When filing for personal injury claims, if you happen to be the injured party, aside from providing evidence to prove your claim, you also need to file it within a specific period of time. The basics of personal injury laws include the rules on government injury claims, limits on compensation and the time limit to sue among many others.
Just like in other states, there is only a specific time frame where you can file a personal injury case. This is known as the “statute of limitations.” In Utah you have 4 years from the date of the accident/injury to file a case or you lose your legal right to bring the claim. Utah courts will refuse to hear your case if you fail to file within the proper time frame dictated by the statute of limitations.
Sometimes fault is not clear. There are instances where one party files a personal injury claim and the other side contends that you are at fault for your own injuries. Does this mean that you cannot recover anything? Utah has a “comparative fault” rule which may affect the amount you can get. The court will basically determine the percentage of fault. If you are found to be more than 50% at fault, then you cannot recover anything. But if you are found to be only 30% at fault then you can collect the remaining 70%.
If you are found to share partly of the fault, the rule is to reduce the awarded damages based on the % of fault determined by the court. Hence, if you’re 20% at fault, your damages award can be reduced by 20%.
Similar to other states, Utah has a cap on injury damages (depending on the circumstances). Caps typically apply to injuries arising from medical malpractice or workers compensation. In these injury cases the state limits noneconomic damages and an attorneys’ recovery. Utah Code Section 8B-3-410 limits these non-economic damages to $450,000 in the medical malpractice case. It is important to note that this does not apply to all injury cases, just to medical malpractice cases. So if a doctor makes a mistake and it kills a patient, the most the doctor’s insurance has to pay is $450,000. This does not seem like much of a punishment. Utah laws are typically very favorable to Doctors and other medical providers.
If you’ve incurred injuries brought about by a government employee or government agency, the rules are different. The statute of limitations is 1 year, so you need to file a claim within 1 year or you lose your right to bring a claim at all. You also have 1 year to file an appeal in the event that the case is denied.
If you need to bring a claim against a governmental agency or the state you have to jump through some additional hoops. The Utah Governmental Immunity Act provides the rules for injury claims that involve the government employees and agencies. It is best to consult with a competent personal injury attorney before bringing a claim against the state.