A low-to-the-ground shot of two sedans involved in a head-on collision with each other.

Salt Lake City and many other areas of Utah are highly walkable or ideal for biking, yet the state still has nearly 2,865,000 registered motor vehicles. Unfortunately, a car accident can cause lasting damage for the people involved, including extensive medical bills, lost income, permanent disability, pain and suffering, and more. If you or a loved one have suffered serious injuries in a car accident, you may need help dealing with these damages.

How Can a Salt Lake City Car Accident Attorney Help?

Many people don’t think they need an attorney after a car accident. They might believe they can file the insurance claim on their own or that it should be obvious the other driver was at fault. However, they may reevaluate after the car insurance company denies or undervalues their claim.

Engaging the services of a car accident attorney as soon as possible after an accident is the best way to ensure you get the compensation you deserve. Your lawyer can explain all your legal rights and help you calculate your damages. Additionally, they will negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf and fight for a fair settlement.

Is Utah a No-Fault State for Car Accidents?

Yes, but the “no-fault” status has limits. All drivers are required to carry $3,000 in personal injury protection insurance, commonly known as PIP. If you get in a car accident, this PIP insurance should cover the first $3,000 of your medical expenses, regardless of who was at fault in the accident. Generally, this works well and avoids the arguments about fault that often occur in personal injury cases.

But many car accident cases result in more than $3,000 in medical expenses for the injured party. Medical care can be expensive, and even a simple injury like a broken arm can cost several thousand dollars to diagnose and treat. Additionally, PIP only pays for medical care and does not cover other damages like property damage, lost income, or pain and suffering.

Under Utah law, you can still file a lawsuit or a claim with the responsible party’s car insurance if you’ve incurred at least $3,000 in medical expenses or met one of the following thresholds for a personal injury claim:

  • You’ve suffered a permanent disability or impairment.
  • You have a permanent disfigurement (such as significant scarring).
  • You experienced bodily dismemberment.

Further complicating matters, it isn’t always immediately obvious if you meet one of these thresholds. For instance, your PIP insurance may initially pay for your medical care, but when it runs out, you may start receiving bills if you’re still in treatment. It may also take several months to determine if an injury will result in a permanent disability or impairment. You have four years from the date of your accident to file a lawsuit in Utah, so if you realize your claim is more expensive or your recovery is not as complete as you’d hoped, you may still be able to pursue compensation.

Why Is It So Difficult to Get the Settlement You Deserve?

Most of us have been fed a steady diet of car insurance commercials that would have you believe every car insurance company is your best friend. They tell you there’s no need to worry; they’ll take care of everything after your accident. They say filing a claim is simple – you can do it online and get paid immediately. They might even suggest you won’t have to pay for various unlikely calamities acted out by professional stunt people.

But the reality is that insurance companies are for-profit businesses, and the less they pay out in claims, the more profit they make. While your insurance adjuster may act as friendly and helpful as the spokesperson from the commercials, they have a job to do – saving the company money. Depending on the details of your car accident, there are several different ways they may approach the problem, and all of them will cost you money. Here are some common problems people run into when trying to get an insurance company to pay a car accident claim:

Arguing About Fault

If you tell your car insurance company you had an accident that wasn’t your fault and your medical expenses exceed the limits of your PIP insurance, they will want the other driver’s car insurance company to pay for the balance. But the other driver might claim that you were at fault, and even if they don’t, their insurance company might. How can that happen?

Utah uses a concept called modified comparative negligence for Salt Lake City personal injury claims like car accidents that exceed the no-fault threshold. These statutes acknowledge that it’s possible for both drivers to make mistakes that contribute to an accident. The liable party is the driver who is more than 50 percent at fault, and the other driver can collect damages from the liable driver or their insurance policy. But there is one more stipulation – the injured party will lose whatever percentage of fault they have from their final damages. For this reason, it’s in the best interests of the at-fault driver’s insurance company to claim you had some fault in the accident.

What about the police report? Won’t it say who is at fault?

Not exactly. A police report contains both drivers’ accounts of what happened, plus the responding officer’s observations of the scene. In most cases, the officer will try to interview any witnesses and carefully examine the damage to both vehicles. Ultimately, they will be asked to draw a picture of how they believe the accident happened and write a statement about who they think was at fault. While the officer’s opinion carries some weight in court, it is still just an opinion, and in some cases, it’s based on fairly limited information. For this reason, it is possible to challenge the police report if you can gather substantial evidence to show the other driver was at fault after all.

We always read the police report and ask the client if the details are correct. If anything is wrong, we’ll assign an investigator to search for more evidence. Often we consider types of evidence the responding officers didn’t have the time or resources to examine, such as:

  • Video evidence. Our investigators visit the scene to look for traffic, security, or doorbell cameras. If there are cameras present, they will speak with the owners to see if a video is available from the time when the accident occurred. Often these videos are erased regularly, so the sooner you call us, the better chance we’ll have of recovering a video that shows exactly what happened.
  • Witness testimony. The police will take statements from anyone at the scene when they arrive, but sometimes there are other witnesses who didn’t wait at the scene or were overlooked. Our investigators will also search for additional witnesses and seek statements from them.
  • Electronic evidence. Despite efforts to curb the problem, texting or phone use remains the cause of about 13 percent of distracted-driving fatalities and 9 percent of distracted-driving injuries. You may have noticed the driver who hit you had a phone in their hand or seemed very distracted, but how can you prove it? Your lawyer can request access to their phone records after filing a lawsuit on your behalf.
  • Vehicle black boxes. Most modern cars have event data recorders (EDRs), also known as “black boxes.” These record numerous data points related to an event or accident, such as how fast the car was going, what direction it was headed in, and any actions the driver took leading up to the crash. In many accidents, this data can be valuable in working out how the crash happened or who was at fault. We can also seek this data in a lawsuit.

Devaluing Your Claim

Sometimes the other driver’s insurance company has to admit that the evidence against them is considerable, and there is nothing to suggest you were at fault. In these cases, the insurance company may use a different strategy: They make you an offer for significantly less than your claim is worth and hope you accept.

That’s it. Unfortunately, this is often a successful strategy, and the injured person doesn’t realize until later that they have more expenses than the insurance company paid them for. At that point, they have no legal recourse because they released the insurance company from any further obligation when they accepted the offer.

If you’ve received an offer from an insurance company following a car accident, please ask an experienced car accident attorney to review it before you accept. If the offer is inadequate, we can negotiate with the insurance company for a better settlement.

Get Assistance From Our Salt Lake City Car Accident Law Firm

If you’ve suffered a serious injury in a car accident, it can be a stressful and overwhelming experience. Not only are you dealing with physical pain and emotional trauma, but you may also be facing medical bills, lost wages, and other financial hardships. That’s where Valley Law Accident and Injury Lawyers come in. Our team of experienced car accident lawyers is here to help you navigate the legal process and fight for the compensation you deserve. 

During a free consultation, we’ll assess your case and determine if you meet the threshold for a personal injury claim based on your injuries. We’ll also take the time to listen to your concerns, answer any questions, and explain your options for pursuing compensation. With our help, you can focus on your recovery while we handle the legal details. Don’t wait – contact us today at 801-810-9999 to schedule your free consultation.

Questions you might have in your mind

So you met with your insurance provider, but you aren’t satisfied with the amount your insurance company wants to hand over to you after a car accident. What do you…

Yes, liability insurance often can and does cover your car if someone hits you, but only if the accident wasn’t your fault. But before making a liability claim, there is…

Additional Questions?

We have helped many clients recover from injuries resulting from car accidents in West Valley, Salt Lake City, and the greater Utah area. We are here to help you recover after an accident. If you've been injured, don't hesitate to call Valley Law Accident and Injury Lawyers for a free consultation. We have recovered millions for our clients and we are ready to fight for you.

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