Personal Injury Lawsuits in Utah
There are a number of factors involved in recovering in personal injury lawsuits in Utah. Below are some of the basics that apply to all such lawsuits.
In personal injury lawsuits damages are based on the principle of restitution. Restitution is carried out by tortfeasor (he who caused the injury) by restoring all that has been lost by the injured party. Generally speaking, there are many physical injuries which simply cannot be restored. Many injuries involved in car accidents, for example, simply cannot be undone, such as injuries to the spinal cord in many cases. Further, there is no way to get the time back that one lost when injured.
Nonetheless, the law looks to restitution as the ultimate end, and therefore, has provided that monetary compensation will be made to the injured victim by the tortfeasor to restore the injured party to his previously whole status. What this means is that every injured suffered by the injured party is given a price tag. Since the injured party cannot get his injured neck back the law provides that he is entitled to money for his injuries. Thus, there are many “damages” in a personal injury case.
The damages for which an injured person is typically compensated are divided into two types: economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are those for out-of-pocket expenses paid by the injured party and his insurance company including: medical expenses like hospital bills, physical therapy, chiropractor visits, ambulance calls and other medically necessary expenses, lost wages, rental cars, etc.
Non-economic damages include compensation for the pain and suffering you had to endure when injured. Some injuries are much more severe than others and the pain and suffering damages can sometimes exceed the amount of economic damages.
If the tortfeasor acted with malice or gross negligence the injured party may even be able to recover punitive damages, which are damages used to punish the tortfeasor for his actions.
The Recovery Process
When someone has been in a car accident in Salt Lake City and other areas of Utah, especially when the auto accident involves serious injury, the injured victim wants to know how he is going to recover, how much time it will take, and what his chances are of actually recovering.
The Salt Lake City Utah Car Accident Attorneys at Salcido Law Firm PLLC will help you the process of recovering compensation for the injuries you sustained in your Utah auto accident.
After you have contacted SLF to represent your interests we will immediately begin gathering your records from health care providers, police, and insurance. We will quickly evaluate the extent of your injuries and then being to negotiate with the insurance company whose driver injured you. In most cases we are able to negotiate satisfying settlements with the insurance companies on behalf of our clients without the need for litigation.
In some instances the insurance companies are very stubborn. It is in those situations that you need experienced litigators like the attorneys at SLF. If the insurance company refuses to make a reasonable settlement, the car accident lawyers at Salcido Law Firm will file a complaint in court on your behalf. At that time the insurance company will be forced to defend itself in the Utah judicial system.
After you file a complaint the insurance company will have to file an answer and then the auto accident case moves into what is known as the “discovery” stage where each side will be able to request whatever documents have not already been produced as well as examine the parties themselves through depositions (testimony under oath before a certified court reporter).
After the discovery phase, the case will go to trial where the attorneys at SLF will have the opportunity to convince a jury of all of the injuries that you sustained as well as how much compensation is required to make you whole.
Litigation can take months and years, but often times it is necessary to make sure the insurance company does not try to escape the full extent of its insured’s liabilty. Most cases, however, do not go to trial and are able to settle without litigation.
Anytime you are injured in Utah from the negligent acts of another, you are entitled to recover your damages from the negligent individual who caused your injuries. Although this general principle holds true for Utah car accidents, there are some difference on how and what you can recover in if you are injured in a Utah car accident.
Specifically, there is a threshold requirement that must be met before you can recover damages for pain and suffering in a Utah car accident case.
Pain and Suffering
Utah has adopted what is known as a “no-fault” automobile insurance statute. Utah’s no-fault automobile insurance statute has clearly defined and enumerated circumstances in which a personal injury plaintiff can recover general (non-economic) damages. General damages include those damages that are not considered economic damages such as pain and suffering and emotional distress.
For example, in a Utah car accident case a personal injury plaintiff cannot recover general damages for pain and suffering or emotional distress unless the injured person has more than $3,000 worth of medical expenses. So, if when all is said and done you have only $2,959 of medical expenses that resulted from your Utah car accident injury you are not able to recover damages for pain and suffering or emotional distress.
There are a few other exceptions that will allow the car accident victim to recover damages for pain and suffering and emotional distress even if the injured person does not have more than $3,000 in medical expenses. Those include a wrongful death claim, if the injured person has suffered dismemberment (lost a part of his body such as a finger, other appendage, etc.), permanent disfigurement, and permanent disability or impairment.
Just remember that Utah’s no-fault automobile insurance statute applies only for personal injuries sustained in car accidents. It does not apply to any other Utah personal injury case. Further, it applies only to general damages (pain and suffering, emotional distress, etc.). Thus, you can still recover your other economic damages (lost wages, out of pocket expenses, medical bills, etc.).
Another important limitation is that the no-fault statute applies only to those who are required to have automobile insurance and actually have it. That means that if you were hit by an uninsured motorist the no-fault statute’s limitations do not apply.
The entire goal of a personal injury lawsuit is to recover enough money to make you whole. Unfortunately, if you have been seriously injured and permanently disabled there may be no way to be made whole per se and the law understands that. The only way the law has to adequately compensate you for your injuries is to put a price tag on your loss. Thus, depending on your injuries you may be entitled to general damages, lost wages, loss of future income, damages for future car, and pain and suffering damages.
Through the litigation process Salcido Law Firm prepares your case so that the other side does not want to go to trial and does not want the jury to hear the mountains of evidence Salcido Law Firm has been able to put together in support of your case. We work to put the opposing party in a position where settlement is the only reasonable solution to the case. As a result we are able to obtain settlement amounts that adequately compensate our clients and ensures that their financial needs are met, their bills paid, their out of pocket expenses satisfied, and their pain and suffering compensated.
Our Utah personal injury attorneys are experienced negotiators when it comes to the settlement process of a personal injury lawsuit. We have negotiated hundreds of settlements and understand the process and how to achieve great results for our clients.
When we sit across the settlement table our opponents know that we have done our homework, collected the evidence, and examined every weakness in the case. They also know that we are fighters and will fight long and hard to give our clients their deserved recovery.
Most litigants want to avoid trial. Getting to trial is a long process that can take years. It is also a risky process. When you place your claims in the hands of a judge or jury you simply have no idea what is going to happen. Will the jury sympathize with you? Will the judge find that your were wronged?
Salcido Law Firm has skilled trial attorneys who appeal to judges and juries alike. Why? Because we prepare our cases in a way that present the facts as they are. There is no trickery like TV and the movies would have you believe. We only take cases to trial which merit going to trial. We are straight up with our clients. If your case is not a good one, we’ll let you know. If your case should not go to trial, we’ll also tell you that. Any case that we take to trial is a solid case with the evidence heavily in support of our client.
Don’t be mistaken. Although the strength of a case taken to trial is in the facts, the attorney’s presentation of those facts is also key. We understand juries and we understand that they want to know the facts as they are. They don’t want an attorney who appears as a car salesman. They want an attorney who tells them how it is and what they should. Juries are smart and will make the right decision if the facts are there and there is an attorney who can present those facts in the right light.
Every once in a while something will happen in the trial court that will warrant an appeal. Whether the trial court precluded material evidence from being admitted or allowed evidence in which should not have been, there is a remedy. Trial courts are required to follow very strict procedural and substantive rules. If the trial court fails to follow a rule which prejudiced your case at trial, you may need to appeal to a higher court.
Make no mistake, an attorney who does not have experience in appeals may not be able to adequately represent your interests in appealing to a higher court. The appellate lawyers at Salcido Law Firm are experienced and knowledgeable in appealing cases to the Utah Supreme Court and Court of Appeals. We are able to craft our appellate arguments to present the issue in the light most favorable to you and in doing so provide you the best chance for getting your case heard by the higher court.
The majority of our appeals involve cases in which we were not the trial lawyer. Such clients realize that they should have gone with us from the start and so hire us to help them get a second chance through an appeal.
One great benefit of appealing your case is that it gives you an opportunity to secure a second chance. Perhaps there were things that your attorney didn’t do or could have done better. Perhaps you had a terrible judge. Perhaps the jury committed misconduct. If there was error, we’ll find it and we’ll do all we can to persuade the Court of Appeals or Utah Supreme Court to give you that second chance.
Let us help you Recover all of your Damages
The personal injury attorneys at Salcido Law Firm can help you recover everything to which you are entitled. Our attorneys have worked on hundreds of personal injury cases and know how to get you the best recovery possible.
Call us for a free consultation and find out how we can help you get the restitution you deserve. Contact us any way you want. Phone (888.337.3235 or 801.413.1753), email, Skype, or the form on the right.
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