tn logo

Utah State Capitol, Drew Tarvin

When you get in a car accident with a government entity in Utah, you should know that many things about the claims process will be different from a traditional insurance claim. For starters, the government has given itself immunity from suit for any injury that results from the exercise of a government function. UCA § 63G-7-201.

The good news is that a carve out was created where immunity was waived, “as to any injury proximately caused by a negligent act or omission of an employee committed within the scope of employment.” UCA § 63G-7-301(2)(i). In layman’s terms, that means that an employee who causes an injury to another person while in the activity of doing their job, can be held liable. However, even within this law there are exceptions where immunity is reinstated – fire fighting, emergency evacuations, emergency medical transport, activities of the Utah National Guard, etc… UCA § 63G-7-201(4)(r-v).

If you are able to make a claim, there are a few threshold issues you should know about.

  1. Notice of Claim

UCA § 63G-7-401 requires that where a person has a claim against a government entity, before filing the claim, the person has to file a notice of claim that meets specified criteria. The notice of claim must be served upon a very specific person determined by the statute based on what entity the negligent government employee was from. On top of this, there are specific procedures for when that served person has to respond and the time frames in which that has to be done. The catch is that if you do not serve a notice of claim upon the appropriate person within the prescribed time frame, your case is barred.

  1. Time Frames

There are two really important timeframes in cases against the government. (a) You have one year to file notice of claim on the correct person. (b) You have two years to resolve your claim through negotiations or file a lawsuit.  UCA 63G-7-401-403.

  1. Damage Caps

The government has created a legal cap on the amount of damages they can be held responsible for. For one person in any one occurrence, the cap is $583,900. The aggregate cap of individual awards for a single occurrence is $3,000,000. UCA 63G-7-604(1)(a), (d). These caps can change periodically based on the consumer price index. So, its worth checking with an attorney to find out what the current limit is if you are considering making a case.

Conclusion

As you can see, the government has not made it easy to make personal injury claims against them. But, the important point is that it can be done. With a knowledgeable and experienced attorney by your side, you will be able to navigate through the landmines to a successful claim. If you have been injured in a car accident by a government employee, give us a call. We offer a FREE consultation so that you can get your questions answered and figure out what your next steps needs to be. Scheule your consultation today by calling 801-849-3664.

The answer is definitely no. Many people have the experience after a car accident where they get a call from the at-fault insurance company and the adjuster tells them they are going to take good care of them. Despite their friendliness on the phone, little seems to happen. But after treatment starts, all the sudden the adjuster starts talking about taking care of your medical bills and getting you some money to help you out. All you have to do is sign a paper.

It sounds like the kind gesture of a company who knows their insured was in the wrong and has put you in a tough spot. Not a final resolution of the claim. What they don’t tell you is that in exchange for this money, you will release all rights to any payment for additional medical bills, wage loss, future care, or pain and suffering dollars.

Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing

I recently had a client go through this exact same experience. For privacy purposes, we’ll call this client Jenny. Prior to becoming my client, Jenny started treatment and the insurance company told her to submit their bills as they became available, that they wanted to help her out by giving her some money up front, and they would continue to take care of everything. She thought that sounded pretty good and agreed. They sent her a document to sign and she assumed that it said what had been discussed on the phone.

As her treatment wore on, it became evident to her that the situation was more complex than she originally thought and felt she was going to need some legal help. So, she called my office. As we went about getting the case set up, the adjuster called me and informed me that Jenny had signed a settlement release for the first few weeks of treatment and a $1,000 in her pocket.

I explained that she had much more treatment that needed to be covered and that $1,000 was not going to cover the pain and suffering she had and would endure into the future as a result of their insured’s negligence. I also explained that this arrangement was not her understanding of what she had been offered. The adjuster informed me that if it wasn’t clear in the conversation, it was all put in black and white for her to read. If she didn’t agree, she should not have signed the release.

Tragically, Jenny had in fact signed a release that cut off her claim. As wrong and deceptive as it had been, she had entered into a contractual agreement with the insurance company, and it was binding.

Utah Car Accident Tips

If you get into a car accident, be aware of the following:

  1. Never take the adjuster’s word for it.
  2. Verify everything the adjuster says against what is in writing.
  3. Unless it’s property damage, don’t sign anything without consulting a lawyer.

If you have questions about your specific claim, schedule a free consultation with us by calling 801-849-3664.

Illegal Solicitation Practices

If you’ve been in a car accident in the last year or two, you’ve probably felt the onslaught of certain law firms and medical groups knocking down your door to solicit your business. Shockingly, one Utah law firm even left a marketing gift on the porch of the family of a young man who had been killed in a motorcycle crash within a few days of his death. See Utah law firm apologizes after marketing gift upsets grieving family.

When you are in the middle of grieving the loss of a loved one, the last thing you want are vultures circling looking for how they can profit. Some of us in the personal injury community have been working to end this predatory practice. 

The Utah Supreme Court just amended the Utah Rules of Professional Conduct for lawyers, and starting May 1, 2024, the rule will prohibit lawyers from directly soliciting your business within 30 days of your car accident. Utah Rules of Professional Conduct, 7.1. This will give family members some breathing room after the loss of a loved one or a car accident. The penalty for lawyers found violating this rule could be loss of their license to practice law.

How Do These People Find You?

Another concerning practice is how these groups obtain your contact information. Police reports aren’t usually available for about 10 days following a collision, and it’s illegal for a lawyer to obtain a police report unless they have been hired to represent one of the parties identified in the report. UCA § 41-6a-404. Therefore, somewhere along the line from the moment of the accident until the time of contact, someone is selling or disclosing your personal information. If you are contacted by one of these groups to whom you did not give your contact information, demand to know how they learned of your accident and got your contact information and inform them that they are operating in violation of the law. UCA § 76-10-3201.

After the loss of a loved one or the chaos of a car accident, most people feel overwhelmed and not sure what they should be doing next. They need someone they can trust to help them get them where they need to go. If you have been in a car accident and are looking for a lawyer you can rely on, call us the lawyers at True North Injury Law at 801-849-3664 to schedule your free consultation.

Many people are looking for a quick answer about the value of their personal injury case after an accident. As a result there are online forms you can complete that allege they can tell you what your case is worth with just a few pieces of information. Some lawyers will even tell prospective clients that they can help them get $1 million dollars without knowing anything or very little about the case. If you think these case values are bogus, it’s because they are. These methods are employed to get people through the door and to sign on the dotted line. Such an approach inevitably leads to anger and frustration when the final settlement falls far short of the accident’ victim’s expectations.

Case Value is Dependent on Several Factors

The truth is that the value of a case is dependent on a variety of factors like how much you have in medical expenses, your injuries, the types of treatment you received, how long your treatment lasted, how much you had in property damage, wage loss, loss of earning capacity, the impact on your life, whether you need future care, etc.. But mostly, the value of a case is based on what a jury would do with the specific facts of the case.

Because of this, we are constantly looking at the verdicts and awards coming out of trials and arbitrations to help us predict what a jury would do. At True North Injury Law, we won’t even start talking about what a potential range of value might look like until we have sufficient information to have an honest conversation. 

Watch Out for Snake Oil Salesman

If you find yourself in a conversation with a lawyer making promises about specific dollar amounts, do yourself a favor and find a lawyer who is going to tell you the truth.

If you have questions about your specific case and want to have an honest conversation with one of our experienced Utah personal injury attorneys, please call us at 801-849-3664 to schedule a free consultation.

It can be devastating to be hit by a car where both your car and you are extremely damaged and then find out that the at-fault driver doesn’t have auto insurance. I have received many phone calls from people in this situation wondering what to do. The good news is that there is an avenue for recovery available. It’s called Uninsured Motorist Coverage or UM Coverage.

What is UM Coverage?

UM Coverage is something you carry on your own auto insurance policy. It is not legally required. Some people waive it to help lower their insurance premiums. But It exists for the sole purpose of providing you coverage when you get hit by someone who does not have auto insurance. The amount you have is entirely dependent on how much you pay for. You could be 25k, 50k, 100k, 250k, etc.

Is this My Only Avenue of Recovery?

Obviously, you could file a lawsuit against the at-fault person and a jury may award you a sum of money to compensate you for your damages. However, the catch is that you have to take your award from the assets of the at-fault party. If the at-fault driver doesn’t have auto insurance, they may not have much in the way of assets. So, you could have spent a lot of money to go through trial and end up with an award you won’t ever be able to collect.

Because of this, UM coverage is often the only option that makes sense for people in this situation. As a result, you should look at your own policy to make sure (1) that you have UM coverage and (2) to make sure that the coverage you have gives you plenty of room to work with if this is the only avenue of recovery you have.

Free Consultation

If you have questions about your specific case, please give us a call at 801-849-3664. We offer a free consultation where you can meet with a lawyer to get your questions answered and see if a pursuing a personal injury case makes sense for you.

Many people get into a situation where the total of their damages (medical bills, wage loss, pain and suffering, and future recommended care) is greater than the available insurance under the at-fault driver’s policy. To put that another way, the at-fault policy might only have $50,000 in bodily injury coverage, and the accident victim has more than $50,000 in damages. So, what do you do?

What is UIM Coverage?

Underinsured Motorist or UIM Coverage was created for just this situation. If you obtain the full amount of available insurance under the at-fault driver’s bodily injury coverage, that opens the door for you to make an underinsured motorist claim on your own insurance policy.  The amount of UIM coverage available depends entirely on how much you pay for. If you have UIM coverage, you will at a minimum have coverage equal to your bodily injury coverage. To say that another way, If you have Bodily Injury coverage in the amount of $100,000 and you also have UIM coverage, you will also have at least $100,000 in UIM coverage.

I am often asked why someone would want to make a UIM claim when doing so will increase the premium. People see this as being penalized for an accident that was not their fault. The good news is that your premium will not go up for making a UIM claim because you are not at-fault for the accident. UCA 31A-19a-212. So, don’t let that be an obstacle to getting benefits you pay for.

UIM Coverage is Not Required in Utah

But a word of caution, UIM coverage can be waived. Sometimes in an effort to lower their auto insurance premiums, people will waive UIM coverage. I had a client who did not know she had done this and had medical bills in excess of the available bodily injury coverage. Her choice put her in a difficult financial situation because she owed more money than she could get through the bodily injury coverage. We helped her make the best out of that situation. But, the story is a lesson for us all. Make sure you have UIM coverage, and make sure it is in an amount that gives you plenty of room to work if you get hit by someone with low insurance limits.

Conclusion

If you have questions about your specific case, contact us at 801-849-3664 to schedule a free consultation where you can get your questions answered by a Utah Personal Injury Lawyer.

Bodily Injury coverage is the portion of an auto insurance policy that pays out when you have injured someone in an auto accident that you caused. To put that another way, if you were in an accident that wasn’t your fault, you make a claim against the at-fault driver’s bodily injury coverage to pay for your medical bills, wage loss, pain and suffering, and recommended future care.

People often tell me that they want a certain sum of money from the at-fault driver. However, in order to know what you can get, you need to know how much money is actually available. Despite what many think, there isn’t an unlimited pool of money just sitting there for the taking. The amount available to you is however much the at-fault driver has under his or her policy. 

Minimum Requirements and Why that Matters

For all policies issued or renewed before 12/31/24, the State of Utah requires drivers to have a minimum of $25,000 in bodily injury coverage. Starting 01/01/25, the minimum will increase to $30,000. Utah Code Annotated § 31A-22-304.

So, why does this matter? Let me give you an example. Let’s say you incurred $50,000 in medical bills and lost wages, but the at-fault driver only has $25,000 in bodily injury coverage. All you can get from the policy is $25,000. Therefore, it’s important to find out as soon as possible how much is available under the policy so that you can determine how best to manage your situation. The at-fault insurance company is required to disclose the coverages, so be sure to ask. R590-190-12.

Can I get More?

There are two ways you can obtain more than the limits available under the policy: (1) you can file a lawsuit against the individual and jury may grant you an award in excess of the policy limits that you can try to collect from the at-fault individual’s personal assets, or (2) you can make an underinsured motorist or UIM claim. How, when, and if you should approach either of these routes should be discussed in depth with your attorney.

One thing you should take away from this video is that you should look at your own coverage. If you don’t have sufficient auto coverage, you are leaving yourself vulnerable to a lawsuit. Review your coverage and determine whether or not you feel you should make a change.

Conclusion

If you have questions about your specific case, call us at 801-849-3664 to schedule your FREE consultation!

What do we mean when we say property damage? We’re talking about the damage to your car. After an accident, many people need to figure out how to get their car fixed or replaced as fast as possible. You typically have two options: (1) run the property damage through the at-fault auto insurance, or (2) run the property damage through your own auto insurance. There are pros and cons to each option.

At-Fault Auto Insurance

The most common instinct accident victims have is to run their property damage through the at-fault auto insurance company. They figure that they are not at-fault for the collision, so the person that was should take care of this. That thinking is not wrong. The downside is that it can take a long time to have the at-fault auto insurance do what needs to be done.

The insurance administrative code gives the insurance company 30 days to complete their investigation. R590-190-10(2).  However, if they need more time, they pretty much just have to inform you. So, people often call me feeling like the insurance company is not taking them seriously and that they are getting the runaround. This happens because the law does not put a firm time frame in place for property damage claims to be completed.

The upsides are that you don’t have to pay your deductible. While the insurance company is repairing your vehicle or until a reasonable settlement offer has been made for a total loss vehicle, the insurance company should provide you with a rental car or reimburse you for the cost of a rental car. R590-190-11(9).

If you are not in a hurry, running the property damage claim through the at-fault auto insurance is a great option.

Your Own Auto Insurance

Many accident victims hesitate to run their property damage through their own auto insurance because they have to pay the deductible and they don’t want a claim on their record that would increase their premium. While, paying the deductible is definitely the downside. The upsides are:

(1) The repair or payout takes place a lot faster;

(2) Your auto insurance company cannot increase your premium for an accident that wasn’t your fault (See UCA 31A-19a-212); and

(3) Your auto insurance company will go after the at-fault auto insurance company to get the money they expended on your behalf back. When they get it, your auto insurance will reimburse your deductible back to you.

One other possible downside is getting a rental vehicle. If you do not pay for rental car coverage on your policy, you will not have a rental car available to you.

So, if you don’t have a lot of time to wait for your vehicle to be repaired or to get a new car, running the property damage claim through your own auto insurance can definitely be a great option.

Set Up Your Free Consultation

If you have questions about your specific case, call expert Utah personal injury attorney, Jake Lee, at 801-849-3664 today to schedule your free consultation and get your questions answered.

How to pay for medical bills after a Utah car accident

One of the biggest questions I get is how to pay for medical bills right after a car accident. The State of Utah is what we call a no-fault state. That means that regardless of whether you are at-fault for a car accident, you have no-fault benefits or PIP under your own auto insurance policy to cover medical bills.

PIP stands for personal injury protection. Every vehicle is required to have PIP insurance with a minimum of $3,000 in coverage. UCA 31A-22-302, 307. However, you can purchase PIP coverages in higher amounts - $10,000, $50,000, $100,000. This money can be used for hospital visits, chiropractic visits, physical therapy visits, etc…

Even if you have health insurance, you want to start paying for medical bills with PIP. Why? Because if there is PIP available, your health insurance will retract all of its payments until the PIP benefit has been exhausted. Only once your health insurance has proof that the PIP benefits have been exhausted will they start to pay again.

Benefits

There are also a few other little known benefits available under your PIP coverage: wage loss, household services, death, burial benefits.

For wage loss, you can receive up to $250/week for up to 52 weeks with the exception of the first 3 days. So, if you’re only out of work for 2 days, you would not be able to access the wage loss portion of this benefits. The only trick is that you have to have a doctor’s not showing you aren’t able to work for each day that you miss as well as a not from your employer indicating the day was actually missed and what your wage would have been.

PIP also offers a household services benefit of $20/day for things you need help with around the house. For example, if you had to pay someone to mow your lawn, shovel snow, grab groceries for you, etc… You cant get up to $20/day for those kind of expenses.

Finally, you can get $1,500 in funeral/burial/cremation expenses reimbursed and a $3,000 benefit paid out for the death of a covered individual.

Benefits in the amounts I’ve just described are not going to cover everything in every case. In some cases it may not cover even a fraction of the expenses. However, when you’ve been in a car accident, knowing how things operate and what’s available to you can make a big difference. 

Schedule a free consultation today!

If you have questions about how this would apply to your specific case, give us a call. We provide a free consultation where you can get all your questions answered! Call us at 801-849-3664.

chevron-down