Injured Seniors need specialized accident lawyersSenior woman in wheel chair making a senior injury claim

You should be aware of the unique problems in Utah personal injury claims for Utah seniors. Many Injury lawyers and almost all insurance adjusters undervalue injury claims by seniors.

According to the National Safety Council, people over 65 have the highest mortality rate in injuries from traffic accidents, falls, medications, bad products, nursing home negligence, medical malpractice, and other misfortunes.

We have experience with senior injury claims from accidents

As the only Utah lawyer I know with specialties in both injury law (30 years experience) and elder law, I have a good view of senior injury claims. These challenges face Seniors with injuries:

  • Pre-existing conditions– Insurance adjusters will scour your medical records for prior health complaints. Back injuries? Normal wear and tear in the aging spine is usually characterized as “degenerative disc disease” and almost everyone over age 40 has some. Insurance adjusters look for reasons to say your injuries are pre-existing. Utah law says you should be compensated for the difference the injury makes in your life, even if you already have health problems.
  • Serious injuries from minor events– For the elderly, serious and disabling injuries can happen in a simple fall, fender bender or other event. Don’t be deterred by insurance adjusters and defense lawyers who say you couldn’t have been hurt.
  • Medicare- Medicare has a “super lien” on injury awards for medical expenses it pays. Medicare laws require notice of injury settlements and “set asides” of money for future medical expenses. We have settled senior injury cases under the new rules and know they are difficult and tricky. If your injury lawyer doesn’t follow these new laws, you can be denied medicare for life.

What should you do if you have been injured?

  1. Get all the medical treatment you need. This is good medical advice. It is also good legal advice.
  2. Get medical treatment immediately. Aging bodies need more medical attention and you do not know how badly you may be hurt. Quick treatment also documents your injury case. Lack of prompt medical treatment is a common cause for low settements in injury cases because it suggests a lack of real pain and concern.
  3. Try your best to heal from your injuries. Do everything your doctor asks, and keep all your medical appointments.
  4. Choose your lawyer carefully. Young lawyers may not understand how vulnerable you are to minor events and slight injuries.
  5. Avoid lawyers who are too busy. When I began my practice in the early 1980’s, we learned to treat each case differently. Now, “injury shops” profit through settling a high volume of cases quickly. Senior injury cases need careful, specialized legal and personal attention.
  6. Ask questions to make sure your lawyer knows Medicare laws. You can be disqualified from Medicare if your lawyer does not know the rules..
  7. Ask your lawyer how experienced he or she is with senior injuries. A good senior injury lawyer knows which cases should be pursued, and knows how to present more compelling claims for injuries to frail and imperfect bodies.

We are nationally Certified Medicare Secondary Payer Professionals (CMSP) in senior injuries.

We know of no other lawyers in Utah who have more experience in personal injury law and Utah elder law combined. In fact, we know of no other Utah personal injury lawyer who also specializes in Utah elder law.

Important Note: Jack Helgesen is  the only lawyer in Utah who is a Certfied Medicare Secondary Payer Professional (CMSP). Tonya Hardy, our injury paralegal has the same CMSP certification. (This is a national certfication, not a certification of the Utah State Bar Association.)

The author is a partner in Helgesen, Houtz & Jones with offices in Ogden and Layton, Utah. He is a member of the National Association of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA), and has been a state and national leader of injury lawyer organizations for more than twenty years. He can be contacted at (801) 544-5306. He offers free consultations and house calls.