Getting to Know Us Series

Getting to Know Us Series

Jennifer O’Connell


Our goals for 2020 include helping you get to know us a little better. To aid in that venture, we are starting a video series to share a bit more about who we are and help you learn more about who you are working with. Our first video features Managing Partner Jennifer K. O’Connell. Jennifer grew up in Tennessee. Her father was a forester and her mother was a public school special education teacher. She and her sister regularly rode out to the woods with their dad or adventuring among the trees behind their family home, their two Springer Spaniels in tow. The whole family took regular camping trips to state and national parks across the country. If you could not see it in a tent, the O’Connell’s were not interested. They saw snow at the Grand Canyon in June and counted buffalo sightings at Yellowstone in February. More than one of those trips was here to the Rocky Mountains. In fact, Jennifer’s parents began visiting the mountains shortly after they were married. Colorado holds a special place in her family. Jennifer also loves her home state of Tennessee. While the mountains of Appalachia have a bit more oxygen at the top, hiking was still a big part of Tennessee life for her and her family. While the summit of Mount Le Conte is only 6,593 feet, there is a 2,763 foot climb to the top and there is often quite a bit of ice at the top.

Click here to learn more about Jennifer and keep an eye out for the next episode to learn more about her team! Hope you enjoy getting to know us!

Queener Law Featured in VoyageDenver

Queener Law Featured in VoyageDenver

Queener Law Featured in VoyageDenver


We are thrilled to see Queener Law featured in VoyageDenver! What an honor!

We love their insightful questions that prompt us to think a bit more about how we got here and why we have made the choices we made along the way. The life of a business owner is full of forks in the road and choices. It is always important to look back and evaluate the road already traveled to help make the right decisions for the one ahead. We are also extremely happy that our client-centric focus came through. We purposefully keep out hometown feel and insist that our clients speak to a partner every time. We want to make sure our clients know how important they are and how dedicated we are to their cases. It was very exciting to hear that the editors wanted to see Queener Law featured in VoyageDenver to give us a chance to share that view with the community.

Check out the feature here!

Call us any time for a free consultation or to refer your friends or family members in need of help. No more being tossed around from attorney to attorney or case manager to case manager. At Queener Law, you will be in the capable hands of a partner and paralegals from start to finish. Your case deserves undivided attention, and so do you.

Getting Your Medical Bills Paid the Right Way

Getting Your Medical Bills Paid the Right Way

“The insurance company said they’d pay all my medical bills. Now they only want to pay a fraction of what I owe!’ We have heard this complaint almost daily in our decades of practice. What’s the reason and who’s the culprit? Of course, every story like this begins with the fact that car insurance companies are designed to collect premiums and not pay out. But that is not the only conspiracy happening here. Hospitals and medical providers have found ways to use the car insurance system to increase profits, as well. In a recent article in The New York Times, the master plan of hospital billing is broken down into the following steps:


1. Medical Swag

When you are in a wreck, the first thing the EMS or ER staff will do is slap on that age-old neck brace. Often, that neck brace either came free as medical sales swag or was bought in bulk at a rate of a few bucks each. When you get your medical bills in the mail, you find out that your insurance paid $100-plus and you owe an additional $20 bucks or so after insurance. You could get the same brace at your local pharmacy for much less. But when your chart is flagged for a car accident, out comes the medical swag. And in the end, all of this gets paid by the car insurance company… out of your settlement.


2. The Cover Charge

When you are taken to the emergency room, you get a bill. That we know. But did you know that this bill is just for use of the room? In essence, that bill is a “cover charge” for entry. In addition to that fee, which may vary depending on how emergent or traumatic your injury may be, there is a separate fee for every material used and every person who walks into the room. In many cases, you’ll even get a completely separate bill just for the use of a doctor, a necessary component of your emergency room visit. This bill, again, may vary based on what the hospital determines is the severity of your injury. Two guesses what they label car accident victims as in order to increase their bill.


3. Impostor Billing

Not only can you get billed for every person who walks in the room, but you may also receive a bill for people who you have never met. Medical billing allows for “consult billing,” even when the physician never consulted with the patient themselves. If a radiologist simply stops an orthopedist in the hallway for a second look at your x-rays, you get billed. These are not common charges, but we see them often in cases like auto accidents where the hospital anticipates deep pockets.


4. The Drive-By

In more serious cases, where post-ER treatment is required, you can get billed even before your first visit. For instance, if your injury requires physical therapy, a therapist can enter the room just to discuss your future therapy visits, and you will receive a bill for that conversation. A full assessment or actual therapeutic treatment is not required for the hospital to bill for it.


5. Avectus

We have added this prong because it is so prevalent and crushing to your in-pocket compensation while filling the hospital’s bank account. Hospitals allow representatives from Avectus or other lien companies to enter patients’ rooms, although they have no medical training or degrees and have not received consent from the patient or relatives. Their only purpose is to have medicated and shocked accident victims sign forms promising to pay the hospital’s bill in its entirety, regardless of whether they have health insurance. Why? Because the hospital does not want to take the contractual discount with the health insurance, and instead wants to take as much as possible from the auto insurance policy, in addition to all of your other medical bills.


The End Game

Why do we care so much about what the hospital is doing if the car insurance company is paying in the end? Why should you care about what money goes where? An auto insurance policy is like a bank account. Everything that comes out of it – including medical bills – reduces the amount in the account. In other words, every penny the hospital takes is one less for you. If your hospital bill is inflated simply because you were in an auto accident, your compensation for the injuries you sustained will go to the hospital rather than to you. If the auto policy available is only $50,000 and your hospital bill is $40,000, there is very little money left to pay remaining bills, reimburse your lost wages, or cover your future medical needs. And that’s if you don’t come out with a $75,000 bill and only $50,000 in automobile insurance. What can be done to stop this? Short of changing legislation, simply put, you need an attorney. Our office has decades of experience forcing hospitals to use health insurance and refusing to pay their liens if they are on notice and ignore us. We not only fight the insurance company on your behalf, but we also hold the hospitals to a high ethical and economical standard, refusing to let them dig into the policy that was meant to compensate you. Be aware and proactive with your health and your future. Work with a firm that has no blind side. We see the attacks coming, and will head them off at the start.

Vision Zero and Traffic Death Prevention

Vision Zero and Traffic Death Prevention

Current State of Denver Roads

If you haven’t seen the signs or the persistent social media posts about Vision Zero, then you have definitely seen changing road shapes around the Denver Metro area. Extra bike lanes are going in, barriers between motor and bike lanes are building up, speed barriers are popping up, and speed limits are dropping. This is all part of Denver Public Work’s efforts to stamp out traffic collisions and deaths, bringing the later to “Zero.” According to the City and County of Denver, an auto collision has a 40% Chance of causing serious or fatal injury at 30 mph. That stat, however, skyrockets to 73% just by increasing the speed to 40 mph. In the Denver city limits, as of October 12, 63 people have died in collisions, and since 2016, 41% of those were due to speed. Fatalities have continued to increase every single year for the last nine years. Of the 63 fatalities so far this year, 2 were cyclists, 17 were pedestrians, 15 were motorcyclists, and 29 were vehicle occupants.

Denver Vision Zero has set a county-wide goal to have zero traffic deaths by 2030. Rather, though, than simply announce a lofty goal and simply flash stats on overhead announcement boards on the highways, the City and County of Denver have enacted an Action Plan to take proactive steps towards the goal. The first step involved analysis. Vision Zero members analyzed not only fatal collisions themselves looking for causes, but they also constructed a map of the areas within the county lines at which there were serious or fatal collisions over the last six years. You can find this map below or interact by clicking here. You can clearly note roads like Federal, Colfax, and 6th Avenue lighting up like a light-bright as hotbeds for major collisions. In fact, an ancillary map highlighting just the routes labeled High Injury Network zones (HIM), shows that while these roads account for only 5% of Denver streets, the account for 37% of fatal collisions and 40% of serious injuries. And county-wide, motor-vehicle collisions account for twice the number of deaths than homicide. In fact, traffic collisions are the #2 leading cause of hospitalizations in Denver County.

It is also interesting to note that Vision Zero identified that most collisions in these HIN routes are crashes happening near schools and in neighborhoods primarily comprised of lower income, disabled, and elderly citizens. In these areas, speed, aggressive driving, distracted driving, and impaired driving were the top causes of serious and fatal collisions.


What are the next steps in the Action Plan?

The five priorities within the action plan, laid out for the public here, are:

  1. Enhance City Processes and Collaboration
  2. Build Safe Streets for Everyone
  3. Create Safe Speeds
  4. Promote a Culture of Safety
  5. Improve Data and Be Transparent


How does this translate into increased safety and less traffic collisions?

To the city and county government, enhancing city processes and collaboration includes adding departments within local governments focused primarily on traffic safety, including studies, economic appropriation, and governmental reaction to tragedies. And the “building safe streets for everyone” phase is already visible in many neighborhoods. Vision Zero has already begun re-configuring streets and intersections to reduce speed, enhance bicycle and pedestrian detection, and improving light and visibility at crossings. A part of phase two is also significant enough to the effort for Vision Zero to make a separately delineated phase. Creating safer speeds city-wide has begun in several parts, with greater speed enforcement, lower speed limits in neighborhoods and school zones, and street design changes to create safer cycling and walking lanes and force lower speeds for vehicles though the use of barriers and speed bumps.

The next phase seems tricky, and it is the opinion of Queener Law that the city has failed already in some aspects of the promotion of a culture of safety. When e-bikes and scooters hit the streets of Denver, the city was behind the eight-ball with education and regulation. Since then, the city has tripped over itself, releasing multiple complicated ordinances for how these multi-modal measures should interact with other established traffic, and education of the community has failed in spade. Traffic collisions involving scooters and bikes have continued to rise. Vision Zero intends to correct those mistakes, and make better efforts to educate and make available alternate modes of travel outside of driving. It is the opinion of the Vision Zero team that multi-modal methods will not only reduce traffic, but they should also reduce traffic deaths, aggressive and impaired drivers from occupying the road, and give a broad range of safe methods of transportation to the HIN zones.

Finally, Vision Zero does not intend to rest on the current data and act accordingly. They are making a promise to the community to continue the analysis and make honest reports to the public of the successes, failures, or stagnation of their efforts. Many more details of the Action Plan are available here. And Queener Law occupies a position on the Mobility Council for the Downtown Denver Partnership, an organization that tasks itself with advising local leaders of what our community members are thinking and feeling about the government’s actions with regards to safety. Take a look at what the local government has planned for your neighborhood, and let us know your thoughts. Queener Law will take them back to the Partnership and push for the government to be advised. We will ensure the government hears us, and therefore hears you, about our collective safety. Traffic collisions are not an inevitability. How do you think we can prevent them?

More than a Ticket — Colorado Protects Its Vulnerable Riders

More than a Ticket — Colorado Protects Its Vulnerable Riders

More than a Ticket — Colorado Protects Its Vulnerable Riders

You’re at the end of a long day, just a few miles from your home, your couch, and your family, and a driver veers into the bike lane, cell phone in hand, and now your favorite specialized bike is laying on the shoulder, wheels in a position that could make a Cirque performer cringe. But that’s not even the biggest problem. Your son has practice tomorrow, but you’re not going to be able to coach the team. You are on your way to urgent care with what you have a sneaking suspicion is a sprained ankle and what you hope is not a torn rotator cuff. The road rash is just a secondary issue you’ll deal with in the shower.

Now, on top of missing work for the next two weeks and sitting out of sports practice, you have to hunt down the incident report, field calls from insurance companies, try to find a replacement for your old-faithful ride — all while juggling doctor’s appointments and physical therapy. And what happens to that cell-toting multi-tasker who got this joyous ball rolling? Their insurance covers the repair bill for the scratches to their paint, they pay their deductible, and they maybe, just maybe, mail a small check into the city for a traffic ticket for carelessness. But in the state of Colorado, that may be about to change!


Senate Bill 19–175, proposed this session in the state legislature, could officially criminalize carelessness that results in serious bodily injury.

If the bill passes, it will become Colorado Revised Statute 42–4–1402.5, which will make it a class 1 traffic misdemeanor to cause “serious bodily injury” to a “vulnerable road user” while engaged in “careless driving.” Sounds like a lot of quid pro quo, so let’s break it down:

Careless Driving: CRS § 42–4–1402 defines careless driving as operating a motor vehicle “in a careless and imprudent manner, without due regard for the width, grade, curves, corners, traffic, and use of the streets and highways, and all other attendant circumstances.” A solid “kitchen sink” technique of defining a legal standard. But authorities have used “careless driving” to encompass things like speed, failure to obey the Move Over laws, cell phone usage, and other general methods of distracted driving.

Vulnerable Road Use: Now this part is clearly articulated in a lengthy — sometimes oddity encompassing — recitation contained within the bill itself. It includes:

  • Pedestrians
  • Workers on the roadway or on utilities along the roadway
  • Emergency services using a right-of-way
  • Peace officers outside their vehicle or in a right-of-way capacity
  • Persons leading an animal or riding an animal
  • Cyclists, tricycle riders, and assisted bicycle occupants
  • Farm vehicle users
  • Skateboarders
  • Roller skaters
  • Scooter riders
  • Moped and motorcyclists
  • Animal-drawn vehicles
  • Sleds
  • Electric personal assistive mobility devices
  • Wheelchairs
  • Baby strollers, and Non-motorized pull wagons


Serious Bodily Injury: Section 18–1–901 of the Colorado Revised Statues defines “serious bodily injury” as an injury in which “either at the time of the actual injury or at a later time, involved a substantial risk of death, a substantial risk of serious permanent disfigurement, a substantial risk of protracted loss or impairment of the function of any part or organ of the body, or breaks, fractures, or burns of the second or third degree.” Yet another conglomeration that legislatures are so good at constructing. For as long as Colorado has been a state, arguments have occurred over what degree of injury is required to be deemed “serious.” Breaks and fractures are clearly defined, but what about a major sprain, a torn ligament, a concussion or a back injury? All of these fit within the parameters of an injury that could cause a protracted loss or impairment of function, and it is out position that if you are a vulnerable road user who is stuck with any of these types of wounds, you will have zero doubt as to your qualification for “serious bodily injury.”


So now what? What happens to the culprit? Under the new bill, CRS § 42–4–1402.5 would allow police to investigate and charge careless drivers with a Class 1 Traffic Misdemeanor open to the following penalties:

  • Attend a Driver Improvement Course
  • Community Service of up to 320 hours
  • Restitution to the Injured Party
  • One-year suspension of Driver’s License

These are much stiffer penalties than the previous fines associated with careless driving citations. Because this is a truly criminal offense, and because we all have the right to be protected against unreasonable and unlawful punishments, everyone charged under this section will have the right to defend themselves. True accidental collisions will not apply to this new proposed statue.


Co-sponsor of the bill, Representative Dylan Roberts, told the Meghan Lopez of The Denver Channel that “[y]ou have to be found guilty of careless driving, so if it’s truly an accident, you’re not going to be liable under this bill.”

The legislature appears to have made it a priority to protect malicious or overuse of this statute, while balancing the importance of protecting the outlined vulnerable road populations. Just last week, an officer and a utility worker were killed in road accidents. Several motorcyclists were either injured or lost their lives. And no need for exaggeration here: cyclists and pedestrians are struck at a seriously alarming rate. In a state like ours where people are especially conscious of more environmentally friendly and healthy modes of transportation, not to mention mobility methods that allow us to enjoy the world-class weather, keeping an eye to safety protections is especially vital.

As this bill makes its way through the legislature, feel free to contact us with questions or in a search for more information about how this statute could affect your commute and safety.

The Majority of Severe Injuries from Cycling Have One Thing in Common

The Majority of Severe Injuries from Cycling Have One Thing in Common

Two-thirds of hospitalizations and approximately 75 percent of fatalities that are caused by bicycle accidents are a result of head injuries. According to extensive research, one of the most effective ways to prevent head injuries in cycling accidents is to wear a helmet. Historically, helmets have been shown to reduce the risk of head injury by about 50 percent, and the risk of severe face, head, and neck injury by approximately 33 percent.

Bicycle Helmet Laws in Tennessee

In Tennessee, it is unlawful for any person under the age of 16 to operate a bike or be a passenger on a bicycle without wearing a protective bicycle helmet that is properly fitted and secured. It is also illegal for parents and guardians to permit children under 12 years of age to ride bicycles without helmets. Additionally, it is unlawful for businesses to rent or lease bicycles to kids under 16 unless they have a helmet in their possession at the time of the rental or one is provided with the lease. When serious injuries or fatalitiesoccur, parents, guardians, and businesses who violate these laws may be able to be held liable for the damages that are suffered.

There are currently no laws in place in Tennessee that govern the use of bicycle helmets by adults. Society has been thoroughly educated about the benefits of wearing a helmet when cycling, and although wearing a helmet lowers the odds of a serious head injury occurring, many adults still choose to ride unprotected. The risk of severe complications from head injuries caused by bicycle crashes increases with age, however, and adult cyclists should wear properly fitted helmets as well.

Choosing the Right Helmet

Smart decisions lead to safer outcomes. Cyclists should follow certain guidelines when choosing a helmet:

  • Snug Fit –A helmet should fit snugly and not move when the head moves forward to back or side to side. Trying on a variety of helmets is suggested to assure a good fit.
  • Good Ventilation – A helmet should have good ventilation to increase comfort, particularly in hot temperatures.
  • Comfortable Weight – Although helmet weight does not vary tremendously, slight weight variations can make a difference in comfort levels.
  • Enjoy Wearing – It is important to pick a helmet that is easy to wear, as it is more likely it will get use all of the time if the rider is happy with it.