Under typical circumstances, anyone who has sustained injuries in a car accident has the right to file a lawsuit against the people responsible for the accident. This type of case is known as a personal injury claim.
Every state has different rules and limitations regarding car accidents and personal injury cases, and some states have more complex rules than others. Learn about the regulations and statutes of limitations for automobile accidents in Utah and find out how much time you have to file a claim.
What Is a Statute of Limitations?
A statute of limitations is a type of law imposing a maximum time limit for people involved in a dispute to start legal proceedings. Typically, the statute of limitations begins from the date of the incident, although some exceptions may apply.
The purpose of a statute of limitations is to encourage prompt and timely processing of cases and prevent people from threatening other parties with a lawsuit indefinitely. Additionally, it helps prevent ineffective justice due to degraded or destroyed evidence and fading memories.
Although you may attempt to file a lawsuit after the statute expires, doing so is grounds for dismissal by the judge in a Utah court of law. In some instances, they may even refuse to hear your case.
How Do Statutes of Limitations for Car Crashes Work in Utah?
The statute of limitations for filing a personal injury case in Utah is four years from the date of the accident (Utah Code 78B-2-307).
However, laws and rules surrounding statutes of limitations in Utah are among the most complex in the nation. Hiring the services of a Utah car accident lawyer may be necessary to navigate these laws and understand what rights and statutes you have.
Multiple factors may change the statute’s specifications, length, and start date, depending on the accident’s circumstances, the parties involved, and the types of injuries sustained. Here are some examples where the four-year statute of limitations doesn’t apply.
- If you received personal property damage only with no personal injuries (your car was damaged, but you weren’t hurt), this is a property damage claim with a statute of limitations of three years.
- If the accident resulted in someone’s death, the surviving family members have a two-year statute of limitations to file a wrongful death claim. The starting point begins on the day of the victim’s death.
- If filing against the government, the statute of limitations is one year for local entities (town, city, county) and two years for state entities, regardless of all other factors.
According to the Utah Code (31A-22-308), victims in car accidents must also possess personal injury protection (PIP) insurance coverage and meet minimum legal injury definitions to file a personal injury claim. The accident must have caused at least one of the following:
- Death or loss of limbs
- Permanent disability or disfigurement
- Bone fracture
- Injuries costing $3,000 or more in medical expenses
What is Modified Comparative Negligence?
Each state has different ways of determining who is entitled to compensation and who is at fault in a car accident. There are three systems: contributory, comparative, and modified comparative. Utah is a modified comparative negligence state.
● Contributory negligence
In contributory negligence states, any party at fault in an accident, even partially, may not receive compensation.
● Comparative negligence
Comparative negligence states employ a percentage-based liability calculation to determine compensation rates. For example, if you win your case and obtain a $20,000 settlement, but the judge or a jury finds that you had 30% liability in the accident, you will only receive 70% of that sum ($14,000).
● Modified comparative negligence
Modified comparative negligence states, such as Utah, use a hybrid system that functions like standard comparative negligence up to a certain percentage only. In Utah, the limit is 50% based on a precedent set in Jensen v. Intermountain. If you and another party are equally at fault (50-50), neither side is entitled to any compensation.
Are There Any Damage Caps?
A damage cap is a maximum limit on the amount of money awarded to a plaintiff in a lawsuit.
The only types of damage caps specified in the Utah Code are related to non-economic damages for medical malpractice up to $450,000. There is no cap on damages in any other type of personal injury case, such as car accidents. What you receive depends on what your attorney can negotiate for you.
We Stand Up for the Rights of Crash Victims
At Great West Injury Law, our legal team has several decades of combined experience in motor vehicle accident cases. Whether you were injured while operating your car, truck, motorbike, bicycle, or as a pedestrian, we understand your pain and suffering, and we will fight to get you the maximum compensation you deserve.
Contact us today for a free initial consultation.