93.1 KISS FM – Ask A Lawyer, Part 14

Ask A Lawyer - Michael Gopin

Narrator: You’re listening to Mike and Tricia Mornings on 93.1 KISS FM.

Mike: Man, it’s like back in the day.

Tricia: I know.

Mike: Having Michael Gopin actually in the studio with us, huh? Another sure sign, huh? That things are getting back to normal.

Tricia: Yeah, well…

Mike: You know, as they say.

Tricia: As normal as it can be.

Mike: It’s time for ” Ask a Lawyer”. Michael Gopin is in the studio to answer your questions about some legal matters. Welcome back, Mr. Gopin.

Michael Gopin: Well, welcome. Thank you so much for having me. It’s great to be back in the studio.

Mike: You know, for a second there, I was thinking that you were just some disembodied voice.

Michael Gopin: I thought the same about you guys, you know?

Mike: Some kind of a Siri thing or something, you know?

Tricia: Right? Exactly.

Mike: But he does exist. All right, let’s get to some of these legal questions.

Tricia: Okay, let’s see. We’re gonna ask a question from James. He’s from East El Paso. And he said, “Can you explain the definition of “at fault”? So, my insurance company says that I was at fault for the accident, but I wasn’t given a ticket, and they don’t want to pay my claim.”

Michael Gopin: Okay, the ticket doesn’t really necessarily matter as to whose fault it is. The cop probably didn’t see the accident. And so, he is just going off on what people say to him or to her. So, what matters is the reasonable driving standard, basically. So, it’s negligence. So, you look at the facts of the case, and you decide, you know, who’s more at fault? Who’s more responsible for the accident? The insurance company isn’t, you know, the most powerful entity. So, they don’t get to decide for sure if you’re at fault or the other guy’s at fault. If you don’t agree with the decision, you could go to a lawyer perhaps or go to court and have a jury make a determination. So, there are ways to fight that.

Tricia: Okay. So, if they don’t pay his claim, he’s going to have to go to court?

Michael Gopin: Yeah, he would have to do something if he wants to move forward. So, the best way would be to hire an attorney, if one would help you, and then go to court.

Tricia: Okay.

Mike: And so why? Because they’re just going off with a police report that said he was at fault?

Michael Gopin: Sometimes they do. Sometimes they do, and that’s actually his insurance company. So, I’m wondering if he’s mad that they’re paying the claim against somebody else. And, if that’s the case, there’s nothing you can do to prevent the insurance company from paying. But, if he’s looking for his own money, he would be looking at the other insurance company.

Tricia: Right.

Mike: Yeah. And then the other thing we don’t know is what kind of coverage he has.

Michael Gopin: True.

Mike: Like, it may not be paying because he doesn’t have that kind of coverage.

Michael Gopin: They’re all possibilities, for sure.

Tricia: Come in.

Michael Gopin: Okay…

Mike: Doorbell…

Tricia: Who’s the doorbell?

Mike: Michael Gopin is here.

Tricia: Who’s the doorbell?

Mike: Who have we been speaking to?

Michael Gopin: I know.

Mike: I don’t have a doorbell.

Tricia: I don’t have a doorbell.

Mike: Do you have a ringer as a doorbell?

Michael Gopin: Maybe.

Mike: He doesn’t know either.

Tricia: Oh, no.

Mike: He’s looking at his computer like, “Is it my laptop? I don’t know.” Alex usually sets this up for me.

Tricia: I know.

Mike: Okay.

Tricia: Okay now, here’s a follow-up question to that one, though. So, I’m gonna make a wild guess and say that when he says, “They don’t want to pay my claim,” maybe he wants them to pay for, like, repairs and stuff like that. So, if they choose not to do that, he still needs to go to court.

Michael Gopin: Yeah, he still needs to go to court. I wouldn’t think that they would be doing that if he has the proper coverage. If he has collision coverage, it’s automatic, no matter whose fault it is. So, it wouldn’t be an issue as to fault. But you wouldn’t be looking to your own insurance company to pay damages to your car. If you don’t have collision, they won’t pay.

Mike: Yeah, they just have liability. It’ll just pay whatever is your fault, right?

Michael Gopin: Correct.

Tricia: Right, okay.

Michael Gopin: It’ll pay the other guy’s car but not your own. So, collision is what protects you. And so, if he doesn’t have collision, he would need to go after the other insurance, if there is coverage there.

Mike: Right. And prove that it was the other person’s fault.

Michael Gopin: Exactly.

Mike: Okay.

Tricia: Okay. So, Omari from East El Paso says, “I was in an accident. I was cited for it, but I know I wasn’t at fault. What can I do?”

Michael Gopin: Well, you can go challenge the ticket, first of all. You go to traffic court and contest the facts of the accident. If the officer doesn’t show up, you automatically will win your case. So, you’d have to present the facts and, you know, prove that it wasn’t your fault in traffic court. That doesn’t have anything to do with the insurance aspect of it. So, that would be two separate things. Even if you lose your traffic court ticket or pay it or whatever, it won’t change anything. They’ll keep coming in the doorbell.

Mike: I know. I don’t know what’s going on here. And when did we get a doorbell?

Tricia: I don’t know.

Michael Gopin: That’s pretty cool.

Tricia: That is cool.

Mike: Because nobody ever uses it, you know? They must not be from here because…

Tricia: They must be looking for Michael.

Mike: Yeah. It’s got to be. It’s got to be, man.

Michael Gopin: It’s a home studio here.

Mike: Hang on a second. Pizza.

Tricia: Oh, no wonder.

Michael Gopin: Oh, okay. Let him in. You’re hungry, huh?

Mike: All right. I’m sorry. Where were we?

Michael Gopin: Oh, we were in this accident, you know.

Tricia: Traffic court. We were in traffic court.

Mike: Traffic court, okay. So, even if you lose at traffic court…

Michael Gopin: Even if you lose at traffic court, it doesn’t necessarily affect your case against the insurance company. Different standard, different rules. So, you can go ahead and present your case to the insurance company, argue your facts, and hopefully, you can convince them that it’s not your fault.

Mike: Now, when you say present your case, you mean, like, through some kind of a mediation that they have? Or do you mean…

Michael Gopin: You could do that or just speaking to the adjuster, talking to them, explaining to them what happened and why it’s not, you know, your fault and why is the other guy’s fault. And perhaps, they’ll listen, perhaps, they won’t. In the event that they don’t listen and don’t change their mind, then your option is to go further and make a claim in court.

Mike: Okay.

Tricia: Okay. Samantha from West El Paso says, “Is there anything we can do about COVID? My dad died from exposure and he wasn’t at fault. We feel like it’s the workplace for not following protocol.”

Michael Gopin: Unfortunately, you know, in these sad situations, there’s really nothing that can be done to make a claim, in my opinion, that way. You know, COVID is just, you know, just a crazy pandemic that we had to deal with and there’s certain risks that are inherent in that. And it’s very difficult to, you know, to find out and ascertain where it came from and who had it first and did you get it from them and could it have been prevented? And, you know, people had to get back to work and there’s certain risks with that, that we all had to take, everybody in society. So, unfortunately, I don’t think that he would have a case against the employer for that.

Mike: Because there are no, like, there are no protections that the federal government or the state government has given you. Is that? Am I…?

Michael Gopin: Yeah, that’s correct.

Mike: So, there’s nothing like let’s say, for disability or, you know, if you were discriminated against. Where there are laws, there’s COVID-related.

Michael Gopin: Yeah, nothing COVID-related at this point.

Mike: Now, do you see or do you ever see this becoming one of those class-action kind of things in the years to come?

Michael Gopin: I don’t think so. I think it’s just gonna be too difficult to, you know, to find negligence on someone. I mean, you know, we’re in a pandemic. We were in a pandemic, that was, you know, horrible for everybody and people had to do the best they could, and no one really knew exactly what was going on or how to

prevent it. And if you remember, looking back, you know, back in March of last year, you know, people thought you could touch something and get it and then they said, “Well, okay, you can’t.” As we went further along, we learn more stuff and, you know, we still probably don’t know everything that’s going on, certainly with the variants and so forth. It’s just important to stay safe and be smart and get vaccinated and help everybody out and let’s get through this together.

Mike: Okay, this is segment one of “Ask a Lawyer” with Michael Gopin. We’ll be right back, segment two and more of your legal questions next on Mike and Tricia Mornings.

Michael J. 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. It was two weeks after receiving his license, when he represented a person whose life had been forever changed after being blinded in a work-related incident...


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