Company Vehicle Accidents
The property damage and injuries from an auto accident can be severe, resulting in significant financial consequences. Since Utah is a no-fault state, drivers typically use personal injury protection insurance to cover expenses. However, in cases involving substantial damages, you may need to file a civil lawsuit against the at-fault party to recover excessive costs. The process is virtually the same when one party drives a company vehicle. If you recently suffered an injury in an auto accident involving a company vehicle, you may benefit from speaking with a Utah company vehicle accident attorney.
Who Is Liable in a Company Vehicle Accident in Utah?
Determining liability is relevant in an auto accident case because it answers the question of which party’s insurance must cover the resulting damages. However, how does that affect liability when one party drives a company vehicle? Is the driver liable or the company? In Utah, the answer is generally straightforward because the company’s insurance is almost always responsible for damages if the employee driving the company vehicle is at fault.
According to Utah’s doctrine of respondeat superior, an employee’s actions fall under the employer’s responsibility when the employee acts within the scope of their employment during the time of the accident. This generally means the company would be liable for the damages if the accident occurs when the employee is on duty. For example, if the employee were on an errand run as requested by their manager, that would fall within the scope of their job duties. However, if the employee decided to go out of the way to may a stop at home to pick something up, that would not fall under the scope of the job. It is up to the court fact-finder to determine whether or not the employee operated within the scope of their job.
How Does Personal Injury Protection Insurance Work in Utah?
Utah requires all licensed drivers who intend to operate a vehicle to carry personal injury protection insurance in addition to the mandatory liability coverage. The minimum PIP insurance required includes:
- An allowance of $20 per day for services needed, such as in-home help
- $3,000 per person in medical expenses
- $1,500 to cover funeral and burial or cremation services in the case of a wrongful death
- $3,000 to the heir of a person who died as a result of the accident
- Up to $250 a week or 85% of lost income caused by the accident for up to 52 weeks
Drivers may choose to purchase a policy with higher amounts for each benefit. However, if your injuries exceed the injury threshold, resulting in medical bills greater than $3,000, you may file a personal injury claim with the local civil court. The injury threshold, also known as the tort threshold, includes permanent disability, disfigurement, impairment, or dismemberment. Additionally, filing a lawsuit allows you to pursue noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering, which are not covered by PIP insurance.
What Are the Potential Damages From an Auto Accident?
Damages typically refer to the losses for which you may receive compensation. They are similar in any auto accident case but vary depending on the severity and cause of the accident. These compensatory damages are further divided into economic and non-economic categories. Some common examples of economic damages include:
- The cost of medical expenses related to your injury, including hospital and doctor visits, ambulance expenses, future treatments, rehabilitation, and the cost of necessary medical devices
- The cost of property damage, including repair or replacement
- The amount of lost wages, including current and projected lost wages and loss of earning capacity
- Any other expenses related to the accident, including the need for in-home care and transportation to and from medical treatments
These damages are easily quantifiable using medical bills, property damage estimates, pay stubs, tax returns, and applicable receipts.
The non-economic damages are not as easily quantifiable because they involve the psychological losses associated with the accident. These include:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional and mental distress, including post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression
- Loss of enjoyment for life as you had before the accident
- Disfigurement or amputation
Your attorney may use more than one strategy to quantify non-economic damages. For example, they may use your written statement and testimonies from people in your daily life as evidence and then use the multiplier method to give non-economic damages monetary value. Additionally, if the accident results in the death of a loved one, the family may sue for compensatory damages, including the cost of the funeral and burial or cremation, the loss of companionship or consortium, lost benefits provided by the loved one, and loss of inheritance.
In cases involving particularly egregious behavior on the part of the negligent driver, the court may order them to pay the plaintiff punitive damages. Punitive damages do not compensate for any economic or non-economic losses. Instead, they act as a way to punish the defendant for their behavior. For example, if the at-fault driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs or driving recklessly at the time of the collision, the court may decide to punish them in an effort to deter that type of action in the future.
What Happens if Both Parties Are at Fault?
In the aftermath of an auto accident, the police, the attorneys, and the insurance companies each conduct independent investigations into the accident to determine fault. The results are not always definitively in favor of one side. When more than one party is at fault, Utah applies the comparative negligence rule.
The comparative negligence rule requires the court to decide how much fault belongs to each party. For example, the court may find you 30% negligible for the accident, making the other party 70% at fault. In that case, you will only receive 70% of the compensation for total damages. Additionally, because Utah follows the modified comparative negligence rule, if you are found more than 50% responsible, you lose the ability to recover any damages.
How Can a Utah Company Vehicle Accident Lawyer Help You?
If you are still trying to decide whether you should contact an attorney for your case, consider the advantages of having legal representation:
- People who hire an attorney for personal injury cases typically get as much as three times more compensation.
- An attorney will handle all the paperwork to file the lawsuit.
- An attorney represents you in all conversations with the defense, including the insurance company.
- Your attorney will conduct an independent investigation of your case and collect all the necessary evidence to prove your claim.
- An attorney has experience with the legal system, often including access to resources you do not have on your own.
- They often act as a support system during a challenging time.
- Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, meaning they do not require any upfront fees to work on your case.
If you suffered an injury in an auto accident involving a company vehicle, you may be entitled to compensation. The Utah company vehicle accident lawyers at Siegfried and Jensen are available to listen to the details of your case at no financial risk. We understand the burdens these cases cause, which is why your initial call, consultation, and meeting are entirely free. There’s no obligation. We are just here to provide information. Contact Siegfried and Jensen today to schedule your case evaluation.
Finding an Experienced Accident Attorney Is Easy
Siegfried and Jensen is your best choice for experienced Utah car accident attorneys.
When you team up with our experienced accident lawyers you can expect the best:
- We’ll answer your questions and address your concerns throughout the entire process.
- We’ll help you get what you need to recover your old life or adapt to a new one.
- We’ll put together the information needed to build your case, including medical records, police reports, insurance policies, expert testimony, etc.
- We’ll make sure the insurance company plays by the rules and treats you fairly.
If you or someone you know has been in an accident with a vehicle owned by a business, contact Siegfried and Jensen now for a free, no-pressure consultation.