Myth #1: You have to “go to court” or sue someone after a car accident.
Almost always, you do not need to file a lawsuit to receive compensation for your auto accident claim. Instead, you or your attorney will open up an insurance claim with the insurance company of the driver that caused the accident.
After the claim is open, you deal only with the insurance adjuster to finalize the claim. Nothing is filed with the court, and each side negotiates a settlement.
At the start, many of my clients are uncomfortable even talking to me as a personal injury attorney. They think they will need to sue someone, which can be uncomfortable. Most of us shy away from confrontation and think it’s wrong to take legal action.
Hiring a car accident lawyer is a lot less confrontational for you than not having a lawyer. It’s unlikely that you will ever talk to the other driver that caused the accident. Most of the time, after you get an attorney, you won’t even need to talk to an insurance agent.
If you are in a car accident, the insurance company for the at-fault driver expects you to make a claim. That’s why there is insurance. I’m always amazed when I hear some people say that they don’t want to ask for insurance money that is rightfully owed to them.
In some rare cases, the insurance company does not want to pay you enough money to settle your claim. They may think you share some or most of the fault for the car accident or believe that some or all of your injuries didn’t happen in the accident.
When an insurance company doesn’t offer a fair amount of money to settle the claim, you may have to “sue” the driver that caused the car accident. Even though you are suing the driver, the insurance company hires an attorney to represent the driver in the lawsuit.
If you win the case, the insurance company, not the driver, pays the money.
Myth #2: The other driver has to pay the bill out of his or her pocket.
The driver that caused the accident does not have to pay out of pocket as long as he or she has car insurance. Unless you were injured by a very wealthy person, the insurance money is all you’re going to be able to get.
Many people choose to not go after the at-fault driver because they don’t want to be seen as a greedy or unfair person. In reality, the at-fault driver has insurance and has bought the insurance in case they make a mistake and injure you.
There’s no reason to feel bad about trying to get the at-fault driver’s insurance money.
Every state except New Hampshire requires automobile insurance. Assuming the driver that hit you has followed the law and has automobile insurance, you will get compensation from the insurance company.
Keep in mind, however, that Utah law requires drivers to buy only $25,000 worth of insurance. A lot of times, $25,000 is not enough to cover your losses. What should you do?
Act now! Ask your insurance agent about your Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM) limits. UIM coverage is insurance you can buy for yourself in case the person that injures you does not have enough insurance. It’s very cheap to buy but can mean all the difference to your financial security if you get injured.
Myth #3: There are too many big verdicts and frivolous lawsuits.
In the past few decades, some newspapers have published shocking headlines about frivolous lawsuits and big verdicts. “Woman spills hot coffee and gets millions!” or “Man gets shot while robbing a home, sues the homeowner, and gets millions.” People read these headlines and just shake their heads.
I’ve been handling personal injury cases for Siegfried & Jensen for almost eight years. I’ve seen hundreds and hundreds of cases, especially car accident cases. Never once have I seen a frivolous case in our office. Never once has a client received more than his or her claim was worth.
All of the economic pressures steer attorneys away from frivolous cases.
Think about it this way. I only get paid if my client gets paid. My receiving a paycheck is contingent upon the strength of the case. I would never want to take a frivolous case because the insurance company won’t pay my injured client for a frivolous case.
Auto insurance companies want to keep their money. If there’s a problem with a case that will keep me from winning, the insurance company will fight me tooth and nail to keep its money. I’m worried about spending a lot of time and money on a case that I have no chance of winning.
Our jury system helps prevent unfair verdicts and frivolous lawsuits.
Before a case even gets to trial, a judge can kick it out if it’s frivolous. The case must have some merit to go all the way to a jury trial. The fact a case gets to a jury trial tells you that the judge did not think the case was frivolous.
If a car accident case goes to trial, there are 8 – 12 jurors that will decide that case. If eight jurors decide to award a big verdict, there’s probably a good reason for it. In other words, you need to look past the headlines. The jury spends hours listening and considering all the evidence. It’s very likely that you would change your mind about a case if you heard all of the facts.
A shocking headline cannot cover all of the important facts.
When I hand my clients their money, I always ask, was that experience worth the amount of this check. Only one time out of hundreds has a client ever answered “yes” to this question.
Trust me. You don’t want a $1,000,000 injury. It probably involves someone dying, losing a limb, receiving a serious brain injury, or some other permanent, serious injury.