Proving Liability in a Personal Injury Claim
Most personal injury cases are brought on the grounds of negligence. In other words, the person bringing the claim (known as the “plaintiff”) argues that the other person or party (the “defendant”) acted negligently or wrongfully and is therefore liable for their resulting damages. In these cases, the plaintiff has the burden of proof. This means that they are the one who must prove their case.
To prove liability in a personal injury claim, you must typically prove several important elements:
- Duty of Care: First, you must establish that the defendant owed you a “duty of care.” This simply means that they had a legal responsibility to act in a manner that did not put others at unreasonable risk of injury. For example, drivers must follow traffic laws and avoid making any dangerous maneuvers that could result in an accident. In many cases, such as this example, the duty of care is implied.
- Breach of the Duty of Care: Next, to prove the defendant’s liability, you must prove that they somehow breached the duty of care. Most often, this involves proving that the defendant acted negligently, recklessly, or wrongfully; in some cases, it may involve proving that the defendant intentionally breached the duty of care by inflicting or attempting to inflict injury on other person or party.
- Injuries and Damages: To have a case, you will also need to prove that you were, in fact, injured. Even if another person or party acts with extreme negligence, if you are not injured, you do not have a case. Typically, you must also prove that you suffered measurable damages, whether economic or non-economic in nature. Examples of common damages in personal injury cases include medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
- Causation: Lastly, to successfully prove liability in your personal injury case, you will need to prove “causation.” This means proving that the defendant’s conduct was the proximate or direct cause of your injuries and, therefore, your damages. In other words, would you have been injured if the defendant had acted differently? If the defendant did not breach the duty of care by acting negligently or wrongfully, would you have suffered harm? If not, you likely have grounds for a case.
Because the burden of proof falls on you, the injured party, it is important that you work with an experienced personal injury lawyer who can help you build your case. At Steele Adams Hosman, we work with teams of experts—including accident reconstructionists, medical professionals, economists, and others—who help us fully investigate our clients’ claims, understand the nature of their injuries, and determine the true extent of their damages. We leave no stone unturned when it comes to pursuing maximum compensation for our clients, an approach that has helped us secure some of the highest results in Salt Lake County and the nearby areas.
Does No-Fault Insurance Affect Personal Injury Claims?
When it comes to car accidents, Utah follows a no-fault system. Under this system, injured victims can turn to their own auto insurance providers and recover compensation for covered losses through their personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, regardless of who was at fault for the crash.
After a motor vehicle accident, your first step in seeking compensation is almost always to file a PIP claim. However, PIP does not cover all damages, nor does it cover the full cost of covered losses. Rather, PIP provides compensation for a certain percentage of medical expenses and lost wages, as well as some other miscellaneous out-of-pocket costs related to the accident. It does not cover any non-economic damages, like pain and suffering, and most PIP claims are subject to relatively low limits.
It is possible to go outside the no-fault system and bring a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company. You may also be able to file a lawsuit directly against a liable party. To go outside the no-fault system, however, you will need to prove that you sustained more than $3,000 in medical expenses or that your injury meets the state’s definition of a “serious injury.”
If you have been severely injured in a motor vehicle accident in Utah, we encourage you to reach out to our Cottonwood Heights personal injury lawyers as soon as possible. We can help you understand your legal rights and assist you in seeking fair compensation for your losses.
What Is Comparative Negligence?
While some accidents are the result of a single party’s negligence, more often, the blame lies with multiple parties. So, what happens if you were partly to blame for the accident that caused your injuries? Can you still file a personal injury claim?
In Utah, you are permitted to seek compensation for your damages if you were partly at fault for the incident, as long as you were less at fault than the other party/parties. In other words, you must be less than 50% at fault to have a case.
If you are found to share some of the blame, your total recovery will be reduced by the same percentage of fault you are found to have. For example, if you were involved in a serious truck accident and suffered $100,000 in damages, but the court finds you 10% at fault, you would only be able to recover 90% of that amount, or $90,000.
How an Attorney at Steele Adams Hosman Can Help
Whether you were injured by a defective product, hurt on someone else’s property, or involved in an accident with a distracted or drunk driver, you are likely going through a lot right now. You shouldn’t have to worry about negotiating with the insurance company or fighting for the fair compensation you are owed. Instead, allow Steele Adams Hosman to represent you and your rights.
Our Cottonwood Heights personal injury attorneys are committed to providing each and every client with the personal attention, support, and counsel they need. We collaborate with our clients to help ensure their voices are heard, and an attorney will be personally involved in your case from start to finish. We are aggressive litigators and are unafraid to go to trial when necessary; to date, our attorneys have recovered millions of dollars in compensation for our clients, both in settlements and jury verdicts.
There are no upfront or out-of-pocket expenses when you hire our firm. Because we offer contingency fees, we only get paid if you do. If we do not recover a settlement or verdict on your behalf, you do not owe any legal fees.