Utah Personal Injury FAQ
If you have been in an accident, you know the personal injury claims process can be daunting. Complicated issues abound, including for property damage, diminished value, medical treatments, rental cars, out-of-pocket expenses, medical bills, and liability issues, to name a few. As a result, it is not unusual for accident victims to have questions about what they can expect after an accident.
Outlined below are some frequently asked questions pertaining to Utah personal injury claims and lawsuits. The FAQ’s will give you a good overview of some common issues, but it is critical that you hire a highly qualified personal injury attorney as soon as possible to assist with your specific Utah auto accident to ensure that your interests are protected. Click here to learn more about the timeline for settling your Utah auto accident claim.
- What is considered a personal injury under Utah law?
- What are the first thigs I should do after a Utah accident?
- What is the process for personal injury claims in Utah?
- What if my personal injury claim does not settle?
- If my attorney files a personal injury lawsuit, will it go to trial?
- How much is my Utah personal injury claim worth?
- Do I still have a claim if I am partially at fault for the accident?
- How long does it take to settle a personal injury claim in Utah?
- How long do I have to file a personal injury claim in Utah?
- Can the time for filing a personal injury claim in Utah be extended under extenuating circumstances?
- What happens after you file a personal injury lawsuit in Utah?
- How much does it cost to hire a personal injury attorney in Utah?
- Can I handle my own personal injury claim in Utah?
- Is Utah a comparative negligence state?
- What is the average settlement value for a personal injury claim in Utah?
- How long does an insurance company have to settle a personal injury claim in Utah?
- What types of personal injury damages can I collect under Utah law?
- Can I get any other types of compensation under Utah law for my personal injury?
- Do my pain and suffering damages include my medical bills?
- Do insurance companies pay my medical bills?
- Do insurance companies always pay all of the medical bills associated with my accident?
- How can I increase my personal injury settlement?
- How much of my personal injury settlement goes to doctors and lawyers?
WHAT IS CONSIDERED A PERSONAL INJURY UNDER UTAH LAW?
A personal injury is any injury you suffer—resulting in an injury to your body or associated mental or emotional injuries—resulting in legal liability of the responsible party. In other words, when someone gets hurt because another person or company acted negligently, the victim has a personal injury.
Personal injury claims are civil claims (as opposed to criminal) based in the law of negligence. Under Utah law, personal injury victims are entitled to compensation for their injuries.
Most personal injury claims result from car accidents, trucking accidents, slip and fall accidents, trip and all accidents, motorcycle accidents, dog bites, workplace accidents, bicycle accidents, and pedestrian accidents.
WHAT ARE THE FIRST THINGS I SHOULD DO AFTER A UTAH ACCIDENT?
You can learn about what to do after an accident in more detail here, but outlined below are the most important things you should do following an accident:
- Assess everyone in your vehicle for injuries
- Call the police, even if it is a small accident
- Do not make any admissions to the other driver, witnesses and the police
- Get witnesses’ contact information
- Exchange information with the other driver
- Take lots of photos and videos of the accident scene, vehicles, and injuries
- Do not post about the accident on social media
- Seek medical attention right away
- Talk to a lawyer right away
- Follow your doctor’s orders
WHAT IS THE PROCESS FOR PERSONAL INJURY CLAIMS IN UTAH?
After you have been injured, the first step in the personal injury claims process is to report your injury. You can do this in a variety of ways, including calling the police, the paramedics, or by filing an incident report. After you report your injury and seek immediate medical attention, you should hire a qualified personal injury attorney.
Your personal injury attorney will then contact the relevant insurance companies to open claims relating to your injury. After that, your personal injury attorney will investigate your accident and legal issues pertaining to your claim. He or she will also monitor your ongoing medical treatments. Once you have reached maximum medical improvement, your personal injury attorney will gather your medical records and bills, police report, photos and videos, witness statements, vehicle repair bills, and expert reports. He or she will use those materials to prepare legal demand letters to the relevant insurance companies, giving them an opportunity to settle your personal injury claims without a lawsuit.
Depending on the responses he or she receives from the relevant insurance companies, your personal injury attorney may or may not attempt to negotiate settlements on your behalf. If a settlement is reached, your personal injury attorney will generally pay off any outstanding medical bills from the settlement and then disburse the proceeds to you.
You can learn more about the personal injury claims process in Utah here.
WHAT IF MY PERSONAL INJURY CLAIM DOES NOT SETTLE?
If your personal injury attorney is unable to obtain a reasonable settlement from the insurance company, the next step is to file a lawsuit. Before doing so, your attorney will discuss with you the pros and cons of filing a personal injury lawsuit in Utah, but generally speaking settlement values are higher after a lawsuit is filed.
You can learn more about the personal injury lawsuit process here.
IF MY ATTORNEY FILES A PERSONAL INJURY LAWSUIT, WILL IT GO TO TRIAL?
Most personal injury lawsuits are settled before trial in Utah. That means that your attorney may file a lawsuit and litigate your personal injury case for a period of time—from several months to years—before the parties reach a resolution. Most Utah personal injury cases settle after the parties complete discovery.
The personal injury cases most likely to go all the way to a jury trial are cases involving disputed liability; contested legal issues; low impact collisions; and disputes regarding causation (i.e., the defense disputes that the car accident actually caused the injuries).
The more carefully your attorney builds your case the more likely the insurance company will understand the strength of your claims and reach a resolution. If your case is in the small minority of cases that actually go to trial, your attorney will help to prepare you for what you should expect at trial.
HOW MUCH IS MY UTAH PERSONAL INJURY CASE WORTH?
No two cases are exactly alike. And there are no strict formulas for determining case value. The value of your particular personal injury case depends on a multitude of factors, including some of the following: the severity of your injuries; your impairment rating, if any, and whether your injuries are permanent in nature; the amount of property damage to your vehicle; your health prior to the accident and any pre-existing injuries; the amount of your medical bills; whether you will need future medical treatment; lost wages; and essential services, among many other factors.
Some law firms and insurance companies attempt to value your personal injury case by using a multiplier, meaning they multiply that amount of your medical bills anywhere from 1.5 to 5 (or more) times to account for your pain and suffering damages. This is a very rudimentary way of calculating the value of a personal injury claim, which we believe often misses the mark.
To learn more about the factors affecting the value of your personal injury claim in Utah, click here.
Please call or text us at 385-429-9960 for a free consultation with Salt Lake City’s top personal injury attorney regarding the specific value of your personal injury claim.
DO I STILL HAVE A CLAIM IF I AM PARTIALLY AT FAULT FOR THE ACCIDENT?
Two or more people are often responsible for an accident. For example, two vehicles may merge into one another on a roadway at the same time, resulting in a collision. Or two vehicles may collide in a left-hand turn situation, with both vehicles bearing some blame for the collision. But what happens if you are serious injured in a collision, and you are at least partially responsible?
In that case, you may still be entitled to be compensated under Utah law. As long as the other driver(s) are more to blame for the accident, you can still obtain a settlement in proportion to the other driver(s)’ responsibility for the accident. That means if you have $100,000.00 in injuries and the other driver(s) are seventy percent (70%) responsible for the collision, you are entitled to at least $70,000.00.
This system is called comparative negligence under Utah law, U.C.A. 78B-6-817. Under Utah’s comparative negligence law, the jury determines the percentage of fault attributable to each party.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO SETTLE A PERSONAL INJURY CLAIM IN UTAH?
The amount of time it takes to resolve a personal injury claim in Utah varies greatly. In some case, your attorney can resolve your personal injury claim in a matter of weeks, working directly with the adverse party and/or his or her insurance company to negotiate a quick settlement of your claim.
In other cases, it may take anywhere from three to nine months to settle your personal injury claims. In those situations, your attorney will wait until you reach maximum medical improvement after completing all of your medical treatments and then attempt to settle your claim with the adverse party and insurance company. The timing of your settlement in those situations depends largely on how long your medical treatments last.
If your personal injury attorney is unable settle your claim, he or she may be required to file a lawsuit. In Utah, it can take anywhere from one to two years, or longer, to settle a personal injury claim after a lawsuit has been filed.
In all cases, you have some control of the timing of your personal injury settlement. You can always decide to accept settlement offers or continue fighting for additional compensation.
Click here to see the timeline for resolving your personal injury claim in Utah.
HOW LONG DO I HAVE TO FILE PERSONAL INJURY CLAIM IN UTAH?
Each state has a statute of limitations, setting time limits for filing personal injury claims. If you do not file your personal injury lawsuit before the relevant statute of limitations, the court will dismiss your case with prejudice, meaning that your claims are permanently barred because you did not bring them soon enough. For this reason, among many others, it is important to consult with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after you have been injured in an accident.
For most personal injury claims (negligence) in Utah, the statute of limitations is four (4) years, U.C.A. 78B-2-307. For claims against government entities, the Utah statute of limitations is one (1) year, U.C.A. 78B-2-303. For wrongful death claims in Utah, the statute of limitations is two (2) years, U.C.A. 78B-2-304.
CAN THE TIME FOR FILING A PERSONAL INJURY CLAIM IN UTAH BE EXTENDED UNDER EXTENUATING CIRCUMSTANCES?
In limited cases, the time for filing your personal injury claim can be extended under extenuating circumstances. The statute of limitations can potentially be extended under a variety of reason under the concept of “tolling,” which means that the court may toll the statute of limitations for equitable reasons.
For instance, if you are injured under the age of majority in Utah (18 years old) then the court stop the clock from running on your personal injury claim until you turn 18 years old. A mental disability is also a possible ground for tolling the statute of limitations under Utah law. In addition, the statute of limitations may be tolled under Utah law if you were unaware of your injury for a period of time. In these types of cases, Utah courts stop the statute of limitations because it would be unfair to require the injured party to have timely brought his or her claim under the circumstances.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER YOU FILE A PERSONAL INJURY LAWSUIT IN UTAH?
After your attorney files your personal injury lawsuit, he or she will hire a process server to serve the lawsuit on the defendants. The defendant(s) will then file their response. The response they generally file is called an Answer and it simply admits or denies each of the claims in the lawsuit. In some cases, the defendant(s) will file a motion to dismiss to attempt to get the case dismissed on technical grounds.
The next phase of the lawsuit is called fact discovery. During discovery, the parties gather facts and evidence for their respective cases. They interview and depose witnesses and parties. They inspect property and vehicles. They subpoena records. They depose doctors and medical providers. Discovery in a case can take anywhere from six months to a year in Utah.
After fact discovery, the parties conduct expert discovery. Expert discovery consists of disclosing expert witnesses; disclosing expert reports and/or deposing expert witnesses. After fact and expert discovery are complete, the defendant(s) sometimes file a motion for summary judgment, asking the court again to dismiss the case. If the plaintiff survives defendant’s motion for summary judgment, the court will set a trial date where a jury will decide the case.
At any point during the process, the parties may attempt to settle the case informally or formally by hiring a mediator to help the parties attempt to settle the case in mediation.
You can learn more about the personal injury lawsuit process here.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO HIRE A PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY IN UTAH?
Most personal injury attorneys in Utah work on contingency fee. That means that they will not charge you up front and only get paid if they succeed in obtaining compensation on your behalf. Their fee is contingent on their success on your case. If they are unsuccessful in obtaining compensation, you owe them nothing. You should never pay an attorney hourly to work on your personal injury case.
CAN I HANDLE MY OWN PERSONAL INJURY CLAIM IN UTAH?
Yes, you can handle your own personal injury claim in Utah. Personal injury claims, however, are extraordinarily complicated. Without an attorney, you are unlikely to recover even a fraction of the value of your claim. Personal injury claims often involve complicated legal, insurance, medical, accident reconstruction, and litigation issues and require expertise in among other things, medical treatment, case valuation, and negotiations. You are almost always better off retaining a personal injury attorney, especially if your claim involves catastrophic injuries.
IS UTAH A COMPARATIVE NEGLIGENCE STATE?
Yes, Utah is a comparative negligence state. That means that your compensation may be reduced by the amount your own negligence contributed to the accident under Utah’s comparative negligence statute, U.C.A. 78B-5-818. For example, if a jury determined you were thirty percent (30%) responsible for the accident, your jury award would be reduced accordingly by thirty percent (30%). Most cases do not go to trial, but insurance companies and lawyers argue about the relative amount of comparative negligence involved in a given case while negotiating settlements.
The benefit of Utah’s comparative negligence statute is that you are still entitled to compensation even if you were partially at fault for the accident. If you were more than fifty percent (50%) at fault, however, you are barred from recovery under Utah law. You should consult with a personal injury to determine whether you are entitled to compensation even if you are partially at fault for the accident.
WHAT IS THE AVERAGE SETTLEMENT VALUE FOR A PERSONAL INJURY CLAIM IN UTAH?
The average settlement value for Utah personal injuries is anywhere between $2,500.00 and $75,000.00. Some cases settle for many multiples of these amounts up to hundreds of thousands of dollars or even millions of dollars. But most cases, settle for much lower amounts.
The settlement value of a case in Utah depends on a multitude of factors, including property damage, medical treatments for the injuries, prior medical history, amount of medical bills, permanent injury, impairment rating, need for future medical treatment, victim’s age, education, work history, gaps in medical treatment, and legal disputes over liability, among many other things.
HOW LONG DOES AN INSURANCE COMPANY HAVE TO SETTLE A CLAIM IN UTAH?
In Utah, an insurance company has thirty (30) days to accept or deny your claim. If the insurance company denies the claim or gives you a lowball offer, you can attempt to negotiate a higher amount or file a lawsuit to let a Utah jury determine the true value of your personal injury claim. You should never accept a settlement offer from an insurance company without consulting a personal injury attorney.
WHAT TYPES OF PERSONAL INJURY DAMAGES CAN I RECOVER UNDER UTAH LAW?
In a lawsuit for bodily injury under Utah law, you may be entitled to compensation for lost wages, diminished earning potential, memory loss, mental impairment, physical pain and suffering, personal inconvenience, reasonable medical costs, and lost household services, among other damages. You are also entitled to be reimbursed for prescriptions and other medical devices.
In addition, you may be entitled to compensation for loss of bodily function, permanent disability, and disfigurement.
In limited circumstances, you also may be entitled to punitive damages.
CAN I GET ANY OTHER TYPES OF COMPENSATION UNDER UTAH LAW FOR MY PERSONAL INJURY?
Under Utah law, you can receive compensation for property damage, including to your vehicle and other items of personal property. You may be entitled to compensation for loss of use of your vehicle associated with your personal injury. You or your family members may be entitled to compensation for performing certain essential services for you as a result of your injury.
Under certain circumstances, you also may be entitled to workers compensation and permanent disability benefits.
DO PAIN AND SUFFERING DAMAGES INCLUDE MY MEDICAL BILLS?
Under Utah law, pain and suffering damages do not include medical bills. You are entitled to compensated for your medical bills, as well as an additional amount for your pain and suffering damages. Determining the value of your pain and suffering damages under Utah law is complicated. You should always retain a Utah personal injury attorney to assist you in determining a fair amount of compensation for pain and suffering damages.
DO INSURANCE COMPANIES PAY MY MEDICAL BILLS?
Insurance companies do not make direct payment of your medical bills, even if the insurance company’s insured is indisputably responsible for the accident. Instead, the insurance company only writes one check at the conclusion of your case. It covers everything, including your medical bills, pain and suffering, and other damages. This means that you will start receiving medical bills after your accident. You need to discuss with your personal injury attorney how to handle those medical bills pending the resolution of your personal injury claim to avoid negative effects on your credit.
DO INSURANCE COMPANIES ALWAYS PAY ALL OF THE MEDICAL BILLS ASSOCIATED WITH MY ACCIDENT?
No, insurance companies do their absolute best to avoid paying for all of your medical bills. They often refuse to do so, arguing that their insured is not responsible for the accident or arguing that you did not actually require the medical treatments that you received. Insurance companies will also try to escape payment for your medical bills by arguing that your injuries are attributable to pre-existing injuries or that you purposefully over-treated. It is important that you retain a Utah personal injury attorney to ensure that the insurance company pays for all of your medical bills related to the accident.
HOW CAN I INCREASE MY PERSONAL INJURY SETTLEMENT?
There are a number of things you can do to maximize your personal injury settlement in Utah. A few of them are outlined below, but you can discuss specific strategies for increasing the value of your claim with your personal injury attorney.
First, hire a well-qualified personal injury attorney. Second, seek medical attention as soon as possible after your accident. Third, follow your medical providers’ treatment plan and do not miss medical appointments or delay your medical treatment. Fourth, do not give the insurance companies recorded statements. Fifth, work with your personal injury attorney to build strong evidence for your case, including obtaining medical records, bills, photographs, videos, witness statements, and identifying before and after witnesses. Sixth, do not accept low ball settlement offers. Let the insurance company know that you and your attorney are prepared to fight all the way to trial to obtain fair compensation for your injuries. Seventh, follow your attorneys’ advice about obtaining medical treatment, not posting about your accident on social media, and being careful about what activities you engage in. Eighth, ensure that your attorney obtains expert witnesses to strengthen your case and claims.
HOW MUCH OF MY PERSONAL INJURY SETTLEMENT GOES TO DOCTORS AND LAWYERS?
At the conclusion of your case, your personal injury attorney will pay any medical bills or liens that are due and owing as a result of your accident. If you have taken any pre-settlement loans, your attorney will pay those as well. If there are medical or governmental insurance liens or workers compensation liens, your attorney will pay those as well. Your personal injury attorney’s fee will also come out of your settlement. After making those payments, you will receive the remainder of your personal injury settlement.