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Proving Fault in a Car Accident in Utah

Posted June 9, 2020 | Uncategorized

According to the Utah Department of Health, our state sees a car accident occur every 10 minutes and a fatal crash occur every 36 hours. One of the many questions you can face when involved in a car accident is: Who was at fault?

Twelve states hold an auto accident no-fault insurance system, and Utah is one of those twelve. The no-fault car insurance law anticipates that all drivers in an accident file a claim with their own auto insurance, regardless of where the fault lies. 

In Utah and other states that follow the no-fault law, drivers must purchase personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. 

The point of the no-fault system is to reduce small claims court cases and overall lower the cost of auto insurance. This is typically for minor injury claims. If a person suffers severe injuries and meets certain conditions of tort liability, the fault must be proven to sue for those severe injuries.

Because of this law, in Utah, proving fault in an auto accident is necessary. If you can prove that the opposing party was at fault, then he or she will be held responsible for the damages.

In most cases, whichever party was negligent is typically considered responsible for a car wreck. In some cases, both parties may be considered to be at fault.  

Evidence to Prove Fault in the State of Utah

Gathering as much evidence as possible is important to prove fault in an accident case in Utah. Traffic citations or claim damages from the other party’s insurance company can be valuable evidence during a lawsuit.

A traffic citation, commonly known as a traffic violation ticket, is a document written out by a police officer to inform a person that he or she has committed a traffic violation. The police may not always give out traffic citations unless there is enough evidence at the time of the accident.

Types of citations

The most common examples of traffic citations include:

  • Speeding
  • Running a red light or stop sign
  • Failure to yield
  • Changing lanes without prior signaling
  • Driving while under the influence
  • Driving on the shoulder

Traffic citations by themselves will not prove the fault of the other party in a car accident but can help to establish the negligence of the other driver. Whether the citation will be accepted in court will depend on specific citations and the type of accident.

Traffic citations are not the only things that are considered when proving fault in an accident. Other things must be considered as well: the number of vehicles involved, road conditions, weather conditions at the time of the accident, and whether there was any problem with the vehicle.

Police reports

A police officer will investigate the accident scene and report on what he or she thinks might have happened at the time of the collision based on the information gathered at the site. 

The police report will consist of details like:

  • Types of injuries that were sustained by all parties involved
  • Any fatalities that might have occurred
  • Nature of the collision
  • Types of vehicles involved in the collision
  • Statements from the drivers and other people involved in the accident
  • Witness testimonies that were given by people present at the accident scene
  • Additional information about the drivers
  • Weather conditions at the time of the accident
  • Location of the accident
  • Damage to all the vehicles involved
  • Witness Statements

Based on this information, the officer will reconstruct the accident scene for the report. It is essential to segregate facts from opinion in a police report if it is being used in the case. Though most of the information given in the report will be factual, the views of the police officers can be very subjective.

Any individual who has been involved in a car accident should get a copy of the police report after the accident. There are two ways this can be done:

  1. Through the insurance company: The claimant (or his or her attorney) can get a free copy of the report from the insurance company if there is already a copy from the responding agency.
  2. Through the law enforcement agency: The claimant (or his or her attorney) can contact the agency directly and pay to receive a copy of the police report.

The police officer investigating the case will give the claimant a receipt and report number that can be used to look up the case at a later date.

Why You Need an Attorney to Prove Fault in a Car Accident

Being in an accident is a traumatic experience in itself. Dealing with law enforcement agencies and insurance companies to claim damages can cause further pain and suffering, but you can make things easier for yourself: Get a team working for you.

You can benefit from working with the personal injury attorneys at Fielding Law who will guide and advise you about your legal options to get the just compensation you deserve. Contact us at (877) 880-4090 today to schedule your free initial consultation.