Should I Sue My Mother If I Was Injured In A Car Accident and She Was At-fault?

Personal Injury Attorney Ben Schwartz answers a viewer’s question on whether she should sue her mother if she was injured in a car accident and her mother was the at-fault driver.

Hi, I’m Attorney Ben Schwartz,

Today we’re going to answer a question from Josephine in Baltimore, Maryland. Josephine wrote-in, she said essentially, she was in a car accident. Her mother was driving, checking her text messages and ran off the road and caused the crash. Josephine was injured and went to an attorney. The attorney said if you want to get a settlement you’ve got to be prepared to sue your own mother. Josephine wants to know what you think about that. I will tell you what I think about that; I think it’s a shame. You know, I have a lot of empathy for people who have been injured in an auto accident due to the negligence of another individual whether it’s your mother or a stranger, family member, or someone you’ve never met before.

I have a lot of empathy if you’ve got medical bills that you’re trying to get paid or you’ve got lost wages. Maybe you’re unable to pay your rent, maybe you’re unable to pay your mortgage, or your car payment, or put food on the table. If you’re out of work after a serious car accident, I have a lot of empathy for you if you’re in that situation. I have a lot of empathy for you if you’re in this situation where the at-fault driver is a family member or a close friend or your mother. Josephine, I think it’s a terrible situation to be in, but at the same time, it’s an interesting question because it illustrates the difference between form and substance.

Oftentimes in the law, there is a difference between form and substance & here’s what I mean by that. In form, if you’re going to pursue a claim for your injuries, in form, you’ve got to file a lawsuit and you’re going to name the at-fault driver. The lawsuit is against the at-fault driver in this situation and unfortunately, the at-fault driver is your mother. So, it sounds terrible, it looks terrible, you know, it’s embarrassing I’m sure. But if you’re going to pursue this in form, you are suing your mother. In substance however, that’s not what this is. If your mother had insurance on the vehicle, what you’re doing is you’re really making an insurance claim. Because your mother’s insurance company is going to pay whatever settlement you get if you go to trial and a jury awards you damages, or a judge awards you damages. Then the insurance company is paying for that award.

Should I Sue My Mother If I Was Injured In A Car Accident and She Was At-fault?

If you file a lawsuit and your mother has to be represented by an attorney, her insurance company is providing her with a free attorney. So you see, in substance you’re not really going against your mother. In substance, you’re going against your mother’s insurance company. In form, however, you’re going against your mother, so there’s a difference.

Of course, the folks at the insurance company are very happy about this. When we, in my legal practice handling cases for people who have been injured in accidents, when we contact the insurance company and ask them to pay for things like medical bills and lost wages and compensation for pain and suffering when the form of the case is that our client would have to sue a family member they chuckle at us. They take advantage of people by trying to eliminate settlements, by trying to deny settlements or reduce what is paid in many cases. So this is really something that benefits the insurance companies. Whether that is fair or unfair, I’ll let you make up your own mind.

I’m interested to know, if you are watching this video, if you’ve now heard about Josephine’s situation, I’m telling you as a personal injury attorney, this is a situation that comes up quite often. What would you advise Josephine to do? Would you sue your own mother is what I’m really trying to ask.

Please leave us a comment & let us know how you feel about this situation. Let us know what your analysis is. I do these videos and I ask people to leave comments and sometimes we get some of the best comments. We get some of the most insightful comments. So, if you have a thought or an opinion on this, leave a comment on the video and let us know what your view is.

Folks I’m Attorney Ben Schwartz, thanks for watching this video. Hopefully, you found it to be informative or something interesting to think about. If you have questions for me like this, please feel free to send me an email. Thanks for watching!

Delaware DUI Defender Lawyer

Should I sign a release with a confidentiality clause in it?

Attorney Ben Schwartz explains why insurance companies ask the injured party to sign a release with a confidentiality clause in it.

Hi, I’m Attorney Ben Schwartz,

Today we’re going to answer a viewer question from Jennifer in Smyrna, Delaware. Jennifer wrote-in. Essentially, she says that she settled her car accident personal injury case on her own. The at-fault drivers’ insurance company wants her now to sign a release that has a confidentiality clause in it. It says she can’t talk to anybody about the fact that she got a settlement or how much money she got from the settlement and is that normal?

The answer is no, that’s not normal. Normally when we see car accident personal injury cases, when we see the releases coming from the insurance company for that settlement there is no confidentiality clause.

Once in a while, very rarely, we see a confidentiality clause and/or we will see a non-disparagement clause. So, a confidentiality clause is something that says you’re not going to say anything negative about the defendant; about the at-fault party who paid you money.

There are reasons why the insurance companies and the defendants would want these things. There’s no real reason I can think of why an injured plaintiff would want it. I would suggest that you ask the insurance company to take it out. If it’s not something that they’re paying you extra money for, it’s not something that belongs in the release. So, I would ask for them to take it out or if they don’t want to take it out, ask them how much more they are going to pay you to secure the confidentiality or to secure the non-disparagement agreement.

I’m attorney Ben Schwartz. If you have settled a personal injury case but you haven’t yet signed the settlement documents and you want a lawyer to review them like Jennifer and Smyrna, I’ll be more than happy to take a look at your settlement documents at a free consultation.

If you have had an accident and you have settlement documents, you know when you look at those documents and you think to yourself this is highly complicated and it’s not something that a normal person would read and understand and be able to digest, that’s true.

I just want to say, not that I’m trying to advertise to you, I just want to say that’s why you get an attorney from day one. In a car accident or slip-and-fall or other personal injury cases. I’m attorney Ben Schwartz, thanks for watching this video. Hopefully, you enjoyed the video. Hopefully, you found it informative and interesting. If you have questions for me about the law, personal injury law, personal injury litigation, etc. Send me an email, thanks for watching.

Should You Take Out a Workers’ Comp Claim Loan?

Attorney Ben Schwartz talks about a workers’ comp claim loan and predatory lenders in the Shivani case.

I am attorney Ben Schwartz,

Today we’re going to do a quick video about lawsuit loans. A case came out of the industrial accident board just last week and I’m very excited about it. The case is called Shivani Inc. versus Global Financial Credit LLC. We’re gonna link to it in the show notes so you can read it for yourself if you like.

Essentially this is a case where a woman made a workers’ comp claim. She took a lawsuit loan that was supposed to be repaid from the proceeds of that workers’ comp claim if she won or settled it. The industrial accident board said that it doesn’t fly in Delaware. You can’t assign your right to receive benefits to some lawsuit lenders. So I just want to take a minute to do this quick video and let people know about this, let attorneys in the area know about it; let consumers know about it.

If you have a pending workers’ comp claim, you know this is something you aught to know about as well. But, just to talk about it and get the information out there and get people thinking about this. I’ve done a good number of videos over the last couple or a few years about predatory lending and lawsuit loans. It is something that we see in my legal practice. You know where we’re representing someone who is legitimately injured in an accident whether it’s an on-the-job accident or a car accident or a slip-and-fall or something else and the clients will often come to us and say, “I need money. I’m going to get a lawsuit loan, will you help me fill out the paperwork?”

We tell them this is just a terrible idea (and) these are predatory lenders and the amount of interest that they charge is astronomical. In this particular case, this lady got a $1,000 loan. By the time she would have paid it back, it would have been almost $4,000. So, I just think that people don’t understand the nature of these lawsuit loans. People don’t understand concepts like interest and figuring out what the actual interest is on a loan like this.

You know, I just think if you’re an attorney, you have an obligation to your clients to warn them about these types of predatory lenders who prey on accident victims. If you’re a consumer, you should know about this just to keep yourself safe because this can truly harm you and it can harm your case as well.

I’m attorney Ben Schwartz, check out the decision in the show notes below. You can read it in PDF format there. We will link to it. If you have a question, leave us a comment and we can take up your question in a future video. Thanks for watching!

Shivani Inc. v. Global Financial, No. 1442616 (Del. I.A.B. Sept. 6, 2018)

Dr. Steven Grossinger – Ben’s Car Accident with Concussion

Attorney Ben Schwartz conducts an interview with Dr. Steven Grossinger. They discussed a car accident Ben was in and the effects of obtaining a concussion as an injury from the auto accident.

Hi, I’m Attorney Ben Schwartz,

Ben: Today I have a special guest, Steven Grossinger. Dr. Grossinger is a neurologist, he’s a physician and medical doctor and he sees a lot of my clients in auto accident and workers’ compensation cases. A lot of the clients in my law firm, other attorneys as well in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and throughout the state of Delaware.

I asked Dr. Grossinger to come on and do a video with us today because I want to talk about something that happened to me a number of years ago. You know the story Steve, essentially, I was in a car accident. I was on I-95 and another driver who was driving a pickup truck and going way too fast, way over the speed limit, crashed into the back of my car. I got my car under control, there were no major lasting injuries but one of the things that I found really strange was that after I got the car pulled over, I could not find my cell phone. The police officer handed me his cell phone so that I could call someone to let them know what happened and I just couldn’t remember phone numbers. The memory just wasn’t there. I want to ask you, what’s your take on that Steve?

Dr. Grossinger: When there’s been a situation where there can be a head injury or concussion, there can be problems that arise right at the time of impact. In your circumstance, you’re in a car, you’re by yourself, it can be difficult to know the nature of the trauma.

You were hit forcibly from behind, a big vehicle hit another vehicle, one that was traveling at a high speed, so there are forces involved. Sometimes one might hit their head on the steering wheel or the windshield and it’s pretty clear. In other situations, our head gets driven back into even a nicely padded headrest. Still, we have to recall that our brain is floating in cerebrospinal fluid. Basically, in a fluid within our skull. The skull is like a hard box, the brain is soft and it’s floating. When there’s a sudden change, either being hit at a great force or suddenly stopping, the brain may still be driven into the hard aspect of the skull.

When you mention that moment there which ended up being an evaluation of your ability to concentrate by the police officer handing you the phone and you’re trying, on the spot, to remember a number. It makes me also think of on an athletic field, a high school student, a football player has a concussive episode and there has been more attention given to the on-the-spot assessment.

The bottom line is if you’re not necessarily stressed, it might have been a circumstance where there wasn’t a police officer there and giving you a task that required you to have a concentration in memory. You might have carried on and gone about your regular routine and maybe not be clear whether there could have been a concussion.

The classic presentation of a concussion is when the head is struck whether being hit by something like a baseball bat or in trauma like a car accident where there’s a sudden change or whether it being hit abruptly or stopping abruptly. There may be loss of consciousness, someone passes out. If someone were in the car with you and they saw that you look like you were asleep for a period of time and then awoke, then it’s pretty clear that there’s a concussion.

There clearly is a grey zone where there is no direct head contact. There is no loss of consciousness, but there may be problems such as headache, dizzy feeling, being just a little foggy and out of sorts, having problems with memory and concentration, being dizzy, having a change in vision. There can be even just like an emotional change where your family members realize that your fuse is shorter; you are irritable.

These are things when there’s been a concussion. It means that trauma has affected the brain in such a way that it is not functioning properly. So, after you’ve had an accident and if you do develop headaches which are different than what you’ve had. You find that your ability to think clearly, you try to text your family members and realize that it, you know today we don’t remember phone numbers as we were forced to when we were younger, but still, there are various tasks that we need to do. Trying to compose an email or a text, you might find it’s hard to put the words together. Talking, it may be hard to find the words.

So, after a traumatic incident you want to be mindful, has there been a change? Have you developed a headache? Do you feel like you are off-balance? Is it hard to focus your vision? Do you feel like your sleep has been thrown out of whack? Often in a circumstance like this, there’s a pain in other parts of your body that can be somewhat of a distraction.

Of course, the neck is definitely vulnerable. Just the anatomy of having the weight of our head, about 3 pounds, on our neck and then with there being a sudden force, you can get the classic whiplash-type effect. But again, I bring up that you may be suffering from pain in your neck, your back, your arms or legs, on top of the head-related symptoms, headache, troubles concentration and memory.

So, if you find that you have had an accident and you have some of these problems, you do want to bring it to medical attention. I think after an accident, naturally, no one expects it to come. I think you want to hope to just get back to normal and get back to your job, get back home. If you are bruised or bleeding, it’s pretty clear that you want to head for medical attention. But you know, I think if you have a question of, do you lose track of time? I mean is it hard to remember where you’re coming from or where you were going? Does someone on the scene point out to you that things were happening that you don’t have a recollection for? Do you suddenly become aware and realize that there’s an ambulance there already so that time has transpired?

I had a patient recently who was working in a plant and was struck in the head and went to the emergency room soon after. He said he did not believe that he had a loss of consciousness. As it turned out, they had video of the incident and he was out cold for more than a minute. So, you don’t know what you don’t know and it’s better safe than sorry. In many situations, after this, you may be fine just letting some time go and a week or two symptoms may resolve.

But there are circumstances where there can be persistent issues. I mean in a situation of an accident that’s no fault of your own, as a medical provider we want to be sure that we’re covering all bases medically, not missing anything. We do want to document the extent of the injury. Is it necessary to do further testing when the head has been hit significantly in such an accident as we’ve discussed.

There is some potential for bleeding or bruising within that brain that may require testing at a hospital or emergency room, a CAT Scan or MRI to be certain that there’s not more involved than that there appears to be. It may be a circumstance where it seems safest the same day of the accident to go directly there. It’s not uncommon to wake up the next morning and realize you thought you’re okay, but you may have a bad headache or other aching.

I think when in doubt, it’s nest to at least get some kind of screening whether it be today Urgent Care, your primary care physician, emergency rooms. You don’t want to overlook it. I mean clearly if you’re not able to really function properly, you notice it’s hard to feel confident behind the wheel or doing the things we do every day like typing a text or writing an email, reading the newspaper, watching TV, they have trouble keeping track of things, does your spouse or family member say they told you something that you forget soon after.

So, there are various signs and I think just point to the necessity to just get some further assessment. When in doubt let your family doctor or maybe a family member, just say you realized you’re not quite yourself and maybe put the onus on a spouse or friend to be sure that you get the wheels turning to the proper assessment. There are some circumstances where one may look okay but really be out of sorts.

Ben: That’s excellent information, again I’m Ben Schwartz. This is Dr. Steven Grossinger and we’re signing off. If you have questions about concussion please get in contact with us, we’ll get you hooked up with Dr. Grossinger and get you all better. Thanks for watching.

Dr. Grossinger: Thank you.

Dr. Grossinger – Concussion after Auto Accidents and Workers’ Compensation Injuries

Attorney Ben Schwartz interviews Dr. Steven Grossinger on the topics of  concussion and traumatic brain injury.

Hi, I’m Attorney Ben Schwartz,

Today I’m going to take an interview with a good friend of mine, Dr. Steven Grossinger. Dr. Grossinger is a board-certified neurologist, I think you’re actually dually board-certified also.

Dr. Grossinger: Double board-certified in Pain Management as well.

Ben: That’s right, the term is double board-certified.

Dr. Grossinger: Certifiable.

Ben: Certifiable too, aren’t we all. I want to thank you first off for taking time out of your schedule to do a video with me. Here’s my question, here’s the topic that I want to shoot this video about today. You know I see a lot of people in my office who have been injured in car accidents, work injuries, things like that. They go to their doctor; you know perhaps they go to their doctor because after their accident their shoulders are really killing them. So, they end up going to an orthopedic doctor for the shoulder.

They come to see me in my office, I’m not a doctor, I’ve got no medical training whatsoever and they tell me things like, when I’m sitting in front of my computer it’s very hard to look at the screen for any period of time. They tell me things like I’m not sleeping at night. They tell me things like, it’s hard to go outside if they don’t have their sunglasses. It’s hard to drive because everything seems so bright.

I want to know what’s your take on that, what should somebody like me, a personal injury lawyer, what should somebody like me do when we’ve got that client in the office and they’re talking about these sort of classic concussion symptoms of a traumatic brain injury?

Dr. Grossinger: I think if the individual is frustrated enough that it is impacting their life, they do bring it to your attention, it is best that they have an assessment to try to get some objective evidence of what is going on. With a concussion, there’s been an injury to the brain which is reflected in the abnormality of function. I think that if something is that frustrating, it has a clear onset after trauma. If I were to see someone in the office, I take a detailed history and then conducting an examination, there may be features on the examination that I can document and will lead to appropriate further workup. There may be eye movement changes, coordination changes, doing a screening evaluation of mental status with memory concentration, executive function.

So, I can do a screening consultation that may point to the benefit of brainwave testing or further imaging. They may have had a CAT Scan in the emergency room or not, and an MRI may be appropriate. There are computerized assessments. So, the bottom line is when someone has had symptoms that are frustrating that started after trauma, that does involve the head, it may be that the rotator cuff tear shows up writing the MRI report that does get the main attention of the treatment.

But you hate to overlook, on various levels from the patient’s well-being, wanting to document the extent. I mean someone has had a problem that’s no part of their own and we want to try to document the full extent. I think when there are symptoms that include a change in concentration, not change in function that are frustrating beyond the problem that may stand out, such as a broken bone or something. That is worth, I mean at least getting the primary care and to do some documentation.

I’m more than happy, you know, better safe than sorry. I mean there are many ways that I and my staff, can help be sure that things are being evaluated and we can also guide some treatment approaches, some simple, some more complex that can improve the outcome and quality of life and level of satisfaction.

Ben: So, what’s the, in terms of treatability, what if someone’s got a torn rotator cuff in their shoulder, they go to an orthopedic surgeon, the surgeon can do surgery to stitch that rotator cuff tendon back together. Then typically I see them in the office afterward and in the weeks and months after that surgery, they’ll regain full, if not nearly full function of the shoulder.

What about a concussion? I see a client in the office and they’re giving me sort of these classic concussion symptoms, is that something, if it is truly is diagnosed as a concussion, is that something that’s treatable as well?

Dr. Grossinger: Various aspects may significantly benefit from treatment. It may be as simple as nutritional changes, some lifestyle changes, to possibly prescribed medication. There are various therapies now from vestibular therapy for balance problems, ocular therapy for visual problems. It may be that I might steer someone to seeing a psychologist who can get someone peace of mind because they’ve has a change and they’ve been anxious or depressed. Post-traumatic stress obviously is an important thing and is obviously a real entity that should be documented and does have specific treatment approaches.

Ben: Very good, I just want to say thank you very much.

Dr. Grossinger: My pleasure.

Ben: I hope folks that are watching this video, I sense that a lot of the people that watch my videos on here tend to be attorneys like me handling personal injury cases, handling auto accident cases, work injury cases, slip and fall cases, etc. So I just want to say I have a lot of gratitude for you taking time to sit down with me, shoot a video that I think is informative, that I think will be helpful to other attorneys not necessarily medical professionals but attorneys who see folks in the office who have these types of complaints.

Folks, I’m attorney Ben Schwartz, if you have a question for me, please feel free to send me an email. My guest today was Dr. Steven Grossinger and if you want to get ahold of Dr. Grossinger, I think your website is DrStevenGrossinger.com? Folks can learn more about you on that website or contact you directly if they have any questions. Thanks for watching.

Dr. Grossinger: Thank you.