QUESTION: A common question asked is “Can I still recover for my injuries I sustained in my Utah car accident? Even though I was partially at-fault?”
ANSWER: Yes. You just can’t be more than 49 percent at-fault for the Utah car accident. You can be 14 percent at-fault for car collision, or 31 percent at-fault for the intersection collision, but you can’t be more than 49 percent at-fault.
If you are 50 percent or more at-fault for the Provo I-15 collision for example, you can’t recover anything, regardless of how terrible your injuries are.
UTAH’S COMPARATIVE FAULT STATUTE: Utah follows a 51 percent rule. The exact law is found at Utah Code Ann. 87B-5-817. If you are 51 percent or more at-fault for the accident causing event, it is a complete bar to your recovery.
EXAMPLES OF COMPARATIVE FAULT AT WORK AND IMPACT ON SETTLEMENT VALUES:
Rear-End Car Collision Provo, I-15. You are driving your car and are rear-ended on I-15 near the Provo exit. The insurance adjuster attributes zero fault to you because you were lawfully stopped and the at-fault driver should have seen you. The case is valued at $100,000 and the full $100,000 is offered to settled the case.
Intersection Car Accident Orem, State Street. You are driving straight through a blatantly green light on State Street, Orem Utah. The car coming the other direction makes a left hand turn in front of you, causing a collision. The case is valued at $20,0000. The insurance adjuster admits liability on behalf of their left hand turning driver, but claims you were 10 percent at-fault for collision due to not breaking early enough.
Case settles for $18,000, reflecting a 10 percent deduction for comparative fault attributed to you.
Parking Lot Accident—Walmart, Lindon. You are walking to your car in the Walmart parking lot in Lindon, Utah. You are hit by a car backing out breaking your leg. The insurance company values your case at $80,000, but claims you were 50 percent at-fault because you were not watching were you were going. Playing on your cell phone with your hoodie up. The insurance refuses to pay anything because you are barred for being 50 percent or more at-fault.
In this case, you need to accept it, or sue and let the jury decide who was at-fault.
WHO DETERMINES PERCENTAGES OF FAULT IN YOUR UTAH CAR ACCIDENT INJURY CASE?
Who is the ultimate decider of percentages of fault in your Utah car collision? Ultimately it is a jury of your peers who makes the final decision. But most cases don’t go to a jury trial, or are even litigated at all. Most injury attorneys don’t file lawsuits, even though they should and will get better compensation for their clients if they did.
(1). At-Fault Percentages by Agreement. If the parties agree, then the insurance adjuster and injured person stipulate to a settlement that reflects a percent of fault, or a settlement that the partis can live with.
(2). A Jury Trial. If the parties can’t agree on a settlement amount because they can’t accept their proposed percentages of attributed fault, then a lawsuit is filed and a jury ultimately decides what percentages of fault. A jury is people from the county where the car accident occurred in and they decide who was at-fault and how much money should be given.
Even when a lawsuit is filed, the parties can still come to a negotiated settlement prior to the jury trial occurring. In fact, most Utah personal injury cases are settled and not tried to a jury verdict. Trying injury cases to a jury verdict are few and costs a lot of money to do. Expert witnesses are generally always required and cost a lot of money.
HIRE A PROFESSIONAL ADVOCATE, an experienced car accident jury trial lawyer—Jake Gunter. He can use his nearly 20 years of experience to negotiate the best injury settlement. Or he will try the case to a jury trial when needed.