–QUESTIONS IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER OF WHAT HAPPENS AFTER AN ACCIDENT
Utah Personal Injury Attorney Jake Gunter has been helping injured people in courtrooms for nearly 20 years. Jake is an attorney owner at Howard Lewis & Petersen, PC and focuses only on personal injury and criminal defense. Earning his reputation in a courtroom across Utah. Call/TXT (801) 373-6345 to talk to Jake.
- I WAS JUST IN AN ACCIDENT WHAT SHOULD I DO?
First, Whether this was a car accident, gas line explosion or a dog bite case. Seek immediate and appropriate medical care and get better.
Second, call the police to document the situation.
Third, call a Utah personal injury attorney who regularly practices personal injury law.
Fourth, the attorney will let the various insurance companies know and coordinate the insurance claim for you.
- WHAT TYPE OF MEDICAL CARE SHOULD I GET?
You should consult with your trusted doctor on what your injuries are and what type of medical care to get. But realize, your family doctor doesn’t understand what medical and legal evidence is needed to reassure the insurance company that you were really hurt.
Prescribing you muscle relaxers and writing PRN (return as needed) on your records is completely insufficient. When you are deciding on medical care, this is not the time to gamble on your health. A full head-to-toe diagnosis with a proper referral to physical therapy, chiropractics or pain management is most appropriate, even if you chose not to go that route.
Early MRIs after car accidents are preferred to MRIs months later as the insurance company will tend to see your injuries better when they are validated with an early MRI. If you wait months to get your MRI the insurance company will state that something else caused your bulging disc and that the MRI was not medically justified. Even refusing to pay for it.
- SHOULD I SEE A SPECIALIST DOCTOR?
Yes. See the most appropriate type of doctor to get better and to diagnosis and document your injuries so you can receive a fair and adequate settlement from the insurance company. Never see a foot doctor (podiatrist) for your dental work. Same goes for seeing a chiropractor for your head injury. Seeing the right type of doctor for the injury is critical to proving your injuries in front of a jury or an insurance adjuster.
Nothing worse than a serious head concussion from a car accident completely missed by the chiropractor, or family doctor. Then diagnosed late by the appropriate physician after complaints from the spouse and children. Late diagnosis devalues your case.
- DO I HAVE TO GIVE AN ADJUSTER INTERVIEW?
You don’t have to give an adjuster interview to the at-fault insurance company. You do have an obligation to give an adjuster interview to your own insurance company. But you don’t have to do it immediately and you should always talk to an attorney before an adjuster interview.
See these articles on adjuster interviews and types of adjusters.
- I SIGNED AN INJURY RELEASE ALREADY? CAN I VOID IT?
Under very narrow circumstances you can void or rescind your injury release that you signed early in a case and without an attorney. The general rule is that you can rescind your injury release if it was signed within 15 days of the accident or while you were still in the hospital.
See the details here: https://www.gunterinjurylaw.com/can-i-rescind-my-utah-injury-release-that-i-signed/
- DO I EVEN HAVE ACCIDENT CASE? IS MY CASE TOO SMALL?
Do I even have a case? Should I even get an attorney? Is my case too small?
Attorney Jake Gunter takes $3,000 car accident cases, middle size dog bites cases and wrongful death cases. Each case can benefit from having a trained litigator on-board.
Having an injury attorney and their staff helping on your insurance claims makes people sleep better at night and takes the stress off.
- IS MY CASE TOO SMALL?
Utah injury attorneys who regularly practice personal injury law take small cases and big cases. Some case are car accidents with only $3,500 in chiropractic care, or a smaller dog bite. Other cases involve death or permanent injuries.
You will get better results when you hire an attorney for small or severe cases. Hiring an attorney for your injury case takes the stress off your back.
Hiring an attorney will get you better results. It is a myth that the attorney will only set you back. The insurance companies will tell you not to get an attorney.
- WHAT ARE COMMON INJURY CASES UTAH LAWYERS TAKE?
Rear-end car accidents.
Passenger who were in car accidents.
Motorcycle passenger claims.
Premise liability cases, dangerous land conditions.
Pedestrians being hit by cars, motorcycles, or bicycles.
Passenger claims in ATV / Side-by-Side rollovers.
Boating collisions, drownings.
Snowmobile accidents. Rental cars, UBER/LYFT.
- IS THE PHONE CALL FREE TO THE INJURY ATTORNEY?
Yes. Just call injury attorney Jake Gunter. Be wary of any injury law firm where you are intaked by the paralegal and not by the attorney. The attorney should intake your case.
Its free, just call and see where your case sits. Most of the time the attorney can tell you over the phone whether you have a case.
- HOW MUCH DOES HIRING A UTAH LAWYER FOR MY CAR ACCIDENT COST?
You don’t owe attorney Jake Gunter anything unless you recover a settlement or verdict for your injuries.
- DO I HAVE TO PAY AS I GO ALONG ON MY ACCIDENT CASE?
No. Attorney Jake Gunter fronts all litigation costs on your injury case. He fronts expert witness fees, filing fees and records requests. At the end of the case, when you receive a settlement, Jake is reimbursed for his costs and attorney fees on the case. During the case you will receive transparency bills so you can track the progress on your case.
You don’t have to pay as you go along. Nor does Jake Gunter use a funding firm to handle case costs which only increases your case costs because of bank interest.
- WHAT HAPPENS IF I LOSE MY CASE, OR YOU STOP BEING MY ATTORNEY? DO I OWE YOU ANYTHING?
If you lose your case, either after a jury trial, or the insurance company denies your claim, you don’t owe Jake anything.
If Jake withdraws from your case because he feels the case is not worth economically pursuing, you don’t owe Jake anything.
Common costs an injury attorney will incur on an injury case are.
(a). Expert witness costs, around $2,500.
(b). Medical records requests. $100+.
(c). Filing fees, $375.
(d). Service fees, $60 plus.
(e). Attorney fees and time on the case. Nothing unless you recover a settlement.
- WHAT ARE THE ACTUAL DOCUMENTS I SIGN TO HAVE JAKE GUNTER BE MY PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY?
Contingency Fee Agreement. 99 percent of the time, Utah attorneys working on injury cases work on a what’s called a contingency fee. Contingency fees must be in writing and signed by the client. Written signed contingency fee agreement are required under the ethics rules.
A contingency fee agreement can be revoked by the client or attorney at any time. Thus a very low risk agreement.
Medical Release. A medical release is sometimes called a HIPPA, or release. A medical release is required for anyone to look at your medical records. A release allows the attorney to obtain your medical records and billing records from the ER, ambulance, chiropractor and other providers.
A medical release is only used to gather relevant medical records. A release is also revokable at any time by the client.
- HOW SHOULD I SELECT A UTAH PERSONAL INJURY ATTONREY? A GOOD ONE?
Knowing which attorney is talented or which attorney specializes in injury work is difficult to tell for the public. Amongst attorneys, they all know who the best are and who really does this type of work. It’s like picking a surgeon, or finding the best school—hard for the general public.
Here are some hard questions to ask any prospective attorney when trying to select a real, working, specialized personal injury attorney:
Are You Specialized? Ask the attorney what areas of law he practices in. A true personal injury attorney will practice injury work and maybe one other related field, like criminal defense, workers compensation or social security.
A bad sign is they do some random business work, then the occasional personal injury case.
Look at their website and bio and see if they advertise that they do it all. General practice attorneys will advertise on their websites divorce, family law, bankruptcy, collections, criminal defense and, of course—personal injury. When in fact the last personal injury case they took was last year. Or they only see 1-2 injury cases per year.
Do They Take Injury Cases to Trial? Ask them when was the last injury case they tried to a jury was? Any regularly working injury attorney who litigates will try about 1-3 injury jury trials per year.
Here is the inside scoop on lawyers who handle injury cases in Utah.
85%. The vast horde of attorneys always advertise they take injury cases, but only a few actually have a law practice build on injury work.
15% If they actually do practice injury law, they only settle cases pre-litigation, meaning they don’t actually file lawsuits and ask for a jury to decide the matter.
Of the 15%. Very few injury lawyers who actually have a law practice built on injury work will try 1-3 civil jury trials per year. Most attorneys who actually file lawsuits will tend to arbitrate them, or always settled them to avoid going to a jury trial.
You are looking for a Utah injury attorney who regularly and consistently practices injury law and tries civil jury trials. If you hire a dabbler attorney the insurance companies and insurance defense attorneys will know it and you will receive less compensation because of it.
The insurance companies know which attorney will try a lawsuit, win or lose. And that attorney gets better results because of it. Does the attorney have staff and firm resources to press your claim? Expert witnesses are not cheap. Solo practice attorneys will often not have the resources to retain the best expert witnesses.
- WHAT SHOULD I BRING AND WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT AT THE FIRST ATTORNEY MEETING FOR MY ACCIDENT CASE?
— The attorney will listen, listen and listen some more.
— You don’t need to bring anything to the first meeting with Jake Gunter. Although bringing any police reports, insurance correspondence or pictures you may have on your phone is appreciated.
— During the first meeting on your accident claim, the attorney must assess
- Who is at-fault for the accident? Is the client greater than 51% at-fault? If so, the client is barred from pursuing an accident claim.
- Did the at-fault party cause the client damages?
- What are the damages? How much are the medical bills, what are your physical injuries. What are the client’s medical diagnosis and prognosis looking like? Meaning, what are the current injuries and what is the long term medical picture for recovery looking like? Did the client have any preexisting injuries? Did the client have any prior accidents, like prior car accidents, prior industrial accidents, skiing accidents, slips/falls, sporting accident or plain degeneration and getting old injuries?
- HOW WILL MY CAR GET FIXED? DO I GET A RENTAL CAR?
Hiring an attorney whose staff will help get your car fixed timely is huge. No car, means harder to get to work, harder to get to medical appointments and makes your life much difficult. Jake’s staff understands that getting the car fixed is really, really important. We help guide you through the rental car and property damage claims process.
First. We guide you through getting your car insurance, or the at-fault insurance company to fix your car or cut you’re a check for the car. See this extensive article on how to get your car fixed. https://www.gunterinjurylaw.com/property-damage/
Second. We help you go through your rental car options. See this deeper article on “how to get a rental car.” https://www.gunterinjurylaw.com/rental-car-options-after-a-car-accident/
- HOW MUCH IS MY UTAH INJURY CASE WORTH?
Each case is different and a host of factors are used to estimate the value of an injury claim. Entire books can be written on how to value injury cases, but here are some critical factors:
Degree of Injury. Generally the more severe your injuries are, the more compensation is needed.
Injury Permanency. The more permanent your injuries are, the more compensation is needed into the future for the harm.
Comparative Fault. If you were at-fault for the accident your portion of fault will decrease the total value of the case.
You. How you present in front of the jury and to the insurance company matters.
Your Injury Attorney. How good is your attorney? Did you chose a trial attorney who regularly takes cases to a jury trial and wins? Or did you select a big TV advertiser where a new associate attorney is assigned to your case, who has never been to court? A seasoned trial attorney generally has at least 10 years under their belts and hundreds of court appearances.
- I WAS IN A CAR ACCIDENT. WHAT ARE PERSONAL INJURY PROTECTION BENEFITS? “PIP.” WHAT DOES IT PAY?
Personal Injury Protection Benefits, “PIP” benefits pay up to $3,000 in medical bills directly cause by the car collision, regardless of whether you are at-fault. If you have a Utah issued car policy of insurance, the Utah state minimum set by law is $3,000, but can be higher if you purchased a higher PIP limit. Jake Gunter recommends at least $10,000 PIP limits. Super cheap medical insurance for a big benefit.
PIP benefits pay $250 per week or 80 percent of your weekly lost wages, whatever is less. You must have missed work for two or more consecutive weeks to trigger this wage loss benefit.
PIP offers funeral and death benefits, along with some lesser used, household replacement services.
- DO HOMEOWNERS’ INSURANCE POLICES HAVE A PIP/MEDICAL PAY LIKE BENEFIT ATTACHED THOSE POLICIES? YES.
Often homeowners insurance policies have medical pay benefits attached to them to pay for people who are injured on your premises. General commercial premise liability insurance policies (Restaurants, Mechanic Shops, etc) also tend to have a medical pay benefit included, which covers slip and falls or premise conditions.
- HOW DO I TRIGGER GETTING THE WAGE LOSS OR MEDICAL PAY BENEFITS TO START?
When you hire injury attorney Jake Gunter his staff helps you obtain a doctor’s note indicating that you can’t work and for how long. Jake’s staff helps you gather up your paystubs or salary information to estimate your lost wages from missed work. All wage loss documentation is submitted to the PIP insurance carrier to start processing payments.
- DO I HAVE TO PAY BACK MY PIP BENEFITS? NO.
You don’t have to pay back your PIP benefits that your receive from your Utah car accident. What happens is the at-fault insurance carrier from the person who hit you will pay back those benefits to your insurance company who paid the PIP benefits. It’s called subrogation. It happens pursuant to inter-company arbitration by statute under the Utah Insurance Code in the background between the two insurance companies.
Don’t be fooled when the at-fault insurance company states their “total money offer” includes what they paid back in PIP benefits. That should not be taken into consideration in what your settlement is.
Total Money Offer Example. $10,000 settlement. They write you a check for $7,000 because they already paid the additional $3,000 PIP back to your insurance company.
New Money Offer Example. $10,000 settlement. They write you a check for $10,000. This $10,000 is above and beyond any $3,000 PIP or wage loss PIP benefits that were previously paid back to your insurance company.
- DO MOTORCYCLES / ATVs / BOATS HAVE PIP COVERAGE?
All Utah issued car policies of insurance must have at least the $3,000 Utah state minimum PIP medical pay coverage. Motorcycle, ATV, boats, side-by-sides are not required to have PIP insurance. PIP
insurance must be properly waived in writing. Did your attorney obtain the written waiver to see if it was a valid legal waiver of PIP benefits?
- HOW LONG CAN I HAVE A RENTAL CAR FOR? THE INSURANCE COMPANY IS CUTTING ME OFF?
Often the insurance carrier who is paying for your rental car will try to cut your rental car off early. You can keep the car and pay out of pocket and seek reimbursement for those extra rental car days in your total settlement, or you have to return the rental car.
Often the insurance company will not care if you had a huge van with 10 kids and they will give you a 2 door car. You can still go rent a van and tack it onto what the at-fault insurance carrier owes you at the end of the day.
Generally, once the insurance company gives you the check for your totaled car, or fix your car, you need to give the rental car back.
- WILL THE INSURANCE COMPANY STILL TALK TO ME AFTER I HIRE AN ATTORNEY? NO.
Once you hire Jake Gunter to represent you in your injury claim the insurance company will only talk to your attorney. A good injury attorney will act like a shield, fielding all communications from the insurance adjusters, and then educating you to a decision point for your ultimate decision. Keeping you constantly updated on your claims status.
With property damage often the attorney will allow the insurance adjuster to directly deal with the client for coordination of paying and assessing the property damage claim because it is faster. But the ultimate property damage settlement figures are always reviewed by the attorney.
To ensure the insurance company only talks to the attorneys, a letter of representation is sent to the insurance companies demanding they only speak with the law firm.
- WILL MY INSURANCE COMPANY DROP ME FROM COVERAGE FOR MAKING CLAIM?
As a general rule—No. Rarely does the insurance company drop the person for making a claim where they bore no-fault, but it can happen. Will your rates go up? Who knows. Insurance rates are set on complicated actuarial statistical science to profit the insurance company. If you are not a profitable insured, why would they not drop you. Being dropped is the absolute least worry you have at the moment when you are hurt through no-fault of your own and can’t work.
Insurance is a business. The insurance company agreed to take your premium payments in return for covering possible risk.
Example. $25,000 At-Fault Carrier Limits. $50,000 Underinsured Limits. You are rear-ended, breaking your back. Your ER bill alone is $20,000. Your attorney moves fast and the at-fault insurance carrier for the person who rear-ended you gives up their $25,000 policy limits.
Question? Is it worth it to pursue a Underinsured Motorist Claim against your own insurance company? Will my own insurance rates go up?
Answer. In this example you will also get your own underinsured motorist coverage to give up their $50,000 limit because of your injuries and the $20,000 ER bill. If your insurance company then
drops you, great, get another insurance company and take the $50,000 underinsured settlement. If your insurance company doesn’t drop you, but raises your premiums, great, drop them and get another car insurance company on board. Rates are competitive in this industry.
- WHAT CAN I DO IF THE INSURANCE COMPANY IS LOW-BALLING MY PROPERTY DAMAGE CLAIM?
This is a hard issue. Some cars have very little fair market value, but a whole lot of value to that poor college student who it worked really well for. Now the insurance company is giving very little money value for the car, which doesn’t make up the real value of the car to the poor student.
Fix 1. Let the attorney negotiate up the value of the car by looking at how new the tires were, the value of the after-market stereo, the engine maintenance logs, etc. Anything to help drive up the value of the car.
Fix 2. Sue the insurance company in small claims court and bring in a used car salesman to value your car in front of the small claims judge. This is called claim splitting and is not done very much.
Most big TV advertisers doing injury work refuse to help people with their car damage claims. Attorney
Jake Gunter helps with both the injury claim and property damage claim.
- DO I HAVE TO PAY FOR WHERE MY CAR IS BEING STORED AFTER IT WAS TOTALLED?
Yes. The at-fault insurance company is responsible to get your car out of the wrecking yard as soon as practicable reasonable. The at-fault insurance carrier should move quickly to value, assess and cut a check for property damage so your car can be released from the impound lot. But at the end of the day, you are responsible for having your car towed and stored at someone else’s wrecking yard.
- DO I HAVE TO PAY FOR TOWING FEES?
The at-fault insurance company will pay for the towing fee, but only on the back end. You are always responsible for towing fees and the tow truck driver wants to get paid, regardless of whether some insurance company will be paying you a month later. Same goes for medical bills.
- HOW WILL MY PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY KEEP ME UPDATED ON MY CASE?
Injury Attorney Jake Gunter works in a team environment with a lead trial lawyer (Jake), an assigned associate attorney, paralegal, secretary, receptionist and bookkeeper– all on your case. All administrative and logistical questions go through the staff for faster turnaround times. All legal questions go straight to the lead attorney Jake Gunter. Here is Jake’s cell phone (801) 836-6369.
The lead attorney monitors the case and is ultimately responsible for your case.
The paralegal owns, with appropriate attorney intervention and monitoring, getting the property damage settled and a rental car assigned. The paralegal owns getting the personal injury protection application filled out and gets those payment processing.
Don’t hire a fly by night, one attorney shop who has no support or ability to financially prosecutor your claim all the way to a jury trial. The insurance companies know which attorneys can’t try a lawsuit, which attorneys can’t afford to try a lawsuit and you will get less compensation because of it.
- WHAT ARE THE BASIC TIMELINES IN MY PERSONAL INJURY CASE? HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE?
Each case length is different, and the duration of your case depends on the facts of your case and how your injuries heal. Yet, here are some basic timelines in a personal injury case.
Short Case. 4 months. Does not include any filed lawsuits and generally is chiropractic or physical therapy with no positive radiology or disc issues. All injuries basically resolve.
Broken Bones. 5-6 months. Broken bones, depending how your fractures heal and where the fractures are located at, can settle in 5-6 months. Sometimes sooner, but often longer if a growth plate was fractured or an articulating joint was damages.
Permanent Injury Cases. 9 months. You must reach maximum medical improvement before the true settlement value of your injury case can be evaluated. Your injuries must reach permanency and if you have a permanent injury case it can be up to one year to settle. This mostly includes waiting for your medical care to end and you to be the best you can be. Or, in medical terms, reaching maximum medical improvement. In these cases many times the person will have lingering long term residuals from the collision.
Litigated Jury Track Cases. 1.5 to 2 years. Bigger, more serious injury cases tend to go on a jury track model. Meaning the attorney prepares the case for a jury trial and if it settles along the way great, but the attorney will try the case to a jury if needed to get the maximum value.
Litigated Arbitration Cases. 8-12 months. Injury cases where the plaintiff injured party can select mandatory arbitration generally lasting 8-12 months. Some sooner if they settle, others go all the way to arbitration. Some arbitrations are then appealed and the case then winds itself through the litigated jury track cases noted above.
And Longer. 2 years plus. Some injury cases just take longer and this dependent on how fast your attorney is. How obnoxious the insurance defense attorney that your draw is, and what jurisdiction you are in.
See this ultimate article on the timelines in a litigated personal injury case. https://www.gunterinjurylaw.com/timelines-in-a-litigated-personal-injury-case/
- WHAT IS A DEMAND LETTER IN AN INJURY CASE?
A written demand letter is produced by the injured person’s attorney and tells the insurance company to pay money.
Demand letters can be very long and detailed, telling the entire story of the injured person’s medical journey, or short and brief. Demand letters generally give a deadline to respond and provides the at-fault insurance company with all your medical record, medical billing, the police report and any pictures or video taken.
Demand letters are generally produced after the injured party has reached maximum medical improvement. You can’t send a demand letter asking for $50,000 if you don’t know the extent of the client’s medical injuries and prognosis. What if you asked for $50,000 prematurely, the insurance company accepted it, but the next day you see your surgeon who says you are a surgical candidate. The value of your injury claim just went from $50,000 without surgery to $100,000 with surgery. You can’t make an insurance demand before the client has reached maximum medical improvement, unless you have huge injuries and low policy limits.
- WHO GATHERS MY MEDICAL RECORDS AND THE POLICE REPORT?
The attorney’s staff gathers all necessary documentation needed to present a claim to the insurance company. The assigned paralegals gather the medical records, police reports, photos and videos on the claim to include in the demand letter.
Medical records, especially from huge hospitals, don’t come overnight or fast. It normally takes around 30-45 days. Major medical providers use third party records retrieval companies which only increases the time and error rates.
All medical providers charge an enormous, unjustified costs to retrieve your medical records. Sometimes well over $1,000. Police reports are about $10.00 with body camera footage being about $20.00 per video. The attorney fronts these costs, carries these costs during the length of the litigation and is reimbursed when the case settled though the insurance settlement proceeds. If the case is lost, the attorney takes the hit no these fronted costs.
Here is a more detailed article on gathering medical record. https://www.gunterinjurylaw.com/medical-records-and-medical-billing-takes-time-to-get-them
- HOW MANY DAYS DOES AN INSURANCE COMPANY HAVE TO RESPOND TO A DEMAND LETTER?
The general rule is that the insurance company has 30 days to respond to your demand letter unless you give them an extension, or they need more information to properly value the injury claim.
- DOES THE AT-FAULT INSURANCE COMPANY HAVE TO TELL YOU WHAT THE INSURANCE POLICY LIMITS ARE?
Yes. Pursuant to Utah Insurance Rule R590-190-12, Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Applicable to Automobile Insurance, the at-fault insurance company must disclose all applicable policy limits. Further Utah Rule of Civil Procedure 26 requires all insurance policies to be disclosed once litigation is filed.
Lots of good information in R590-190-12. Google it, or read it here: https://rules.utah.gov/publicat/code_rtf/r590-190.rtf
- WHAT IF THE AT-FAULT INSURANCE COMPANY’S POLICY LIMITS ARE NOT ENOUGH? WHAT NEXT?
If you are hurt and the at-fault insurance company’s policy limits are not enough, you can ask your own insurance company for more compensation through you own underinsured motorist coverage policy. Underinsured motorist coverage is called “UIM” for short.
Rule: You can’t tap into your own first party UIM insurance until you have exhausted the liability carrier’s policy limits.
Example. You are rear-ended and break your neck, becoming paralyzed from the waist down. The person who rear-ended you only has $25,000 of maximum insurance to compensate you for your injuries. At this point you would accept the $25,000 policy limits of the at-fault insurance carrier and tap into your own UIM coverages. In this scenario, most likely exhausting your UIM policy completely also.
- WHAT IS UNINSURED MOTORIST COVERAGE? “UM”
No Insurance. Uninsured motorist (“UM”) coverage is where the person that hit your car didn’t have any insurance on their car. They were uninsured and often criminally cited for it.
Hit & Run after a Collision. Uninsured claims can also happened when the person who hit your car can left the scene of the accident and can’t be found.
Hit and Run, No Contact Collision. Another variant of uninsured claims is where the person leaves the accident scene, caused you to crash your car, like into a telephone pole, but never actually touches your car. This is called a hit & run no contact claim. Compared to a hit & run contact cases, where they actually hit you. The hit & run no contact claim must be proved by a high proof standard called “clear and convincing.” Normally all negligence cases must be proved by a “preponderance of the evidence.”
See these articles for a more detailed discussion on Uninsured Motorist Coverage in Utah.
- DO MOTORCYCLES HAVE UNDERINSURED “UIM” COVERAGES?
Like PIP, UIM can be waived in writing on motorcycles. Your attorney should carefully check to see if the UIM insurance was properly waived. This requires obtaining a copy of the signed waiver and checking it against Utah law on UIM waiver for legal adequacy.
- DO MOTORCYCLES HAVE UNINSURED “UM” COVERAGES?
Motorcycles often don’t have uninsured motorist coverage. You can waive uninsured coverages, but like underinsured coverages, it must be specifically waived in writing.
- CAN THERE BE MORE THAN ONE UNDERINSURED UIM POLICY OF INSURANCE? I WAS A PASSENGER IN MY FRIENDS CAR AT THE TIME OF THE CAR ACCIDENT?
Yes, sometimes you can stack two or more UIM policies on top of each other for more coverage and compensation for your injuries. You can also stack two or more liability carriers when two or more people are at-fault for your injuries?
See this PIP stacking article. https://www.gunterinjurylaw.com/stacking-utah-personal-injury-protection-benefits/
- I WAS A PASSENGER IN MY DAD’S CAR? DO I HAVE CLAIM?
Yes. Most people don’t understand, even when your dad or mother was driving and rolled the car over, hurting you, it is just an insurance claim. It is not like you are suing your mom and dad. This is what insurance is for, to cover people’s injuries when you are at-fault and hurt someone.
See this Tale of Two Passengers for information on passenger injury claims.
- HOW IS A PERSONAL INJURY CASE SETTLED WITH THE INSURANCE COMPANY?
After the demand letter is sent out, the at-fault insurance company will give you an offer. The first offer is generally low and never enough. Your attorney will go back and forth negotiating with the insurance adjuster to see if the insurance claim can be settled or a lawsuit must be filed.
For real injury attorneys who regularly take injury cases, there is (A)> a pre-lawsuit value of a case and a (B)> filed lawsuit value of a case. Generally the value of a case after it is a filed lawsuit is higher because the threat of an excessive jury verdict above and beyond the at-fault defendant’s policy limits is a concern.
- WHAT ARE INITIAL DISCLOSURES IN A LAWSUIT?
Initial Disclosures are mandatory in any filed injury lawsuit. Initial disclosure, “IDs” automatically make each party give the other side the following documents without being requested:
— All known witnesses who have information on the case.
— All witnesses each side may call at trial.
— All documents associated with the case.
— All known insurance policies that would cover this accident in dispute.
— All police reports, photographs, statements and video concerning the case.
ID are prepared before the lawsuit is filed and exchanged with the other party 14 days after the defendant answers the lawsuit
- What are Fact Witness in My Injury Case?
Facts witness are not expert witnesses. They are people who saw the accident. They are before and after witnesses who know you before and after the car accident. They may be your religious leader, your mother, or your tennis playing partner.
Fact witnesses may know you really well, or only know you professionally at work. They may be your chess club member who could testify in a five minute story how your head injury from the car collision completely ruined your chess game.
Little five minutes stories from witnesses can make your injury case and really explain to the jury how this injury affected you.
You should gather up a list of fact witnesses who can tell the story of how this accident affected you and get them to your attorney.
- WHAT IS DISCOVERY IN MY PERSONAL INJURY CASE?
Discovery can be the following in your accident lawsuit.
— Information discovery, private investigators, Google, internet research, public data bases, etc.
— GRAMA, FOIA or public records request for publicly available documents.
— Formal discovery tools. Written requests for admission, requests for production of documents, depositions, requests to inspect the scene or property and Rule 35 defense medical exams.
Discovery in a personal injury lawsuit is conducted during the fact discovery phase which is anywhere from 180 day to 240 days. Depositions generally cost about $400 to conduct and purchase for use at trial or in motions. You have a limited amount of written discovery depending on how big your case is.
Every dollar your attorney fronts on your behalf is reimbursed at the end of the case.
See this article on common costs in a Utah personal injury case. https://www.gunterinjurylaw.com/car-accident-case-costs/
- WHAT ARE EXPERT WITNESSES AND HOW MUCH DO THEY COST?
Expert witness can be: medical doctors, surgeon, economists, accident reconstructionist, statisticians, and vocational rehabilitation specialists.
Expert witness are almost mandatory in personal injury cases to prove that the medical injuries were caused by the defendant and accident. Without expert witnesses your injury case will never see the light of day. The jury will never make a decision because the judge will kick the case out first.
Expert witnesses costs a lot of money and the attorney fronts and carries that expert witness costs. This is one reason for a one-third contingency fee and another reason to hire a large injury firm who can finance your case. Small solo practice attorneys have problems financing the case and your case value will go down accordantly.
- WHEN DO I HAVE TO GET AN EXPERT WITNESS FOR MY ACCIDENT CLAIM?
Most of the time you retain an expert witness before the fact discovery phase closes in a filed lawsuit case.
Sometimes before you even file the lawsuit you retain an expert witness and frontload your case because you know you are going to a jury trial with the case. Other times you get an expert before you file the lawsuit to bolster your damages claims to the at-fault insurance adjuster.
- WHAT IS THE AVERAGE COST OF AN EXPERT WITNESS?
Expert witness reports cost around $2,500 on the inexpensive side and double or triple that for testifying at trial.
- HOW LONG DOES A PERSONAL INJURY JURY TRIAL LAST?
Most personal injury case settle and very few injury cases ever go to a jury trial. If a jury trial is conducted, then it takes on low side three days and up to one full week to trial the case. This is one reason people conduct arbitration or mediation instead of using jury trials.
- WHAT IS CAR ACCIDENT ARBITRATION?
Car accident injury cases commonly use arbitration to settle the dispute. Utah Code Ann. 31A-22-
321 is the most common car accident arbitration statute. Bu you can also arbitrate the matter not using that commonly used provision with any agreed to arbitration procedures you like.
You can arbitrate dog bites, medical malpractice claims, faith insurance disputes, legal malpractice claims and wrongful death claims. Almost any legal claim can be arbitrated and personal injury cases are more often arbitrated than tried to a jury in Utah.
See this article on the Pros and Cons of using arbitration in your injury case. https://www.gunterinjurylaw.com/provo-car-accident-arbitration-pros-and-cons/
- WHAT IS MEDIATION?
Mediation is where a 3rd party mediator, usually an experienced injury attorney, offers to facilitate the parties to an agreement. The mediator has usually practiced personal injury law for 30 years and has seen thousands of cases. They are very experienced and will know what the value of a case could be at a jury trial.
- WHEN MY CASE IS SETTLED, HOW IS THE MONEY DISTRIBUTED?
When your injury case settled, the settlement check is usually jointly written to the law firm and the injured client. The check is cashed and allowed to clear the bank. The a settlement summary is signed by the lawyer and client, clearly showing how the money is being distributed.
Example 1. $10,000. Your car accident insurance claim settles for $10,000.
The settlement summary would look like this.
Gross Settlement. $10,0000
Attorney Fees 1/3 Fee. -$3,3000
Medical records retrieval -$455
Police report costs. -$25
TOTAL AMOUNT CLIENT: $6,220
Less Medical Lien. -$2,000
Less unpaid ambulance. -$600
APPROVED MEDICAL PAYMENTS $3,620
TOTAL AMOUNT TO CLIENT: $3,620.
The amount you receive free and clear on your gross settlement amount depends on how much unpaid medical bills you have, whether those unpaid bills are liens or unsecured debts and how many costs were incurred by the attorney in prosecuting the case.
- WHAT ARE FUNDING LOAN ADVANCES ON MY SETTLEMENT PROCEEDS?
Funding loans taken in advance of, and against your future settlement proceeds are a bad idea. They use barely legal interest rates, and cost you a lot of money. Taking a $1,500 loan against your future settlement proceeds can cost you $2,500, just depending on how long it takes to settle your case. The longer it takes to settle your case, the more the high interest racks up.
Avoid funding liens.
- WHAT IS A MEDICAL LIEN.
Medical liens are where the chiropractor, or physical therapist performs your medical care without getting paid up front. Instead, they get paid on the back end from your settlement proceeds. Just like the attorney.
Almost any type of medical provider can have a medical lien against your settlement proceeds, but it has to be agreed to first between you and the doctor before they can take a lien Normally billing your medical care through your private health care insurance is far, far more affordable. Any doctor who doesn’t tell you that it is more affordable to run his care through your private health insurance is not to
be trusted. The doctor’s get paid way more when they do their medical work on a lien, than billing their medical care through private insurance.
You need to be educated about your options when considering lien based medical care.
- WHAT IS A HOSPITAL LIEN?
Hospital liens are one-way, unilateral statutory liens created automatically by law when you are hurt by someone else and you don’t have private health care insurance to pay the bill.
Your attorney can find the hospital lien by looking up the filed lien in the county district court. Hospital liens must be paid within one year, or they turn into unsecured debts between the injured party and the hospital. They lose their super lien status after one year after the settlement proceeds are received.
You can read the entire hospital lien statute here: https://le.utah.gov/xcode/Title38/Chapter7/C38-7_1800010118000101.pdf
- WHAT IS A MEDICAID LIEN?
Medicaid is a federal program administered by the states to allow poorer people access to health care.
Medicare is a federal program administered by the federal government to allow older people to have access to health care. Medicare also applies to people who are disabled from birth, or become disabled later in life and need access to health care and government assistance.
Every dollar Medicaid pays on your injury case for medical expenses Medicaid will expect to get back through their Medicaid lien that arises automatically and encumbers your future settlement proceeds. Medicaid by Utah statutory law will generally reduce by 1/3 or more their final bills paid on the injured person’s behalf. Same goes for Medicare. You can’t just ignore a Medicaid or Medicare lien on your settlement proceeds.
Example: You incur $50,000 in medical expenses in your head-on collision in Provo Canyon. Medicaid pays the $50,000 in submitted bills from the medical provides at a reduced rate of $20,000. Your injury cases settles and you ask Medicaid to reduce their Medicaid lien by 1/3 and to pay 1/3 of costs incurred in prosecuting the case. Medicaid reduces their $20,000 medical bill by 1/3 and ask that you pay $13,400 out of your settlement.
- WHAT IS A SURGICAL FUNDING LIEN?
A surgical funding company is where you don’t have private health care insurance but you really need a shoulder, knee or back surgery. You need the surgery, but you can’t afford the cash pay rate and you don’t have insurance. The surgical company comes and fronts the money, pays for the surgery and charges you a premium for funding your surgery.
Surgical funding is not the best option, private health care insurance is far cheaper, but has a place in helping injured people get the necessary medical care they need to get better.
Like any lien on a case, You can ask the surgical funding company to reduce their final amount at the end of the day to free up settlement funds for the injured party.
- CAN LIENS BE NEGOTIATED DOWN?
Yes. Most all liens can be negotiated down from their original amount. Sometimes the injury lawyer will conduct lien reduction, sometimes not. Lien reduction is almost mandatory in cases where the injured party is receiving very little money and the doctors are receiving the majority.
See these deeper dive articles on liens in Utah personal injury cases.
DON’T GO IN ALONE TO AN INJURY CLAIM. HIRING AN ATTORNEY WILL OFTEN GET YOU SUPERIOR RESULT FAR ABOVE DOING IT YOURSELF.
FREE CONSULT. Call Utah Personal Injury Attorney Jake Gunter. Free Consult. TXT (801) 373-6345.