Utah’s Comparative Negligence Rule
For most personal injury cases the underlying reason for the adverse parties liability is negligence. By claiming the an at fault party was negligent you are saying that they did not provide the degree of reasonable care that a prudent person would have in their situation. For example in a car accident if one of the parties ran a stop light, was speeding, or something else that was below the level of ordinary care then they were acting negligently and could be liable for whatever damage they caused.
The idea of contributory negligence is that an injured party should not be able to fully recover from the other party if they were also negligent. So if Mary runs a stop sign and gets hurt then she shouldn’t be able to get all of her damages covered by the other party because they also ran the stop sign. Originally in American law any level of contributory negligence kept you from recovering anything. So in the previous example if Mary was only 5% negligent she would be still not be able to recover anything from the other driver who was 95% negligent.
Comparative negligence came about because of the harsh results produced by contributory negligence. The idea behind comparative negligence is that each party becomes liable for their portion of negligence in relation to the accident. So if Mary is driving and gets in an accident and she is 25% negligent and the other party was 75% negligent then she can still recover 75% of the damages from the other party. This requires the jury to estimate the percentage of negligence of each party which is obviously not an easy determination.
In Utah and a number of other states, the modified comparative negligence rule is used. Under this framework an injured party cannot bring a claim against another party if their level of negligence is 50% or higher. So if their negligence is 49% or lower than it is the same as the comparative rule above, if it is 50% or above it is the same as the contributory negligence rule. This rule kind of mixes the previous rules and as always strives for more justice. Again the difficult comes in the juries determination of the percentage of negligence.
Utah Personal Injury Attorney
Although most personal injury cases never make to trial because they are settled, this rule can still have an effect on the outcome. Depending on whether or not the insurance companies think there was some level of negligence on the part of the plaintiff they could lower the settlement offer. This is where an attorney could step in and help. If you have been involved in an accident and need help paying your medical bills then call an experienced Utah personal injury lawyer. The lawyers at Salcido Law Firm are experienced in the intricacies of tort law and will not allow the insurance companies to avoid paying what is owed.