Sustaining a significant injury can cause considerable complications. Even with good health insurance, out-of-pocket costs for your care can really add up. If you need to take time off of work to tend to your treatments, losing that pay can add to those financial burdens. Factor in the pain and discomfort you may be facing every day and your injury can be a really disruptive part of your life.
It can be especially frustrating to have an injury that someone else caused. When that’s the case, you may be able to get monetary compensation for those damages from the person who injured you. By filing a personal injury lawsuit, you could sue the person who hurt you. If you win, the court will compel that person to pay you for economic charges like your short- and long-term medical care and your lost wages, as well as non-economic damages such as your pain and suffering.
Each state has different personal injury laws, however, so be sure you’re following the guidelines that Utah sets out. While you may want to go it alone, meeting with an attorney in your area can be a reassuring place to start the process.
Personal injury lawsuits are the name for the lawsuit you file when you’ve been physically or mentally injured by someone else; damage to personal property is excluded. Many circumstances that lead to personal injury could be the basis of a personal injury claim, from intentional acts like assaults and batteries to accidental injuries like negligent or strict liability-based injuries.
Injuries caused by negligence are those caused unintentionally, but by someone who likely could have prevented the injury if they had behaved more carefully. For example, a person who hits you with their car because they were texting while driving, which is illegal in Utah, could be found guilty of negligence for not driving with a reasonable standard of care. Medical malpractice cases usually also fall under negligence laws. In cases of medical malpractice, the amount of money you can get for non-economic damages is limited to $450,000. Note, however, that in order to collect for non-economic damages in Utah, your economic damages need to surpass $3,000.
Utah has “comparative negligence” laws, which means that the amount of money you collect could be limited based on your contributory actions. If the texting driver hit you by crossing onto the wrong side of the road, but you were also driving while distracted and therefore unable to stop to avoid the collision as you would have if your eyes had been on the road, the court may decide that your negligence contributed to your harm.
If the court decides you were 30 percent at fault for the circumstances of your injury, you’ll likely only receive 70 percent of the amount of money you’re asking for. If you’re found more than 50 percent responsible, you’ll usually be barred from collecting any amount of money at all.
Strict liability actions, like negligence, are those that cause unintentional harm. Where strict liability differs is in the standard of care. A person who is strictly liable for causing an injury could have acted reasonably and carefully, but will still need to pay for the damage their accidental harm caused.
Product liability is a type of strict liability. This usually happens when a consumer is hurt by a faulty product, even if the manufacturer used reasonable care when making it. Owners of dogs that bite someone are usually liable for damages under Utah law, even if the owner had no reason to know their dog would attack.
In general, you should wait to file until you’ve gathered good evidence of how you were injured and the impact of that injury, such as medical records and witness statements.
You can’t wait too long, however. In Utah you only have four years from the time you’re injured to file your suit with the court. Waiting beyond that point, unless covered by rare exceptions, will mean that you can’t proceed with your lawsuit.
It’s highly advisable, though not mandatory, to use an experienced personal injury attorney in your lawsuit. A lawyer who knows the laws and systems well could help recognize ways you can collect more money, help you file the court paperwork correctly, negotiate settlements with insurance companies, and represent you in court.
Injuries cost money, including time away from work, medical bills, and other complications. Before taking legal action or trying to negotiate a settlement on your own, you should talk to an attorney about your case. You can search LawInfo’s legal directory to find a local personal injury attorney about the merits of your case. This one step can level the playing field, help you protect your rights, and put you in the best position for recovering the compensation that you deserve.