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"How To Quickly and Easily Find Out If You Have a Utah Personal Injury Case"

Each firm has its own screening criteria for cases involving personal injury in Utah. Here are ours:

  • Was someone injured?
  • Was this injury caused by the negligence of another?
  • Was the property damage (auto accident cases) sufficient that a jury would believe the injuries were caused by the accident?

Contact Us, and we will help determine if you have a valid personal injury case, with no up-front costs or obligation to you!

Was Someone Injured?

In some cases, injury isn’t enough. In Utah, if you get hurt in a car crash, you must exceed a “threshold” to get a settlement for pain and suffering. The threshold for personal injury in Utah may be exceeded by meeting just one of the following requirements:

  • medical bills in excess of a certain amount;
  • permanent impairment;
  • permanent disability;
  • disfigurement; or
  • death.

More about each of these criteria is provided in the following paragraphs.

Medical Bills In Excess of a Certain Amount

Some states allow a claim for non-economic damages once the injured person has incurred medical bills over a certain amount. For example, in Utah, $3,000 is the magic number. The bills must have been necessary and caused by the accident. And they must be reasonable in price. Some states, like Utah, have “Relative Value Studies” that decide if the amount charged by the doctor was reasonable on the treatment you received from your personal injury.

Meeting threshold is not the same as “using up PIP.” For example, in Utah the medical bill threshold is $3,000. So once you exceed that number you can file a claim for pain and suffering-type damages. Coincidentally, the minimum PIP medical coverage required by law is $3,000. But what if you have opted for higher PIP coverage? Let’s say you have $10,000 in PIP medical coverage. Do you have to use up your $10,000 before you make a claim for pain and suffering on your claim for personal injury in Salt Lake City? Of course not. They are related but separate concepts. The threshold does not change just because you had the foresight to purchase additional PIP coverage.

Permanent Impairment from Personal Injury

Threshold can also by met by showing a permanent “impairment” from your personal injury.

One useful definition of impairment is "an alteration of an individual's health status; a deviation from normal in a body part or organ system and its functioning.” Permanent impairment ratings are “assigned” by a doctor, and are usually based upon the American Medical Association Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment. (AMA Guides.)

Permanent Disability

A useful definition of disability is "an alteration of an individual's capacity to meet personal, social, or occupational demands because of an impairment."

An individual can be impaired significantly and have no disability, while another person can be quite disabled with only limited impairment. For example, a person with paraplegia who is wheelchair-bound may be working full time quite successfully as an accountant and, therefore, would not meet the definition of disability provided by the Social Security Administration.

On the other hand, a concert pianist might have a relatively minor injury to a digital nerve that severely limits his/her ability to perform basic work activities (playing difficult piano concertos). In some disability systems, a person in this situation might meet the definition of disabled even though he/she can do other work.

Doctors often use the AMA Guides to evaluate disability from personal injury even though the Guides expressly discourage it.

Disfigurement and Personal Injury

Utah allows a claim for non-economic damages if the injured person has sustained disfigurement. Sometimes “significant disfigurement” is required. Disfigurement usually means a “scar.” Disputes sometimes arise on claims from personal injury. Insurance companies sometimes argue that the scar is insignificant or does not amount to disfigurement. Gender plays a role. An obvious scar on the face or legs of a young woman is almost always disfigurement. For men it is less clear-cut. Some men are proud of their scars. They’re like battle wounds.

Death

Threshold in car crash cases can also be met by the death of the injured person. The death would have to be caused by the accident. Incidentally, if a person is injured and dies from other causes before his case settles no money can be awarded for pain and suffering and other non-economic factors.

Threshold Only Applies To Non-Economic Injuries

You can make a claim for medical expenses or lost income and you don’t have to meet the threshold requirement on your claim for personal injury in Utah if you are seeking only economic damages.

Threshold Only Applies To Car Accidents

If you slip and fall on a defective sidewalk you don’t have to meet threshold requirements to bring a claim for personal injury.

Threshold and No-Fault Requirements

Thresholds are related to no-fault requirements. That’s because the threshold concept came into being when states adopted no-fault plans. So, in some states, such as Utah, it is not necessary to meet threshold if the at-fault driver either: 1) failed to have required insurance; or, 2) was not required to have it.

For example, if the at-fault driver was uninsured he has failed to comply with no-fault insurance and may lose its protections. That is why in Utah you do not have to comply with the injury threshold on your claim for personal injury in Salt Lake City if you are injured by an uninsured motorist.

People who have just recently moved to Utah usually have 90 days or so to change their insurance to match Utah's no fault requirements. If a newly-arrived resident caused the accident you may not need to meet the threshold requirements.

Was this injury caused by negligence of another?

If the other driver ran a red light or stop sign or rear ended you, he was probably negligent.

If a property owner fails to clear his sidewalk within 24 hours of a snow fall then he is probably negligent.

Of course, if you yourself are careless and drive off the road you can’t sue yourself. Well…you can try, but your insurance won’t pay the claim.

Now, let’s say you were only partly at fault, maybe 20%, and another driver had the remaining 80% of the fault. Can you recover? Yes, but your personal injury settlement would be reduced by the 20% of your fault.

Sometimes you don’t have to show negligence at all.

For example, in dog bite cases in Utah you don’t have to show negligence on the part of the owner. If his dog bit you, he’s liable. The same applies to dangerous products. If you are injured by a product and it is proven that the product was dangerous then the manufacturer is liable for your injuries.

Was the Property Damage Sufficient That a Jury Would Believe the Injuries Were Caused by the Accident?

Juries have shown an unwillingness to award money for personal injury if the car doesn’t show much damage. If a car has no visible damage or a repair bill of less than $2,000 it is hard to get a fair recovery on an injury case.

Contact Us, and we will help determine if you have a valid personal injury case, with no up-front costs or obligation to you!

 
 
 

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