When to File a Personal Injury Claim
Generally speaking, the law allows you to file a personal injury claim whenever you have been injured as a result of someone else’s negligent or wrongful (including intentional) conduct. In other words, if you were injured in an accident caused by another person or due to some other entity’s careless or reckless actions, you could have grounds for a claim.
However, Utah has several specific laws that may affect when you can file a personal injury claim. First and foremost, motor vehicle accidents in Utah fall under the state’s no-fault system. This means that, after an auto accident, your first step is typically not filing a third-party injury claim against the at-fault driver. Rather, you usually must file a personal injury protection (PIP) claim with your own auto insurance provider to recover compensation. PIP covers certain accident-related damages, including a portion of your medical expenses and lost wages, but it does not cover every loss. Most notably, PIP does not cover non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering.
The good news is that you can go outside the Utah no-fault auto insurance system and file a third-party personal injury claim (or lawsuit) against the liable party.
To do so, you will need to prove several things:
- The other person or party was 50% or more to blame for the accident
- You were not more at fault for the accident than the other party
- You sustained more than $3,000 in medical expenses and/or your injuries meet the state’s “serious injury threshold”
To meet the state’s serious injury threshold, your injuries must result in permanent and/or significant disfigurement, dismemberment, disability, or impairment.
You should also note that there are certain filing deadlines when it comes to suing at-fault parties in personal injury claims. This applies in cases involving motor vehicle accidents, as well as other types of injury-causing events. In most cases, the deadline for filing a personal injury lawsuit (known as the “statute of limitations”) in Utah is four years from the date of injury. However, different deadlines may apply depending on the type of case you have. For example, wrongful death lawsuits are subject to a two-year statute of limitations, as are most medical malpractice lawsuits.
Comparative Negligence in Utah
Sometimes, accidents and injuries are the result of a single party’s negligence. More often, however, multiple parties share some of the blame. For example, say you were hit by a distracted driver who was texting and ran a red light, but you were speeding to make the yellow light yourself. Who is at fault? Who can file a claim for compensation?
In such cases, Utah’s rule of modified comparative negligence comes into play. Under this rule, anyone who is injured in an accident or due to the negligence of another can file a claim for compensation even if they were partly at fault, as long as their percentage of fault is less than half. In other words, you must be less than 50% to blame to still be able to file a claim. If the court finds you more at fault than the other party, you cannot recover compensation for your damages.
It is also important to note that even if you are less than 50% at fault for the incident, the total amount you are seeking in compensation will be reduced by your at-fault percentage. So, if your damages amounted to $10,000, but the court ruled that you were 30% at fault, you could only recover up to 70% of that amount, or $7,000.
Before a case goes to court, the insurance adjuster is typically the one responsible for assigning blame. Often, in order to limit payouts, insurance companies will inflate the claimant’s degree of fault, meaning they may assign you more of the blame than they should. It is important that you work with a skilled attorney who can fight back against these efforts to devalue your claim, as well as other insurance company tactics used to dispute or deny your claim altogether.
At Steele Adams Hosman, we bring more than 35 years of combined experience to our practice. We know how insurance companies operate, and we know the lengths they will go to in an effort to deny valid claims. Our Sandy personal injury lawyers are prepared to stand up for you and your rights. We are aggressive when it comes to advocating for the injured, and we are prepared to represent you in court if necessary.
Why Choose Steele Adams Hosman?
When you’re looking for a personal injury lawyer to help you with your claim, the sheer number of options can seem overwhelming. How do find the right attorney for you and your case?
When it comes to finding a personal injury attorney, don’t be afraid to ask questions. At Steele Adams Hosman, we recommend asking potential attorneys about their experience, specifically their experience handling cases like yours. You should also ask about the firm’s past results and whether they have the resources and experience to go to trial. While not every claim proceeds to litigation, many do. If your case goes to court, you want an attorney who has not only been there before but who has also won jury verdicts for their clients.
When you choose Steele Adams Hosman, you benefit from decades of combined legal experience, including real trial experience. Our Sandy personal injury lawyers have secured millions of dollars in compensation for our clients, both in settlements and verdicts. We are known for having recovered some of the highest results in the area, and we are happy to answer any questions you may have.
Our firm proudly offers:
- Personalized representation
- Reliable and consistent communication
- Client collaboration
- Individual attention from your attorney
- Free initial consultations
- Contingency fees—you don’t pay unless we win your case
- Spanish-language legal services
Most of all, we truly care about you and your recovery. If you have a case that we believe we can win, we will do everything possible to maximize your compensation and leave no stone unturned in pursuing the justice you deserve.