Utah is a comparative negligence jurisdiction that allows an accident victim to recover damages only if they were not more than 50% at fault. Further, the damages they might recover will be reduced proportionally to their fault. Given this, a Utah accident victim is wise to retain a lawyer with the expertise to show that a negligent party bears most of the fault for having caused an accident.
If you’ve been hurt due to the negligence of another party, contact Valiente Mott to consult with a personal injury lawyer in Utah who has that experience and skill. We have recovered millions of dollars in damages for our clients and want to help you. Call us today to schedule a free consultation to assess your case.
How is comparative negligence established in a Utah personal injury lawsuit?
An injured accident victim has the burden of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, that a negligent party caused the accident. To establish this, their attorney will present evidence, including, for example, eyewitness statements, police reports, testimony from the victim, surveillance video, and opinions from accident reconstruction experts.
The negligent party’s lawyer can then present similar evidence to demonstrate how the victim contributed to the accident and their injuries. For example, in a car accident lawsuit, the defense lawyer might present police reports and other evidence showing the victim entered a roadway without yielding to oncoming traffic.
If the evidence is presented at a trial, the jury or judge will evaluate and weigh each party’s evidence and assign percentage levels of fault to each party. If the lawsuit settles before trial, the parties’ lawyers will use their respective skills to negotiate a damages amount that reflects each party’s contribution to the accident.
How might comparative negligence affect an accident victim’s damages award?
To illustrate, a victim (plaintiff) in a Utah personal injury lawsuit proves they suffered $500,000 in damages. However, the negligent party’s defense lawyer convinces a jury that the victim was 20% at fault for causing the accident. In that case, the damages award will be reduced by 20% ($100,000). The plaintiff will only recover $400,000. If the defense lawyer successfully argues that the victim was more than 50% responsible, no damages will be awarded to the victim.
As the above shows, Utah’s comparative negligence laws incentivize insurance companies and defense lawyers to argue that the victim bears a substantial degree of fault. Here are other examples:
- In a slip and fall case, a defense attorney might claim that the victim was looking at their phone and not paying attention to otherwise obvious hazards.
- A car accident defense lawyer could argue that the victim was speeding or driving recklessly.
- In a defective product case, the lawyer for the product manufacturer will try to show that the victim was not using it correctly.
A Utah accident victim will always have the best chance of recovering a larger damages award by retaining a Salt Lake City personal injury attorney who can anticipate and fully rebut the comparative negligence arguments that a defense lawyer will make.
We know how to present evidence that shows our clients had minimal or no fault for causing accidents. Please contact our Salt Lake City offices to assess how we can manage your personal injury lawsuit to get you the compensation you deserve with little or no reduction from Utah’s comparative negligence laws. Since we work on a contingency basis, there are no upfront legal fees.