Unfortunately, car accidents are the cause of most catastrophic injuries in this country. It is also unfortunate that insurance companies frequently take advantage of those that have been so severely injured, paying them only a fraction of the amount of the injured individual’s total lifetime medical expenses.
This page was created to give readers insight on a few key areas of car accident claims.
Typical Law Governing Car Accidents
Car accident lawsuits are typically governed by negligence law. Because car accidents are so common, and because Utah courts hear hundreds of car accident cases each year, laws governing fault are quite developed. While this list is by no means comprehensive, a lawsuit to recover money damages for your injuries that resulted from a car accident can be based on one or more of the following:
- Violation of Statute, Ordinance or Safety Law. Another driver’s ordinance/safety/traffic violation resulted in your injuries. However, a driver may still be at fault for an accident even if he/she did not violate a statute, ordinance, or safety law.
- Reasonable Care. Another driver failed to use reasonable care to avoid injuring others. Here, you must show that the driver did not act as a reasonably careful person would in a similar situation, and you suffered injuries as a result.
- Control of Vehicle. Another driver failed to keep their vehicle under reasonable control and to operate the vehicle so as to avoid danger.
- Maintain a Proper Lookout. Another driver failed to keep a proper lookout for other traffic and hazards that can be reasonably anticipated.
- Following at a Safe Distance. Another driver failed to follow another vehicle at a reasonable distance, considering all existing conditions and circumstances.
- Vehicle Maintenance. Another driver operated his/her vehicle when it was in an unsafe condition.
Click here for more information on what it takes to win a personal injury case.
Please be aware that these laws have been simplified to their most basic form. Almost every lawsuit is unique, containing caveats, exceptions, and other fine details that apply to the specific circumstances of the case.
What if the Accident is Partially my Fault?
Partial fault doesn’t necessarily bar you from an award of money damages, but it does affect the amount you may be awarded. Utah courts use a “comparative fault” negligence system. This means that if you are involved in an accident, and that accident was partially your fault, the jury will attribute a certain percentage of fault to you, and a certain percentage of fault to the other driver(s). The amount of money awarded by the jury will be reduced by your apportionment of fault. If a jury finds that you are 50% or more at fault (half or more), then you cannot recover any money.
Here are a couple of examples of how this works:
Example 1: You are suing Driver for injuries you suffered in a car accident. You are seeking an award of $100,000, and the jury has determined this amount to be fair. However, the jury also determines you are 30% at fault. So, you will have a reduction in money damages by your percentage of fault (30% reduction of $100,000 = $30,000). Therefore, you will be awarded $70,000, because the jury determined the Driver was 70% at fault (70% of $100,000 = $70,000).
Example 2: You are suing Driver for Injuries you suffered in a car accident. You are seeking an award of $400,000. The jury determines that you are 50% at fault for the accident. You will not be able to recover any money damages and will get nothing.
I’ve Already Been Offered a Settlement, Why Hire an Attorney?
Insurance companies want to pay you as little as possible. Frequently, insurance companies will offer you a settlement for less than your basic expenses, or for an amount that just covers your basic expenses (out of pocket costs + medical bills). If you are not yet represented by an attorney, insurance companies are especially likely to try and settle with you right away because they understand a full calculation of all your damages is complex, and will result in an amount much larger than what they are offering you. Click here for more information on calculating the worth of your personal injury claim.
Most attorneys agree that individuals represented by attorneys will recover at least three times more money than those individuals not represented by an attorney.
Visit our Settlement page to learn more about settling your claim before trial.
Car Accident Checklist
- Contact the police.
- Take photos of the accident scene.
- Exchange insurance and contact information with everyone involved in the accident.
- Collect contact information from all witnesses (bystanders, other drivers, passengers in all vehicles involved).
- Get medical attention immediately.
- Sketch the accident as soon as you are able to.
- Don’t discuss the accident with anyone other than the police.
- Contact a Utah car accident attorney.
Don’t forget to visit our evidence page for more information on preparing for your trial.
Call Red Law For A Consultation
Our office welcomes new clients and will always provide you with a friendly and professional attorney that will be happy to discuss your case with you. If you’d like to discuss your car accident and a potential lawsuit with a Red Law attorney, please call us at 801-4770-RED or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. In a consultation with a Red Law attorney, your attorney will provide you with a professional opinion of your case, how Red Law can help you, and a rough time frame for your potential lawsuit.