Originally published March 21, 2022.
The earlier you call a lawyer after an accident, the more quickly and easily you can build a case and collect compensation. The statute of limitations in Utah for car accident injury claims is four years from the date of the accident. If you wait too long to file your claim, you risk having your case dismissed by the courts.
In the immediate aftermath of a collision, a lawyer can help you navigate complex legal and insurance issues. Insurance companies will often try to minimize payouts, and without a lawyer, you might be tempted to accept a settlement that is far less than what you’re entitled to, or you might inadvertently say something to an adjuster that negatively affects your claim. Lawyers can also help in the proper documentation of the accident and in gathering time-sensitive evidence, which could turn out crucial for proving your claim.
In general, navigating the aftermath of a car crash can be stressful and time-consuming. A lawyer handles much of the bureaucratic legwork, allowing you to focus on recovery.
Contact a Utah auto accident lawyer as soon as possible following your car crash for assistance filing a compensation claim.
Call a Lawyer to Meet Filing Deadlines
When you decide to file an at-fault driver claim in Utah, you must do so before the statute of limitations expires.
For auto accidents resulting in injuries, you have four years to start the legal proceedings for compensation. You have the right to file an injury claim in Utah civil court during this period, but not after.
For deaths that occurred due to an auto accident, Utah Code 78B-2-304 defines a limit of only two years. Utah Code 78B-2-305 outlines a three-year limitation for filing a suit for property damage. Your lawyer can review your case and ensure you proceed with a legal claim before it’s too late.
Signs You Really Need to Call a Lawyer
Certain aspects of a car crash can significantly increase the value of involving a lawyer.
- Serious Injuries or Fatalities: If the accident resulted in serious injuries or fatalities, the high stakes make it crucial to have a lawyer on your side.
- Impact on Employment: If the accident affects your ability to work, either temporarily or permanently, a lawyer can assist in securing compensation for lost wages and future diminished earning capacity.
- Impaired, Negligent, or Reckless Driving: If the other driver might have been driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or was texting, speeding, or breaking traffic laws, a lawyer could hold them culpable and get you the compensation you deserve.
- Involvement of Commercial Vehicles: Commercial vehicles, like semi-trucks or buses, often have teams of lawyers for their defense and huge insurance payouts at stake, so having a lawyer on your side as well is highly advisable.
- Insurance Company Disputes: If the insurance company disputes your claim or offers an unsatisfactory settlement, a lawyer can negotiate aggressively on your behalf.
Why You Should Contact a Lawyer After a Crash
There are numerous reasons to seek the help of experienced attorneys after a car accident. Personal injury lawyers have the knowledge and resources to investigate the circumstances of your case, gather evidence, and assess your claim’s value.
Your attorney assists you every step of the way, from the investigation through collecting your compensation. Besides ensuring you meet necessary filing deadlines, an attorney can help you after a crash by providing the following services.
Determine If You Have a Claim
Utah qualifies as a no-fault state. So, you have to file a claim against your personal insurance coverage for compensation on smaller medical bills and financial losses.
If your accident expenses exceed your insurance coverage, talk to your attorney about filing a lawsuit against the at-fault party to recover additional damages.
Utah follows a modified comparative negligence law. If you are less than 50% responsible for an accident, you can still seek compensation for damages. However, the amount you’ll receive gets reduced by your percentage of fault.
Avoid the Pitfalls of Talking to an Insurance Adjuster
After getting medical treatment for your accident injuries, the first step is to contact your insurance company. You may also receive a call from the other driver’s insurance provider.
Talking to an insurance adjuster may adversely impact your claim if you admit fault, even by accident through misspeaking or confusion. Their main goal is to find a way to blame you for the accident, so they don’t have to pay.
It’s best to never speak to an adjuster, aside from telling them to contact your attorney. And never answer the following questions from the at-fault driver’s insurance adjuster:
- Were you wearing a seatbelt?
- How did the wreck happen?
- Was the wreck due to the weather?
- Were you hurt?
- Did you receive treatment from a paramedic or hospital?
- Were there witnesses to the accident, and can you provide their contact information?
Let your legal team handle the conversation rather than risking your claim by accidentally admitting fault.
Having evidence to back up your claim increases your chances of winning a settlement. Most evidence is time-sensitive, so your lawyer can act quickly to obtain proof to support your claim before it’s damaged or erased.
For example, CCTV footage of the collision is typically automatically overwritten after a certain period. This can be as long as six months or as little as 30 days.
Filing Necessary Paperwork
Our Great West Injury Law car accident lawyers can help you file a claim with your insurance company or sue the liable party for additional damages following an accident.
Our attorneys ensure all paperwork is filed by the deadline, so you don’t lose out on compensation. This may include sending essential documents to your insurance provider (such as an auto accident report or claims form) or mailing a written notice of intent to sue to the at-fault party.
Get a Fair Settlement
A lawyer can also help you determine a fair settlement amount. Car accident attorneys know the types of compensation available to you, and they have experience dealing with insurance companies to maximize your payout.
Great West Injury Law can help you get compensation for loss of wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering.
What to Look for in a Lawyer
After a car accident, the lawyer you choose can significantly impact the outcome of your case and your overall experience during this challenging time. Make sure you look for the qualities below.
- Specialization in Car Accident Cases: Choose a lawyer who specializes in car accidents or personal injury law. They should have a track record of handling similar cases and be familiar with the specific laws and regulations in your locale.
- Experience and Success Rate: Look for a lawyer with a proven history of success in car accident cases. Ask about their experience, the types of cases they’ve handled, and their success rate in obtaining favorable settlements or verdicts.
- Trial Experience: While many car accident cases are settled out of court, it’s important that your lawyer has trial experience in case your claim needs to go to trial.
- Reputation and Reviews: Research the lawyer’s reputation among clients and in the legal community. Look for online reviews, testimonials, and any professional awards or recognitions.
- Communication Skills: Your lawyer should be easy to communicate with and responsive to your queries. They should keep you informed about the progress of your case and explain legal concepts in a way that is easy to understand.
- Clear Fee Structure: Most car accident lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, meaning they only get paid if you win your case. Ensure you are clear about the percentage they will take and any other potential costs.
What to Expect When You Call a Lawyer
Most car accident lawyers offer a free initial consultation. This is your opportunity to present the details of your accident and get a feel for the lawyer’s approach and expertise. You may be asked about damage to your vehicle, injuries, medical treatment, and other losses. Based on the information you provide, the lawyer will likely give you some preliminary advice, answer some questions and concerns, and outline next steps.
Remember, the initial consultation does not obligate you to hire the lawyer. It’s a chance for both you and the lawyer to assess whether you’re a good fit.
Start Your Case with Great West Injury Law
If you were involved in a car accident in Utah, call the Utah car accident lawyers at Great West Injury Law to find out how we can help get you the compensation you deserve.
We offer a free consultation to discuss your case and assess the value of your claim.