Utah has a comparative negligence law in place that has a 50 percent fault bar.  This means that if you are at least half at fault, you will not retain anything from the accident.  If you are at less than half at fault, you will receive a partial damage award.
Examples of comparative negligence are driver A is making a left-hand turn, but hits driver B, who is going 15 miles over the speed limit.  Driver A should have waited for driver B to drive by, but driver B should not have been speeding in the first place. Both drivers are at fault in this instance.  It will need to be determined what percentage each of these drivers are at fault, which will equal 100%. Driver A may be at fault 60% for making the left-hand turn, while driver B was 40% at fault for speeding.  
Comparative negligence does not only happen on the roadways.  Suppose individual A is walking down the sidewalk and notices a large patch of ice that is owned by individual B.  Individual A decides to walk over the ice, thinking he will be safe, but slips and falls, breaking his ankle. While individual B should have taken care of the ice, individual A is also at fault, as he noticed the ice but thought he could safely make it across.  If it is found that individual A and B are both equally at fault, individual A will not receive anything in a settlement. However, if individual A is 40% at fault, and individual B is 60% at fault, individual A will receive 60% of the incurred damages.

How To Determine Fault in an Accident

It can be a very difficult task in determining who was at fault in an accident.  Many times the parties involved will not come to an agreement on who really was at fault.  In most cases, one party is more intelligent than the other as their behavior was most likely reckless.  The lawyers will then receive the task of determining who was at fault. Either a judge or jury will use the facts presented to determine which side of the story is true.  It is very hard to settle cases outside of court that have comparative negligence.

Comparative Negligence Types

There are two different types of comparative negligence types:  Modified comparative fault and pure comparative fault.
Modified comparative fault is what many states use when trying to determine fault.  As Utah is a modified comparative fault state, the only way to seek damages would be to be at less than 50% at fault.
Pure comparative negligence will let one collect damages no matter what percentage of fault they were under. If you were at 95% at fault, you would still be able to collect 5% of the damages.  To date, only 12 states follow this type of comparative negligence.

Elements of a Comparative Negligence Case

Under the comparative negligence law, the injured person( the plaintiff) can recover damages based upon the percentage of their fault in the accident.  An example would be that if the injured was at 15% fault, they could still sue the defendant for 85% of any damages that they have encountered. However, in order to have the claim be successful, the plaintiff will need to provide the following:

  • Duty- the injured will need to prove that the defendant owed them a duty of care
  • Breach of duty-  the injured will need to prove that the defendant failed to meet the duty of care
  • Cause of fact-  the injured will need to prove that if the defendant was not negligent, there would not have been any injury to the plaintiff
  • Proximate cause-  the plaintiff’s injury was caused by the failure of the defendant and not something else
  • Damages-  the plaintiff was indeed injured and there was a loss suffered

How You Can Help Your Case

As stated above, it can be hard to determine who was at fault in an accident.  However, there are certain things that you can do in order to help your case if you believe you are not completely at fault.  You should always call the police as soon as the accident happened. This will allow them to generate a police report and have a record of the said accident.
Photos are another thing that can really help your case.  Today it is not hard to obtain photos as most people carry a cell phone that has a camera built in.  Take photos of the property where you were injured. Make sure that the photos are clear and in a good light.
You will also want to look around for any witnesses.  If there were any, make sure to get their name and phone number, or any other contact information.  This can be helpful to have, as in many cases it is the other person’s word against yours.
You should also seek medical care right away.  Even if you do not feel that you are injured, it is best to get checked out.  This will document that there was a need for medical care and can help you with your case.  

Obtaining Legal Services in Salt Lake City, Utah

Comparative negligence is confusing, as accidents are never easy in any aspect. Negligence law can be very overwhelming to say the least.  It is in your best interest to obtain legal services if you have been injured in an accident and the two parties involved can not decide who was at fault.  An experienced accident injury attorney will be able to be assigned a smaller portion of the blame, which means you will be compensated more for the damages.  Siegfried & Jensen is a personal injury law firm that offers a free consultation.  They have a 97% success rate in over 35,000 cases. They are efficient and feel that in order to keep a community safe, wrongdoers need to be held accountable.  Their phone lines are open 24 hours per day, 7 days a week.

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Content checked by personal injury attorney Todd Bradford. I worked for a small law firm in Utah County, where I handled various types of cases. My main focus was personal injury and I decided that is what I enjoyed doing the most. I rejoined Siegfried and Jensen in 2012 where my focus is solely on helping personal injury clients. I take pride in helping personal injury clients and enjoy serving them. If you need an attorney for auto accidents or injuries of any kind in Salt Lake City, UT, Ogden, UT, Spokane, WA, or Boise, ID, contact us.