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James Cool
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Two-Car Accident on Christmas Eve Sends Three to the Hospital. What Those Involved Need to Know….

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Anchorage, Alaska—KTTU news reports that on Wednesday, December 24, 2008 a two-car accident closed the southbound Seward Highway ramp at O’Malley road for over two hours. The accident occurred when the driver of a Volkswagen Beetle attempted to turn onto the Seward highway from O’Malley road and was struck by oncoming traffic while crossing over to the opposite lane of the highway. Three people were sent to the hospital including 41-year-old Laura Sims and her two children ages 7 and 10. Ms. Sims and her 10-year old daughter were treated and released. As of last report, her 7 year old son remained in the hospital with critical head injuries.

We hope that the boy is recovering from his injuries quickly and that everyone involved is okay. We wish everyone a speedy recovery from their injuries.

It is also important to note that the cause of this accident had not been determined at the time this story went to press, however there have been an “unprecedented” 4 fatalities resulting from car accidents in December in Alaska. The Alaska Troopers are urging everyone to slow down in these dangerous, wintry conditions. Whether snow/ice is determined to be the cause of this accident or not, it is absolutely critical that everyone pay extra attention when driving on icy/snowy roads. The posted speed limits are merely guidelines and maximum speeds under ideal circumstances. Conditions such as snow or ice often necessitate you traveling at a speed below the posted speed limit. It’s also critical that motorists understand a concept known as “the basic speed law.” This essentially says that a motorist may only travel as fast or slow as is reasonably prudent under the circumstances. In other words, even traveling below the speed limit can be a violation of the law and your duty to other motorists under sufficiently dangerous conditions. Please take a moment and visit www.slowdownalaska.org to learn more about staying safe on wintry Alaskan roads and everywhere else.

For everyone involved in the accident, please remember:

(1) The Statute of Limitations for personal injury and death claims in Alaska is normally two years (AS 09.10.070). This means that you have two years to assert any claims you might have in court or they may be lost forever. A failure to bring the claims within the statute of limitations period (2 years) gives the other party an automatic defense to whatever claims you bring and may cause you to lose the right to compensation, no matter how severe your injuries may be.

(2) If you were a driver or passenger in either of the vehicles, your insurance policy may be available to cover any expenses from any injuries you sustained in the crash. If you were a passenger in a vehicle, the driver’s auto-insurance may cover your expenses. Additionally, if the driver of the vehicle you were in has a med-pay provision in their insurance policy, that may also be available to cover your medical expenses. Obviously, if the Alaska State Troopers determine who is at fault, the insurance carrier for the party at fault may be available to cover some or all of your expenses and to compensate you for your injuries. For more on this, please see #3. Finally, even if the driver(s) of the other vehicle(s) are uninsured or not adequately insured, then your or your driver’s under/uninsured motorist coverage may cover any shortfall. If any of the drivers were driving a vehicle other than their own, the vehicle owner’s auto-insurance policy may cover you as a driver of the vehicle. To sort out the mess of determining whose insurance covers what it is recommended that you contact an attorney who handles auto-injury cases as soon as possible.

(3) Seek out the incident report from the Alaska State Troopers ASAP – and consider hiring your own investigator (Visit here for information on obtaining reports. It may already be too late to determine the exact conditions of the road or other helpful information, but the sooner you can collect evidence from the scene where the accident happened, the more valuable it will be.)

(4) Contact an attorney to help you ASAP. Depending on the circumstances you may or may not have a viable claim. However, it is critical that you speak with someone who can properly advise you of all of your rights. For more information on finding an attorney you can contact Ward Merdes for a referral at the number below or you can contact the Alaska Bar Association for a free lawyer referral at 1-800-770-9999, or visit the National Board of Trial Advocacy website at www.nbtanet.org.

(5) Please remember that any statements you make to the police or to your, or anyone else’s insurance company may be recorded and later used against you. For this reason, it is imperative that you speak with an attorney. Additionally, your attorney will be able to handle your discussions with your insurance company without exposing you to any unnecessary problems and can advise you of how to best obtain compensation for any injuries you sustained in the crash.

While you are certainly free to contact Mr. Merdes at 866-735-1102 Ext. 455, this is not a solicitation or legal advice. This is offered as information to the parties involved. No matter who you contact, just be sure to hire an attorney who has handled cases like this before.