Utah accident attorneys handle cases with victims of personal injury. They battle combative insurance companies and recover compensation for losses incurred by someone else’s careless or malicious actions. If you suffered injuries in an accident, you have the right to seek compensation from the party responsible for your losses. The first step is to identify the legal options available to you in Utah based on the type of case.
What Types of Cases Do Accident Attorneys Handle?
Accident attorneys specialize in tort law. Their services help victims of personal injury caused by everything from auto accidents and slip and fall cases to workplace injuries and defective products. Some personal injuries result from defamation, which entails intentionally damaging someone’s reputation, or intentional bodily harm, such as assault. However, the majority are born of negligence.
Auto accidents are the most common form of personal injury claims and the most versatile. There are various types of collisions with different laws to govern these cases. Some typical vehicle accident cases attorneys handle include the following:
- Single and multi-vehicle collisions involving passenger vehicles are the most common and can range from minor fender benders to severe, deadly crashes.
- Commercial truck accidents are among the most dangerous and can be challenging because of the complexity surrounding liability. For example, when a commercial truck hits another vehicle, the party liable for damages could be the truck driver, the driver’s employer, the cargo loader or a third party, such as the truck manufacturer or a mechanic.
- Motorcycle accidents are also commonly severe due to the rider’s vulnerability. Common causes include distracted driving and speeding.
- Pedestrian accidents occur when a vehicle hits a pedestrian. Either party can be at fault, but the losses for pedestrians are always significantly more.
- Bicycle accidents can occur similarly to pedestrian accidents and are often the result of distracted driving or cyclists disobeying traffic laws.
Several factors can impact the outcome of an auto accident case, including the damages available, the severity of injuries and the percentage of fault belonging to each party.
Slip and Fall Accidents
Slip and fall accident cases fall under the legal doctrine of premises liability. According to this concept, if you fall on someone else’s property because of a hazard the owner could have removed, you could sue them for your losses. However, falling alone is not enough to warrant a personal injury claim. You must have proof of damages related directly to the fall. Additionally, not all injuries sustained in a fall are the property owner’s fault.
Product liability is another legal doctrine governing cases where a person suffers an injury caused by a defective product. For example, if you sustained an injury in a car accident because the brake system failed in your vehicle, you may have a case against the manufacturer or those parts. According to product liability rules, manufacturers and distributors are responsible for ensuring their products’ safety before releasing them for public consumption.
These cases are sometimes highly complex and involve class action lawsuits with multiple plaintiffs for a single suit. But, again, accident attorneys can help you identify the liable party and file your claim for compensation.
Workplace injuries can occur under various circumstances and are not always cause for a personal injury claim in civil court. Most injured workers can access workers’ compensation insurance to cover medical expenses and lost wages. However, suppose you suffered an injury at work because of a third party’s negligence. In that case, an accident attorney can help you understand the laws applicable to your case and if you are eligible for compensation outside of workers’ comp.
Utah law defines a wrongful death case as any potential personal injury claim resulting in death. If you lost a loved one in a car accident caused by someone else or because a doctor failed to diagnose their illness, you may have a wrongful death claim. In Utah, the following people are eligible to file:
- The personal representative of the deceased person’s estate
- The deceased’s surviving spouse
- Surviving biological or adoptive parents
- Surviving biological or adoptive children
- Dependent stepchildren under 18
The personal representative can file a wrongful death claim only if none of the surviving heirs choose to file. However, any damages received in a case filed by the personal representative will go to the surviving heirs.
What Utah Personal Injury Laws Govern Accident Cases?
Utah applies some general laws to all personal injury cases and some specific laws depending on the type of case. Some laws to consider for your claim include the statute of limitations, the comparative negligence rule and no-fault auto insurance.
Statutes of Limitations
A statute of limitations sets a legal timeframe for filing a lawsuit. In Utah, most personal injury cases allow four years from the date of the accident. Exceptions include the two-year statute of limitations for a wrongful death lawsuit, which begins with the victim’s death rather than the accident.
Remember, statutes of limitations do not apply to insurance claims. Some insurance companies set company policies for how long you have to file a claim, and they always look out for the company’s best interest. As a rule of thumb, filing your claim or lawsuit as soon as possible is generally the best option.
The Comparative Negligence Rule
Shared fault is not uncommon in auto accident cases. If you are partially responsible for your accident, it can impact your compensation. Utah applies the modified comparative negligence rule to cases with shared liability. In practice, it looks something like this:
- The court calculates your total damages to value your award.
- The court determines what percentage of the fault belongs to the plaintiff and defendant.
- The court deducts a portion of your award equal to your percentage of liability for the accident.
Unfortunately, if you are 50% or more responsible for the accident, you are not eligible for any damages. Part of an accident attorney’s responsibility is to help you understand how your share of liability can affect your claim.
No-Fault Auto Insurance
Utah is a no-fault auto accident state. Therefore, all vehicle operators, with the exception of motorcyclists, must carry personal injury protection insurance. In the event of a car accident, you would file a claim under your PIP coverage to recover medical expenses, lost wages and some replacement services.
If your injuries are severe, Utah allows you to bypass the no-fault requirement and file an at-fault claim. The qualifications for this threshold include at least $3,000 in medical bills incurred or permanent impairment, disfigurement or disability. If your injuries fall under those categories, you can claim non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, as well.
Should You Schedule a Free Consultation With an Accident Attorney?
Accident attorneys help personal injury victims recover the compensation they need to return to their everyday lives or adapt to something new as comfortably as possible. If you suffered an injury and another person or party is responsible, an accident attorney can guide you through the legal process and ensure you have everything you need to access recover your damages and move on with your life. At Siegfried and Jensen, we ensure our clients have access to legal representation during one of the most challenging events in their lives and will fight to protect their rights with tenacity. Contact us at (801) 845-9000 to schedule your free consultation and take the first step toward rebuilding.