Personal injury law, commonly known as tort law, is a field of civil litigation through which anyone who suffers an injury to their body, reputation, or psychological health as the result of someone else’s negligence or malintent can seek financial compensation for their losses. The burden of proof falls on the injured party, but unlike criminal law, you only need to prove the at-fault party was more likely than not guilty of negligence. Not all cases require legal representation, but if you have questions about your right to compensation, a personal injury attorney can help you.
Common Types of Personal Injury Cases
Among the most common types of personal injury cases are the various auto accidents. Personal injury lawyers help victims of negligent drivers more than any other tort, and every case is unique. Truck accidents can have multiple negligent parties, including some who were not even present at the accident, such as the trucking company or a truck manufacturer. Motorcycle, bicycle, and pedestrian accidents can be the most deadly, given the level of vulnerability on the road. However, there are many more types of personal injury that can have significant damages:
- Slip and fall cases involve seeking compensation for injuries occurring on someone else’s property due to the property owner’s failure to maintain safe conditions for lawful visitors.
- Medical malpractice occurs when healthcare professionals, such as doctors, nurses, or pharmacists, fail to uphold the industry’s standard of care, causing the patient to suffer an injury. The defendant in a medical malpractice case can even be a healthcare facility, such as a hospital, clinic, or nursing home.
- Product liability cases involve a company’s negligence when designing or manufacturing a product for distribution. Someone injured by a defective product can sue the company, and these cases often have multiple plaintiffs.
- Dog bite or attack cases are among the least complex personal injury claims. The dog owner is almost always liable, and most homeowner’s insurance policies will cover damages.
- Wrongful death claims can be the result of nearly any personal injury. In Utah, surviving immediate family members can file a wrongful death claim when someone dies as the result of what would otherwise be a personal injury.
- Assault differs from most personal injury cases because the person at-fault for the victim’s injuries acted maliciously. While the assailant will face criminal charges for the crime, they can also face civil consequences requiring them to pay for damages.
- Defamation is a form of personal injury that does not involve bodily harm. Instead, it occurs when someone intentionally damages the good reputation of another, causing them psychological harm and financial loss.
Medical malpractice, product liability, and defamation are commonly the most complex cases to prove. As a result, victims typically need the legal assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney to build a strong case and adequately value their damages.
Recoverable Damages From a Personal Injury Claim
Personal injury law refers to the losses you incur from your injuries as compensatory damages, meaning recovery of these losses should allow you to rebuild your life. Additionally, there are two types of compensatory damages, economic and non-economic, and under certain circumstances, you may have access to exemplary damages.
What are the financial losses associated with your accident and injuries? When calculating damages, the most apparent losses are economical. They can include:
- All necessary medical expenses, such as ambulance and emergency department costs, hospital stays, surgeries, medications, outpatient visits, rehabilitative therapies, and use of medical devices, such as oxygen tanks or wheelchairs
- The costs to repair or replace any damaged property, which is common in auto accident cases
- The total lost income from missed work, loss of earning capacity, or lost wages from a deceased loved one in a wrongful death case
- All other expenses directly connected to the accident, such as in-home help, funeral and burial expenses, childcare, and transportation for medical visits
As the injured person filing the claim, you are responsible for providing evidence to support all damages claims. Economic losses are generally easier to prove using medical bills, pay stubs, tax returns, relative receipts, and professional estimates.
Non-economic losses are more subjective and represent the psychological damages associated with your accident. Examples of these losses include:
- Pain and suffering from physical injuries
- Emotional distress and mental anguish
- Anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder
- Loss of the ability to enjoy life as you did before the accident
- Loss of consortium for any disruption to your spousal relationship
- Loss of companionship, nurturing, love, society, and guidance if you lost a loved one from the accident
Without a thorough understanding of personal injury law, adequately valuing and proving these losses can be challenging. Your attorney would interview family members and people who know you well to testify to adverse changes in your psychological state. They will also consult with healthcare professionals and have you draft a written statement.
Exemplary damages are more commonly known as punitive damages. These do not compensate for any financial or emotional loss. Instead, the court may punish the defendant if their behavior constitutes gross negligence or shows a complete disregard for the value of human life and safety. The purpose is to deter them from similar conduct in the future.
Laws Affecting Personal Injury Cases in Utah
Each state mandates the laws that govern personal injury cases. In Utah, some key applicable laws include:
- Modified comparative negligence applies to cases with shared fault. It allows the injured person to recover a portion of the total damages by subtracting an amount equal to their percentage of fault.
- Strict liability applies to dog bite cases and places total liability for dog attacks on the dog owner regardless of the dog’s history or the owner’s attempts to stop an attack or prevent the dog from attacking.
- No-fault auto insurance requires all licensed drivers with a registered vehicle to obtain personal injury protection insurance. In the event of an auto accident, you do not need to file a claim with the other driver’s insurance, which requires a fault determination. Instead, you can access compensation for medical bills and lost wages through your PIP policy.
Should you need to file a civil lawsuit in your pursuit of compensation, remember that Utah has a general four-year statute of limitations, meaning you have four years from the date of the incident or diagnosis to file your lawsuit. Contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to learn more about your options.
Schedule a Free Consultation With a Personal Injury Attorney
If you sustained an injury due to another person’s actions, personal injury law provides a resource to recover your losses and get the justice you deserve. A personal injury lawyer will help you build your case and handle all the tedious elements of the legal process while you focus on healing. Since 1990, Siegfried and Jensen has helped tort victims fight for a fast and fair settlement to start rebuilding their lives without the financial consequence of someone else’s actions. We have experience in cases involving auto accidents, defective products, medical malpractice, wrongful death, dog bites, and many more. Contact Siegfried and Jensen at (801) 845-9000 to schedule your free case evaluation today. A personal injury attorney is available and ready to speak with you immediately and answer any questions you may have about your case.