When you are involved in a car collision, motorcycle wreck, or a car versus pedestrian/bicyclist, there are certain things you should do.
- SEEK MEDICAL CARE
When you are involved in a car wreck, you should immediately seek medical care. Either at the Emergency Room, or with an insta care provider. Same day medical care or ambulance ride from the scene is not the point. The point is that you need to be medically taken care. A same day or next day appointment with your family doctor is what is important. In more serious cases, you should not attempt to drive but ask for an ambulance to get to the ER to get checked out. This recommendation has nothing to do with building the medical-legal side of your case, but is completely about your health. Your health is the primary issue in a personal injury case. A legal claim for compensation is secondary.
Remember also, in Utah you will have $3,000 or more in Personal Injury Protection benefits to spend at the ER, or with your family practice doctor and physical therapist. This first $3,000 is no-fault money to help you with your injuries and time off work. You should not be concerned about whether you can afford the health care, or whether you are at fault, because PIP benefits are no-fault. ATVs, street legal hotrods and motorcycles are not required to have PIP protection, but all car policies will have it. Sometimes you can even stack PIP policies to double your coverage.
The worst thing you can do is wait a week or more to seek medical care. If you do have a claim for compensation, the liability insurance carrier (the person’s insurance who hit you) will use this GAP in treatment against you. Same goes for missing medical appointments. Missing medical appointments is cross examination material.
I like to use the Michael Jordan, or Larry Bird examples with my clients. I ask them if Larry Bird would get immediate medical treatment if he was involved in a car wreck, just to make sure he was okay. Of course, Larry Bird would seek immediate care. He was an expensive athlete and he has private health care insurance to pay for the care. You too have at least $3,000 in immediate PIP money to see if you are okay. It is well worth it to get the x-rays, MRIs and a professional medical opinion. Life is too short. If you get hurt, you need to take care of it.
- TALK TO A QUALIFIED PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY
After the initial shock of the car collision, you should speak to a qualified personal injury attorney. Depending on your injuries, your initial shock may not resolve for a while. Under Utah Insurance Rules, an insurance company cannot make an offer to settle your case until seven days has expired from the date of the car accident.
It seems like every attorney, whether brand new or seasoned, advertises that they practice personal injury law. When in reality, they rarely have more than 1-3 a year. A qualified personal injury attorney will work in this area every day. The personal injury attorney will know the local insurance adjusters and the attorneys who represent the insurance carriers when a lawsuit is filed.
Oftentimes, a person injured in a car accident will not know how to weave their way through the maze of insurance. Immediately there are numerous new people you are dealing with when an accident occurs. The personal injury lawyer, the doctors, the bills, your insurance company, the PIP adjuster, the property damage adjuster, the bodily injury adjuster and sometimes debt collectors. Having a personal injury attorney who knows the insurance world matters. There are several pitfalls that may completely bar your claim, or severely impair your compensation. Outside of your personal injury attorney, no one is going to be watching out for your compensation claim. Generally, there is a four year statute of limitations on car accident bodily injury claims and a three year statute of limitations on property damage. But you always need to watch out for special statute of limitations that apply to kids under 18 years old and government entities. And the total pitfall list is much longer.
An attorney who actually practices personal injury will aid you through this process. Jacob S. Gunter is a personal injury attorney who regularly works with insurance claims and file lawsuits for compensation when needed. www.gunterinjurylaw.com. www.provolawyers.com. (801) 373-6345