What to Pack in Your Car’s Winter Safety Kit

What to Pack in Your Car’s Winter Safety Kit

Like it or not, winter is here in northern Illinois. Winter means snow, and while it can be magical watching the snow fall while you’re cozy inside, it is quite another story when driving in the midst of a snow or sleet storm. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 17% of all car accidents happen in the winter months, thanks to treacherous road conditions caused by snow and ice.

If you are in a car accident, or if your vehicle breaks down during the winter months, it can feel especially stressful. Empower yourself and keep yourself safe by keeping a winter emergency kit tucked in your trunk. Here’s what to include.

Emergency Blankets
If your car loses the ability to push out heat, you and your passengers will feel the chill quickly. Keep warm while waiting for help by pulling out emergency blankets from your car’s winter kit.

Cell Phone Charger
Your cell phone is your key to getting the help you need, especially if you are in the middle of nowhere. Keep a charger handy in your emergency kit to assure you will not run out of battery when you desperately need it.

Flashlight and Batteries
Daylight quickly fades in the winter months and trying to navigate your situation in the dark can be dangerous. Keep a flashlight and extra batteries in your emergency kit to combat the darkness.

While bottles of water will likely freeze in your trunk during the winter months, you should toss a few snacks into your emergency kit. Protein bars can be a welcome relief while stranded alone or with passengers.

First Aid Kit
If you or your passengers are injured in an accident, a first aid kit can give you the tools you need to remedy minor problems while waiting for medical assistance.

Phone Numbers and Notebook
In case your cell phone is damaged or unusable, keep a list of emergency contacts in your kit. Include your physician and family members, as well as your personal injury lawyer. You can also use the notebook to record license plates, insurance information, or other accident details about the other parties involved. This information can be valuable as you seek to receive compensation for your ordeal.

Stay safe out there this season!

Handling Your First Holiday Without  WIthout a Loved One

Handling Your First Holiday Without WIthout a Loved One

Losing a loved one unexpectedly is devastating. The holidays can be especially tough, especially when celebrating the first holiday without your loved one. Grief can rise up at any time, even after someone has been gone for many years, but there is something especially tender about those first major celebrations without an important part of the family.

At MacCloskey Kesler and Associates, we have worked hand-in-handwith grieving families for decades. Our compassion for our clients, and our dedication to serving them well, has given us first-handexperience helping people who are going through their first winter holidays while actively grieving a loved one. While nothing will compare to having your loved one with you this season, there are a few ways you can cope and survive during this tough time.

Say No
Your holiday this year is going to look different, and that is okay. Take care of yourself, and those in your family, by knowing it is perfectly acceptable to say “no thank you” to invitations to celebrations, events, dinners, coffee, or other opportunities. Even better, you don’t need to offer a reason for declining; just say no. You also have the right to cancel if you just aren’t feeling up to it.

Surround Yourself With People You Love
Grief can feel isolating, but research has shown that support from others is crucial during the process. Resist the urge to keep your grief a solo sport, instead choosing to invite people you love and trust into it with you.

Honor Your Loved One
People grieving the loss of a loved one are often shocked and saddened when others are too nervous to mention the person who has passed away. This season, honor your loved one in a tangible way. Add a special ornament to your tree, light a candle for them all season long, share good stories about the person around the table during dinner.

Focus On Yourself and Your Health
Grief can make it extremely difficult to put yourself, and your needs, first. However, without a focus on proper sleep, nutrition, and activity, you can feel like you are drowning (and you will likely get sick). Do what you need to do to get the sleep you need, the food you need, and the activity you need to feel well and cope with stress. Ask for help from those around you, who will happily rally to support you.

We are thinking of you this holiday season, and hope you find moments of peace.

Winter Fire Safety

Winter Fire Safety

According to the National Fire Prevention Association, winter months are especially dangerous times for house fires. Before our northern Illinois winter weather fully sets in for the next four months, take time to assure that you, your family, and your home are safe from potential fire hazards.

Check Your Fire Alarms
Fire alarms and smoke detectors are a crucial component of your family’s fire safety plan. However, without working batteries, you are missing the chance to detect a fire in enough time to safely get out. Ideally, you should check your fire alarm at least twice per year. Most Americans choose to do the checks during each time change. It’s not too late to check your detectors – do a quick test and swap out the batteries to assure your detectors are ready to work, if they need to.

Beware of Open Flames
The winter holidays and chilly weather can leave many of us lighting candles to feel cozy and calm. However burning, too many candles at once can create a serious fire hazard. Be sure everyone in your family knows to blow out candles when leaving the house, even if it is just for a short amount of time. Further, keep your candle wicks trimmed and your candles far from curtains, fabrics, or other flammable materials.

Be Careful With Your Twinkle Lights
Christmas trees can catch fire frighteningly fast. Your strands of twinkle lights, whether on the tree or elsewhere, can be the culprit for igniting your tree and your home. When putting up your lights, assure that strands are not damaged and that wires are not exposed. Opt for LED lights when possible, as they do not get as hot as other options.

Ditch the Space Heater
Space heaters may help your home feel warmer, but these devices can quickly become deadly. If you must use a space heater, keep it shut off when unattended and keep all fabrics far away.

Finally, use the winter season as a reminder to talk with your famiy about safe fire evacuation plans. You can work together to designate a meeting spot outside of your home, and remind one another about how to safely evacuate the home in case of fire.

Accidental Shootings

Accidental Shootings

With all the recent attention to gun violence in our country, we thought it might be helpful to point out that many Homeowners’ Insurance Policies cover injuries caused by accidental shootings on your property. The shooting must be attributed to negligence of the home owner.
This negligence can take many forms, and really is only limited by the imagination of your attorney. Was the gun left loaded and where children could easily find it? Were there no trigger guards or were the guns not kept in a safe? Was a member of the family showing it to a friend when it discharged?
We prosecuted a case like that about 25 years ago, and the case went to trial. The defense wanted to hint to the jury that it was some kind of dope deal gone bad, resulting in the home owner’s son shooting my client. There was no evidence of drugs being present, and we were able to prove that it was just two teenagers playing with a loaded gun. The defendant home owner’s son was showing the gun to our client and didn’t know how to handle the gun and didn’t realize it was loaded until it went off. We were able to our client a very nice jury verdict based on that negligence.

Why Did My Case Take So Long To Settle?

Why Did My Case Take So Long To Settle?

A common question we get all the time is “how long will it take to settle my case?” The easy answer is that it depends on how long you require medical treatment.
Illinois law provides that when you are injured by someone else’s negligence, you are entitled to full and fair compensation for the nature and extent of your injury.  If you think about that, it becomes clear that a major factor in any compensation is the extent of your injury, which of course includes how long you require medical treatment.
After all, an injury that lasts a month is generally smaller than an injury the lasts a year, which is smaller than an injury that lasts a lifetime.  Injuries that result in permanent impairments require the greatest compensation.  With permanent injuries, however, we don’t have to wait a lifetime to settle those cases since doctors routinely can make that decision at some point within a reasonable amount of time, and document the permanency of the injury in their records.
We recently settled the car accident case for a client in approximately 13 months of the date of the injury.  He treated for his injuries for about 6 months and it took an additional 4 months for the bills to be paid by his health insurance.  He asked me why it took so long to settle his case.  I explained to him that we actually got the case settled very quickly, since we had to order the records from the medical providers, which can take 60 to 90 days, review them, and then send them to the insurance company.  Insurance companies routinely want 30 to 60 days to review them before they call us with an offer.  Then the offer is communicated to the client and, with the client’s input, we begin the negotiating process.   Once the bills were paid we were able to settle the case within 3 months.
We had a car accident case once where it was clear the other driver was at fault and that our client was severely injured to the point he would need major surgery.  There was a $100,000 policy at issue, which we were confident we would be able to get once the client was done with his treatment.  For some reason we had a falling out with the client, and he decided to hire a different lawyer, one who had helped a family friend with some family law issues.  It took that new lawyer 5 years to get the case resolved, even though the client was done treating within a year and a half.  To me, there was no excuse for taking three and a half years to resolve that case.
The moral of the story is, getting a case settled within 3 months from the last medical treatment for full value is very good legal work.  It takes a lot to get cases settled like that: experience, aggressiveness, legal knowledge, and a good reputation with the insurance companies against whom we fight these cases.  We have that at MacCloskey Kesler and Associates.
To be sure, not all cases can settle this quickly.  There may be additional medical records to get, bills to be paid, statements to get, a dispute about liability, or some other issue that comes up.  But more often than not we have the know how to get cases settled quickly for top dollar.
So if you’ve been severely injured in a car, truck or motorcycle accident, or injured in some other manner caused by someone else’s negligence, put our personal experience to work for you.  Call MacCloskey Kesler and Associates today for a free consultation at 815-965-2000.

How Much Car Insurance Should I Have?

How Much Car Insurance Should I Have?

car-insurance-calculatorObviously, your car insurance policy covers you for claims made against you or any other family member with whom you reside. But how much is enough?  The easy answer is to get as much as you can afford.  It may be cheaper to do so than you think!
Medical costs have risen faster than any other costs in the country. When I started driving in the 1960’s, I was advised to carry coverage in the amount of $100,000 per person with $300,000 per accident.  That was plenty of coverage then.
In the fifty plus years since then, medical costs have skyrocketed. Because of that, when I began practicing law, I checked out larger policies, and I was able to get a policy in the amount of $250,000 per person and $500,000 per accident for about $200 more per year.   Even larger policy limits are available for similar premium amounts.
So if you can afford more coverage, do it. And remember, your Uninsured and Underinsured provisions cover YOU (see our blog about these car insurance provisions).  Ask your insurance agent to give you a quote on larger policies.  I think you’ll be surprised at how inexpensive it is to increase your insurance coverage limits.  And if there are youngsters in your household driving your car, it’s even more important.  Here’s a real life example to illustrate just how important that can be.
Gene (not his real name) was a passenger in a car that tried to make a left turn at an intersection way too fast causing an accident. The car hit the traffic light post at about 50mph, and Gene was seriously injured.  His medical bills were over $400,000 for his two week stay in the hospital and at the Rehab Hospital, and for the multiple surgeries he required over the next year.
The at fault driver only had $100,000 in coverage and was otherwise judgment proof (he had no assets beyond his car insurance policy that we could access that wouldn’t be covered by his Bankruptcy). But luckily for Gene, he had his own car insurance policy that provided Underinsured coverage in the amount of $250,000 per person and $500,000 per accident.  This means that Gene was covered by car insurance in the amount of $250,000.
But his medical bills were over $400,000, right? True, but his health insurance paid those bills in full.  And when health insurance pays a medical bill, they get a discount, sometimes as big as 60%.
Additionally, when we pay the health insurance companies back, we have ways to use the law to force them to take even less than they actually paid. So, Gene had medical bills of over $400,000 and a total insurance recovery of only $250,000.  Yet when we settled Gene’s case, he paid us our attorney fee, our costs, and paid the health insurance company back in full and Gene was still able to receive over $100,000 in cash compensation to him.  But if Gene would have had $500,000 in per person Underinsured Motorist coverage, we would have been able to get twice the recovery for him.
The good news is we can do the same for you. So if you’ve been injured in a car accident or sustained another personal injury due to someone else’s negligence, call MacCloskey Kesler & Associates today at 815-965-2000 for a free consultation.  We’ll give you the same level of service and attention that we gave Gene.

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