Car accidents are more common in Utah than you think. Despite strict traffic laws, growing awareness, and increasingly secure automotive features, accidents cause injuries and fatalities. The total crash count in Utah was 58,991 in 2022. It resulted in 17,606 injuries and 296 deaths. Unfortunately, there is no telling when you could get hurt in a car accident.
And the worst thing would be getting sued after a car accident. Although Utah is a no-fault state, it is possible for you to sue the other party under a few peculiar circumstances. Sadly, it is not a cakewalk when you are at the receiving end of it.
You should, of course, consult a competent car accident attorney in Utah. But knowing what happens when someone sues after a car accident can help you.
Let’s learn more about car accident claims in Utah.
What Happens When Someone Sues You After a Car Accident
As mentioned before, Utah is a no-fault state. In other words, when you get in an accident, you should turn to your own personal injury protection (PIP) provider to seek compensation. You can seek a payment of up to $3000.
However, if someone exceeds $3,000 of reasonable, necessary, and related medical expenses or suffers severe injuries, they may bring a personal injury lawsuit against you. When that happens, it’s essential to understand the legal process and your rights.
Here’s a general overview of what happens when someone sues you after a car accident.
1. Getting Served
This is when you will know someone is suing you after a car accident. The person suing you (the plaintiff) will initiate the lawsuit by filing a complaint in a Utah court. After doing that, they or their lawyer will serve you a copy of the complaint and a court summons.
The moment you get served, you should speak with a car accident attorney in Utah immediately. Your lawyer will help you understand the car accident claim details and help you file a response.
2. Sending Your Response
All court-related processes are often time-bound. In short, you will need to respond to the lawsuit within a specific time limit. It is usually 21 to 30 days from the date you get served. But speak with a car accident attorney in Utah as soon as possible.
Usually, your response may involve admitting or denying the allegations made by the plaintiff. But this is a decision best made with the help of a competent Utah car accident lawyer. In addition to this, you may assert any defenses you believe are applicable.
The next step is discovery. As the name suggests, this stage involves both parties exchanging information and evidence related to the lawsuit. It includes police reports, medical reports and bills, other documents, video and audio evidence, witness statements, written questions, and depositions.
As you can imagine, you will get more insight into the car accident claim. Your lawyer will study everything related to your case and determine how strong the evidence is against you. Your next legal move will depend on what your attorney finds out during the discovery.
4. Mediation or Settlement
One of the most critical things you need to know about personal injury lawsuits is that they usually settle. Trials are often expensive, time-consuming, and emotionally draining. Naturally, both parties try to arrive at an agreeable settlement.
Sometimes, the court may order mediation. However, either party can initiate negotiations for a settlement at any point during the legal process. Be sure your car accident attorney in Utah is with you when communicating with the plaintiff or their lawyers.
If both parties reach a settlement, there is no need for a trial. The lawsuit concludes after both of you sign the settlement agreement. This is the most preferred way to deal with car accident claims.
Sometimes, despite the best efforts from both parties, all attempts to reach an agreeable settlement may fail. When you cannot settle, the case will proceed to trial. The court will set a date for the trial to begin. Your car accident attorney in Utah will start preparing for the trial.
After the opening statements, both parties will present their evidence. The judge or jury will decide on liability and damages. If the court doesn’t find you liable, you don’t have to pay the compensation. But if they find you liable, you will have to pay the court-ordered compensation.
You have the right to file an appeal if you are unhappy with the outcome of your car accident lawsuit. But so does the plaintiff. But Utah car accident laws are complex. As a result, the appeals process can also be complicated and lengthy, depending on the circumstances. Speak with your lawyer before going ahead with the appeal.
How Long Can You Sue After a Car Accident?
In Utah, the statute of limitations for most personal injury cases is four years. That means a plaintiff has four years to file a claim in the Utah court. If they file the lawsuit in the stipulated time, you will have to face the music. If not, the court will likely throw out their car accident claim.
How Much Compensation Do You Have to Pay?
Yes, Utah has a cap on non-economic damages. It is $480,000 or three times the economic damages, whichever is greater. But it applies only to medical malpractice claims. According to the Utah car accident laws, there is no cap on other personal injury lawsuits, including car accident claims.
But the laws keep updating. So, it’s best to speak with a professional car accident attorney in Utah. They will help you understand your potential liability, how strong the evidence is, and help you decide your next legal move.
Getting into a car accident is often shocking and devastating. And getting slapped with a personal injury lawsuit on top of that is simply unimaginable. In this situation, anyone would be scared and confused. That can lead to mistakes like settling too quickly. But with the help of a professional car accident attorney in Utah, you might be able to reach a favorable outcome. Hopefully, these insights will help you understand what happens if someone sues you after a car accident.
Do you need help with a car accident claim? Our experienced and skilled attorneys can help you. Get in touch with us to schedule a consultation today!