A: You need to report your property damage claim to yours and to the at-fault party’s insurance companies as soon as possible. You should have received the at-fault party’s insurance information at the accident scene. If you do not have it, call the police officer or department that investigated the accident and request a copy of the police report or DI-9, which will contain this information.
The at-fault party’s insurer will assign an adjuster to the property damage claim. Be sure to write down the contact information for each adjuster and claim number for each claim. You will need this information repeatedly throughout the claims process.
In most cases, your property damage claim will get resolved before your bodily injury claim. You will need to take the car to a collision repair shop to get a repair estimate. The adjuster can provide you with a list of preferred shops that routinely process property damage claims with that insurer. Allow one to two weeks for repairs depending on the extent of the damage. You will owe a deductible, usually $1,000, and the insurance company will pay for the cost of repairs above the deductible. Most auto insurance policies also cover car rental costs for up to 30 days.
If the repairs exceed the value of the car, then your car is “totaled.” The insurance company will then pay you book value for the car. Obviously, the older your car, the less damage it takes to total your car. If you purchased your car within 1-2 years, you may lose some purchasing power when shopping for new car. This is because new cars depreciate or go down in value the most during the first two years. The insurance company does not pay you back for the amount owed on the car but only what the car is worth at the time it is totaled. This is where gap insurance can help. Gap insurance is something you may want to consider when purchasing a new car, especially when the car is worth over $25,000. Gap insurance pays you the difference between book value at the time of the car and the amount that is still owed on the car. This can mean thousands of dollars.
A: Most of the time, you will not need to file a lawsuit to resolve your personal injury claim. After making a claim for injuries, the parties will work to settle the claim with terms that all parties will accept. These pre-lawsuit negotiations usually lead to a resolution of the claim. Most people do not want to get involved in a lawsuit. It can be time-consuming, expensive, and stressful for all parties involved. Unfortunately, there are occasions where the parties cannot agree on terms, and a lawsuit is necessary. If a lawsuit is necessary, you will need an experienced attorney that has the tools and skills to effectively litigate your case.
A: Yes. If you have been injured in an accident, and a family member is at fault for the accident, then you will need to make a claim against your family member’s insurance company. The insurer will then step into your family member’s shoes and handle the claim. As an example, say Mom is driving Daughter to school. On the way to school, Mom is texting and runs a red light. John T-bones Mom and Daughter. Daughter is injured in the accident. Mom has automobile insurance. Daughter can make an insurance claim against Mom’s automobile insurance company for her injuries.
A: This depends on three main factors: fault, insurance, and injuries. First, you can’t be the one at fault. In most states, if you are at least 50% at fault for the accident, then you cannot recover a penny for your injuries. If you are less than 50% at fault, then you can recover for your injuries minus the amount of the percentage of your fault. For example, if a jury awards you $100,000 for your injuries and decides you are 30% at fault, then you would get $70,000. Deciding who is at fault is not always an easy task. Oftentimes, more than one person is at fault. It can take some time to investigate the facts to make a determination about fault. Parties often do not agree on who is at fault for an accident. Ultimately, your case outcome will depend not only on the facts themselves but also on how well your attorney frames the facts in your favor. You must have injuries serious enough to pursue a claim, typically at least $3,000in damages. If you don’t have damages in excess of $3,000, you probably are better off resolving it without an attorney. Never assume your injuries aren’t serious enough until you’ve talked to an attorney. Lastly, the person or company at fault needs have insurance or enough money to pay you for your injuries. If there is no way to get paid for your injuries, then the time and stress of seeking payment will be pointless. An experienced attorney will know what insurance policies may be available to help compensate you for your injuries.
A: Yes. If a government representative is at fault for causing an injury, the injured person may seek compensation from the government. The procedures for state and federal government are different when making a claim for personal injuries. In both instances, you will need to provide notice to the government before you make a claim or file a lawsuit. The Attorney General’s offices defend cases against the government.
A: In some cases, Utah law limits how much money you can receive for damages you sustain in an accident. These limits are often called “damages caps.” The two most common examples of damages caps are when suing medical providers and the government. Damages caps limit the amount of money you can receive for general damages, such as pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, inconvenience, disfigurement, impairment, loss of consortium, and emotional distress. Damages caps, however, do not limit the amount you can receive for special damages, such as medical expenses and lost wages. Attorneys have challenged the constitutionality of damages caps, but the Utah Supreme Court has held that such caps are not unconstitutional and are allowed.
A: Yes, you should still hire an attorney, even if your injuries are minor. Before deciding that your injuries are not serious enough to hire an attorney, give us a call, and we can discuss how to maximize the value of your case.
A: Probably not. If you are unrepresented, and an insurance company has offered you money, you are likely not getting a fair settlement.
A: Yes, absolutely. A minor child, or a person under the age of 18, cannot bring an injury claim on behalf of him or herself. Therefore, a parent, guardian, or someone appointed by the court must bring the claim on behalf of the minor child. If the minor child receives a settlement or award, then the judge must approve the distribution of the money through a minor settlement hearing. The money is then kept in a restricted bank account or investment for when the minor reaches age 18. At that point, the minor can obtain the funds and do as he or she pleases.
A: You are entitled to receive money for special (economic) and general (non-economic)damages. Special damages are damages that you can more easily calculate: past and future medical bills, loss of future earning capacity, past and future wage loss, past and future benefits and pensions, property damage, etc. These damages are supported by medical bills and records, tax returns, W-2s, paystubs, letters from doctors and employers, repair estimates, and more. General damages are more difficult to calculate: pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of enjoyment of relationship, emotional distress and anguish, deformity, incapacity, immobility, inconvenience, etc. These damages should not be considered less important despite the difficulty of determining their worth. Your attorney should never overlook these damages. They are supported by medical records, witness testimony of family members and friends, photographs, video, journal entries, and more.
A: Automobile insurance policies have 3 primary coverages: property damage, bodily injury, and underinsured/uninsured motorist. It’s important to understand all of these coverages before purchasing auto insurance. Property damage covers damage to your vehicle when in an accident. There is usually a$500-$1,000 deductible that you pay before these coverages kick in. Property damage is the most well understood and most discussed, however, it sometimes becomes the least important when injured in an accident.
A: At Parker & McConkie Firm, an experienced attorney will handle your case. This is unique. At most personal injury firms, you will deal mostly with a paralegal or secretary at each phase of your case. At these firms, it is common for the client to never even speak with an attorney, except maybe at the beginning of your case when you first hire the law firm.
A: This depends on the specific facts of your case, including whether you are partially at fault for the accident, whether you had pre-existing injuries similar to those that you received in the accident, how badly you are injured, and how quickly you supply needed information to the attorney. If there are complicating factors that the insurance company can grasp onto to pay you less money, this can delay a fair settlement. Sometimes it takes a little bit more time to persuade an insurance company to rethink its position on a claim. Also, some insurance companies take longer than others when handling personal injury claims. Even within the same insurance company, you will find that some claims adjusters are more responsive than others.
A: The short answer is no. Other than with a police officer or medical provider, it’s better to not speak to anyone about the accident. Never speak to are presentative from an insurance company about the accident. If you are unsure of whether you should talk to someone about your accident, then you probably should not. When speaking to a police officer or investigative officer about an accident, stick to the facts. If you are unsure of a fact, do not guess. If you guess about a fact and are wrong, this can help the insurance company. After an accident, hire an attorney right away to advise you on giving statements. An attorney can step into your shoes and communicate with the insurance company in a way that helps your case.
A: In most cases, you do not want to post anything on social media regarding the facts of the accident or your injuries. In fact, during the pendency of your case, take a break from all social media. Insurance companies will find you on social media and look for any content that will undermine your case. It is always better to just stay off social media until your case is finished.
A: Yes. If you are not 50% at fault or greater, than you can still receive compensation for your injuries. If you are less than 50% at fault, then the amount of your percentage of fault decreases your recovery accordingly. For example, if a jury awarded you $100,000 for your injuries, but decided you were 30% at fault for the accident, then you would receive $70,000 or 70% of $100,000.
A: Not usually. In almost all cases, your health insurance company will need to begin paying bills when you begin treating. If Personal Injury Protection (PIP) is available, then your health insurance company will begin making payments once PIP is exhausted (for more information on PIP, see What is No Fault Insurance and PIP?) If you do not have health insurance, then you will need the help of an attorney to find doctors and medical providers that will treat your injuries and who will postpone payment of medical bills until you receive a settlement. Otherwise, medical bills can pile up and cause great stress in your life.
A: In Utah and in twelve other states, every person injured in an accident, regardless of whose fault, is entitled to receive No Fault benefits. These benefits are part of automobile coverage. Under No Fault you are entitled up to $3,000 for medical bills, $250 per week for lost wages, and up to $25 per day for 365 a day for household services. You can still make a claim on the at-fault party’s insurance for bodily injury even if you receive No Fault benefits. Click here for more information on No Fault/PIP coverages.
A: The statute of limitations is the period of time in which you have to file a lawsuit to preserve your claim. If you wait to file a lawsuit of the statute of limitations deadline has passed, then you can no longer make a claim. It is critical that you contact ATTORNEY right away to avoid going past the statute of limitations. In Utah, there’s a 4-year statute of limitations for most personal injury claims. However, this time period may be shorter than four years. If the responsible party is a government agency or representative of a government agency, then you must file a Notice of Claim within 1 year of the date of injury. If you do not file a Notice of Claim within 1 year, then your claim is barred against the government. Please click here for more information on making a Governmental Claim.
A: If you or a loved one are involved in an accident, the first priority is to seek medical treatment as soon as possible and for as long as needed. If you have ANY symptoms, do not refuse medical treatment at the scene. Inform the first responders of every symptom and injury. Do not assume that they are document everything that you are feeling. You need to tell the paramedics and doctors everything that hurts. After you are discharged from the doctor or hospital, continue to follow up as long as needed until every symptom is adequately addressed or resolved. Do not assume that your doctors will take care of everything for you. You need to tell the doctors how you are doing. If something is still bothering you, get an appointment and treat for it.
Contact me, an experienced personal injury lawyer, right away. I can make sure you are getting good medical treatment, coordinate medical bills, investigate the accident, and deal with the insurance companies right away. You need to focus on getting better. Have a family member or friend take photographs and video of the scene as soon as possible after the accident. Do not rely on an investigating authority to do this. Police officers don’t always take photographs and they rarely take video.
Do not give any recorded or unrecorded statements, except with a police officer or treating provider. When giving a statement, be as brief as necessary to convey the necessary information but no more. Do not guess about what happened. If you guess, you can be wrong, and this can effect the outcome of your case. For example, you may be asked how fast the other car was going in an automobile accident. Unless you saw the speedometer of the other car, which you most certainly did not, do not guess the speed. Instead, give a broad description, such as, “The car was going much faster than the other cars,” or “He came out of nowhere.” Always be truthful. Sometimes, saying “I don’t know,” is the only true, accurate answer.
Keep all evidence. If you think it has anything to do with the accident or was in any way a part of the accident, do not get rid of it. Things you may not believe are relevant and important can become very important.
A: When someone is negligent, he or she does something or behaves in a way that is unreasonable. For example, if I leave a saw blade in my front yard while children are playing in the yard, most of us would agree that I should not do that. Doing so would be unreasonable. Most of you would require that I put the sawblade in a place that is not accessible to children. This would be reasonable.
If a child then picked up the saw blade and cut herself, I could be liable for her damages because I was negligent.
A: It is rare that a case goes all the way to trial. More than 90% of cases settle before going to trial. A high percentage of cases settle before filing a lawsuit. Some will settle after filing a lawsuit but before going to trial.
A: In the unfortunate event that you have a family member die in an accident, you may bring a “wrongful death” claim against the responsible person. Typically, for married people, the spouse makes the claim for herself/himself and children, if any. If the decedent had no spouse, then any heir may make the claim. An heir may be a child, parents, or sibling. In a wrongful death claim, the family members may claim damages for losing the financial and emotional support of the decedent. For example, if 3 children lost their father in a tragic construction accident, and the father was supporting each of the children with his wages, then the children can make a claim for their financial loss. If the decedent incurred medical bills as a result of the accident, then the family members may recoup the cost of those bills. Additionally, if the decedent suffered during the remaining part of his or her life, then the family may recover money for that suffering.
A: Yes. If you are injured while on the job, contact us immediately. You are entitled to Workers Compensation benefits from your employer. If there’s a person partially or fully at fault for your injuries, and that person is not an employee of your company, then you can make a third-party claim against that company. In this scenario, you would be able to receive Workers Compensation benefits in addition to recovering from the company that caused your injuries.
A: Mediation is a way to negotiate a settlement of your injury claim. Both parties agree on a mediator (usually a retired judge or lawyer). The mediator receives all the pertinent case information from each side’s attorney. The mediator then meets with all the people involved at one office location. The parties then exchange settlement amounts and terms. If the settlement amount is acceptable to the negotiating parties, then the case may settle. It is all voluntary, and no one is required to accept any amount.
Arbitration works more like an informal trial. The parties agree on an arbitrator who will decide the case. Most arbitrations are binding and may only be appealed under certain circumstances. The parties present their case to the arbitrator who then awards the injured person a sum of money or decides that the injured person receives no money based upon the facts and laws of the case. Arbitration is usually less costly than trial and resolved more quickly than going to trial.
A: Unfortunately, it may take months or years to receive a settlement or award from the responsible party. Until then, without health insurance, you are stuck with the bills. This can cause a great deal of stress, affect your credit score, and even lead to bankruptcy.
It is always best to pay your medical bills as soon as they come due. If you cannot afford to pay your own medical bills and you don’t have health insurance, then most hospitals, doctors, and other medical providers will send your bills to a collection agency and/or file a hospital lien with the local court. A hospital lien is a legal document that obligates you and your attorneys to pay the outstanding medical bill out of any settlement that you receive. It is always preferable to have a hospital lien placed on your account rather than to have your bills sent to collections. An experienced attorney will contact all of your medical providers as soon as possible to coordinate the execution of a hospital lien to avoid the hassle of dealing with a collection agency.
A: No. Weonly get paid if you get paid. If you lose your case or are unable to receivemoney in a settlement, then we eat all of the cost. You will never have to paycosts or attorney’s fees out of your own pocket.