No one ever expects to leave home and experience a car accident. The shock and adrenaline that follows immediately after the crash can make you feel disheveled. However, if you have the physical ability, you can start taking steps to protect your claim as soon as immediately after the crash. If you have questions about the details of your accident and what you need to prove your losses, an experienced Utah car accident lawyer can help you.

Steps You Can Take To Protect Your Right To Financial Compensation

Unless your injuries were so severe that you could do little other than wait for first responders to arrive and take you to the hospital, there are several steps you can take at the scene of the accident to start building your case:

  • Inform the police. If you sustained injuries or property damage, report the accident to the police immediately, even if the other driver asks you not to do so. When the police arrive, they will investigate the accident and document what they find, including their fault determination, in a police report you can access to support your claim.
  • Document visual evidence. Use your phone to record a video or take photos of the scene. For example, include images of your visible injuries, the damage to both vehicles, and the cars’ placement after the collision. Include any traffic lights or signs in the photos.
  • Avoid talking to anyone other than to give your statement to the officer. Instinctually, you may want to apologize or discuss what happened with other people at the scene. However, you risk saying something that could damage your case. So instead, limit your interactions to asking for contact and insurance information from the other driver.
  • See a doctor immediately. Suppose you do not need emergency medical attention. In that case, you should still see a doctor as soon as possible for a complete medical evaluation to ensure you have no internal injuries and to get ahead of any latent symptoms that may arise.

Before you file an insurance claim, you would likely benefit from speaking with an auto accident lawyer. The sooner you seek legal advice, the better because you could make mistakes in the immediate aftermath that could impact your claim. Your attorney will help you avoid that.

Why Seeing a Doctor Is Crucial

Seeing a doctor is critical to your health and case. Most insurance companies have policy requirements stipulating a timeline for medical care following an accident. For example, many require you to seek an evaluation within three days of the accident. Additionally, it can be challenging to prove damages caused by injuries if you wait an extended period to see a doctor. The insurance company can use that opportunity to poke holes in your claim that the injuries resulted from the car accident.

To avoid issues with your claim, you can visit the emergency department at a nearby hospital or see a physician at an urgent care facility. These doctors see car accident victims often. They understand the importance of medical records in personal injury claims and ensure they document everything thoroughly to support your claim. You aim to validate your losses so you can recover them, and an emergency care doctor can help.

Losses You Could Recover From a Car Accident Case

Personal injury law refers to your losses from a car accident case as damages. These include the economic and non-economic losses associated with the collision and your injuries. In rare cases, you may also be able to access punitive damages.

Compensatory Damages

Compensatory damages make whole as much as monetary compensation can. Economic losses are your financial repercussions, whereas non-economic losses are the emotional and mental consequences. Examples of both include:

  • All necessary medical expenses, including emergency care services, surgeries, inpatient treatment, outpatient care, medications, medical devices, and rehabilitative treatment
  • Lost wages, including the income you would have made at work and future income opportunities missed by cause of lost earning capacity
  • The cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle and any other property damaged
  • Physical pain and suffering caused by your injuries
  • Emotional distress and mental anguish
  • The lost ability to enjoy your life
  • Loss of consortium for any impact your injuries had on your intimate relationship with your spouse

Proving economic damages can be tedious but relatively simple. However, you will likely need assistance from an experienced attorney to prove and value your non-economic losses.

Punitive Damages

While uncommon, receiving punitive damages from a car accident case is possible. These damages do not equal any direct loss from the accident. Instead, their purpose is to punish the defendant as a consequence of gross negligence or malicious actions. For example, suppose the at-fault driver in your case intentionally hit you or drove recklessly, such as speeding while driving under the influence. In that case, the court may order punitive damages in addition to compensatory losses to deter similar behavior from the defendant.

No-Fault Auto Insurance in Utah

When dealing with the aftermath of an auto accident in Utah, the severity of your injuries directly impacts how you can recover damages. This is because Utah has a no-fault auto insurance policy. Therefore, drivers must carry personal injury protection insurance to cover medical bills and lost wages in the event of a car accident. This removes the question of liability and allows you to turn to your own policy for compensation. However, suppose your injuries result in more than $3,000 in medical expenses or meet the qualifications for the state-mandated serious injury threshold. In that case, you can step outside the PIP insurance system and file a claim or lawsuit against the at-fault party. Injuries that qualify for the serious injury threshold include permanent disabilities, impairments, disfigurements, and dismemberment.

Schedule a Consulation With a Utah Car Accident Attorney

Car accidents are common among personal injury claims, and an experienced lawyer handling tort cases has likely seen it all. If you suffered severe injuries from your accident, do not hesitate to contact a car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Your attorney can help you build a case to support your claim and get the compensation you need to get your life back on track. They handle the paperwork, negotiate with the insurance company, protect your rights, and argue in your place so you can focus on your recovery. Personal injury lawyers also understand the financial burdens these accidents can cause, which is why most do not require upfront payments for their services. Instead, their fee is contingent upon whether they can secure a settlement or award for you. Therefore, you have nothing to lose from speaking with someone immediately.

At Siegfried and Jensen, we have more than 30 years of experience helping victims of negligent drivers in Utah get the compensation they need and deserve. We know the insurance company is not your friend. Therefore, we dedicate our skills to ensuring you have a legal professional protecting you from lowball offers and bad faith tactics used to frustrate you into giving up on your claim. Contact us at (801) 845-9000 to schedule your free consultation with an experienced car accident attorney. At the very least, you will walk away with information on how best to proceed with your claim.