Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Do I have a case?
What about defective products, medical malpractice or other kinds of accidents?
What is the Claims Process?
How long does it take for a case to settle?
When is the Right Time to Settle a Case?
Can I sue in Small Claims Court?
When is it too Late to Pursue a Claim?
What types of Losses or Damages will I be Compensated for?
Are There Any Issues That Can Sink my Case?
When Should You Seek Legal Help?
Why You Should Seek Legal Help?
If you have suffered bodily or emotional injuries from the carelessness of another, you may have a personal injury claim. If you have been in a car accident and have suffered injuries, you may have a personal injury claim. However, if only your car has been damaged you do not have a personal injury claim, you have a property damage claim.
When someone’s negligence causes the death of another, it is a “wrongful death” claim. In Utah and Nevada, wrongful death and personal injury claims have significant differences. The statute of limitations in a wrongful death case in both Utah and Nevada is two years. A negligent personal injury case has a statute of limitations of four years in Utah, and two years in Nevada. Recoverable damages under a wrongful death claim are governed and limited by statute.
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Whenever you are hurt and the cause is someone’s negligence, you have a “personal injury” claim. Whether it was a doctor, a builder, a manufacturer, a careless driver, or a store merchant, that person can be held responsible for your injuries. Product liability (injury from a defective product), medical malpractice (injury caused by a doctor, hospital or other healthcare provider), and slip and fall (injury because of unsafe conditions or another’s inattentiveness to safety) are all types of personal injury cases.
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The process of filing a claim includes a series of steps.
First, there is an investigation. This is the preliminary file preparation and the investigation of your case. This would likely begin with your initial interview and free consultation.
After accepting your case, we notify your insurer and the other parties’ insurer of our representation on your claim. We review police reports, interview witnesses, analyze medical documents, and obtain evidence, data, photographs and affidavits. This is to prove fault or liability, and to assess the damages and compensation necessary to obtain a just settlement. We may recommend a lawsuit be filed early to deal with special issues or circumstances.
Second, we will assist with your current Personal Injury or “No-fault” benefits and help if necessary with your property damage claim. After we notify your insurance company of our representation we will also expedite payment of your benefits. Your insurance company may owe you benefits collectible before the settlement of any liability claim against the wrongdoer.
Third, we obtain documentation of all injuries and damages. We contact the doctors and hospitals involved to obtain copies of their billings, records, and reports. We also obtain information concerning any loss of income resulting from your injury. Documenting the medical part of your claim cannot be completed until the full extent of your injuries is known. You want to be certain that you are aware of all your injuries before trying to settle your claim. Once your claim is settled, you cannot reopen it.
When your damages have been determined, we will secure the final documentation – opinions, reports and billings – from all parties involved, and provide this information to the insurance company. The insurance company may take several weeks to review and evaluate it. After the insurance company has reviewed the documentation, we proceed with the negotiation or lawsuit.
Fourth, if necessary we file suit. Most cases are settled by negotiation; however, the process of negotiation varies considerably. The less clear or more complicated the case, the longer the process. Dealing with questions about possible fault on your part, or disputes about the extent of your injuries, take time and patience to work out. If the issues cannot be resolved reasonably, a lawsuit will be filed to resolve these conflicts. Lawsuits can settle at anytime during the litigation (“suing”) process. Most lawsuits are settled without going to court.
Lastly, we reach a settlement. The claim process ends when we have reached a settlement, or a court awards damages. When the insurance company distributes the funds, we retain our fee, pay any outstanding medical bills, and then remit to you the net settlement obtained in resolving your case. Finally, you must sign a final release giving up any further claim.
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Each case is unique and has its own set of circumstances. There are, however, some things that can indicate how long the claim process might last. The nature of your injury affects the length of your claim: Cases are typically not settled until the main treating physician releases you from care. This may be a month or over a year depending on how serious your injuries are. Scars need to mature and heal. Waiting for a doctor’s final report may add time to the case.
If your case does not settle, we may Arbitrate, Mediate or file a Complaint through the Court system. If you Arbitrate or Mediate, your case could be settled within two to three months from the time of application. If we pursue your case through the Court system, it could take more than a year before a jury tries the case. The faster we can obtain information about the case, the faster we are able to pursue the claim and commence with litigation.
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This is one of the most commonly asked questions. Since you must sign a release upon settlement, once a case is settled, there is no going back. We do not recommend settlement before your claim can be fairly evaluated. It is important to allow enough time to complete medical treatment. Insurance companies often attempt to settle cases quickly. This often means that they pay the victim less compensation than he/she would normally be entitled to if the victim had completed their medical treatment. In most cases, the right time to settle a claim is when the full extent of a client’s injuries can be determined from a medical point of view.
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Small claims courts are designed to handle very small cases. If you file in small claims court on the property damage claim, you may later be prevented from pursuing your claim for personal injuries in a separate lawsuit. You should always speak with a St. George attorney before making this decision.
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Clients often ask, “Is it too late to pursue the case?” Each state and type of case has different legal requirements known as “statutes of limitation.” Because of the statutes of limitation, as well as deadlines that apply in making claims against government entities, it is important that you promptly consult an attorney if you believe you have a personal injury case. Usually, as long as the statutes of limitation have not run out or are not about to run out, there is time to look into the possibility of a claim.
It is important not to delay seeking legal help. If you delay, critical information may be unavailable. In cases where witness testimony plays a crucial role, memories of the accident fade as more time passes, and sometimes become are unattainable. It is also important that you not delay in seeking medical help. Insurance companies can attack the validity of your claim by arguing that your injuries were not serious because you delayed seeking medical treatment.
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The types of recovery allowed depend on your particular case. Some possibilities of damages you may be compensated for are:
* Past, present, and future medical expenses
* Past, present and future pain and suffering
* Disability and disfigurement
* Aggravation of a pre-existing condition
* Loss of a normal life
* Loss of income
* Loss of enjoyment of life
* Destruction of companionship and marital relationship
In cases of wrongful death, it may also be possible for the decedent’s estate to recover compensation for the injuries of the deceased in what is known as a “survival action.” Further, the surviving next of kin may also be able to bring forth a “Wrongful Death” lawsuit for their own benefit and would recover compensation for “loss of society and companionship.”
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Do not hide past accidents from your attorney. The reality is that the other side will know if you have been in prior accidents. All insurance companies subscribe to insurance databases and often the only reason they ask you about prior accidents is to test your credibility.
Do not hide past injuries. If you have seen a doctor in the past, there is a record of it and the insurance company will find it. If you lie about it, and the insurance company finds out, your case could be over. During your personal injury case, do not misrepresent your activity level. Insurance companies routinely hire private investigators to conduct surveillance. If you claim that you cannot run, climb, stoop or lift, and you are caught on videotape, your claim may be over. Be honest. Tell the truth.
Also, not having accurate tax returns could prove detrimental to your case. Most of the time, a claimant will have lost income. You will only be able to claim lost income if your past tax returns are pristine. Again, be honest with your attorney, because he or she can deal with the problem if they know about it ahead of time.
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Naturally, your health and safety should be your first priority. If you are injured, get immediate medical help from a doctor of an emergency room. Next, its’ a good idea to talk to an attorney shortly following your accident. By waiting and postponing a meeting with an attorney, valuable evidence can and will be lost and overlooked making your case more difficult to pursue. In most accident cases, your initial consultation with an attorney is free of charge. You have absolutely nothing to lose, but much to gain. Please don’t delay this important decision, call Dixon, Truman, Fisher & Clifford today.
Following an accident, most people think that insurance companies will conduct a thorough and a proper investigation to find out the facts and all pertinent circumstances around the event. This simply is not true. Insurance companies didn’t get wealthy and rich by handing out large checks. Sure, it makes good television commercials, but in reality, insurance companies focus on how to pay as little as possible. Contacting an attorney immediately allows them to conduct an investigation that is focused on your rights. By gathering the evidence and documenting the circumstances leading to an accident, an attorney can prepare a case that will help you recover what you’re are entitled to, usually much more than what insurance companies are willing to offer you.
So, please don’t delay. Let us help you today! We will help you cut through the run around you are getting from the insurance company.
When you’re injured and hurt in an accident, you are usually unable to defend your rights. At a tough time like this, it’s important to let an attorney represent you and make sure your rights are protected. A personal injury attorney will gather and preserve the evidence, find witnesses, have all damages documented, enlist expert testimony, prepare all legal documents and make sure a highest possible settlement is reached. Insurance companies will try to pay you as little as possible or nothing in many cases. Having a personal injury attorney on your side will assure your voice is heard loud and clear by those who are liable.
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