Getting injured in an accident is awful. It can be life changing. At the very least, it’s a major inconvenience.
You now need to figure out a few things: How do I pay for the resulting medical bills? How do I open up a personal injury claim with the right insurance company? Can I handle this myself or do I need to hire a personal injury lawyer?
When to hire a Utah personal injury attorney
You have suffered an injury
Small injuries like minor bruises or very small and temporary cuts do not call for hiring a personal injury lawyer. However, if you plan to treat your injuries with any sort of medical treatment, you should hire a personal injury lawyer.
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Why? Well, there are many studies that show you will get a larger settlement offer from the insurance company than if you tried to pursue your own claim. This means money in your pocket. An experienced personal injury lawyer knows the claims process and knows how to make personal injury claims worth more.
You can’t afford your medical bills
Our law firm can help you if you are struggling or overwhelmed with your medical bills. It’s not your fault that the accident occurred, why should you be the one to deal with the costs? There are some options to help with your medical bills: (1) have your own insurance pay for the medical treatment, (2) ask the medical providers to pause collecting the bills until after a settlement, (3) bring in a company that gives you money if you promise to pay them from a future settlement.
You need medical treatment
Often, people don’t know how to get the medical treatment that they need. A good Utah personal injury law firm will know the best medical providers. Personal injury attorneys also know medical providers that will not charge injured clients on the promise that they will get paid after a settlement.
Insurance companies love it when injured people do not get medical treatment. They will use it as evidence that someone really isn’t hurt. They’ll say that if you have severe injuries, you would take them time to get better.
The insurance company is being difficult
An insurance company likes to keep its money. They have different tactics to accomplish this major goal and they make insurance claims difficult on purpose. Often, they’ll ignore you or they’ll take weeks to get back to you.
Sometimes, they’ll rush you and push you to settle. They know that the sooner they get you to settle your personal injury claim, the cheaper it will be for them. Why?
Because you don’t know the full extent of your injuries. You could have severe injuries that manifest themselves a little bit later. You could also require more medical treatment than you initially think.
All of this adds up and the insurance company wins if you settle fast. Do NOT accept the first settlement offer that you receive. Seek legal advice if you are handling your claim on your own.
Multiple parties are involved
Sometimes in a car accident, and other injury accidents, multiple people or businesses are at-fault for your injuries. When this happens, things can get messy… especially because that means multiple insurance companies will be involved.
Often the different third parties will point fingers at each other trying to avoid liability for your minor and/or serious injuries. This can make you feel stuck in the middle even when you’re not the at fault party.
An experienced personal injury attorney can help sort this mess out. Sometimes just the presence of a law firm will fix things. If not, a personal injury lawsuit may be necessary. Insurance companies will often try to bully you when you don’t have a lawyer. Even the playing field by hiring an experienced lawyer.
You may be partly to blame
In a personal injury claim, the insurance company may blame you for your own injuries. You can still be partly at fault for a car accident in Utah or any other accident and still seek compensation from the other parties at fault. HOWEVER, this is only true if a jury finds you to be less than 50% at fault for the accident.
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Personal injury lawyers are your best bet to recover money when the insurance company blames you. Sometimes, the legal system is the only way to get a reasonable and fair settlement offer.
When should I handle my own personal injury claim?
Only your property is damaged
Everyday, a lot of accidents happen in Utah. Not all of them require a personal injury lawyer. When your car or other property is damaged, but, you are not, then you should probably handle the insurance claim yourself.
Why? Well, a personal injury lawyer will likely charge you per hour to handle a property damage only claim. Property damage cases are different than personal injury cases.
At $250 – $400 an hour, legal fees rack up fast. Sometimes, the attorney fees will be higher than what the property value is. It often doesn’t make sense to hire an attorney for just a property claim.
Here are some quick tips for handling your own property damage claim:
- Provide photos, videos, and other evidence of the property damage to the insurance company
- Allow the insurance company to perform an inspection
- Submit comparable values via accepted authorities (Kelly Bluebook, NADA, etc.)
- Ask for a second opinion from a body shop, different inspection company, etc.
- Show comparable values via third-party listings and sales in your area (KSL, Facebook, etc.)
If none of these things work, then you may need to start the legal process your own by filing in small claims court. You will want to study the following webpage very carefully before and during your small claims filing: https://www.utcourts.gov/howto/smallclaims/
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All insurance policy limits were offered
If all of the available accident insurance policy limits were offered, then you may not need a personal injury lawyer. A Utah personal injury lawyer usually takes one third of any settlement (our law firm actually takes less). If there is no more money to collect, then it doesn’t make sense to hire a licensed attorney.
However, people often don’t realize there is more insurance coverage than they think. Your own insurance may apply: car insurance, homeowner’s insurance, renter’s insurance, disability insurance, etc. I believe it is in your best interest to at least call an attorney for an initial consultation in order to see if an attorney can find more applicable insurance coverage for your accident.
Typically, it is a free evaluation / free consultation so there is no risk in at least having a phone call.
Insurance companies don’t like personal injury lawyers
You need to ask yourself why insurance companies don’t like personal injury lawyers. Remember: insurance companies want to keep as much money as possible.
They’ll often have their employees tell you that your attorney will just take all of the settlement money and leave you with no compensation. If they can get you to not contact a lawyer, they will have taken away almost all of your power to fight back. You will be at their mercy and whatever settlement offer that they give you.
If you do hire a lawyer, the insurance company will then have to hire their own lawyer. This costs them money and they hate that. Note: some companies have their own attorney on salary so a lawsuit doesn’t cost them more.
However, a lawsuit always costs them more money. Why? Because they will need to spend money filing paperwork, doing depositions, hiring court reporters, hiring lawsuit expert witnesses, etc.
If they don’t do those things, they will lose the lawsuit. Just filing a lawsuit gets your file in front of a different insurance employee. You see, they train employees to lowball people and then they specifically train other employees to handle the file after a lawsuit.
The employees that handle your claim after a lawsuit will do their own evaluation and they typically will place more value on your claim than what the other employee did. Having a lawyer file a lawsuit typically creates an instant increase in the value of a claim.
I have seen lowball offers increased by four times just because I filed a lawsuit. Seriously!
Should I hire a personal injury attorney?
The answer is typically: YES! I believe that you will most likely get more money in your pocket if you get a lawyer. The nice thing is that most lawyers take personal injury cases on a contingency basis so that you don’t have to pay them upfront.
If you have any questions about your accident, injuries, insurance claims, etc. please don’t hesitate to reach out. Even on a free case review, we will maintain a confidential relationship and give you the same advice that we would give our own mom.