93.1 KISS FM – Ask A Lawyer, Part 12

KISS-FM's Ask A Lawyer Segment with Michael J. Gopin

“You said forever, now I drive alone past your street.”

Mike:

You know, I could be wrong and maybe we’ll ask Michael Gopin about this but, I think, she’s got a case. I mean, if you said forever, and now she has to drive alone down the street, it sounds like she could have a case.

Tricia:

Sounds like a verbal contract to me.

Mike:

Sounds like one, definitely. Mike and Tricia Mornings on 93.1 KISS FM.

Tricia:

We have Michael Gopin with us. Hello, Mr. Gopin.

Michael Gopin:

Oh, I bet it’s gonna work a lot better if I press this button right here instead of one that I pressed before.

Tricia:

Yeah, there you go. Okay.

Mike:

Say that again. Take two.

Tricia:

Okay. We have Michael Gopin with us. Hello, Mr. Gopin.

Michael Gopin:

Good morning. How are you all doing?

Mike:

There we all go. Yay. Better now that we’ve learned which button to push.

Tricia:

Right, exactly. Okay, so we have a lot of questions, and they’re actually really, really good ones.

Michael Gopin:

Much better that way.

Tricia:

Oh, good. Okay. So we’ve got some really, really good ones. So the first one comes from Jacob, and he said, “He recently fell at a local grocery store because of water on the produce aisle.” And he said, “There were no signs or staff present that witnessed the incident.” He had to call an ambulance, was taken to the hospital. And then he contacted the store, but they’re denying the claim because they say their video cameras weren’t working at the time so there’s no video footage. So he wants to know, “What can I do, Mr. Gopin?”

Michael Gopin:

Well, you certainly have a potential case in this particular incident. What you need to prove and we need to show is that the store knew or should have known about the substance or water on the floor before you fell. That’s what’s really important here. So the question would be, if we can show how long the substance had been on the floor, you know, if an employee happened to pass by there or should have passed by there before you fell.

So this is something that we can definitely try to help you on. It doesn’t really matter about the video cameras. They usually aren’t very cooperative, at this point, in releasing those even if they had them. In litigation, they would have to provide them if they did have them. But not having video footage is not a defense for them to say, “Well, that’s not our fault.”

Tricia:

Oh, okay. Well, that’s good to know.

Michael Gopin:

So you have a potential case, and…yeah.

Mike:

No. Tell them, “I’m not here,” please.

Tricia:

Oh, Is that Tinker Bell?

Mike:

Yeah. Tell them, “I’m not here,” whoever that was.

Tricia:

Okay. So our second question comes from Mondo on the East Side. He said, “He was in a car accident last week, and at the time, he didn’t have insurance for his vehicle. Now, he was issued a ticket for that, but the other party was at fault in the accident. So he says, “Can I still file a claim with the other driver’s insurance?”

Michael Gopin:

Yes, of course, you can. So the fact that you did not have insurance does not, in any way, impact whether or not you have a case here. So, yes, you can file a case against the person who is at fault. You’re probably not gonna win your ticket though, and you’re gonna have to pay a fine for not having insurance, but you can still file a full claim against the party at fault. So you’re good to go that way.

Mike:

Yeah, because you’re like you’re using their insurance. Correct?

Michael Gopin:

Correct. So, yeah, of course, you’re gonna have to prove it was their fault just like you would in a normal case but insurance isn’t mentioned in court at all. So the fact that you have no insurance will not have any negative impact at all in your case. I think it’s a good idea if you get insurance…

Tricia:

Yeah, probably.

Michael Gopin:

…but in terms of you filing a personal injury case, there’s no worries there.

Mike:

It’s our monthly feature, it’s “Ask A Lawyer” with special guest Michael Gopin. This is question number three now.

Tricia:

Okay. This is Theresa also from the East Side. This is another car accident thing. She said, “A friend of hers was involved in a hit-and-run, but they can’t identify the license plate or the driver.” And she said, “Their insurance is refusing to cover the damage, because again, no evidence. So what should their next steps be?”

Michael Gopin:

We’d be happy to help her with this, Theresa. I don’t know why they’re not covering this because if there’s damage to your vehicle, I would file a police report. Tell them what happened, the cops, so you can present it to the insurance company. But you don’t have to have the license plate of the driver who hit you to file an uninsured or collision type case. So, depending on what coverage Theresa has, we can try to help.

There’s two coverages that, you know, are gonna apply here. One is, if she has collision coverage that covers the vehicle, in the case of collision, coverage will pay for any damage to the vehicle, regardless of who’s at fault. In this case, the best coverage to use if she has it is the uninsured motorist property damage coverage. And I’m not sure if Theresa was injured in this accident or not, but if she was, uninsured injury, bodily injury, would also apply.

So, in those cases, you’ll just have to testify basically that you’re involved in a hit-and-run accident, you show pictures of the damage to the vehicles, and explain what happened, and the insurance will cover. So they’re playing games at this point.

Mike:

Yeah. That recently happened with my son, and, yeah, we used the uninsured/underinsured. Actually, they told us to use the uninsured/underinsured, and they repaired the car. But, maybe…

Michael Gopin:

Yeah, that’s the best coverage to you, right.

Mike:

Maybe, this is a case of, you know, a sketchy insurance company. There are so many out there.

Michael Gopin:

I’ve never heard of a sketchy insurance company.

Tricia:

And see, the other thing though, I think, that people don’t understand is that their…like when they say comprehensive coverage as opposed to just liability, there’s a lot of different levels of coverage. So, yeah, by law, I think, you only have to carry liability. But if you, you know, really wanna have full coverage for yourself and, in case, you’re in an accident, then, you know, you do get the comprehensive. It’s a little bit more expensive, but it does cover a lot of other things.

Mike:

Okay. So that’s a good question then, Mr. Gopin.

Michael Gopin:

Yeah, comprehensive and collision are both different.

Mike:

If you only had liability, you know, would you be outside of luck?

Michael Gopin:

Yes, you’d be SOL on this one. So, if you only had liability, there’s nobody to pay. And if you don’t have the information or any indication of who caused the accident, you’re gonna be responsible for the damages.

Mike:

“Ask A Lawyer” with Michael Gopin. It’s our monthly feature. If you’ve got a question you’d like us to ask him the next time we speak to Michael, you can go to kisselpaso.com. The Must Read bar at the top of the page, click on ask a lawyer, and ask away. We’ll be right back with more questions. “Ask A Lawyer,” Mike and Tricia Mornings on 93.1 KISS FM.

headshot gopin

Michael J. Gopin has practiced law in El Paso since 1987. Even after more than 30 years, he still remembers his first jury case. He graduated from the University of Texas in Austin in 1983 with a bachelor of business administration, majoring in accounting. He received his juris doctorate degree from St. Mary’s School of Law in San Antonio. Michael has successfully handled countless cases of medical malpracticeproduct liabilitypersonal injury, and nursing home negligence. He enjoys helping people “get their lives back in order” by providing high-quality legal representation and compassionate customer service.