When you become injured through the negligence of another in Utah, you may wonder whether you have any legal options for covering medical bills, lost wages and the pain and suffering you endured as a result of the accident. The cost in the aftermath of such an injury can skyrocket quickly, leaving you buried in debt.
Acting quickly after the accident may help you build a legal case against a negligent party in a timely manner, as Utah’s personal injury statute laws require you to file a lawsuit within a certain time frame. Obtaining legal help can help you to understand statute laws as they relate to a Utah personal injury claim and guide you through the process to ensure you file your case correctly and on time.
Utah Statute Laws
Like most other states, Utah provides statutes of limitations for different types of personal injury cases. Many vehicle-related injuries carry a statute of four years, including:
Some types of personal injury can result in long-term spinal or brain damage, which may affect your life and those of your loved ones for years to come. Because each type of injury statute varies, contacting an attorney about the length of time you have to file a case can help you avoid missing statute deadlines.
Delays Can Lead To Consequences
No matter the type of personal injury you endured, filing a case as soon as possible can streamline matters, especially once you obtain an attorney who can assist you. Delaying in filing can have a variety of negative effects, including:
- Increasing the rights of the defendant
- Dismissal of the case
- A loss of financial compensation
- Increased debt resulting from medical care
Once a Utah time statute for personal injury ends, you lose the right to seek any compensation that you feel was a result of someone else’s negligence. While courts may allow for a longer time span for filing a case depending on extenuating circumstances, such as if the plaintiff is not yet a legal adult, you generally have up to four years to file a case in Utah.
A lesser-yet-important consequence of missing the filing deadline statute is that the ones responsible for your injury may walk away without suffering any penalty for their negligent acts. If defendants believe they can get away with such behavior, they may harm someone else in the future. For instance, if someone uses an illegal drug and gets behind the wheel only to run you down as you cross the street and he or she suffers no consequences, that person may continue the behavior and injure or kill someone else.
Discovery of Harm Extensions
A Utah court may allow you an extension of the filing deadline if you did not discover your injury until after that deadline date passed. This situation, known as the discovery of harm, is especially important in medical malpractice cases, as the effects of some surgeries and medications used to treat certain chronic ailments may not make themselves known until years later.
Because the Utah Supreme Court declared damage caps unconstitutional in cases of medical malpractice, especially in those where the plaintiff died as a result of the action, following filing time statutes can greatly improve your chances of recovering compensation in such a situation.
Gauging Case Viability
Contacting an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you decide whether one or more parties caused your accident due to negligence or failure to exercise duty of care. Such decisions usually require considerable knowledge of state laws and statutes, so presenting your case to an attorney can help you satisfy Utah statutes and provide you with the foundation you need to build a strong case.
Case viability may strongly depend on your ability to prove that the defendant’s actions caused your injuries. For example, if the owner of a local bar served alcohol to an individual who showed clear signs of inebriation and that individual got behind the wheel and crashed into you on the highway, both the bar and the drunk driver caused your injuries and you could name them both in a lawsuit. If you want to join a tort case, such as for an asbestos injury claim, you may need medical records and reports from several physicians that lend proof the substance led directly to a chronic or deadly illness.
Statutes and Burden of Proof
As the plaintiff in a personal injury case, an awareness of the state’s statutes regarding the filing deadline can help strengthen and maintain your need to satisfy the burden of proof. This need carries several facets that the courts might require that you satisfy, including:
- Proof of negligence
- A breach of duty of care
- Proof of lost wages and other financial damages
- Proof of non-economic losses, such as mental distress
Filing a case as soon as possible and having your attorney gather as much evidence for your trial to satisfy the above needs not only helps you to meet deadline statutes but may even provide you with a few advantages as you build your case.
A Better Ability To Recall Details
Filing a personal injury lawsuit while the details of the accident are still vivid in your memory can lend strength to the case. You may recall crucial details with more ease, such as the time of the accident, who witnessed it and how a negligent act caused it. The longer you wait to file a lawsuit, the cloudier your memory may become.
If you have trouble remembering the day of the accident or any details associated with it because of a brain injury you suffered, you may want to ask your attorney to review witness accounts and compare any details that you do remember with those of who saw the accident occur. The fewer conflicting witness accounts that exist, the stronger your case may become.
Waiting several years or more to file a personal injury case may affect your ability to contact witnesses to your injury. Recalling names of people who saw the event happen and speaking to them within a few days afterward may give your case improved support and allow the judge and jury, if any, to examine the event from different angles and perspectives. The availability of witnesses may even be crucial to your case, such as if you lost consciousness or have gaps in your memory as the result of trauma.
Eagerness of Action
Some Utah courts may not look favorably on an individual who waited until the filing deadline to pursue a personal injury case without sufficient cause. Filing a case as soon as you discover an injury shows your sincerity regarding the neglect of the other party’s duty of care and that you take the action seriously.
While it is often difficult to decide whether you have a viable case, delaying your lawsuit out of ignorance or procrastination can cause you to miss crucial deadlines, some of which carry no extensions.
Contact an Attorney Today
If you suffered a severe or life-changing injury that you believe was the fault of another, then speaking to an experienced attorney can provide you with answers that may help you make confident choices about taking a case to court. At Siegfried and Jensen, you can count on our lawyers and their knowledge to help you make the difficult choices that often accompany a personal injury case. Call us today or contact us via our online form for further assistance.