The claims process after a car accident can be confusing when it comes to seeking damages and getting a recovery. Many car accidents result in injuries ranging from minor to debilitating. When harm occurs because of someone else’s negligence, a victim typically pursues a personal injury claim with an insurance company. However, not all accidents result in injury. In some situations, you can file a lawsuit even though you are not physically hurt, but there must be cause to pursue a recovery.
Consult with a vehicle accident attorney to learn how property or other potential losses apply. Most car accident lawyers offer a free case evaluation to assess and determine whether proceeding with a lawsuit makes sense. At Siegfried and Jensen, we gladly review the facts and objectively assess your right to compensation.
What Should You Know About Utah Insurance Claims?
Car insurance protections work differently in each state based on their fault laws. There are two insurance categories states fall under:
- At-fault: The driver responsible for the accident files a claim with their insurance to cover the losses of another party or parties in an accident.
- No-fault: Drivers in no-fault states carry personal injury protection to cover their accident injuries. No-fault insurance only applies to personal injuries, so drivers are liable for property damages.
Personal injury protection has important exclusions, limits and conditions based on each state’s insurance codes. Utah is one of 12 no-fault states. The primary advantage of a no-fault insurance system is a streamlined claims process. If a person is not injured in an accident or has minor injuries, many claims are resolved quickly with no-fault insurance. The drawback for injured persons is not receiving compensation for the pain and suffering that often occurs after being hurt in an accident.
Can You Sue for Property Damage?
If you have property damage and other financial losses from a car accident, the driver who is at fault should have liability coverage to make compensation. In most cases, where coverage is adequate, these claims can be settled with few issues when fault is apparent. These are damages you can recover under most insurance policies:
- Auto repair
- Auto replacement (based on the auto’s current value)
- Personal property replacement costs (i.e., smartphones, eyewear, laptops and other goods of value)
Sometimes, settling an insurance claim is not a straightforward process. If an insurance company doesn’t want to pay costs for repair or replacement that are fair, you could sue for property damages. The amount of damages you plan to pursue determines whether a lawsuit is worth the time, effort, and cost. You want to be sure you will come out ahead. Talking with a car accident attorney helps clarify reasonable expectations given your case circumstances.
Another matter of note is that while states require people to have liability insurance coverage, there are a considerable number of uninsured drivers. If an individual has no insurance and no means to pay damages, your uninsured motorist insurance covers your costs up to a specified limit.
Can You File a Suit for Emotional or Psychological Damages?
Personal injury law holds that you must have sustained damages to pursue an action for recovery. In most accident cases, the outcomes of physical injury prompt individuals to talk with a car accident lawyer to get relief from medical expenses and wage losses. Aside from physical problems, many victims suffer from emotional and mental anguish. These are significant stress-related conditions and emotional traumas that result from car crashes:
- Chronic anxiety
- Sleep disorders
- Fear of driving
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
If you did not have a physical injury, but emotional damages impair your life, there may be cause for filing a personal injury lawsuit. Pain and suffering are crucial considerations in an injury case. The negligent actions of another driver that disrupt your ability to engage in everyday life is a significant concern. Working with a skilled attorney who can demonstrate actual losses is essential to have a viable case for non-economic damages.
How Do You Prove Emotional and Psychological Distress?
Unlike physical injuries, emotional and stress-related conditions are challenging to prove in a personal injury case. A high burden of proof must be met in these four ways: the presence of a duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages (harm). You must show that a defendant had a duty to act responsibly (as any other person would) and, by breaching that duty, is directly responsible for your injuries.
You must also be able to prove you suffered harm. If you have an emotional or psychological condition resulting from an accident, you will likely be under the care of a therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist. An attorney uses your medical records as evidence in your case. A lawyer may want written statements from family members, employers, colleagues and friends about the change in your mental state and well-being. This can be powerful material support for permanent impairment or disability, especially when you can no longer lead the life you once did.
Is It Worth Pursuing a Claim Without a Physical Injury?
Car accident injury compensation is handled differently by each state based on established insurance codes. Under Utah’s conditions for personal injury protection, medical expenses must exceed $3,000 to have a cause of action to seek additional damages in a car accident case. Additionally, there are specific criteria to show a personal injury qualifies for further legal action outside of PIP. Emotional or mental distress is qualified in the insurance code as “permanent disability or permanent impairment based on objective findings.”
An attorney carefully evaluates your case to see if it will stand up under legal scrutiny and whether the case has significant value to make it worthwhile to pursue. If your case has merit and you decide to hire a personal injury firm, most lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. This means you don’t pay unless they win your case for you. However, a claim must have considerable value to be worthy of a lawsuit. An attorney can quickly discern the general merits of a case at an initial consult.
What If Injury Symptoms Don’t Appear Right Away?
Something to know about apparent non-injury accidents is that it can take time for physical symptoms to appear. You may not seem hurt, but health concerns can surface after a few weeks or longer. After a crash, it is important to have a thorough examination. If you have post-accident medical issues (physical or mental), get treatment immediately and talk with an attorney.
How Long Do You Have To Decide About Suing?
The statute of limitations in Utah to file a personal injury lawsuit is four years from the date of the accident. Get an appointment with an attorney before making any decisions about claims. Saying the wrong thing or doing the wrong thing could end your chances to get a recovery.
Get a Utah Lawyer To Evaluate Accident Issues
At Siegfried and Jensen, our experienced accident attorneys know the complexities of personal injury law and how to handle these cases. Some accidents that don’t involve injuries can be quickly resolved. Yet, from our many years representing clients, we know there are car accident issues that are not immediately known and require legal representation. Contact us for free case evaluation, and let’s see what we can do for you.