Do I Need an Attorney to Receive a Fair Settlement?
The Attorney's Role in Your Recovery
Attorneys represent those who have been affected in an accident. They negotiate terms and settlements with insurance companies and receive a percentage of the settlement as compensation. In most cases, they do not sue the other driver but work with you to obtain necessary materials and documentation to ensure your current and long-term health are included in any settlement.
The key determining factors according to Utah’s PIP policy for hiring an attorney are:
- Are my injuries going to prevent me from working for more than a week?
- Do my medical bills exceed $3,000?
- Are my injuries permanent?
Other Important Questions to Ask:
- Would I like help in knowing if there are long-term implications for my injuries, and how am I able to determine the restitution for those injuries?
- Do I believe I am capable of documenting my injuries, and their long and short term implications, to an insurance company so I can receive a fair settlement?
We recommend you speak with an Accident Advocate to become informed in these matters prior to any agreement of settlement with your insurance company or hiring an attorney.
Call 801-683-1948 now.
How Much Is Your Claim Really Worth?
According to Nolo, a legal news website for consumers, insurance adjusters frequently value an injury claim by multiplying the “special damages” by a certain factor. An insurance adjuster typically uses a multiplier of “two or three” to determine an estimated value for your claim. Adjusters increase the multiplier depending upon the seriousness of injuries and recovery time.
Generally, according to Nolo, a lower amount of medical bills will indicate that a lower multiplier should be used, such as one or one-and-a-half. A lower amount of medical expenses suggests to the insurance company a single visit to your primary care physician, was sufficient treatment. If you sought only one instance of medical treatment, the conclusion is that the pain and discomfort from your injury either wasn’t severe or didn’t last very long. On the other hand, if your medical expenses are much higher the insurance company will assume that this number represents an extended hospital stay or a treatment regimen of dozens of physical rehabilitation sessions. As a result, a higher multiplier, such as three, four or five, might be used to value your pain and suffering.
You may not know the full extent or nature of your injuries for several weeks or months after the accident. Though at first, it may seem that your forehead was simply bruised you may have sustained a concussion or closed head injury; and that “stiff neck” might turn out to be a herniated disc. For this reason, it would be wise not to enter into a quick settlement with the insurance company. Any settlement will almost always include a release of all future claims. This release of claims means that the insurance company is no longer liable even if you discover new injuries.
We recommend you speak with an Accident Advocate to become informed in these matters prior to any agreement of settlement with your insurance company or hiring an attorney. Call [insert company #] now.
Was your injury caused by a car accident, or did the car accident aggravate a condition for which you were already being treated?
If you had a prior injury aggravated by the accident, an insurance company will attribute a lesser settlement value. Unless, you have medical documentation explaining that the accident caused more pain and suffering, which required more treatment.
Did you seek medical attention immediately following a car accident, or did you complain of symptoms for the first time three weeks or six months after the accident? Was your treatment excessive?
Insurance companies rarely attach the full value of medical expenses in regard to areas such as chiropractic treatment or physical therapy. If the adjuster believes the length of treatment might be excessive, they may not include these expenses in your settlement or may only cover partial expenses.
Chances are, unless you are an attorney or an insurance professional, you probably have no idea what your car accident claim is worth. The value of an injury claim depends on a multitude of factors:
- Severity and Permanency of the Injuries
- Victim’s Age and Profession
- Victim’s Pre-accident Medical Condition
- Associated Medical Expenses and Wage Loss Incurred
For example, the same type of leg fracture will have a vastly different settlement value for someone who has a sedentary desk job compared to a professional football player. The insurance company will try to get you to settle your claims for as little as possible. If you don’t know the reasonable settlement value of your claim, you may accept an offer that doesn’t fully value your injuries and suffering.
In a Personal Injury Case
Money damages are paid to an injured person by the person or company who is found to be legally responsible for the accident. A damages award can be agreed upon after a negotiated settlement – among the parties, their insurance companies, or their attorneys, for example – or may be ordered by a judge or jury following a court trial.
We recommend you speak with an Accident Advocate to become informed in these matters prior to any agreement of settlement with your insurance company or hiring an attorney. Call 801-683-1948 now.
Punitive Damages in Personal Injury Cases
In cases where the defendant’s conduct is deemed particularly egregious or outrageously careless, a personal injury plaintiff may be awarded punitive damages on top of any compensatory damages awarded. Punitive damages seek to punish the defendant for their conduct and these awarded damages are credited to the injured plaintiff. Most states have set a cap on punitive damage awards in personal injury cases due to the high charges typically incurred with punitive damages.
Compensatory Damages in Personal Injury Cases
A compensatory damage award is meant to make the injured plaintiff “whole” again (to the extent that’s possible) from a monetary standpoint. This means trying to put a dollar figure on all the consequences of an accident. Some compensatory damages are relatively easy to quantify, like reimbursement for property damage and medical bills. But it’s harder to place a monetary value on pain and suffering or the inability to enjoy hobbies because of physical limitations caused by lingering accident-related injuries.
How Plaintiff’s Actions (or Inaction) Can Affect a Damages Award
In some cases, an injured person’s role in causing an accident — or their inaction after being injured — can diminish the amount of damages available in a personal injury case.
Comparative negligence: If you’re at fault (even partially) for the accident that caused your injuries, chances are that any damage award will reflect that. That’s because most states adhere to a “comparative negligence” standard that links damages to the degree of fault in a personal injury case.
Contributory negligence. In the small handful of states that follow the concept of “contributory negligence” for personal injury lawsuits, you may not be able to recover any compensation at all if you’re deemed partially to blame for the accident.
Failure to mitigate damages: The law in most states expects plaintiffs in personal injury cases to take reasonable steps to minimize or “mitigate” the financial impact of harm caused by the accident. If an injured plaintiff just sits back and rests on their proverbial laurels when it isn’t reasonable to do so (by failing to get necessary medical treatment after an accident, and making their injuries much worse, for example) a damages award might be significantly reduced.