How Does Comparative Negligence Work in Utah?
Many injury victims worry both that they may have been partially at fault for their accident and about how this might affect their ability to seek financial compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. In Utah, comparative negligence is applied when determining settlement amounts for accident claims.
This means that even if you were partially to blame for what happened, you may still be able to collect a settlement as long as someone else was more at fault than you. However, your financial award may not be as large as it might have been had you not been partially at fault.
What is Comparative Negligence?
Comparative negligence determines how fault is divided up in an accident. Each involved party is assigned a percentage of the fault depending on how his or her actions contributed to causing the accident.
When seeking financial compensation through a lawsuit, this percentage of fault is then used to reduce your potential compensation. For example, if you are awarded $100,000 in damages but are 10 percent at fault, your compensation would be reduced by 10 percent, leaving you with $90,000.
While this is advantageous in that it allows you to seek compensation even if you’re partially at fault, there is a cap to how at fault you can be and still seek damages. In Utah, the cap is 50 percent. This means that if you are 50 percent or more at fault, you will not be able to seek compensation for damages.
How Comparative Negligence Affects Personal Injury Lawsuits
Comparative negligence acknowledges that accidents aren’t necessarily straightforward, nor is the fault involved. It provides a more fair and balanced approach to determining compensation in complex accident and injury cases. It also gives lawyers on both sides a greater ability to defend or plead on behalf of their clients.
For example, if someone is driving distracted and runs a red light, hitting another driver who had stopped in the middle of the intersection, both parties would technically be at fault because both actions are considered dangerous driving behaviors and against local traffic laws.
Comparative Negligence Can Reduce Compensation
If one driver in the above example was 40 percent at fault for the accident and the other driver was 60 percent at fault, then the first driver would be eligible to seek compensation. In Utah, as long as you are 49 percent or less at fault and someone else is 51 percent or more at fault, you can receive a financial settlement.
However, the amount of fault that is assigned to you will also reduce your settlement accordingly. So in the above example, while the 40 percent at fault driver could receive compensation, that award will then be reduced by 40 percent. So if the financial award was $10,000, the driver would only receive $6,000.
When Modified Comparative Negligence Applies
Within Utah’s comparative negligence rule exists a second rule that further complicates civil suits: the modified comparative negligence rule. This rule states that neither party in a complex accident or injury case may sue for compensation if he or she is over 50 percent responsible for what happened.
In situations like this, the court would regard them as almost entirely at fault, despite whether or not the other individual was negligent as well.
Consult a Salt Lake City Personal Injury Attorney
Accidents are almost always more complicated than expected. You may not yet know if you were at fault at all—or you may be less at fault than you believe. An experienced and qualified personal injury lawyer from Craig Swapp & Associates can examine your case and determine who was liable and to what degree.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident that was someone else’s fault, you could be entitled to financial compensation to help you move on. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation, fill out the form below or call us toll-free at 1-800-404-9000.