FAQs Answered by Lynn C. Harris
Do You Need A Personal Injury Attorney?
The legal and insurance systems involved in personal injury claims are complex and confusing, even for people who work with those systems every day. It is not only important how your personal injury claim is handled, but it is also equally important when your personal injury claim is made. Very short statutes of limitations in Utah may apply to your situation that could bar your personal injury claim forever. As you will see, working with a caring and capable personal injury attorney to evaluate your claim and guide you through the damage recovery process can provide peace of mind and valuable information with which to make informed and sensible decisions during very trying times.
It is important to note that, on the opposite side of your potential personal injury claim, the individual who is responsible to compensate you for your injuries will most assuredly have legal representation. Whether an individual or their insurance company, the person at fault will have access to expert defense lawyers to represent their interests. Car accident, personal injury, and medical malpractice lawyer Lynn Harris in Utah has the expertise to help you receive compensation for your personal injury claim.
Should You See A Doctor?
Many of my personal injury clients have already undergone extensive medical evaluations and treatment by the time they call my office in Utah. However, if for whatever reason you have not sought medical treatment for your injuries, I provide the following general advice.
If you believe that you have medical problems or symptoms related to a personal injury accident or incident, go to a doctor immediately. Your diagnosis, course of treatment, and your medical condition's relationship to the personal injury accident or incident is a medical decision. It is very important to form a good relationship with your doctor at an early date to advance your recovery and to ensure that your medical advisors understand how your medical problems relate to the personal injury accident / incident.
Please note that you should see a doctor for the purpose of getting medical treatment, not for the purpose of advancing a personal injury claim. Specific discussions of your injuries and your medical treatment should be within the confidential relationship of attorney and client. If you have any questions about your treatment, I am available to discuss such matters in confidence, for such decisions may well affect your personal injury case.
What Evidence Of Personal Injury Is Necessary?
You should photograph all cuts, bruises, and broken bones as soon as possible after your personal injury accident. Also photograph the damage done to your automobile or other property from all angles. It is also helpful if you can provide me with the names, addresses, and phone numbers of witnesses to your personal injury accident. I have photographers and investigators who can perform this task as part of the evaluation and investigation of your personal injury claim.
You will need to keep accurate records of your out-of-pocket losses resulting from the personal injury, including medical bills and lost wages. Later on, the insurance company will demand documentation of all medical treatment, billings, and lost income. I can help clients win their personal injury claim.
What Should I Do About The Insurance Companies Involved In My Personal Injury Claim?
Proceed very carefully. As soon as your own car insurance company and the insurance company of the person who caused the car accident are notified, each of them will want information for different reasons. Consult with a Utah car accident attorney before submitting to any recorded statement by an insurance adjuster or investigator, even if the other person's liability seems obvious. Once again, do not assume that the insurance companies are looking out for your best interests - they are not.
Keep in mind that you are required to notify your own car insurance company of the car accident and to cooperate with them to obtain certain medical and wage loss benefits. As your car accident attorney, I will help you obtain such benefits, if they apply, with no cost or fee involved.
Since your own insurance company will want to interview you to determine eligibility for benefits, it is very important to consult with a Utah car accident attorney beforehand and ensure that the interview is conducted in my presence. Equally important, I will provide the experience needed to settle or litigate your personal injury claim as appropriate.
How Much Is My Personal Injury Claim Worth?
This is a very complex question that requires information relative to the extent of your injuries, the facts of personal injury, the identity of the potential defendant, and the available insurance limits. Every personal injury case is unique, so evaluating the value of the personal injury claim will take some time and work. I will work your personal injury claim and get you restitution.
What is important is that personal injury case evaluation be done thoroughly, professionally, and at a point in time when your doctor can predict the nature and extent of your injury and percentage of recovery.
I take pride in the thoroughness of my personal injury case evaluation process. On larger, more complex personal injury cases, I endeavor to obtain evaluations from expert medical doctors, vocational rehabilitation specialists, and financial experts the exact extent and total of your damages. Only after completing this process can your personal injury and medical malpractice lawyer make a realistic valuation estimate and enter into personal injury settlement negotiations with the responsible party.
Is My Personal Injury Case Confidential?
To ensure that personal injury clients and their attorneys can speak freely about any legal matter, the law protects the confidentiality of attorney-client communications. Whatever you tell me remains with me, and I am under a strict legal duty not to divulge information to anyone without your consent.
Beyond this legal duty, I also work hard to create a working relationship with clients that foster open communications. As a personal injury and medical malpractice lawyer in Utah, I am always willing to discuss your personal injury questions by phone or to schedule an appointment with you. Under no circumstances should you feel that you cannot or should not discuss a concern with me.
How Do I Hire Your Firm?
I prefer to meet personally with potential clients to discuss the facts of their personal injury claims and make a preliminary evaluation. This meeting usually follows a short phone call to initially discuss the case with a paralegal, who will ask general questions about your potential personal injury claim.
Call the firm to schedule this initial meeting, which typically will take less than one hour. There is no charge for the meeting, even if the case is not one I recommend that you pursue. If I am unable to handle your personal injury claim, I will endeavor to refer you to another qualified personal injury attorney.
If I do recommend further investigation or legal action of your personal injury case, I will ask you to read and sign several medical releases, which will allow our firm to gather all relevant medical records, and a written contingent fee agreement. This will allow me to investigate and evaluate your personal injury claim.
If you feel that you may have a personal injury claim, however small, you should have the matter initially reviewed by legal counsel as soon as possible. By obtaining professional evaluation, you can be assured that whether or not you decide to pursue the personal injury case, your decision will be well informed.
How Long Will My Personal Injury Case Take?
Personal injury cases may settle after a few months without need for a trial or arbitration. Depending on the extent of your injuries and the course of medical treatment, the personal injury claim can take months or years to complete. Each personal injury case is different and unique; however, no settlement should be completed without careful consideration of future risk. I do not recommend the settlement of any personal injury case until all injuries have stabilized with all losses and risk fully assessed.
How Long Will It Take To Settle My Personal Injury Claim?
There's no definite time when a personal injury case ought to be settled. All depends on your unique circumstances. In all matters, I will regularly inform you of progress toward settlement, and I will diligently manage your personal injury case to eliminate unnecessary delays.
Is It Ethical, Legal, Or Moral To Sue?
We are asked this question by many members of this state and community in their process of deciding whether or not to file a legitimate personal injury claim for compensation. It is not an unusual question or an unusual topic of discussion. I am willing to discuss this topic in private and within the confidential relationship of attorney and client.
It always comes down to an individual decision; however, I recommend that this be an informed decision. A decision should be based on an evaluation of all the facts, parties, and available insurance coverage in your unique circumstances. I can help you make informed decisions regarding your personal injury case.
In summary, we all pay insurance premiums to leverage our risk of loss. Our society utilizes insurance coverage to allow injured people to receive full and fair compensation for a legitimate personal injury. Insurance coverage is how our modern and civilized society attempts to make a wrongdoer accountable - without financially devastating him or her.
Will I Still Be Able To Receive Medical Care And Treatment For My Family And Myself If I File A Personal Injury Claim Against A Doctor Or Hospital?
Clients with potential medical malpractice claims often express concern on this subject. The answer is YES. I have represented medical malpractice clients who reside in urban and rural Utah, north to south, east to west. I have never had a medical malpractice client who has filed and settled a medical malpractice claim be denied access to further medical attention in their area of residence.
I have found that many health care providers are very supportive of the victims of unacceptable health care - and are more than willing to be involved in caring for the injured person, on both a long-term and short-term basis.
Glossary of Terms
It is worthwhile for the client to understand a few legal terms and concepts which apply to all personal injury and medical malpractice claims.
- Claimant / Plaintiff: You, the person making the claim and seeking money for damages, including medical expenses, loss of earnings, and related financial losses. [This may be an individual client on his / her own behalf, a parent or conservator of a minor, or a personal representative of a deceased individual's estate.)
- Damages: there are three broad types:
"General damages": Your pain, discomfort, and suffering from the injury; the loss of enjoyment of life; both from the mental / emotional and physical aspects of your injury and your general disability or impairments.
"Special damages": Out-of-pocket losses; past, present, and future lost earnings; past, present, and future medical bills.
"Punitive damages": Often confused by the layperson with general damages. Punitive damages are very different from the other types of damages and are very rare. It is the extra money (over and above special and general damages) juries can add to punish especially bad conduct or willful conduct involved in the circumstances of an injury.
- Defendant: The person or entity you are making the claim against and whom you believe is responsible to compensate you for your damages arising from their fault or actions. Almost all defendants have insurance coverage, and it is from this insurance coverage that a client gains his / her monetary compensation for injuries and the associated damages.
- Defenses: An insurance company representative often raises some defenses to a claim. The defenses may be legal or factually based and may potentially reduce the value of your case.
- Loss of Services: In many states, including Utah, a person other than the actual injured person can bring in a derivative suit - for example, the uninjured spouse can seek damages for loss of the injured spouse's services. This is also referred to as a consortium claim.
- Negligence: The lack of due care or failure to act reasonably on the part of a person or corporation. For example, if a driver runs a stop sign - then the driver has been negligent in his failure to drive in a reasonable and acceptable manner.
- Statute of Limitations: The period of time within which you must sue, or otherwise you will be barred (forbidden by law) from filing a claim or lawsuit.
I repeat! This is a very complex area of the law! There are many different cut-off times and limits. The limits are all very factual specific, and it depends on who is at fault, and the legal status of the person or entity at fault. The limit may be as short as one year from the date of the injury! Seek help and advice on the applicable statute in your case !
No two states have the same rules, and often it depends upon the legal theory of your suit. Sometimes, the issue is so complex that a court must resolve it.
- Tort: A civil (not criminal) wrong (e.g., injury from the following: auto accidents caused by the other party; a defective product manufactured by a party; a negligent act of a doctor or nurse; or a negligent act of a co-worker employed by a different employer on a job site).