified of the injury or accident within six months of its occurrence. The claim needed to be started in that timeframe in order for the rider to have any remedy available to them. This is another reason why attorneys should read user agreements carefully.

With this said, we should note that it’s not uncommon for injured riders to contact attorneys well after their accidents have happened, asking assistance. They may try to submit claims themselves, only to learn later that their claims have been denied. Some riders are so preoccupied with treatment for their injuries that they don’t have the opportunity to consult with an attorney. This is perfectly understandable.

Arbitration Jurisdictions

Be sure to study a user agreement for language detailing the jurisdiction where arbitration will occur. Arbitration will utilize the laws and rules that are germane to that jurisdiction. Many scooter companies have corporate headquarters in California.

Imagine that you were to bring a claim against Bird, which is based in Santa Monica, California. Bird’s user agreement requires that arbitration will occur in the Los Angeles area, unless the parties agree otherwise. As an attorney, to bring that claim, you will need to be licensed in California.

Now, assume that your client were injured in Arizona while riding a Bird scooter. You could abide by the terms of the agreement and move to arbitrate, only to quickly learn that you are being subjected to the rules of procedure and rules of evidence as they relate to California, and you don’t have the ability to practice in California.

At Negretti & Associates, we receive calls from attorneys looking for us to either take over their cases or just take them from the beginning. Some firms lack experience dealing with scoter cases, while others may be unable to practice in certain jurisdictions. Since Negretti & Associates is licensed in Arizona, California, and Colorado, we have the ability to practice in those three jurisdictions. Most of the arbitration cases that we’ve led have occurred in California, and we use our California license for that work.

Differences in Laws Between Jurisdictions

Attorneys should also be mindful of laws in which claims may be adjudicated. Many user agreements have binding arbitration provisions that put claims in California, where a case law — Howell vs. Hamilton Meats & Provisions — says that the injured party can be compensated on paid medical charges, not billed medical charges. That’s a big difference from what our clients see in personal injury cases in Arizona and Colorado.

To illustrate, suppose that an accident-related hospital bill may total $30,000. If your client is Medicare eligible, Medicare may pay $3,000 of that bill. In California, where this claim may be arbitrated, you can ask the arbitrator for only $3,000 related to your hospital bill. All you get is dollar-for-dollar. If there is a recovery, your client may have to pay back Medicare for what Medicare paid.

In Arizona, the landscape is different. If you were to bring a claim involving a $30,000 hospital bill, and you get compensated on that, you may still have to pay back Medicare the $3,000. However, there remains a difference of $27,000 that can go towards resolving the claim — your client’s pain and suffering. Some of the things that allow you to get these claims resolved don’t exist in the way that the laws are constructed in California.

Be aware of these differences. They can be disheartening. Lawyers have called us at Negretti & Associates explaining that they have clients with more than $100,000 in medical bills. If the case is against Bird, in California, the dollar amount of medical bills does not matter. We only want to know what the paid charges are — what was paid by health insurance, whether it’s private or a public health insurance, such as Medicare or Medicaid. If the injured client was paid significantly less, then we’re dealing with those amounts, rather than the billed amounts.

People often look at medical bills and the severity of the injuries as a foundation to valuing claims. It’s easy to get caught up in $100,000 in medical bills. That doesn’t necessarily equate to a $100,000 claim. Depending on what is paid by health insurance, the claim could be significantly less.

Updates to User Agreements

While scooter companies’ user agreements have many things in common — such as arbitration provisions — they have many differences. Not only are there differences between scooter brands’ agreements, but one company’s user agreement can change significantly over time. Keep in mind that user agreements may be updated often.

With that said, the user agreement that your client may have clicked on and agreed to a few weeks ago could be different than the user agreement that’s available online today. If you’re looking for the user agreement that was in place at the time of the accident, as you engage in arbitration, you can specifically ask for it, through discovery. This is the version that your client is bound to.

It can be helpful to compare the version that your client agreed to with the user agreement that’s online now. Scooter companies will not highlight the changes for you. You’ll have to go through both documents and carefully compare them. You’ll want to see what language has been added and why it’s been added. As you read, consider possible reasons behind the changes.

At Negretti & Associates, we’ve used some of those additions to argue that scooter companies have known about things that they did not address in the older versions of user agreements. Only through the experience of litigation, arbitration, and handling more claims did these companies adjust their agreements’ language. In the past, they may have known that their scooters were dangerous. They may have been aware of an issue with an element of their service, but failed to disclose it.

Too Long and Complex for Riders to Understand

The terms of service that scooter companies use are sometimes difficult to understand. As attorneys, even we have some difficulty unpacking these! They are written in a very convoluted way. They’re what we call adhesion contracts, because you really have no way to negotiate their terms. Riders have no way to actually say, “Well, I disagree with this, but I agree to that.”

In a scooter company’s adhesion contract, if you disagree with something, then you shouldn’t ride the scooter!

What’s more, these contracts can be very long — perhaps dozens of mobile pages long. It is absurd to think that people will scroll through all 60 mobile pages of convoluted legal language before unlocking and riding a scooter, especially when they’re out on the town with friends. This is partly why scooter companies are creating user agreements that are so difficult to read and so long. They are hiding provisions in these agreements that people are never going to fully understand or review before riding.

Problem is, riders have to use their mobile phones to unlock scooters and ride them. They have to have the app installed on their phones.

This is where litigation can come into play. If you have a complicated case, you may want to look at the length of the user agreement or the level of difficulty in understanding and interpreting the user agreement. There may be a case to litigate, about whether the user agreement actually applies. If a court were to rule that the agreement doesn’t apply, your client in turn would not be bound to arbitration.

We’re not suggesting that because a user agreement says you’re bound to arbitration, that you should automatically arbitrate the case. You may have to look a little closer. There may be an opportunity to argue to a court whether the contract actually applies. At this point, you’re dealing with contract law. You’re not litigating the underlying personal injury claim, you’re litigating whether the contract, itself, applies to that underlying claim. Do all of the provisions apply, or can some provisions be stricken? If there is no user agreement, you may be able to bring the case to the court where the accident occurred.

Dangers Not Properly Addressed

One of the other arguments that we’ve made is that a lot of these scooters are being deployed in high-traffic entertainment zones, where there are numerous bars and restaurants.

Prior to COVID-19, at the beginning of 2020, people were out and about, dining at restaurants and going to bars and clubs. It was common for riders to hop from one bar to the next on a scooter, rather than hiring an Uber or Lyft driver.

The argument we’ve made is that it’s extremely dangerous and overly enticing to put these scooters in areas where people are going to be drinking — engaging in activities that are going to be distracting — and expect them not to use these scooters, when they’re right in front of them.

Most scooter firms’ user agreements have language that states that you shouldn’t ride scooters while intoxicated. Unfortunately, most people don’t see this language until it’s too late. Riding a scooter while intoxicated is no different from riding a bicycle or driving while intoxicated: you should not do it. However, it’s understandable why a rider may walk out of a bar in an area where there are a lot of bars and clubs, and not really think about the realities of whether you can safely ride while intoxicated.

We think the scooter companies have some responsibility here, simply because they station their scooters in these areas.

Scooters can be locked at any time by scooter companies. There’s geofence technology — a GPS barrier around an area where riders cannot travel, where scooters do not work. Scooter companies have easy access to scooters’ locations, which they can monitor that. They can police where their scooters go.

A scooter company can argue, “We didn’t leave the scooter in front of the bar, the last rider did. The last rider brought it into the off-limits zone.” We disagree with this. The scooter company has the technology to simply disable that scooter, and you have to walk it within a geofenced area. Further, they have the capability to lock all the scooters at 10 p.m., midnight, or 2 a.m., to prevent rides involving users who have been drinking.

It’s an argument that we’ve used in the past. You can access the technology through discovery. You can depose engineers, project managers, and decision makers. They will admit on the record that they have the technology to prevent scooters from being parked outside of bars. They’ll make excuses why they don’t do these things. Regardless, they have the technology to do these things.

Part Three in This Series: Evidence Collection

In the upcoming third — and final — installment of our series on pursuing electric scooter accident claims, we’ll review methods that attorneys can employ for collecting evidence.

If your law firm has questions about scooter law, give Negretti & Associates a call at (602) 531-3911. We’ll talk through what we’ve dealt with in the past and give you our playbook to help you. At the same time, if you want to get us involved to try to help you and your client, we’re happy to do that, as well.

A Guide for Attorneys

electric scooter accident claims arbitration

This article is part of a three-part series that has been designed for the legal community, to outline the complexities of pursuing electric scooter accident cases. Additional articles discuss themes commonly found in scooter companies’ user agreements and evidence collection following a scooter accident. That said, we hope that the general public finds this helpful, as well — especially if you are in a situation where you’ve been injured on an electric scooter.

Electric scooters are everywhere. You see them for rent on city sidewalks — near parks, bars, and restaurants. Depending on where you are, you may see scooter brands like Bird, Lime, Wheels, or Jump. Scooters are typically rented for short rides, as an easy and fun way of getting around.

The growing popularity of scooters is undeniable. Their advocates — along with city officials and urban planners, alike — have hailed electric scooters as a key piece of the so-called “micromobility revolution.” They argue that scooters are helping to alleviate traffic congestion by taking lane-clogging, air-polluting cars off urban streets. This translates into reduced need for parking spaces and more opportunities for pedestrian-friendly areas.

All of this is well and good. But, as more riders have switched to scooters to get around downtowns and suburban neighborhoods, the number of scooter-related accidents has increased in lockstep. We’re seeing a lot of broken arms, clavicles, and legs — as well as facial injuries — related to these accidents, as riders jump or are thrown from their scooters and brace themselves for impact.

Years ago, scooters were initially deployed without any sort of real regulation or oversight from the governments. Prior their arrival, laws and city ordinances simply didn’t address their use. Local governments were blindsided by how they proliferated along sidewalks.

Today, cities and states are slowly starting to catch up to the potential negative consequences that scooters can cause on city sidewalks, bicycle lanes, and streets. City councils are putting laws and regulations into place to protect their citizens from injuries that may be sustained on these scooters.

At the same time, we’re learning of discussions about whether scooter companies should be required to carry a certain level of insurance for each and every scooter rider. Conversations are happening about whether insurance can be provided by third-party carriers, so that riders can opt into purchasing coverage prior to their rides.

How Fault Is Determined in Scooter Accidents

There are many misconceptions about how fault is determined in electric scooter accidents. No matter what, fault is not determined exclusively by scooter companies or these firms’ insurance companies. Nor is fault determined solely by scooter riders — or city governments, or the police.

Let’s dispel some myths:

  • Companies such as Bird, Lime, Wheels, and Jump have insurance carriers that may say that they are the party that determines fault. Insurers can produce reports about the likelihood of a case’s outcome if it were put before a third party — such as an arbitrator or jury. However, insurance companies do not have final say regarding fault. It is not their decision.
  • Cities are typically indemnified by scooter companies if someone is injured on a scooter while riding on a sidewalk, bicycle lane, or a city street.
  • While police officers can issue citations for wrongdoing based on laws, they cannot determine fault.

Most commonly, the final say over who is at fault is a third-party arbitrator or potentially a jury of peers, who will render a verdict in a case regarding fault. It is possible that comparative allocation — or percentage of fault — can be a part of the verdict. In other words, the arbitrator or jury can rule that a scooter company may be 80 percent at fault, and the rider may be 20 percent at fault.

To understand how disputes of fault between parties can be resolved in electric scooter accident claims, it’s important to carefully review scooter companies’ user agreements, which commonly have arbitration provisions.

The Role of Arbitration in Electric Scooter Accident Cases

The most well-known electric scooter companies use arbitration provisions in their user agreements. These state that, in the event that a rider wishes to bring claim against the scooter company, the predetermined way is through a third-party arbitrator, rather than a court.

Arbitration is a little different than going into a courtroom. Instead of presenting your case before a jury, you usually deal with one arbitrator. Sometimes there may be a panel of up to three arbitrators. It’s really an informal courtroom procedure. You present your case in the office of an arbitrator office, who acts as a judge, in some regard.

After presenting your best case as a plaintiff, and the defendant presents its best case, the arbitrator makes a final decision. He or she will make a determination on how laws are applied, how contractual terms are applied, and then, ultimately, whether the rider or plaintiff is entitled to any sort of damages.

Rules of evidence and procedure still apply in arbitration. Depending on where a case is being arbitrated, these rules may be a little bit different.

Arbitration is binding. In other words, after a decision is rendered, you cannot appeal to a trial court. The decision is final; parties have to live with the decision. Scooter companies’ insurers are bound to arbitration decisions, as well. If an arbitrator were to award a plaintiff damages, the insurance company would have to pay for those.

Arbitration is something we’re seeing more frequently in agreements in which people enter into some sort of contractual relationship. In fact, there was a pretty tremendous injury claim in Texas — Phillips v. Neutron Holdings, Inc. — that was litigated against Lime’s parent company, Neutron Holdings. Although the case was litigated in the Texas courts, Lime moved to have the case dismissed and wanted to compel the plaintiff, the rider, to arbitrate the case.

Up Next

The next article in this series will discuss scooter companies’ user agreements in depth. We’ll explore what attorneys should look for in these user agreements, and how versions of agreements can offer clues that shed light on companies’ awareness of product liability.

If your law firm is working through a scooter accident case and has specific questions about scooter law, give Negretti & Associates a call. We’ll be happy to talk with you about what we’ve dealt with in the past and give you our playbook to help you. At the same time, if you want to get us involved to try to help you and your client, we’re happy to do that as well. Call us at 602-531-3911.

See Jonathan Negretti’s full interview with attorney Jonathan O’Steen, which was conducted as part of Negretti & Associates’ Legal Beagle Podcast.

Jonathan “Jon” V. O’Steen is an incredible trial attorney who has advocated for injury victims for the past 15 years. Recently, he assumed the position of president of the Arizona Association for Justice (also known as the “AAJ,” and formerly known as the Arizona Trial Lawyers Association) — the largest group of plaintiff’s trial attorneys in the state of Arizona.

As part of Negretti & Associates’ Legal Beagle Podcast, Jonathan Negretti had a virtual visit with O’Steen to learn more about trial work, what AAJ is doing to help the community, and what he thinks is the biggest threat to plaintiff attorneys. Below is an excerpt of their conversation. See the video above for the full interview, and visit to learn more about O’Steen’s work.

Jonathan Negretti: Jon, do you love to win or hate to fail more?

Jon O’Steen: I remember reading Andre Agassi’s autobiography, Open — and if you haven’t read it, I’d highly recommend it. But one thing that really struck out to me in that book was his statement that the losses stung far worse than the joy that he experienced from wins.

Jonathan Negretti: Other than Agassi’s book, what other books would you recommend that every trial attorney read?

Jon O’Steen: My favorite book is Polarizing the Case [by Rick Friedman]. I read that book before every trial.

Jonathan Negretti: Who do you admire in this profession?

Jon O’Steen: Geoff Trachtenberg would be probably at the top of my list. He has built a tremendously successful practice, which in and of itself is challenging. But I look at what he has done generally for the community. It’s pretty inspiring what he has done to make this a better place.

Jonathan Negretti: How do you respond to people when they call injury attorneys “ambulance chasers?”

Jon O’Steen: I just laugh. You know, I think people are quick to criticize attorneys until they need one. I’ve yet to have a client tell me that I’m an ambulance chaser.

Jonathan Negretti: Can you tell me a little bit more about Arizona Association for Justice — its mission and your ascension to the role of president?

Jon O’Steen: What we’re out to do is preserve the right to a jury trial and ensure that people who are harmed by the wrongdoing of people, corporations, and governments have a civil justice system that is prepared and equipped to meet their needs.

One of the things that I really appreciate about the civil justice system is that it is the one area where a person who doesn’t have resources and doesn’t have an education can stand toe to toe with the biggest of corporations in the world. That doesn’t happen in our other branches of government.

At the end of the day in Arizona, we’re going to be judged by eight jurors in our civil justice system. And I think that one of the things that’s really scary for corporations is that they don’t have the control. They can’t buy off a politician. They can’t buy off a judge. They can’t buy off the jury.

Jonathan Negretti: Do you believe in the good of a jury?

Jon O’Steen: Yeah, I think that juries can be a little more predictable than we give them credit for, and my experience with jurors is that they want to do the right thing.

Jonathan Negretti: What are some mistakes that you see young attorneys making?

Jon O’Steen: I think the biggest mistake that young attorneys will make from time to time is being somebody who they’re not. I think it’s important to really hone your skills and understand what your personality is and embrace that when you go to trial.

Jonathan Negretti: When you ask a jury for a big verdict, how have you made it less awkward to talk about money?

Jon O’Steen: I think any time you’re asking somebody for money, it’s an awkward situation. You have to be comfortable at it, though. If you’re nervous when you’re asking for that money, a jury is going to recognize that and they’re going to attribute things to your nervousness that may not be legitimate, like, “He’s asking for too much money because he’s nervous.” It is something that ultimately you have to be comfortable with.

Jonathan Negretti: Finish this sentence for me. The biggest challenge facing personal injury attorneys today is …

Jon O’Steen: A recent change to our ethical rules that will allow non-lawyers to own law firms. The idea was sold to the public as being necessary to expand the availability of resources to underprivileged or underserved populations in Arizona. I simply don’t agree that allowing non-lawyers to own law firms is what’s going to solve that.

The reality is that the person who lives in Kingman, Arizona, is in a bad situation, and has a potential claim against his landlord — those aren’t the cases where hedge funds want to jump in and provide assistance to.

social media in personal injury law cases

A new documentary recently came out on Netflix called The Social Dilemma. I highly encourage you to watch it. After I saw it, I began to reflect deeply on how social media is everywhere and it is really tough to get away from it. I also thought about how social media intersects with personal injury law — the area of law that I specialize in, where I have the majority of my experience.

I thought that now would be a good opportunity for me to offer my take on social media in personal injury law cases, from an attorney’s perspective. Although I’m writing this article with my law colleagues in mind, I’d like to emphasize that this article is intended for everyone else — the general public. Regardless of whether you’ve been in an accident recently, it’s important to remember the impact that social media participation can have on a legal case.

Social Media in the Discovery Process

There is a rule in every state where a lawsuit is filed that allows the opposing party to request disclosures. The umbrella term for this is discovery — where parties engage in trading information.

In personal injury law, as a part of the discovery process, it’s common for the opposing party to ask for a disclosure about the injured party’s social media accounts.

Many people do not realize this. In fact, you might be wondering Why would my Facebook page have anything to do with my case?

Here’s why: Imagine that you’re in a personal injury case. To prove that you have been injured, your attorney may be required to disclose medical records and related documents, in an effort to illustrate the severity of these injuries.

Character witnesses might be called upon, as well. These are the people who can talk about how well you were before the accident and how you are today, after the accident. An example would be Jonathan’s friend saying the following:

Before the accident, Jonathan could golf all the time, without issue. He played on a regular basis. After the accident, he can’t even swing a club, because it hurts his lower back too much. He’s lost something that he really loves doing.

This is a statement that is better coming from a character witness than from the injured plaintiff. In my own experience as an attorney, I’ve noticed that it’s better to have a third party explain changes in the injured person’s activities.

Let’s think about this from the standpoint of the defendants in a case — not just the other person named in a case, but also with that person’s insurance company, defense attorney, and potentially others. The defendants can ask for information in an effort to verify statements made about injuries and the effect of those injuries had.

What people don’t realize is that defendants can request information, through discovery, that includes social media. After all, where are people most active about their daily lives? On social media!

Social Media Extends Further Than You Might Think

In personal injury cases, attorneys need to be careful and ensure that their clients are, in fact, really losing their ability to perform activities. You would not want to be in the situation that Negretti & Associates faced a few years ago, when our client told us, “I love hiking. But I can no longer hike because of the injury to my leg.” But, as we looked at the client’s Facebook pages, we saw bunch of hiking photos spanning the last few months. As a plaintiff’s attorney, this sort of thing makes your client look terrible. They lose all credibility.

The growth of social media has exploded in a billion fragmented directions, touching every aspect of daily living. Yet, it goes far beyond more than just the few sites or apps that we might think of off the top of our heads, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Attorneys should consider every possible “social” profile that a client might have.

Consider these examples:

  • If you are currently single and you’re dating, your dating apps could be considered social media. If you have a profile on a dating website or app like Tinder, and it talks about things that you enjoy doing and things that you can do, it would be odd to testify in your case that you can no longer go dancing. But your dating app that says one of your favorite activities is dancing. These two things do not match and that is not good if you are going to bring a claim for a loss of an activity like dancing.
  • Imagine that one of your favorite activities is cooking and baking. You enjoy sharing images of your newest creations and explaining how you fine-tuned your recipes. If you say you can no longer cook, or you have lost your love for baking, your active Pinterest use can work against you. Be honest about how you’ve been affected.
  • If you like to ride your Peloton bike at home using the Peloton app, this can fall within the boundaries of social media, as well. You may ride with a lot of your friends on Peloton, accept their challenges, and participate in all of the good-natured fun that comes along with competition. However, if you’ve been injured and you’re telling the defendants that you can’t ride your Peloton anymore because of pain or discomfort, then you probably shouldn’t be on the Peloton app, and you shouldn’t be logging rides. If you can ride, then don’t say that you can’t ride.
  • LinkedIn, even though it’s business-related, is still social media. If you’re claiming that you have cognitive deficits — you’ve seen a neurologist, you’ve been diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury, you’re receiving treatment, you’re not able to see straight, and you are constantly frustrated with headaches — but you’re all over LinkedIn, posting different articles or sharing information to help fellow colleagues, those two things may not match up that well in your case.

Whether you’re a personal injury attorney or someone who is involved in an accident, it’s not a good look to be stating that you’ve lost the ability to do certain things and tell the opposite story on social media. If you really have been injured, then your social media should match those claims. Our advice would be: don’t be on social media during your personal injury case. Things can be misconstrued and misinterpreted.

Honesty Is the Best Policy

Ultimately, personal injury attorneys want their clients to be honest about how their accidents have affected their lives.

I’m a plaintiff’s attorney through and through, with every ounce of blood in my body, but I am not about people lying, and I’m not about people overstating what’s going on with them.

People lying and overstating their injuries are part of the reason that conspiracies have evolved in our industry — that every plaintiff is a liar and insurance companies never want to pay. A cyclical, self-reinforcing dynamic, between plaintiffs and defendants has grown over time:

  • Every defense attorney who I’ve ever talked to thinks that every plaintiff overstates his or her injuries and losses.
  • Meantime, simply because plaintiffs have overstated their injuries and overplayed their hands, insurance companies have become trained to believe that everyone does this.
  • Because insurance companies do not want to pay someone fairly for what has happened to them — even if the injured person is being completely reasonable — plaintiffs feel like the industry is out to get them.

What can an attorney do to break this cycle and debunk myths about exaggerating injuries and losses?

Be more transparent. You have to be willing to share information if you are going to take your case into litigation.

In personal injury law contexts, I have encountered extreme viewpoints about social media. Some have the impression that it’s best to go completely dark, in order to eliminate any possibility of having to disclose their social media postings. This is along the same lines of thinking as keeping Alexa out of one’s house, because we know Alexa is listening. Others may feel a need to be more reserved about their injuries in social media, in an effort to not overstate or overplay them.

Here’s what I would say: Just be honest about your injuries. If you’re injured, you’re injured. If you can’t ride your Peloton bike, then don’t ride your Peloton bike. If you can’t bake, or don’t want to — because you injured your hand, it hurts too much, and there are too many accommodations that you have to account for — then you probably shouldn’t be pinning your cooking photos to Pinterest.

Before you post something to social media, ask yourself the simple question: Would this look okay to someone else who may be evaluating the sufficiency or the seriousness of my injuries?

Remember, if your injury has prevented you from doing something, your claim has to be proven in some way. You have to prove your injuries by providing evidence. That’s the only way that the trier of fact — the jury that all of us get to be a part of — is ever going to believe that you really suffered those injuries.

Social Media Disclosures for New Cases

At Negretti & Associates, we have a social media disclosure document that we require all clients to sign at the beginning of their cases. It simply states that we are advising you to stay away from social media while your case is ongoing, so that you don’t send a red flag to the defendants that they should be looking into your social media accounts. If you do that as an attorney, it puts you in a much better place.

Granted, there may be some instances where the client has already made posts about their accident and resulting injuries. In these cases, we advise clients not to delete their posts, because that could be considered destruction of evidence.

One possible solution is to make your account private. There’s nothing wrong with doing that. Remember, if insurance companies and defendants as a whole figure out that you have these channels, they can certainly request them through that process of discovery. You can help to avoid this by making your account private.

Likewise, we encourage clients not to “friend” new people during the pendency of their claims. When accounts are private, avoid granting profile access to unknown users. This avoids the risk of friending people that could be part of the defense team.

There are now companies that can be hired to run social media backgrounds on people that make claims on injured victims. I’ve seen the reports. They are comprehensive. It may not just be an insurance adjuster who’s digging around trying to find information on your Facebook. It certainly could be an entire team of people who are looking into every aspect of your life — including this blog.

I hope this information benefits my clients, and in no way causes any sort of distraction or disruption in their ability to bring a claim.

Bottom line, if you’ve been involved in an accident and you’ve suffered a personal injury, be aware that social media is far more encompassing than you probably think it is.

should i call my insurance company after an accident

This article is the third of a three-part series on car insurance. The first two articles in this series are State-Minimum Car Insurance Is Not Enough and Full-Coverage Car Insurance Is a Myth.

At Negretti & Associates, we are asked frequently, “Should I call my insurance company after an accident and it wasn’t my fault?” People often worry that if they use their car insurance, their rates are going to go up.

We tell everyone uniformly that yes, they should contact their insurance companies. There are laws in every state that prevent insurance companies from raising your rates if you are not at fault for an accident and you dip into your own policy. That would be penalizing you for using the policy that you pay for — and contrary to logic. More important, it cannot happen by law.

Regardless, many people live under the impression that they shouldn’t use their insurance, because their premiums will go up, and their insurance providers will seek to recover the amount of the previously filed claim.

Dark Realities and Seedy Underbellies

While all of the above is true, there is a dark reality that you should be mindful of. I have worked with insurance companies long enough to know how the insurance industry works. I have heard countless stories from people who have not been at fault for accidents, and all the sudden there is rate review of their premium, or they are denied coverage the next time their premium comes due.

In essence, the insurance carrier doesn’t want to cover them anymore. This isn’t necessarily stated anywhere in the claim file that this change was due to an accident claim. But it becomes quite clear that this is what is happening.

There is a seedy underbelly in the insurance industry that does do these sorts of things to affect policyholders in the event that claims are made, whether they were at-fault in a claim or not.

You Paid for the Insurance, So Use It

Knowing that your insurance company might eventually raise your rates should not discourage you from making your claim. You buy insurance for a reason. If you have the insurance, use the insurance. Don’t be afraid at all. If you have the right coverages, I would not tell you to avoid using your insurance coverage, because of this fear.

If your insurance company tries to raise your rates, go to a different insurance company. There’s a lot of choice out there. I would not hesitate for a second to bounce to a different insurance company if they raised my rates. If I didn’t cause an accident, and all the sudden they’re playing games to try and claw back some of the money that they’re paying out due to a claim, find another provider.

I’ve had enough of these stories come through our office, and we’ve talked to so many people about this issue. While the law is clear about what insurance companies can’t do, it is quite difficult to prove that an insurance company actually raised premiums directly because of a previous accident claim. They will never admit anywhere, in writing or over the phone, why your rates went up. They’ll offer you a billion reasons, but they’ll never make it about the claim you made.

It would be very coincidental that you all the sudden have a rate increase, because you filed a claim against your insurance. I don’t believe in coincidences.

Be Prepared to Switch

If you are planning to file a claim with your insurance company, you should be prepared to switch insurance carriers. Now might be a good time to reach out to an insurance broker, to start comparing insurance policies and rates.

Don’t forget that you have choices! Don’t wait for your policy to come up for renewal. You can change your coverage at any time.

If this article has spared any questions about your insurance or a claim that you’ve made, don’t hesitate to call our office at 602-531-3911.

full coverage car insurance is a myth

This article on full-coverage car insurance is the second of a three-part series on car insurance. The first article is State-Minimum Car Insurance Is Not Enough. The final article in this series is Should I Call My Insurance Company After an Accident?

There is no such thing as “full coverage car insurance.”

Full coverage car insurance is a vague and arbitrary term that really doesn’t mean anything. What seems like full coverage to one person may be minimal for others.

Ask your friends or family what kind of car insurance they have, and they’re likely to say one of two things. Either they’ll say, “I have minimum coverage” — which is what a state mandates you to carry, in terms of coverage — or “I have full coverage.” Usually, there’s no in-between.

When the term came into common usage years ago, it served as a generalized way to speak about having different coverages such as collision and comprehensive insurance in one’s auto insurance policy. Collision insurance covers property damages that you, as a driver, might incur upon another driver’s vehicle, if you were to cause an accident. Comprehensive insurance is property damage that occurs in situations that don’t involve a crash, such as wildfire or a tree falling on your car during a bad storm.

Put Down Your Full Coverage Car Insurance Calculator

When you really think about all possible accident outcomes, is there ever a situation in which you can be entirely covered in full?

Let’s just use the most obvious example — one that’s really quite hard to imagine. Suppose that you’re in a car accident and you kill the other driver. There is no way to purchase a policy that would be commensurate with the loss of a life. You can’t say, “I’m fully covered. If I kill someone, I have enough insurance to protect myself.”

How do you value a human life? It’s really hard to put a dollar amount on the other person’s life. From a legal restitution standpoint, it’s well into the seven figures — possibly eight figures and beyond. And if a car accident resulted in multiple fatalities? Commonly accepted ideas about full coverage assuredly do not take such scenarios into account.

So, if you’re conducting an online search for a full coverage car insurance calculator, stop right now. Put the topic to rest and move along. You can only have a level of insurance coverage that would be considered adequate or sufficient. Think instead about coverage that you think is sufficient for your financial position and how much coverage you would need in the event of a terrible accident.

Think About Achieving Adequate or Sufficient Coverage Instead

How do you decide how much car insurance to buy? Start the analysis by asking yourself, “How much coverage do I want to carry to adequately protect myself, to make sure that I’m not personally responsible for paying for injuries and damages out of my own pocket?” In other words, ask yourself how much insurance can you purchase so that you will never have to write a check out of your personal bank account, to pay for damages that may happen if you cause an accident.

Your analysis may start with questions such as, “Do I own home? Do I have a business? Do I have things that could be in jeopardy if I cause an accident, and I don’t have enough coverage to protect me, and then the person I harmed comes after me personally?”

Whether you have a lot of assets or feel as if you don’t have much to protect, you will still want to put yourself in a position where you are protecting others in the event that you cause an accident. That is truly a matter of civic duty and personal responsibility, regardless of your financial position. You can still purchase more car insurance than the state minimum.

Fact is, you can get good coverage that projects you in the event that a very bad accident were to happen. If your state-minimum insurance is $15,000 in per-person bodily injury liability coverage, try asking your insurance broker or insurance carrier to give you a price for 10 times that amount, or $150,000. Compare the price of that coverage with the state-minimum, and most likely you’ll find that they difference in price is not significant, especially when parceled out as a per-month cost.

UM, UIM and Umbrella Coverage

You can also look into uninsured motorist coverage (UM), underinsured motorist coverage (UIM), and an umbrella policy that would kick into effect if the underlying coverages are insufficient. UM is designed to protect you when another driver lacks insurance. UIM protects you when the other driver has an inadequate policy limit, such as the state minimum. One recommendation is to purchase UM and UIM in the same amount as your liability insurance. In other words, if you’re going to purchase a bodily-injury liability policy of $100,000 per person, per accident, purchase a UM and UIM policy in the same amount to protect yourself.

Umbrella coverage is an extra layer of liability coverage that kicks in when your underlying coverage limits are met. Remember, medical expenses can reach seven-figure amounts. In an event when the other driver does not have enough insurance, umbrella coverage ensures that you have additional protection. You can have anything from $1 million to $5 million in umbrella coverage.

Bottom line, you don’t want to experience a very bad crash and then wish you had the right amount of coverage after the fact.

My Idea of Adequate Car Insurance

In closing, I would like to share my car insurance coverage limits to show you that I put my money where my mouth is. I wouldn’t encourage you to do something that I don’t do myself!

  • $500,000 Liability Coverage (to protect others)
  • $100,000 Property Damage (to fix someone else’s vehicle)
  • $1,000,000 Umbrella Coverage (to protect others)
  • $500,00 UIM/UM Coverage (to protect myself and passengers)
  • $1,000,000 Umbrella Coverage on UIM/UM (to protect myself and my passengers)
  • $50/day rental reimbursement (for a rental while my vehicle is being repaired)
  • $5,000 Med Pay (for medical expenses related to a crash)
  • Comprehensive and Collision Coverage (to repair my vehicle)
  • $500 deductible

Regardless of how much coverage I have, I would never say that I have full coverage car insurance. Instead, I will tell you that I have what I consider to be sufficient coverage — or in alignment with my financial position.

Next time you shop for insurance, remember that there are many good people out there who can guide you on how policies work and what coverage they recommend for you. Insurance brokers, in particular, can be a great resource. I like using a broker, because rather than obtain quotes from multiple insurance companies separately, the insurance broker can collect quotes for you. By looking at coverage limits and prices from multiple insurance companies, you can confidently make an educated decision.