An award-winning episode of Mr. Magoo called Trouble Indemnity was aired in 1950 pertaining to the interests of the insured and the agent of insurance when claims are filed. Beginning with an insurance salesman’s visit to the myopic gentleman, the episode follows—like all episodes of Mr. Magoo—the titular character’s oblivious wanderings through improbable perils. Less than a minute after signing on for a policy, Mr. Magoo steps into the mouth of his own tiger pelt rug, notes that he has dog bite coverage, and sets off for the insurance office to collect. On his journey, he encounters the very real dangers of a construction site he has mistaken for an office building, taking the metal framework for hallways, scaffolds for elevators, and a bag of cement for his agent. When Magoo makes it safely back to Earth, only to walk past a sign reading, “10,000 VOLTS,” his insurers try to skip town. Yet, as he always does, Mr. Magoo catches up with them and manages to get his dog bite compensated, apparently unaffected by his recent electrocution.
While it is far from likely that your insurers will attempt an escape like those retained by Mr. Magoo, it is equally unlikely that you are as uncannily lucky as he is. Chances are that you will have to do your own legwork (figurative legwork, not traipsing about on a construction site) to seek damages following an accident. Before you do so, there are several facts you should be apprised of:
1 – You have a limited time to file a claim.
Just as there is a statute of limitations for pressing charges for actions that qualify as criminal malfeasance, there are also deadlines limiting how long you have to report negligence or flagrant inconsideration. These deadlines vary by state and the manner in which the alleged damage was sustained. There are several good reasons to impose a deadline on when an accident must be reported—the evidence should be fresh, the individual or institution against whom the claim is being filed should reasonably be able to recall the accident, and the victim should be in a state where the damages are still recoverable. This is practical to all involved. However, when you are hurt, it is your responsibility to file your claim in a timely manner so that you don’t lose your chance entirely.
2 – If the responsible party is uninsured, you’re not out of luck.
A good deal of filing personal injury claims consists of interaction with the insurer of the responsible party. However, not everyone is insured. While it may seem that this situation would leave you high and dry, this is not necessarily the case—there are often other alternatives for those whose misfortune it is to run afoul of an uninsured force. (Uninsured motorist insurance, for example, is a standard inclusion for auto insurance in Utah.) Even if it seems there are no avenues open to you, it may be that they merely aren’t immediately apparent. It’s generally worth it to lift a few stones to find resources for recovery before throwing in the towel, whether this involves talking about your own insurance plan or hiring legal representation.
3 – You don’t have to settle.
What your insurance agent may or may not be actually hiding from you—but what, in any case, they stand to benefit from you not knowing—is that the alternative to refusing whatever offer they make is not to go empty-handed. Like any salesperson, the goal of the insurer is to make a profit. Therefore, it makes sense that they would initially try to undersell, in many cases. Still, even their final word is not the final word on the matter (The reason for this can be found in Item 4.)
4 – A personal injury attorney can help.
Some insurance agents are actually trained to tell their clients that hiring a personal injury attorney will not help them much. This is certainly plausible, isn’t it? If someone could help you, wouldn’t your insurance agent be the first to do that? Nevertheless, the hard truth of the matter is that an insurance company is paid more when you are paid less; and the reverse is true of a personal injury attorney. To illustrate this point, those who enlist a personal injury attorney are often awarded 2-3 times more than those who act on their own behalf. While negligence must be proved for this to work, it costs nothing to find out whether you can, since personal injury attorneys charge only on contingency.
To increase your odds of happening upon this contingency, you’ll want the best legal counsel you can acquire. To contact the most skilled lawyers practicing personal injury in Salt Lake City and the surrounding areas, contact Christensen & Hymas for a free diagnostic interview at (801) 506-0800. Although they are nationally recognized by Newsweek and the American Trial Lawyers Association, Christensen & Hymas are best recommended by the testimonials of their former clients, whom they serve with compassion and integrity. If you have been injured on account of another person’s misconduct, Christensen & Hymas will see that you, too, are treated as a priority.
Image courtesy of: Wikimedia Commons user Shuets Udono