Did you recently suffer an injury or lose someone you love due to another person or party’s negligence? If yes, you would likely benefit from speaking to a personal injury lawyer. There is no obligation for a free consultation. However, you can get the answers you need to help you take the next step, and if the attorney feels you have a strong case, you may decide to work together. First, consider some definitive reasons you may need legal representation to help secure a fast and fair settlement.
How Do You Know When You Need a Personal Injury Lawyer?
There are many types of personal injury claims, and the specific circumstances of each case often contain unique factors. Therefore, the best way to know if you need a personal injury lawyer is to speak with one about your accident. First, however, consider whether the below questions apply to your case.
Is the Other Party Blaming You?
When you make a negligence claim, a typical response from the other party’s insurance provider is redirecting the blame back to you. The purpose is to avoid full responsibility so they can dodge being entirely liable for the damages in your case. However, if you are at least partially at fault, that does not mean you are no longer eligible for compensation. In Utah, the comparative negligence rule applies to cases with shared responsibility, most commonly involving cars, pedestrians, boating, motorcycles, and bicycles.
What Is Comparative Negligence?
In practice, the comparative negligence rule requires the court to determine the total value of damages in your case and the percentages of fault assigned to you and the other party. Then, the final award for the person who filed the claim or lawsuit equals the total amount of damages minus a percentage equal to that party’s portion of fault. Additionally, there are two types of comparative negligence:
- According to pure comparative negligence, the injured party can receive compensation minus their portion of fault even if the other party is less at fault than them.
- According to modified comparative negligence, the party seeking compensation cannot be more than 50% or 51% at fault to receive compensation. The modified states determine whether they abide by the 50% or 51% threshold.
Utah is a modified comparative negligence state with a 50% bar for compensation. This means that you can still receive a portion of total damages minus your percentage of fault as long as you are 49% liable or less. At 50% liability, you are no longer eligible for compensation.
This question of shared liability can quickly complicate a case. Without a personal injury lawyer, you risk losing a substantial amount of the total damages. An experienced attorney can help you determine how your role in the accident may or may not affect your claim.
Is the Insurance Company Acting in Bad Faith?
When you file a claim with another person’s insurance provider seeking compensation for their actions, you may receive pushback from the insurer, especially if your claim includes substantial losses. Remember that an insurance adjuster’s role when handling your case is to diminish the company’s financial responsibility and protect its bottom line. Unfortunately, sometimes this means they will resort to using bad faith tactics to avoid paying or frustrate you until you give up. Some common examples of bad-faith tactics include:
- They may deny your claim without giving you a valid reason.
- They may dodge your attempts to communicate to try to frustrate you.
- They may delay the investigation into your claim intentionally.
- They sometimes use aggressive or accusatory language to get you to give up on the claim.
- The adjuster may present the policy language in a way that better suits their agenda.
- They often make unnecessary requests for documentation to delay payment.
- They may even deny the claim and give you an unsubstantiated reason.
Sometimes the aim is to make you assume you lost the chance to recover compensation. Sometimes they know you have a valid claim and want to delay resolution until the statute of limitations runs out, leaving you without the option to file a lawsuit. In this case, they have a better chance of undervaluing your losses and getting you to accept a lower settlement.
When you hire a personal injury attorney to handle your case, they also represent you in all communications with the insurance companies involved. Adjusters are significantly less likely to attempt bad faith tactics when dealing with an experienced legal representation. Ultimately, you will have someone on your side to protect your right to compensation.
Is There More Than One Possible Defendant?
Certain personal injury cases are significantly more complex than others because they involve more than one defendant. For example, if you suffered severe injuries in a truck accident case, you could face more than one defendant and more than one type of lawsuit. For example, suppose the truck driver overloaded the trailer, putting unnecessary strain on a defective tire. In that case, you may have a personal injury claim against the truck driver and anyone who assisted in loading the truck and a product liability case against the tire manufacturer, depending on the circumstances. Of course, handling such a nuanced case with so many responsibilities is already challenging, but facing it alone while recovering from your loss or injuries would be overwhelming.
Did You Suffer Severe Injuries?
Personal injury victims with severe injuries typically have significantly more to lose and may need to take extra steps to access the compensation required to restore their financial health. For example, Utah is a no-fault auto insurance state, which means accident victims can typically recover compensation quickly through their own insurance policies. However, suppose you suffered severe injuries, resulting in permanent disability, impairment, disfigurement or dismemberment and have at least $3,000 in medical bills due to your accident. In that case, you may need to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party to recover the total value of your losses. A personal injury attorney can help you adequately value your claim and potentially receive a settlement faster.
What Happens if You Schedule Your Free Consultation?
When you schedule a free consultation with a personal injury attorney, the initial meeting is about going through the details of your case and discussing the options available to you. It is the perfect opportunity for you to ask all the questions you have about the incident. Should you decide to work together, you will also discuss the terms during that meeting. Most personal injury lawyers work on contingency, meaning they typically require no upfront fees for their services and only receive their payment if they can secure a settlement or award for you. Therefore, you can rest easy knowing that your attorney has confidence in your case if they take it.
At Siegfried and Jensen, we have worked with personal injury victims since 1990, and we understand their financial, emotional, and physical circumstances. The types of cases we work on include virtually every kind of personal injury, including auto accidents, medical malpractice, defective products, dog bites, wrongful death, and more. Having legal representation can be the difference between financial devastation and rebuilding your life after a terrible accident. Contact Siegfried and Jensen at (801) 845-9000 to schedule your free case evaluation today. We are ready and able to start building your case immediately.