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If you were in a car accident, it can be hard to know when to call an attorney. Advertisements for personal injury representation are everywhere – your TV, busses, and billboards. When do you actually need professional help? What if you were not driving and instead a car accident passenger?
Whether or not you need an attorney is not determined by who was driving. It all depends on fault and your injuries. As a car accident passenger, you are most likely not at fault for the accident, but you can be seriously injured, and you may need an attorney. The following criteria could help you decide:
You Are (Probably) Not at Fault for the Accident
Even if you were not driving when the accident occurred, you may still need an attorney, by virtue of the fact that you need compensation from someone else. The only exception is if you, as a passenger, caused the accident.
Imagine you cause an accident, which is often hard for passengers to do, by trying to exit the vehicle as it travels 30 miles per hour. You may need a car accident passenger attorney, but it will be a different kind of attorney altogether.
Personal injury attorneys are sometimes referred to as plaintiff’s attorneys because almost all the people they represent are plaintiffs. That means most of our clients have been hurt and are seeking damages from someone else.
You Are Injured
If the accident involves only property damage, most people can work through their claim with their insurance agent. If you have been injured in the accident, you may need an attorney to help you get the compensation you deserve.
When you have been seriously injured in an accident it can seem impossible to get back to your daily life let alone fight with an opposing party or an insurance company over getting compensation for your injuries.
A car accident passenger attorney will help you collect medical records and bills, help you collect evidence of who is at fault, help you make a case that the other party is at fault, and help you negotiate for fair compensation. Your attorney should keep track of everything for you, so that you can focus on getting better.
Your Medical Bills Will Most Likely be More Than $3,000.00
In Utah, you cannot sue for compensation for your injuries unless your medical bills come to more than $3,000.00. In cases where medical expenses will be less than $3,000.00, something called personal injury protection (PIP) in your own insurance policy kicks in to cover your injuries. PIP is a bit more complicated. See the full article to understand more about it.
You can call your insurance agent and start the process of claiming your PIP benefits yourself. It is only when you are going to need more than PIP can provide that you definitely need an attorney.
Your Insurance Company Is Not Going to Cover All of Your Bills
The most important reason that personal injury attorneys exist is not that people are litigious monsters. The most vital reason personal injury attorneys exist is because some accidents are too big to recover from without compensation.
Imagine Paul was a passenger in a van when another car stuck the vehicle Paul was riding in. Paul is injured, and Paul must go to the hospital for imaging, surgery, and rehab. Paul missed work because of the accident. He had to hire help for regular tasks, and Paul may be never walk the same way again. His marathon-running days are over. In fact, Paul will incur medical expenses due to this accident for the rest of his life.
Even if Paul has good auto and health insurance, he is going to need some serious money to pay for the bills his insurance company will not cover. Paul’s medical insurance covers only 80 percent of his medical bills, making him responsible for 20 percent of his hospital stay, surgery, and rehab. That can add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Furthermore, Paul missed work and lost money there. He had to hire help to do household tasks while he was in rehab. He will incur medical expenses for the rest of his life, and his quality of life has been diminished.
Paul’s own insurance, no matter how wonderful, is not going to make him whole again. The goal of a personal injury claim is to make the plaintiff as much the same as he was before the accident. In order to do that, Paul is going to need compensation from the at-fault party and their insurance company. He is going to need a car accident passenger attorney to get that compensation.
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