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Car Accidents

What is PIP?

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What is PIP? More than likely, you’ve never heard of the acronym PIP before. Even worse, the only reason you’re hearing of it now, is because you’ve been in an accident. PIP stands for Personal Injury Protection and is a provision required in all Utah car insurance policies. PIP allows you to receive medical treatment after an accident regardless of who was at fault for the accident. Whether you caused the accident or if you were the one hit, Utah law requires that your insurance pay for a minimum of $3,000 of medical treatment. PIP is a benefit that you have already paid to use.

Unfortunately, insurance companies like to make the simplest tasks as complicated as possible and getting access to your pip benefits is no different. Fortunately, our office can help you fill out your pip application, get you in contact with medical providers, and answer any questions you may have. There are lots of variables with every accident and I have the experience to know how to to help you, and your family get your life back.

Some of the most common questions I hear from people that have been in an accident are:

  • What happens if the person who hit me doesn’t have insurance?

  • What if my injuries require more than $3,000 worth of treatment?

  • What happens if the person who hit me left the scene?

  • I don’t have health insurance, how can I get treatment?

  • Will my insurance rates go up if I use my PIP?

If you find yourself in any of the scenarios listed above, or are simply tired of dealing with insurance, I can help you. If you have any of these questions or any other question, feel free to give me a call and I would be happy to answer all your questions at no cost.

Common Mistakes Made by Personal Injury Victims

By | Bike Accidents, Car Accidents, Class Action, Personal Injury, Uncategorized | No Comments

Life is full of mistakes and this article will talk about common mistakes made by personal injury victims. The first mistake people make after they have been injured is believing the insurance adjuster and their claims. The reason you can’t believe the insurance adjuster is they have a duty to their insured. That duty means that they represent the person who caused the accident. They have to do what is in their client’s best interest. Put simply, it is in the best interest of the insured to pay as little as that as possible. If they can get you to accept $200,000 then that’s what’s best for their insured but not for you. Remember, it’s not that the adjuster is a bad person but our judicial system is adversarial. We believe that two sides competing to present their best information is going to get us closest to the truth.

The Second common mistake made by personal injury victims is believing the insurance company when they say that their insured did nothing wrong. Often times people hear this and decide to no longer pursue their cause of action. Remember who the adjuster owes a duty to, it for sure isn’t you. First and foremost it should be to their insureds. Second they have a duty to the insurance company and their shareholders. You don’t make the list.

The third common mistake made by personal injury victims is asking for too little in their initial demand. Your initial demand is going to set the ceiling for your recovery. It is likely not what the insurance is going to pay. In some cases your initial demand will be your cap and often times can hurt you in the long run. Through form 95 in the FTCA your initial demand is the cap that you can receive from a jury. You need room to negotiate with the insurance company. A low demand or a demand on where you think the case will settle for will eventually handicap you.

The fourth mistake people make is not getting an expert involved early enough in the case. Now experts are expensive but the majority of time your attorney will front the cost of the expert and will settle for being reimbursed the cost when the case closes. Experts are a key component of proving any case. The earlier you get an expert involved the more information you will have and the better odds you have of meeting your burden of proving your claim. Involving experts early will also allow them to investigate the scene of the accident before anything changes and gets them a much better idea of what actually happened the day the accident occurred.

Finally, the last mistake people make is not checking for all the available insurance coverages available to their client. Often times there are several different insurances that can apply to a case and even some defendants that you may not initially think should be involved. The most common mistake in car accidents is not looking into the insurance coverages that the injured individual has access to. Insurance like UIM coverage require technical knowledge to access that insurance and not every case applies but when it does it can be a very good avenue of insurance for the injured party.

 

What is the Lawsuit Discovery Process?

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What is the lawsuit discovery process?

Cases are won and lost during the discovery process. Once we start on a case, we get all the records and we look into the facts of every witness. Once a lawsuit gets filed that’s when the official discovery process begins. Written discovery such as initial disclosures, requests for admissions and interrogatories make up written discovery.

In the lawsuit discovery process, initial disclosures are a list of witnesses, copies of medical records and other documents that will be used at trial. Requests for admissions are essentially a list of facts that the opposing side wants you to admit to. Interrogatories are a fancy way of asking questions of the other side before depositions.

Every case is different and because every case is different the number of documents largely vary. Even in simple cases, it is common to have several hundred pages worth of documents to review. In large cases, discovery documents can reach over a million pages. Needless to say, document review can be quite demanding during the discovery process. Document review is usually the biggest  contributing factors in delaying the case.

Depositions are the sworn testimony of fact and expert witnesses. People who have knowledge of the disputed event will have to answer questions under oath. Every deposition will be taken with the threat of perjury penalties attached to their testimonies. Most depositions I take will be videoed. As much as the words of the witness will tell a story, their facial expressions will also tell a story. With video you are able to see who these people really are, and how they will present themselves to a jury. Depositions are also an opportunity to explore if there are other documents that may not have been disclosed which should have been.

Expert witnesses are largely determined by what is found in the reviewed documents and what type of case it is. Medical malpractice cases usually involve more expert witnesses. This is largely due to the underlying dispute being complicated, and the negligent standard being so hard to overcome. We may need a medical expert to testify of pre-existing conditions that may or may not have contributed to the patients pain as well as someone who can credibly testify of what should have happened during the surgery. Economists and forensic accountants are also commonly used to determine damages as well as a way to bolster or counter each other’s assertions.

In all phases of the discovery process it is imperative to understand that the devil is in the details and your attorney should be equally committed to each of the phases discussed above.

What are the Steps in a Lawsuit

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What are the steps in a lawsuit? The start of every lawsuit begins with the complaint and having it served to the defendant. A complaint is usually filed in the county where the injury occurred. The complaint can also be filed where the defendant lives. The next step in every case depends on the exchange of information. The exchange of information is the discovery process. The discovery process includes the exchange of medical bills, photos, depositions and other documents relevant to the case.

the attorney will handle most of the discovery with little input from the client. However, the client is a crucial person in answering interrogatories and requests for admissions. Depositions are when each lawyer has the opportunity to ask questions of the respective parties and any other fact witnesses that may have information concerning the events at issue. Depositions take place at one of the lawyer’s offices and are usually a determining factor in the case. After the fact witnesses are deposed it is then time for expert discovery. Expert discovery usually is limited to reports but can also include depositions. Common expert witnesses are doctors, economists, forensic accountants, and or life planners.

After fact and expert discovery is concluded then there is usually a period of time where each side attempts to settle the case. This usually takes place in a mediation. Mediation is where the parties get together and have a mediator help resolve the dispute. Often times mediators are retired judges or attorneys that have substantial experience in a particular practice area. Mediators can help the parties see pitfalls and strengths in each other’s cases. Client participation is key during mediation because it allows the mediator to see the affected party. It allows the mediator to talk to you and to get a sense of how the case can be settled. Mediation is also a good opportunity for the client to really hear the defense’s side and what they may present at trial.

The final phase of every case is trial and while it is very rare that a civil case goes to trial, it is probably the part of the litigation process that most people are familiar with. However, trial is not simply going to the courthouse, trial will include weeks of preparation with your attorney. They will need to prepare your testimony as well as all the other witnesses. The trial takes place in the county where the complaint was filed and usually most cases take around a year and a half from the time the case is filed to the time of trial.

Depositions and the Consequences of Answering I Don’t Know

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What are the possible consequences of saying I don’t know during a deposition? A Deposition is a sworn pretrial testimony that helps attorneys prepare for trial.  Answering I don’t know during the course of a lawsuit may be helpful but the reality is that it can also hurt. One thing is certain, is that saying I don’t know is going to lock you into your testimony. If you have a different answer later on, you have a problem.

When you bring a lawsuit, the defense will have an opportunity to question you and that’s known as a deposition.  The defense lawyer will question you in your attorney’s office. There is no jury present but instead there is a court reporter. The court reporter will record all of the questions and all the answers that you give. Your answers will be the basis of your pretrial testimony. There is not a judge or a jury during your deposition. However, everything you say during the deposition session is your testimony. It carries the same weight as it will at the time of trial.

It is very important to understand that telling a little white lie during a deposition can have serious consequences. Literally the other sides job is to find evidence to contradict every statement you make under oath. At the deposition you will be asked questions that you will not know the answer to.  The important thing to remember, is it is OK to say I don’t know.

No one can remember every single thing. After the deposition, your attorney will send you a copy of the transcript to read over and correct if needed. The defense attorney will use this opportunity you had to correct any changes to lock you in. This is why it is crucial to prepare for a deposition and take it seriously. The defense attorney will try and use it against you to contradict your testimony at trial and how you answered questions during your deposition. The defense attorney is going to try and show that there are significant inconsistencies between the testimony that you gave pretrial in your attorney’s office and the testimony that you are giving at trial.

For example, in a car accident case. A question about your speed at the time of the accident will likely come up. During your deposition you say my attorney told me not to guess and you say I don’t remember because it’s the truth. The defense attorney will probably try and get you to give an approximation or give a range of speed, but again, your attorney has told you not to guess, so you answer that you don’t know.

At trial the defense attorney is now cross-examining you. During your cross-examination he asks the same exact question that he did at the time of your deposition. Remember, the jury does not know anything about what went on during your deposition. For all they know, you’re being asked the question of how fast were you traveling at the time of the crash for the first time. However, at trial you say you were traveling at 35 mph. Now you may have a credibility problem. Remember, an answer of I don’t know locks you in, and is as significant as saying any speed.

The defense will likely shake their heads and pull out the transcript from your deposition. They will attack your credibility with your previous sworn testimony. If there is a discrepancy between what you said during your deposition and what you remember at trial, your attorney should ask you what the source of the discrepancy is and why you remember the speed now but not then. Your attorney will likely be able to easily explain why you can remember now, and it will take the wind out of the defense’s sails.

Your attorney has an obligation to explain to the jury why your answer is so different from your earlier testimony. Different answers in trial than depositions are a fact of life but usually they are easily explained if you communicate with your attorney. Remember, the power of saying I don’t know. It may help you, or hurt you, or it could do both but it for sure locks your answer in.

You Should Sue

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When an injury occurs, you should sue. There is a new burden thrust onto the person injured and also a burden to society. When our ancestors were trying to decide who should bear that new burden, it decided on the person who caused the injury. Wouldn’t it be an injustice for the injured party to carry that new burden? To not only have to deal with the injury but also the monetary consequences of that injury.  Most people agree that it would be unjust for an injured person to carry that burden. For that reason, tort law was created. Tort law was created to help alleviate the injured’s burden and help society move forward.

Many people believe that a person should not be punished for an honest mistake. I can understand that thinking, but that doesn’t take into the account the new burden forced on the injured party. Many times people have medical bills and extra care that are completely unexpected. If you were in an accident that caused you to need 24 hour nursing care, who should pay for that? While the cause of the accident wasn’t intentional, you certainly didn’t cause it, but you’re having to live with the consequences.

Most people don’t have sympathy for the driver who caused an accident while texting, but they often do when a doctor causes an injury. The question is why? The answer largely comes from a misunderstanding of what it takes to sue a doctor and why you should sue. A successful lawsuit against a doctor requires proving that the doctor’s actions were below the accepted standard of care. Below the standard of care is when a mistake, is not just a mistake, but a mistake that the medical community has deemed unacceptable.  It’s a mistake that the doctor should have known not to make.

But again, who should bear the burden of the injury? If the doctor’s actions causes someone to go blind, should that person bear the cost of that injury? Or should it be the person who gets to watch the sunset on their way home? The person injured’s life will never be the same.

It’s important to realize that I’m not saying the person who caused the injury is a bad person. I’m NOT saying that the tortfeasor intentionally hurt someone. If the injury was intentional, we would be talking about a criminal act and jail time. We wouldn’t be discussing how best to restore the injured party. Put simply, the defendant committed a mistake that breached a duty of care owed to others and they should be held responsible for that breach.

 

Fatal Injuries after Swerving to Miss Cow

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Fatality Caused by Swerving Vehicle  

Swerving Vehicle: If a vehicle or other moving thing swerves or if you swerve it, it suddenly changes direction, often in order to avoid hitting something.

A man suffered fatal injuries in a car crash after he swerved to avoid hitting a cow and left the roadway by over-corrected. The crash occurred on Highway 261 near the town of Blanding in San Juan County.

The driver swerved to miss a cow that was in the roadway. The vehicle clipped the cow and then went off the side of the road. The driver over-corrected, and the vehicle rolled.

The man, who was not wearing a seat belt, was partially ejected during the crash and suffered fatal injuries. He has been identified as 63-year-old Andrew Askland of Arizona.

Fatality Caused by Swerving to Miss a Deer on the Road

A 53-year-old man is in a critical condition in Southmead Hospital after swerving his car to avoid a deer.

The collision took place at 6.40am on Saturday  between Colerne and Ford.

The driver swerved to avoid a muntjac deer but lost control and crashed into a wall.

He sustained serious head injuries and was taken to Southmead Hospital.

His 22-year-old daughter who was a passenger sustained minor injuries and was taken to a local hospital.

Driver Dead and Two Air Lifted to Area Hospitals

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Rollover Crash in Salt Lake County

Emergency crews responded to a rollover crash Sunday morning. Two vehicles that collided on Redwood Road early Sunday morning caused one fatality and two serious injuries. According to the investigation the three men were not wearing seat belts. One man was pronounced dead at the scene and two were airlifted to local hospitals.

The crash occurred west of Utah Lake early Sunday Morning and the investigation shows one of the cars tried to pass the slower moving vehicle. As a result of the car trying to pass the slower vehicle, the cars collided and caused both vehicles to go off the west edge of the road.

After the collision, the driver was ejected after rolling the vehicle into a farm field. The driver was identified as Delfino Morales of Payson. Mr. Morales died at the scene, his passenger Ernesto Ramos suffered serious injuries and was taken to an area hospital by helicopter.

The second vehicle rolled, re-entered the road, and landed on its wheels in the southbound lane. The second driver Luis A. Barralaga, suffered serious injuries and was taken to an area hospital by helicopter.

I-215 Closed in Rollover Crash

A rollover on I-215 caused major traffic delays during the evening commute Monday evening and according to Utah Highway Patrol, speed was a major factor. A Dodge Ram pickup was traveling northbound on I-215 at a high rate of speed and the driver attempted to take the 4700 South off-ramp. Unfortunately, the car was traveling too fast and the driver lost control.

The pickup rolled twice after it hit the sound wall, and finally came to rest on its wheels. The driver appears to have been wearing his seat belt but was wearing it improperly. The rollover caused the driver to be thrown into the back seat and partially ejected out the rear window. The driver was transferred to the hospital in critical condition and the I-215 ramp was closed for about 90 minutes.

Insurance Denied Your Claim, What Can You Do?

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Insurance Denied your Claim, Now What?

The main objective for insurance companies is to make money. Insurance companies are no different than any other business with shareholders. They exist to maximize profits. I don’t begrudge insurance companies for trying to make money, again, that’s their business. But, an Insurance Denied your Claim, and that’s an extreme burden. I like to know where everyone’s loyalties lie, so next time you watch a cute ad with a cool jingle, it is important to remember the insurance’s priority. It is best to remember what comes first. Don’t be tricked by a charming spokesperson with a catchy jingle. An insurance company can’t survive if it pays out more in benefits than it collects in premiums.

Can Insurance Limit my Medical Treatment

Due to the realities discussed above, an insurance company may try to limit your medical treatment. However, they are not in charge of your medical treatment. Your physician is in charge of your treatment plan. You should know that an insurance company cannot prevent you from receiving treatment. Any insurance that attempts to get between you and your treating physician is acting inappropriately.

Insurance Denied Your Claim

Remember that insurance can’t prevent treatment but they can decline to pay for it. The insurance may claim that a particular procedure is not covered by the insurance policy. This can occur with your own insurance as well as a claim submitted to an insurance of an at fault third party. The insurance may argue that the procedure was unnecessary to provide you with the best potential recovery, which often appears in the form of “experimental treatment”.

Options for Pursuing my Denied Insurance Claim

You have several options if the insurance denies your claim. The best results will likely come through the pursuit of a personal injury lawsuit. The second option is to present your case through arbitration or something similar. The least effective way would be to appeal the denial internally through the insurance company. Remember, your priority is to receive reimbursement for your medical treatment. An insurance companies priority is to make money, and they make less money the more they give to you.

If you were injured by someone else’s poor judgment, then it is probably best to pursue a personal injury lawsuit. You may be able to receive compensation from the at fault party and relief some of the burden caused by your injuries. I know many of you don’t like the idea of pursuing a lawsuit, but in reality it is the most peaceful way of resolving disputes and allocating the societal burden of your injuries to the responsible party.  Thank you for reading this article, if you’d like to read more, I suggest reading my latest post on Settlements. 

 

Settlement

By | Articles, Bike Accidents, Car Accidents, Casino Accidents, Construction Accidents, Dog Bites, Medical Malpractice, Personal Injury, Trucking Accident, Wrongful Death | No Comments

You’ve reached a settlement. The journey that began when someone’s careless actions hurt you,  has finally come to a close. Besides feeling relief, you’re probably wondering what happens next. What is required in a settlement by both the plaintiff and defendant. There’s several steps that occur between the time a case settles and having a check in your hands. Each process is contingent on what kind of settlement is reached. The different types of settlements are primarily based on if the person hurt is an adult, minor, or if it involved the wrongful death of a person.

“A Settlement is an official agreement intended to resolve a dispute or conflict.”

Whenever a case settles, the parties need to sign a release agreement. As part of the settlement, your attorney will send you a Release Agreement to sign. Your attorney will also send another document called a stipulation to dismiss. It’s imperative to put in a timetable for payment in the release. The Release Agreement is a document that specifies the terms between the parties. For example, in exchange for $250,000, you agree to release Mr. Jones from the car accident. Upon receipt of the settlement check, it is deposited in a trust account. Once the settlement funds become available, a check to you for your portion should be delivered.

When a claim involves injuries sustained by someone under the age of 18, the settlement requires court approval. A petition is submitted to the court specifying the terms of the settlement. The petition sets forth the amount agreed to, case expenses and legal fees. It also specifies why the agreement is in the best interests of the child. A Judge will then schedule a hearing where your petition will be presented to the court. This hearing is largely a formality but it is still important to take it seriously. Once the Judge affirms the petition, you will be requested to consent to a Release Arrangement as described above.

In a wrongful death lawsuit, there are usually claims for pain and suffering and wrongful death. Pain and suffering refers to the conscious pain and suffering of the decedent prior to death. Wrongful death refers to the monetary losses sustained by the beneficiaries of the decedent’s estate, such as loss of income, loss of maternal guidance, advice, and burial expenses. The portion of the settlement allocated to wrongful death is divided according to the loss sustained by each beneficiary.

What’s important to remember is that every case is complicated. A settlement is one of the last steps involved in litigation, but it’s definitely not the finish line.