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Written by AskTheLawyers.com™
Five to six million car accidents occur every year across the United States. Still, despite these numbers, most people rarely consider the possibility that they might be in a wreck. In fact, the most you think about potential car crashes may be when you are buying car insurance or renewing your policy. Even then, many people only consider their state’s minimum insurance requirements. So, when an accident does happen, most people do not have a thorough understanding of state laws, insurance policies or what procedures to follow. Thus, you may find yourself struggling to learn your rights in time to enforce them. Fortunately, you do not have to become an expert on injury claims to successfully file one – you can simply ask the lawyers.
Below, local Utah attorneys offer information about car insurance, state laws and what to do after a crash. If you have questions or need assistance with a claim today, then contact us to set up a free consultation with a lawyer in your area.
After a crash, you can usually file an insurance claim, either with the at-fault driver’s provider or your own, to recover the cost of your accident-related expenses. However, the insurance industry is profit-based, and filing a claim can be a minefield of loopholes, misinformation and unforeseen challenges. Therefore, to protect your right to compensation, you should take certain steps after a crash.
Immediately after a car accident, if you are able, you should:
Then, as soon as you can, you should also:
Like most states, Utah has mandatory car insurance laws which make it illegal to drive without a minimum amount of coverage. Every state sets its own rules for what qualifies as “minimum” insurance, including the type of coverage you need and the policy limits. In Utah, the minimum insurance requirements are:
Utah also provides the option for operators to provide $80,000 total for bodily injury and property damage in lieu of the previous four categories.
Additionally, Utah is a “no-fault state,” which means that the procedure for filing a car insurance claim is somewhat simpler than other states. Instead of filing against the driver who caused the crash, you submit your claim to your own provider, regardless of fault. You therefore recover under your own PIP policy, although the available damages may be limited. For example, you generally cannot claim compensation for pain and suffering under this system. In some cases, such as if your expenses exceed the limits of your coverage, you may be able to file a claim against the at-fault driver as well.
Like most states, Utah has modified comparative negligence laws which can affect your ability to file a car accident claim and the amount of money you can recover. According to this system, each person involved in a car crash is assigned a percentage of fault. Typically, the insurance company will investigate when you file an initial claim and calculate the degree of fault. If you disagree with this determination or cannot reach a settlement with the insurer, then your case may go to court. If so, then the judge and/or jury will rule on the degree of fault for each party.
The percentage you are at fault for an accident will, first of all, determine whether your car accident claim can proceed. In Utah, you may file a rightful claim as long as your degree of fault does not exceed that of the other party. For a two-party accident, this essentially means that you can file a claim if you are 50 percent at-fault, or less. However, if you are at least 51 percent responsible for the wreck, then the law bars you from making a claim.
If you can proceed with your claim, then your percentage of fault will also impact the total amount of compensation you can recover. Modified comparative fault laws reduce your recovery by your fault percentage. This means that if you are 25 percent at-fault for an accident, then your settlement or verdict will be reduced by that much. For example, if you claim $10,000 in damages for a car crash in which you were 25 percent at fault, then you can receive a maximum of $7,500.
Since Utah is a no-fault state, these laws typically only apply if you are able to file a personal injury lawsuit, such as after a severe crash.
If you have questions or concerns about insurance or negligence laws, then do not hesitate to ask the lawyers. Otherwise, to find an attorney in your area, consult our local listings.
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