Cars play a vital role in the everyday lives of many Utah residents. Cities and towns can be fairly spread out in this state. If you live here, you can't always rely on public transportation to help you get where you need to go. You need your own vehicle to help you move from point A to point B.
This reliance on cars puts Utah residents at risk of being involved in motor vehicle accidents. While this will hopefully never happen to you, if it already has, you may face a range of difficulties, such as medical bills and the inability to work.
Such an experience may be challenging. However, it's important to understand that legal professionals can now ease some of your burdens.
You may recover financial compensation for your medical bills and related losses if you've been injured in a motor vehicle accident in Utah. This is technically true regardless of whether or not the accident resulted from the negligence of the other driver. To learn about your options, review your case with a Utah car accident lawyer.
How a Utah Car Accident Attorney Can Help You
Utah is one of the few "no-fault" car accident states in the US. In many other states, when a victim is injured in an accident resulting from another driver's negligence, the victim’s primary means of seeking financial compensation is to file a claim to collect from the negligent driver's insurance.
That's not the case in Utah. In the event of an accident there, you would typically first seek compensation by filing a claim with your own insurance carrier.
Strongly consider hiring a Utah car accident lawyer when doing so. It's critical to understand that an insurance company is profit-focused like any other business. When you file a claim, your insurer's goal is to convince you to settle for as little as possible.
Therefore, you need representation from a legal expert who will account for all your compensable losses and damages to calculate how much money you may be owed after an accident. Additionally, a Utah car accident lawyer can determine if you have grounds to file a separate claim or lawsuit against the negligent party who caused your accident.
Even in a no-fault state like Utah, a victim may still have the option of seeking compensation from the insurance of a negligent party if the victim’s injuries or financial losses are particularly severe. A qualified lawyer can evaluate your case and show why your losses meet the threshold necessary to justify filing a claim with a negligent driver's insurance company. Because the negligent party's insurer won't be eager to pay you what you deserve, a Utah car accident lawyer will also help negotiate for a proper settlement on your behalf.
Data indicates motor vehicle accident rates are increasing throughout the country. Utah is not exempt from this trend. Statistically, accidents resulting in harm to motorists and pedestrians are becoming increasingly common across the state.
Experts cite impaired driving and speeding as being two major contributing factors influencing Utah's high accident rate. They also point out that motorists and their passengers appear to be increasingly at risk of harm due to poor seatbelt usage.
Utah is one of several states in which motor vehicle passengers are required to wear seatbelts, even in back seats. Research shows many who are hurt in accidents could have avoided injury if they had worn their seatbelts. Remember this whenever you're in a car, whether or not you're in Utah.
That said, data shows that negligence on the part of other motorists is most often to blame when drivers or passengers are hurt in collisions. While you may take all necessary steps to protect yourself and others, unfortunately, you might one day still be involved in a car accident in Utah through no fault of your own. If this occurs, a Utah car accident lawyer can help you seek financial compensation.
Again, you don't need to prove your accident resulted from someone else's negligence to begin seeking compensation after a motor vehicle collision in Utah. However, you do need to prove negligence if you're pursuing additional compensation because your injuries and losses are extremely severe.
Proving you were injured because someone else was careless is one of many tasks a Utah car accident attorney can assist you with. Negligence generally consists of four elements:
- Duty: All motorists owe a duty of care to other drivers, pedestrians, and anyone else with whom they may share the road. They must obey traffic laws and exercise reasonable care to guard against causing accidents.
- Breach: A breach occurs when someone doesn't fulfill their duty of care. For example, if someone gets behind the wheel while intoxicated, a breach has occurred.
- Cause: Showing someone else was negligent when your accident happened is only part of the equation. You must also show their negligence caused your accident and injuries.
- Damages: Damages are the losses for which you may be compensated after an accident. Examples include (but aren't limited to) medical bills, lost wages, and pain.
Negligence 'Per Se'
How your Utah car accident lawyer goes about proving negligence can depend on numerous factors. One such factor is whether the party who caused your accident broke the law.
According to the legal doctrine of negligence per se, a party may essentially automatically be found negligent if they broke the law and you were injured as a result. For instance, negligence per se might apply if you were harmed in a collision when another motorist ran a red light.
Proving negligence can sometimes be challenging when a law hasn't been broken. However, that doesn't mean it's impossible.
By thoroughly investigating the circumstances of your accident, a lawyer can show why you wouldn't have been harmed were it not for someone else's actions or carelessness. The following are just a few examples of steps the lawyer might take to do so:
- Reviewing police reports
- Reviewing pictures, footage, and other documentation of the accident scene
- Interviewing witnesses if you've gathered their names and contact information at the scene of the accident
- Examining the other driver's account of the accident for any inconsistencies
You must always remember that an insurer may not honestly tell you how much money your claim is worth. If you let the insurance company set the terms of your settlement, you could recover less money than you deserve.
Ethical standards prohibit lawyers from guaranteeing their clients will recover specific amounts of money. Be wary of an attorney who promises a specific settlement.
Nevertheless, hiring a Utah car accident attorney will improve your chances of settling for a fair sum. This is because a lawyer will understand which types of losses you may be compensated for. They'll also know how to add up all your losses to calculate the potential value of your claim.
The compensation you may secure from your own insurance will usually cover economic losses related to your accident. This includes all costs associated with your medical care. It might also include lost wages.
Depending on the severity of your injuries, you may need ongoing care. Additionally, you might be unable to return to work indefinitely.
A Utah car accident lawyer can account for these factors. They'll leverage their expertise to determine how much compensation you might deserve for future losses.
An attorney can also assign a dollar value to non-economic losses. For instance, perhaps you're experiencing one or more of the following in the aftermath of an accident:
- Physical pain
- Mental/emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Inability to participate in activities you once found enjoyable
- Inability to continue serving as an attentive spouse, parent, et cetera.
These are common examples of non-economic losses you may incur as a result of a crash. Unlike economic losses, they don't have an objective monetary value.
That's not to say you don't deserve to receive compensation for them. If you've incurred compensable non-economic damages due to an accident, your Utah car accident attorney can address this when determining how much compensation you may ask for.
Again, a Utah car accident lawyer can't promise you'll settle for a specific amount. What they can do is negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf.
Insurers tend to use certain tactics to avoid paying claimants what they're owed. Lawyers are familiar with these tactics. Thus, a qualified Utah car accident attorney knows how to fight for proper compensation.
Allowing your lawyer to handle negotiations with an insurance company also helps you make a swift recovery. You don't need to burden yourself with the negotiation process. A Utah car accident attorney can handle this process for you. This will allow you to focus on healing.
Comparative Fault in Utah
An accident resulting from negligence isn't always caused by one individual: there are instances when victims are at least partially to blame.
For example, maybe you have been struck by a speeding driver who failed to yield the right-of-way when you proceeded through an intersection. That driver was clearly negligent.
However, it might be shown that you were also negligent because you were on your phone at the time of the accident. Had you not been distracted, you might arguably have been able to stop in time to avoid the collision.
Being partially responsible for an accident can impact how much money you're eligible to receive when filing a claim or a lawsuit in Utah. This is due to Utah's comparative negligence (also known as "contributory negligence" or "comparative fault") statute.
In Utah, if you're deemed to be at least 50% responsible for an accident’s occurrence, you may not receive compensation. If you're deemed to be less than 50% responsible, the degree to which your own negligence caused the accident will affect your payout.
Perhaps you would be eligible to recover up to $10,000 after an accident, but it's shown that you're 30% responsible for the collision and the severity of your injuries. This means the most you could recover would be $7,000.
Be aware that insurance companies sometimes accuse injured victims of causing their own accidents in an attempt to avoid paying them what they deserve. The fact that an insurer is using this tactic doesn't mean you are genuinely to blame for your injuries.
This is another reason to hire a reputable Utah car accident attorney. If an insurer tries to blame you for an accident without having a good reason to do so, your lawyer can dismantle their arguments.
Salt Lake City
According to the United States Census Bureau, as of July 2021, Salt Lake City was home to 200,478 people. This makes it the largest city in Utah.
Therefore, accidents may be relatively more common in Salt Lake City than in other parts of the state. Motor vehicle crashes tend to occur frequently in areas with a high traffic density.
Data from the Utah Department of Public Safety indicates that 3,525 motor vehicle accidents occurred in Salt Lake City in 2021. Victims sustained injuries in 1,213 of those accidents.
West Valley City
In July of 2021, West Valley City had a population of approximately 139,110 residents. Its traffic accident rate is significantly lower than that of Salt Lake City.
Data shows that 692 motor vehicle accidents took place in West Valley City in 2021. Of those accidents, 216 left victims with injuries.
West Jordan's approximate population size is 116,541 residents, slightly lower than that of West Valley City. Despite this fact, accidents are more common in West Jordan than they are in West Valley City.
In 2021, West Jordan saw 1,206 crashes, 431 of which caused an injury.
It's not entirely clear why accidents are significantly more common in West Jordan than they are in West Valley City. West Jordan is directly south of West Valley City, and the overall layouts of both cities are fairly similar. On the map, neither city looks more or less dangerous for motorists and pedestrians than does the other.
It's possible (though not certain) that the presence of South Valley Regional Airport in West Jordan accounts for the city’s high accident rate. Both the airport and the numerous hotels directly outside it likely attract visitors. This creates a naturally high-traffic area where accidents might be common.
Accidents may also be common near airports because travelers are sleep-deprived. Many don't realize that driving while drowsy can be as dangerous as driving while intoxicated. Unfortunately, many people arriving at airports are quite tired after lengthy trips.
Provo was home to approximately 114,084 people in July 2021. Its population size is quite close to that of West Jordan. Therefore, more accidents have occurred in Provo than in West Jordan in recent years.
Specifically, in 2021, 1,406 motor vehicle accidents occurred in Provo. Victims were left with injuries as a result of 897 of these accidents.
As always, multiple factors could account for this discrepancy. It's worth noting that Provo is home to Brigham Young University (BYU). Accidents sometimes occur at above-average rates near college campuses because these areas are home to large numbers of young people who may not be experienced drivers.
There also tend to be large numbers of hotels and motels near universities. BYU is no exception. Accidents may happen when guests are unfamiliar with an area.
Sometimes, motorists are unlikely to be involved in accidents when driving in areas they don't know especially well. Because they're not familiar with roads, they exercise extra caution.
However, sometimes the opposite holds true. Some drivers make mistakes easily when driving in unfamiliar cities. Thus, accidents might be common in Provo in part because guests of BYU make errors behind the wheel.
This isn't a definitively true explanation. It's simply one theory. It also serves to remind motorists they must be particularly careful when driving in parts of Utah they don't visit often.
US Census Bureau data indicates Orem had a population of 97,861 in July 2021. While Orem has a smaller population than Provo, West Jordan, and West Valley City, it's more accident-prone than these cities.
In 2021, Orem saw 2,092 motor vehicle accidents. Although more accidents occurred in Orem than in Provo, in the former, only 576 accidents resulted in serious injury.
Determining why accidents are more common in Orem than in nearby cities is difficult. Orem is immediately north of Provo, and the same major highways run through both cities. At first glance, there aren't many noticeable differences between the two that might explain why accidents are more common in Orem.
However, a close look at a map shows there are more major highway entrances and exits in Orem than there are in Provo. This factor could explain why accidents are generally more common in Orem than they are in Provo.
Perhaps numerous accidents happen in Orem when drivers are getting on or off the highway. In these circumstances, drivers may be traveling at fairly low speeds. This can minimize the chances of accidents leaving victims with injuries.
All that said, accidents can happen anywhere in Utah. Motorists must exercise care no matter where they're driving.
You likely understand this. Sadly, you may have been injured despite being a responsible driver.
Changing the past is impossible. You can't prevent an accident that's already happened.
What you can do, though, is seek compensation for your losses. Reach out to Utah car accident attorney to get started. Having a lawyer on your side will improve your odds of arriving at a proper settlement.