Boating is an activity many people look forward to all year for relaxation and fun with family and friends. Though most boating enthusiasts take safety on the water seriously, it only takes one careless person to cause great damage to those around them.
If you’re reading this, you may have been severely injured in a boat accident. You may be in pain. You’ve probably missed work and are now worried about paying your bills. You are most likely searching for someone you can trust to help with a boat accident claim.
We are here to help. We offer legal advice. Call our Utah boat accident attorneys today.
Please don’t hesitate to call because you are worried about needing cash to pay for answers to your questions. Just call as soon as you can and schedule your free legal consultation.
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A lot of people make the mistake of believing that handling their boat accident claim without a lawyer will save them money. In reality, most of the people who don’t have a lawyer receive far less than those with experienced attorneys. A lawyer with the right skills for your claim type can not only maximize your compensation, but they can also make the difference between winning and losing your claim.
There are many ways that retaining a lawyer protects the value of the claim, resulting in maximum compensation.
There are many things you can do to help protect your claim’s value from dropping.
Though it may seem unlikely, it’s possible to not be sure whether you’re injured after a boat accident. Your system is probably flooded with stress hormones—a natural response to traumatic events. The effect can mask pain while also booting strength and energy. If you don’t realize this is happening to you, you can end up waiting or failing to go to the doctor entirely, putting both your health and your claim at risk.
If you’ve got internal injuries, such as internal bleeding or head trauma, they may not be apparent to you, but can threaten your life if left untreated.
Failing to pursue an exam can also jeopardize your claim, as the insurance company will happily suggest you weren’t hurt because you didn’t go to the doctor. If you go after waiting a day or two (or more), the insurance company is likely to pounce on that, as well. They can say you could have been injured in an unrelated accident on a later date—an unrelated accident you are now using to trying to “cash in on.”
Proving you were injured days before you get to the doctor is often next-to-impossible. The closer the date and time of your exam are to the accident event, the stronger your proof that the accident is what hurt you. Protect your life and your claim; get a medical exam.
It’s not uncommon for this one to take people by surprise. After all, what does their treatment plan have to do with the value of their claim? As it turns out, a great deal.
Part of the value of your accident claim is going to hinge on proving who is at-fault. Initially, the party or parties responsible for causing the accident are the at-fault parties. When you are eventually treated for your injuries and released to continue healing on your own, you will be given a treatment plan to follow.
Your treatment plan is comprised of all the ways you can assist in your own recovery, such as taking medications according to schedule, attending physical therapy sessions, and getting lots of rest.
But your treatment plan also includes things you should not do until you’re cleared by your doctor. If you choose not to follow these instructions, the insurance company can, and very likely will blame you if your recovery backslides.
Say, for example, you are advised not to work on your computer until your traumatic brain injury heals, because looking at screens triggers migraines. If the insurance adjuster discovers you’ve been back at work on your computer prior to doctor’s approval, the insurance company will blame you if you are still plagued by migraines after you should have recovered. And if you didn’t follow your treatment plan, they may get away with it.
Whether or not the insurance company succeeds with this accusation, you can expect them to try. The result will either delay your claim’s resolution as you scramble to prove you are not responsible for your migraines, or your claim will be devalued because your migraines were determined to be your own fault.
Don’t give the insurance company the ability to sneak out of paying you. Follow doctor’s orders.
The insurance company is going to call you after the accident claim is filed to try and record your statement about the accident. It is critical not to agree to this.
The insurance company is not looking to help you. They are hoping to record you saying something they can use to refute your claim. You probably won’t even realize you’ve said something damaging, but you can bet they won’t miss it.
The best way to prevent the insurance company from tricking you into saying something you shouldn’t about your claim is to turn over all communications to your Utah boat accident attorneys.
We’ve listed several ways hiring an attorney can help you get the best results from your boat accident claim. If the insurance company sees you are representing yourself instead of hiring a lawyer, they know they can take advantage of you by delaying and denying your claim. They know without an attorney that you are not going to be able to sue them if they don’t offer you a reasonable settlement. Protect yourself from being mistreated by hiring an experienced boat accident attorney to advocate for you.
When you choose an attorney to handle your boat accident claim, make sure you select someone who will bring you the best results. Not every attorney is going to have experience in the practice area of personal injury or boat accidents.
Even though all boat accident attorneys are lawyers, not all lawyers are boat accident attorneys. Your best friend’s business litigation lawyer is not going to be the best person to handle your boat accident claim, unless that same lawyer also happens to spend a lot of time focused on personal injury claims that include boat accident cases.
Give yourself the best chance to maximize your compensation by making sure you retain a personal injury trial lawyer who has a winning record that includes boat accident claims. Most claims are resolved pre-trial after attorneys negotiate a settlement, but this isn’t always the case. If your claim must be presented to a jury to bring you the compensation you deserve, you’re going to need a lawyer who is experienced and comfortable presenting to a jury. Hire the right lawyer for the best chance at optimal results in your claim.
We are sharing this client story to help you know what to expect in your boat accident claim. While names and details have been edited to protect our clients’ privacy, the value of the story remains, so please read to the end. When you’re through, please call our Utah boat accident attorneys today to set up your own free legal consultation.
On a breezy summer day in Salt Lake City not very long ago, Janine, Terry, and Mia Green packed a cooler, donned their swimsuits, grabbed towels and sunscreen, and took off for Utah Lake. At nine years old, a day on their small pontoon boat was Mia’s idea of the best day ever.
As they exited Veteran’s Memorial Highway pulling their boat behind them, Terri conspicuously looked in the rearview until he caught Mia’s eye where she sat in the back seat. Then he looked over his shoulder out the back window and sighed, shaking his head.
“What is it, Dad?” Mia asked.
“That boat’s following us again,” Terry said, shaking his head in mock confusion.
“Daaaaaaad!” Mia squealed, laughing. It was a tired joke, but they laughed together even as they rolled their eyes.
They arrived just after 10 am and spent the morning swimming and hanging out in the sun. The weather was beautiful and there were many other families and groups out on the water on boats, rafts, jet skis, and paddle boards.
At noon, the small family cracked open their cooler and ate lunch. Mia proudly handed out the turkey sandwiches, having helped her mom put them together that morning. She was obsessed with cooking and loved to watch all the chefs competition shows, especially the ones in which the competitors were children. Mia considered herself on the cutting edge of haute cuisine.
Terry was starving. He dove into his turkey sandwich with abandon, only to freeze when it crunched in his mouth.
“Waff indiff?” He asked around the food in his mouth, afraid to finish chewing.
Janine froze with her sandwich halfway to her mouth, trying to recall when she’d made the mistake of leaving the kitchen while her daughter was sandwich-crafting. Must have been when Terry asked her where she put the sunblock.
She translated Terry’s to their daughter, “Yeah, Honey, what’s in this?” Try to sound casual.
“Cool Ranch Doritos and avocado mayo” Mia proudly announced. I thought it needed a little ‘zing.’
Terry suppressed the urge to gag and forced himself to swallow. “I can’t wait to see what’s for dessert,” he said, stalling and hoping he sounded sincere.
“Oh hey, is that a puppy on that paddle board?” Janine asked her daughter.
“Where?” As Mia spun, her parents tossed their sandwiches into the lake behind them in unison.
“Oh, no, I think that’s just a life vest. That guy really should be wearing it; it’s no good to him lying on his paddle board!” Mia declared. We always wear our life vests, she repeated solemnly aloud, “Right?”
“Right,” Terry agreed as his wife nodded. “Always.”
They waited an hour before going back into the water. By the time they were ready for another swim, the breeze was barely taking the edge off the heat. Mia had put her sandals back on to protect her feet from the hot boat deck. Impatient, she fidgeted as Janine climbed down the ladder ahead of her. They always made sure Mia was not the first person into the water, just in case something went wrong.
Terry caught Mia by the life jacket as she tried to follow her mom. He took her hat and sunglasses and made sure she kicked off her sandals. As she turned back to the ladder, they were startled by the sudden whine of an engine growing louder by the second. A small speedboat was heading right for them.
Terry jumped up and down waving his arms over his head yelling for the pilot to turn, but the boat seemed locked on them. It was closing fast.
Without another thought, Terry grabbed Mia and threw her overboard, then dove for the rail himself. Mia landed beside her mom seconds before the speed boat collided with the pontoon.
Thankfully, Janine and Mia were unharmed. Terry was struck by debris in the crash and his right arm was nearly severed. It would need to be amputated at the shoulder.
Janine scheduled a free legal consultation for her husband with the personal injury law firm of Parker & McConkie a week after he returned home from the hospital. He was in a lot of pain and knew he could expect a long recovery. He hadn’t even begun to process the loss by the time Utah Boat Accident Attorney Steven Jensen sat down with the couple in their Salt Lake City home.
Janine got everyone settled with lemonade in the sunroom as Mia appeared with a tray of cookies.
“And what do we have here?” Terry shot a cautionary glance at his wife, but Janine winked and whispered, ‘We’re good.’”
“Lemonade cookies!” Mia chirped, pushing the tray at Attorney Jensen, who thanked her and took one to go with his lemonade.
“I sense a theme,” he said, trying one out.
Terry quickly bit into one himself, just to make sure they didn’t have any mystery ingredients. Then his eyes closed and he smiled, “Mia, you’ve outdone yourself! These are incredible.”
“Absolutely,” Attorney Jensen agreed. “You’ll have to send me the recipe.”
And with that, Mia bounced off to her room, her feet barely touching the ground.
“Before we begin,” Janine said as Mia’s door closed, “We need to know what you charge. As you might imagine, our normal workdays came to a halt over two weeks ago. We haven’t worked out the details just yet, but I’ll be taking a leave and Terry, well, he’s going to need time to heal, physically and emotionally.”
“Absolutely,” said Attorney Jensen. “So, the good news is, there is no up-front cost to you. Our firm works on a contingency-fee model. We cover all case expenses, including investigation, all time spent communicating with the insurance company, any necessary research, and if it comes to it, trial. We cover the case from start to finish. In the end, we only receive compensation if we bring a successful resolution to your claim.”
“That is good news,” said Janine, picking up a cookie herself.
“Can you tell us what my claim might be worth?” Terry asked.
“The answer to that very important question is, ‘Yes, but not up front before we’ve got some specific information.
“You see, the value of your claim is going to depend on two things: the accident investigation and your damages.
“We can begin the investigation right away, collecting as much evidence to support your claim as possible and confirming all at-fault parties.
“To arrive at an accurate assessment of your damages, we’ll need you to recover to the point of maximum medical improvement. This ideally would mean healing back to your pre-accident level of health.
“Given that you’ve lost your limb, we know that isn’t going to happen. So, your maximum medical improvement will be when you’ve recovered as much as your doctors believe you capable of. It will mean you are done with surgeries, and we have a clear idea of what the future care—and impact—of your injuries will entail.
“We’ll be in communication with your medical team to determine when you reach this point. Your job, in the meantime, is to rest and follow doctors’ orders. Do any therapy the doctor recommends, be that physical, occupational, or psychological. Take your medications as directed and do not overdo it. Even if you’re feeling frustrated, go as fast as you can, but as slow as you have to. We need you to do everything on your end to help in your own healing process.
“When you reach maximum medical improvement, we’ll know what your damages are, both economic and non-economic. That’s when we can give you a case value you can believe in.
“I realize this answer is likely frustrating for you, as it’s not something we can know off the top of our heads. But every claim is unique to the circumstances, the pre-ancient health of the injured party, and the damages.
“We take case value assessment very seriously. We’re not going to guess, and I urge you to be very skeptical of any lawyer you interview who tosses a case value at you out of thin air.”
Terry sat back and looked at his wife, who sighed and raised her eyebrows at him. “Well, I guess that makes a lot of sense,” he said. “And no, I certainly wouldn’t want you guessing, because it wouldn’t be anything we could count on.”
“That’s right, Mr. Green. Guesses aren’t what you need right now,” said Attorney Jensen.
Janine leaned in. “How long is my husband’s claim likely to take?” She asked. “If you need to know his damages before you know what the case is worth, I assume it will take at least until he reaches maximum medical improvement?”
“That’s correct,” said Attorney Jensen. “That’s the first thing that will determine the case timeline. Once he reaches maximum medical improvement and we know the value of his claim, we’ll issue a demand letter to the insurance company. From that point on, the timeline is going to depend on whether they are agreeable to making a fair and reasonable settlement offer.
“If so, we can close your claim quickly. If they balk, we’ll file a lawsuit and take the case before a jury. Now, please try not to lose sleep over the possibility of a trial. All our firm’s attorneys are seasoned trial lawyers. We have a solid record of success resolving personal injury claims, including boat accident claims, both via negotiation and at trial.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if the insurance company knows us by reputation. They may be open to a settlement to avoid taking their chances in court. Juries are not sympathetic to people who operate speed boats while intoxicated, injuring others on the water.
“Whichever venue we must make your case in, we’ll be ready to fight to get you the compensation you deserve, Mr. Green,” said Attorney Jensen. “That’s why our firm will always recommend you retain an experienced trial attorney. You need your lawyer to be capable of handling any contingency.”
Terry and Janine were satisfied with what they’d learned during their free legal consultation. They retained Parker & McConkie, and Attorney Jensen got them over seven times the settlement amount initially offered by the insurance company.
We hope you’ve gained insight about your boat accident claim from the information on this page. No two claims are alike, however, so please reach out to set up a free legal consultation today. Let us answer the questions you have about your own claim and help you get the compensation you deserve.
Call 801-845-0440 to get in touch with a member of our firm after your accident. We can review your case for free!