The Provo personal injury attorneys at Howard Lewis & Petersen, PC have been around since 1950 serving the Provo community and helping people state wide. Attorney Jake Gunter is a partner at Howard Lewis & Petersen, PC and the super majority of his legal practice is personal injury law.
UTAH HIT-AND-RUN CAR ACCIDENTS
Everyone has heard of the hit-and-run car accident. They are not paying attention, they hit you, your car, your person or your bike and then flee the scene. A hit-and-run driver situation is precisely why you need uninsured insurance.
UTAH CAR INSURANCE POLICIES
As of this writing in 10/2017, every Utah policy of insurance must have the following:
(1). $3,000 of personal injury protection benefits “PIP.”
(2). $25,000 minimum liability per person with a total $65,000 cap.
(3). $15,000 in minimum property damage liability.
It is optional to have the following benefits attached to your Utah car insurance policy.
(1). Uninsured motorist coverage.
(2). Underinsured motorist coverage.
(3). Increased PIP coverage above and beyond the $3,000.
(4). Collision coverage which repairs your own car damage when you are at fault.
(5). Increased liability coverages past the stated $25,000/$50,000 minimum.
In order to waive Underinsured or Uninsured Motorist Coverages you must do so specifically in writing and you rarely, if ever, should do so. Having a large amount of Uninsured coverage is important, especially since the Utah State bodily injury coverages are only $25,000 per person, per accident.
UTAH UNINSURED MOTORIST COVERAGE: HIT-AND-RUNS CAR ACCIDENTS
When you are injured in a Utah hit-and-run car accident, your own car insurance’s uninsured motorist coverage kicks in to help pay for the damages and injuries caused in the hit and run car accident This is called first party insurance benefits. Utah’s medical pay benefits, called (“PIP”) are another example of first party insurance benefits because PIP benefits are attached to your own car insurance policy. You can read about PIP Benefits here. Additionally, if you are hit by another car and that person did not have insurance at all, then your uninsured motorist coverage will cover your injuries caused by the uninsured offending driver.
You can read more about Uninsured car insurance here.
2 Types of Hit and Run Drivers.
There are two types of hit-and-run drivers.
Contact Hit-and-Run Car Accident.
First, the hit-and-run driver actually crashes into your car causing damage. Then the hit-and-run driver drives away and is never caught by the police. Here when you are hurt, or when you need your car damage repaired you can make an Uninsured Motorist claim with your own car insurance company.
No Contact Hit-and-Run Car Accident.
Second, the hit-and-run driver causes your car to run off the road or otherwise cause you injuries–but the hit-and-run driver did not touch your car during the process. You veered away from the collision before it happened, but you still crashed. Just like the contact hit-and-run driver, when you need to get your injuries paid for, or your car repaired, then you would make an insurance claim to your own car insurance company for Uninsured Motorist Coverage.
When the hit-and-run driver touches your car, a preponderance of the evidence standard applies–or a more likely than not proof is required. When the hit-and-run driver does not touch your car, but that driver’s conduct causes your car to crash, insurance carriers will often deny your claim and demand a higher proof burden applies–clear and convincing.
UTAH LAW ON HIT-AND-RUN CAR ACCIDENTS.
Here is the Utah statutory provision that insurance carriers rely upon to deny your uninsured hit and run driver claim.
When a covered person alleges that an uninsured motor vehicle under Subsection (2)(b) proximately caused an accident without touching the covered person or the motor vehicle occupied by the covered person, the covered person shall show the existence of the uninsured motor vehicle by clear and convincing evidence consisting of more than the covered person’s testimony. Utah Code 31A-22-305(6).
What insurance carriers like to do is deny your hit-and-run claim because often you cannot produce any other testimonial evidence other than your own recall of the facts. When this occurs, insist that there is other evidence besides your own testimony. Point them to the medical records showing an immediately physical injury, the testimony of the EMTs who were at the accident scene and can see obvious physical injury and property damage.
Insurance carriers deny these claims and insist that other testimonial evidence is required, but that is not true. Using documentary evidence and circumstance testimonial evidence by the EMTs, or family members who saw you immediately after the collision can help prove your case.
In reality, if you are involved in a Utah hit-and-run case where the other driver causes you injuries but luckily did not impact your car, your claim will be denied and you will need to hire an attorney.
NO INJURY OR MEDICAL EXPENSE THRESHOLD
When another car collides with you causing you physical injury, Utah law requires that the injured person incur at least $3,000 in medical expenses, or incur an objective permanent injury before making a general damages claim.
Utah law at Utah Code Ann. 31A-22-309 reads:
(a) A person who has or is required to have direct benefit coverage under a policy which includes personal injury protection may not maintain a cause of action for general damages arising out of personal injuries alleged to have been caused by an automobile accident, except where the person has sustained one or more of the following:
(iii) permanent disability or permanent impairment based upon objective findings;
(iv) permanent disfigurement; or
(v) medical expenses to a person in excess of $3,000.
(b) Subsection (1)(a) does not apply to a person making an uninsured motorist claim.
Navigating the world of insurance is complex and a good Utah personal injury attorney will press the insurance company for a fair resolution of your claim. Let there be no mistake, insurance companies are in business. They have mountains of lawyers and trained claimed adjusters on their side. You should have an attorney in your corner also.
Call personal injury attorney Jacob S. Gunter for a free review of your personal injury case. (801) 373-6345. The Utah personal injury attorneys at Howard Lewis & Petersen, PC handle hit and run car accidents in Provo/Orem, Spanish Fork, American Fork, Draper, Salt Lake and other cities along the Wasatch Front. www.provolawyers.com. www.gunterinjurylaw.com.