No one plans on getting into a car accident. However, the actions you take can have a significant impact on several aspects of your life in the coming weeks, months, and possibly even years.
Not doing something or doing something wrong can make or break your claim.
What Should You Do if You’ve Been in a Car Accident?
After your accident you should:
- Call the police
Even if there are no apparent injuries, you will still need to have an accident report from a local law enforcement agency.
- Take pictures of both vehicles
Today’s smartphones have made it easier than ever to collect evidence at the scene of auto accidents. If you are physically able, take pictures of the damages to all vehicles involved at the scene as this is valuable evidence in your case.
You can also take pictures of the road, any skid marks that might be present, the intersection and road conditions. Get shots from several different angles whenever possible.
- Get medical attention ASAP
If you are injured, receiving medical attention should be your top priority. Even if you don’t feel that your injuries are severe enough to be seen in the emergency room, make it a point to see a physician as soon as possible to document any injuries you have and the pain you are experiencing.
- Report the car accident to your car insurance company
Generally, you should not talk with car insurance companies after a Utah car crash. Your Utah car crash lawyer should be the one to talk with car insurance companies. However, you should report the accident to your car insurance company.
- Take pictures of visible injuries
Just like pictures of your vehicle add valuable evidence to your case, pictures of your injuries will do the same.
- Call a seasoned Utah car accident lawyer
Once your medical condition is stable, reach out to a Utah car accident attorney as soon as possible.
How Can a Utah Car Accident Lawyer Help You?
At first glance, and especially if your car accident wasn’t severe, you might decide you should file a claim and handle this matter yourself. However, it’s essential to consider the ways in which a skilled Utah car accident attorney can help you in this often-complex matter.
Increase the Chances of a Fair Settlement
First, multiple studies conducted by the insurance industry show that on average, car accident victims with an attorney get settlements 3.5 times larger. Insurance companies know that claimants who are represented by an attorney are well-informed and take this situation seriously. They also know that their claimant’s Utah car accident lawyer will work tirelessly to get them the compensation they deserve.
Stop Car Insurance Companies from Contacting You
Your Utah car accident lawyer can also ensure that the car insurance companies are not contacting you. Not only does this stop unwanted and sometimes harassing phone calls while you are trying to recover, but it also protects you from saying something to them that could harm your case. Instead of contacting you for questions or information, they will need to contact your attorney.
Investigate Your Accident
When you hire an attorney, you hire someone who will investigate your accident by:
- Collecting applicable photographs
- Getting witness testimony
- Obtaining medical records and bills from your providers and verifying their accuracy
- Keeping track of your medical bills and liens
Work for You
Keep in mind, your Utah auto accident lawyer works for you. They should keep open lines of communication and answer your questions. They should also obey your wishes. If you do not feel that a settlement you are offered is fair and want to proceed to trial, they should honor that. Likewise, if you are happy with a settlement that is offered, they should allow you to accept it and not proceed with litigation.
Who Pays for the Damages to Your Car?
It is important to understand that you can file a first or a third-party claim for the damages to your vehicle in an accident. If you decide to file a claim with your own insurance carrier directly, this is known as a first-party claim. Some folks don’t pay for property damage coverage for their own vehicle and can’t file this kind of claim.
Your insurance company is obligated to fulfill the conditions of your policy, which is considered a legally binding contract. Their obligation is to pay you up to the amount of your policy limits of your collision coverage, depending on the value of your vehicle’s damages. Your own insurance company will then work with the other driver’s insurance company to reimburse them for the repairs.
Instead of submitting a first-party claim, you could file what is called a third-party claim with the other driver’s insurance company. They only pay if they decide that their insured driver is at fault. Either way, having the representation of an experienced Utah car accident lawyer can help ensure that you are being paid what you should be for the damages to your vehicle.
Either insurance company will require you to obtain at least one estimate on the damage done to your car. In Utah, insurance companies are allowed to ask for multiple estimates. There is no minimum number of estimates you have to submit, but neither is there a limit to the number that an insurance company may request.
What is Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Car Insurance?
All Utah passenger car vehicle drivers are mandated by law to carry personal injury protection coverage (PIP) of at least $3,000. This excludes motorcyclists and semi-truck drivers. If you are injured in an accident, you are required to file a PIP claim with your own insurance company and not with the at-fault driver’s company.
PIP pays for lost income, medical expenses such as emergency room visits, physical therapy, prescriptions, and other related expenses. This coverage is also commonly referred to as no-fault insurance and covers these expenses no matter who is at fault for the accident. It extends to any passengers in your vehicle at the time of the accident, as well as any pedestrians or bicyclists involved.
With PIP coverage, you don’t have to pay the benefits back, and it is usually paid by your own insurance carrier. The liable driver’s car insurance company cannot claim a credit based on the PIP benefits you have received.
Utah’s Required Liability Car Insurance Minimum
In addition to PIP coverage, each Utah driver must carry insurance coverage to pay for the injuries or deaths of other parties if they are at fault. The minimum amount required is $25,000 / $65,000. This means $25,000 for bodily injury or death of one person in any one accident and $65,000 for two or more people who are injured or die as a result of a single-car accident. For property damage, drivers have to have at least $15,000 in coverage. The entire auto insurance policy must provide at least $80,000 in coverage between bodily injury liability and property damage.
What is Underinsured Motorist / Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
There are also elective coverages that you can add to your mandated policy coverage types. Uninsured/Underinsured motorist (UIM/UM) coverage is an elective coverage that proves beneficial if the liable driver’s auto insurance coverage is not sufficient to cover all of your damages.
For example, if a driver hit your car but did not have insurance coverage or only had the minimum required coverage, but your damages exceeded that minimum, this elective coverage would kick in and could be used to pay the difference. Most drivers select policy limits for this coverage that mirror their own liability coverage amounts.
Since it is not required by law, you can waive this coverage. However, there are very specific requirements to do so. If your car insurance is claiming you waived UIM/UM coverage, a seasoned Utah car accident lawyer can help you fight their denial.
What is the Statute of Limitations for Utah Car Accident Claims?
Like most states, Utah sets a statute of limitations that requires auto insurance accident lawsuits to be filed within a set amount of time. A statute of limitations helps lawsuits to be grounded in recent evidence. It assumes that the matter is pressing to the plaintiff.
Without a statute of limitations, lawsuits could occur from accidents that happened many years ago, making it unlikely that defendants could reasonably defend themselves.
In Utah, the statute of limitations for car accidents is four years from the date of the accident. If your lawsuit is not filed within this timeframe, you will lose your right to seek compensation for your damages through the legal system.
If you are injured in a car accident, it is imperative that you contact an experienced Utah car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Not only will this ensure your claim is filed within the statute of limitations but that your case utilizes fresh and conclusive evidence that can be lost or damaged over time.
What Other Requirements are There to Filing a Utah Car Accident Lawsuit?
Because of Utah’s PIP requirements, not everyone can file a personal injury lawsuit if they are injured in an auto accident in this state. To be eligible under Utah laws to file a personal injury lawsuit, your claim must meet one of these requirements:
- Permanent disability or permanent impairment based upon objective findings
- Permanent disfigurement
- Medical expenses to a person that exceed $3,000
If you are unsure as to whether your claim is eligible, it is best to speak with a knowledgeable Utah car accident lawyer. When you meet with a lawyer, they can ascertain the depths of your damages and determine if you have a valid legal claim or not.
What is Utah’s Comparative Fault/Negligence Law?
In some accidents, there is more than one at-fault party, and even you can have some fault. It is for these situations that Utah law addresses comparative fault.
Perhaps you were driving to work one morning when your wallet fell on the floor. As you bent down to grab it, you went through an intersection. At the same time, a driver coming from the opposite direction blew through a red light and hit your vehicle.
While the other driver caused the accident, the defense in your case will claim that you also caused the accident. In Utah, as long as you are less than 50 percent at fault for your accident, you can still recover your damages, but they will be reduced.
For example, if your entire claim is worth $100,000, but the jury finds you ten percent liable, you will only receive $90,000. The plaintiff’s degree of fault is subtracted from the total amount of the award. Your fault will also be considered if a settlement is to be negotiated out of court.
How Much is Your Utah Car Accident Claim Worth?
If you were recently injured in an auto accident, you are likely wondering what your claim could be worth. This is naturally a pressing question as you face medical bills and daily pain and suffering.
Unfortunately, there is no way to predict with precision what your claim will be worth, though an experienced Utah car accident lawyer can draw from resources to help estimate the amount of compensation your claim could garner. Many factors can increase or decrease its value, including:
- The severity and type of injuries sustained
- Your pain and suffering
- Any temporary or permanent disability incurred
- Scarring or disfigurement
- Any loss of lifestyle
- Your future medical needs
- Past medical bills
- Comparative fault
- The amount of time you will be off work
- If you will be able to return to work
- Your legal counsel
To help determine the value of your claim, your Utah car accident lawyer will look for comparable jury awards and can use mock jury surveys to evaluate your claim’s worth.
How Do You Pay for a Utah Car Accident Lawyer?
Not understanding how Utah car accident lawyer’s get paid, many people who have valid personal injury lawsuits do not reach out for the help they need. Ultimately, they might leave thousands of dollars on the table that could have been used to help pay for their damages.
At Creekside Injury Law, our commitment is to get you the legal help you need and deserve.
- We don’t require money upfront from you – not even to cover our costs as some firms do
- We only get paid when you receive a settlement – if you do not receive one, we do not get paid, and you owe us nothing
- We get a smaller percentage of your settlement than most other law firms take
- If you don’t get paid by hiring us, we don’t get paid
Injured in a Car Accident? Reach Out to an Experienced Utah Car Accident Attorney
We have extensive experience representing car accident victims and determining fair compensation for their damages and injuries. Auto insurance carriers are often partial when offering payment because they are the ones responsible for paying for your claim.
It is not uncommon for them to try to attempt to pay you as little as possible, which is typically much less than what you need to recover from your auto accident.
Your body, wallet, and mind have already suffered enough from the damage of your car accident. Do not take any further loss by accepting compensation that isn’t enough to fairly pay you for your injuries.
Helping auto accident victims is our passion and an area of expertise at our firm. Let us help you get what is rightfully yours. This is a confusing and overwhelming time in your life. You likely have many questions and concerns as you navigate this path.
We are here to address your questions and guide you as to your next steps. Remember that you only have a certain amount of time to file an injury lawsuit after a car accident. Call or contact Creekside Injury Law to get your case started today and to find out how we can help you during this difficult time of life.
DISCLAIMER: this article is for general informational purposes only. This article does not create an attorney-client relationship with the reader. No representations or warranties are made about the accuracy of this article.