The 2021 holiday season is shaping up to be unique. Many people were unable to or made the decision not to gather with their families and friends last year due to COVID-19, but this year, with the vaccine widely available, borders open, and greater sense of “normalcy” – as well as social distancing fatigue – people are determined to make this Thanksgiving & Christmas the most special yet.
That means, among other things, that more people are traveling to see their families this Thanksgiving. AAA predicted that this week will see travel volume rise to within 5% of 2019 levels, up 13% from last year, and that air travel alone will increase about 80%. In total, about 53.4 million people are expected to go home for the holidays. Paula Twidale, senior vice president at AAA travel, cautioned travelers to brace for crowds, as Thanksgiving travelers will be sharing “planes, traines, and highway lanes with about 6.4 million more people this year”.
There are practical applications of this news (anticipate traffic, for one thing) but there are also legal applications. More people traveling & gathering means more accidents & injuries. If you are traveling for Thanksgiving – even if it’s just across town to a relative’s house – there are a few things that you need to know about your legal rights in order to a) keep yourself and your loved ones safe and b) prepare for what to do in case an accident does occur.
– – – – The first thing you need to know about your legal rights before Thanksgiving dinner is that you have them!
If you’re injured in an accident this Thanksgiving, and someone else was at fault, you shouldn’t have to pay for the costs of treatment. You are legally entitled to pursue financial restitution via a personal injury claim or lawsuit. Normally, this claim or lawsuit will be filed against the insurance company of the person responsible for your injuries.
For example, if you are hit by a drunk driver on the highway and sustain serious injuries, you can sue their insurance company for monetary damages that include the cost of treatment, lost wages you missed out on while you were recovering, and punitive damages (awarded by the court to punish a drunk driver and discourage other would-be drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel intoxicated).
The second thing you need to know about your legal rights before Thanksgiving dinner is that a family member or friend may be responsible for your accident, but your close relationship with them shouldn’t be an obstacle to recovering compensation.
It’s one thing to sue a drunk driver you don’t know, but the situation can get more awkward, and more complicated, for you to take legal action when a friend or family member was responsible for your Thanksgiving accident. However, it’s important to remember that their insurance company is actually the one who will be paying.
For example, if your aunt did not thaw out the turkey fully before putting it in the fryer, and a fire explosion ensues that leaves you with second or third-degree burns, you shouldn’t have to suffer without compensation just because she’s your aunt. Your burns may be incredibly painful, and may leave permanent scars. You may require ambulatory transport, skin grafts, surgery, medications, and more; you may have to pay deductibles or copays, and take weeks or months off of work to heal. You may need to cancel your Christmas vacation or be unable to participate in other holiday activities you had planned on enjoying, not the least of which is Thanksgiving dinner. The total cost of your accident could add up to thousands or even hundreds of dollars.
Your aunt has homeowner’s insurance that could easily cover those costs; she won’t be the one paying out the claim. You taking legal action won’t hurt her financially, but if you don’t take legal action, your financial situation could become desperate.
Deciding whether or not to pursue a claim against a family’s member’s insurance company can be an emotional and confusing decision, which brings us to our next point….
The third thing you need to know about your legal rights before Thanksgiving dinner is that you may need a local personal injury attorney to protect them!
Insurance companies lose money when they pay out claims to accident victims, so they are always looking to protect their bottom line and avoid paying out the full amount that injured accident victims deserve. They will do everything in their power to discredit you or devalue your claim. On your own, you have little chance of recovering compensation, but with a personal injury lawyer, you are much more likely to get a fair settlement! A personal injury lawyer can inform you of your legal rights, investigate the accident, negotiate with the insurance company, and give you reliable legal advice. Especially if the accident was caused by a relative or friend, an experienced attorney can help you understand the benefits of filing a lawsuit and give you a better idea of what to expect.
The fourth thing you need to know about your legal rights before Thanksgiving dinner is that they are limited.
In Florida, there is a statute of limitations on any injury case; if you don’t file a claim within four years from the date of the accident, you may lose your right to recover compensation at all. Some injuries can take time to present themselves. That’s why it’s important to contact an attorney immediately following a Thanksgiving accident if one does occur!
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At The Florida Law Group, we’re wishing everyone a happy and safe Thanksgiving holiday. Our hope is that there are no accidents and injuries this year, and that you take the necessary precautions to stay safe on the roads and in the kitchen. However, if you are wrongfully injured, our team is here for you – you can call us at any time to schedule a free consultation, and you never pay our fees unless we win your case. We’ve successfully recovered over $1 billion for injured accident victims across the state, and our attorneys have over 100 years of combined legal experience. We’re dedicated to winning!