Did you know that personal injury laws differ across the United States? Here are some important things to know about personal injury law in Utah.
1. STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS
The statute of limitations, which refers to the time you have to file a case in court, is one of the many things that differs from state to state. In Utah, the statute of limitations is generally four years for standard negligence cases. However, with cases against a governmental entity the statute of limitations can be as short as one year. Please be aware that there are many possible pitfalls when determining the appropriate statute of limitations to apply. In addition, there are critical procedural hoops to jump through when making a claim against a governmental entity. If you have a question about the appropriate statute of limitations for your case, it is important to you contact a lawyer to understand your rights.
2. COMPARATIVE FAULT
The comparative fault rule is required by law to be applied in Utah courts in all relevant cases and may also come up in settlement negotiations. Utah's modified comparative fault rule comes into play when the plaintiff shares some portion of fault for an accident or injury. When you file against someone, they might invoke this rule, saying that you are partly at fault for your own injuries. This may be because you were distracted, neglectful or in some way reckless in your actions leading up to the injury. The percentage of fault is determined for each party and whatever percentage you are found to be at fault will be deducted from the damages you are awarded. But if you are found to be 50% or more at fault, no damages may be recovered from any other involved party. Generally, the amount of fault apportioned to the parties is a question for the jury to decide.
3. STRICT LIABILITY FOR DOG BITES
In dog bite cases there exists a "one bite" rule wherein dog owners cannot be held liable for their dog's first time offense if they had no reason to believe their dog was predisposed to violence. However, Utah does not follow this rule and instead has a strict liability rule wherein dog owners are responsible for injuries even in first time offenses. The rule states that "every person owning or keeping a dog is liable in damages for injury committed by the dog, and it is not necessary in the action brought therefor to allege or prove that the dog was of a vicious or mischievous disposition or that the owner or keeper of the dog knew that it was vicious or mischievous."
4. NO-FAULT CAR ACCIDENT POLICY
Utah has a no-fault car accident policy. This means that in accidents not resulting in serious injury (which makes up the majority of cases), the injured party's medical expenses and lost income are dealt with in full by their own insurance company regardless of who was at fault. The only way you can hold another party liable for damages is if you have sustained "serious injury." Utah's no-fault statute outlines the various ways in which a personal injury claim can meet the "threshold" requirement to make a claim against the at-fault driver, which would include an award of damages for pain and suffering. In most cases, no-fault insurance, also called personal injury protection, provides $3,000.00 in medical coverage for each person occupying the vehicle.