When you are hurt in a car accident, dog bite or premise liability injury there are several arbitration mechanisms you can chose from in Utah. Arbitration is generally faster, cheaper and will usually yield an ordinary result. Arbitration tends to never yield great results. More severe injury cases should be tried to a jury or judge, rather than an arbiter. UTAH PERSONAL INJURY ARBITRATIONS--JAKE GUNTER

When to Use Arbitration in a Personal Injury Action in Utah? (VIDEO)

Liability Issues: When your case has liability issues where trying the matter to a jury would be costs prohibitive. Or where is a chance of significant comparative fault, or a fault greater than Utah’s 51 percent rule, arbitration is a good venue.

Smaller Cases. When you have a smaller damages case arbitration can yield better results. Yet Utah Small Claims is capped at 15K which makes small claims also a viable option, so long as you are not removed to district court with a jury demand. A small claims removal demand has to occur by filing notice shortly after the case is filed.

Plaintiff Problems. Believe it or not, plaintiff injured parties sometime have serious flaws. Sometimes it is difficult to obtain their attendance at the trial. Other times the injured party’s demeanor is so terrible and offensive that a jury would murder them with a $1.00 verdict. An arbiter generally will overlook much of these plaintiff problems. Bottom Line—likeable people get more money and juries will not easily overlook poor performing injured people.

Speed. Most of the time arbitration of Utah personal injury matters are faster and thus cheaper.

Expert Costs. Arbitration doesn’t require live expert witness testimony. Expert witness costs a ton of money, and costs even more when required to attend court live and testify. Most arbitrations have the experts present their expert reports on paper rather than costly live testimony.

321 Arbitration. Utah Code 31A-22-321. Commonly called “321 arbitration,” this arbitration is the most commonly used tort, personal injury arbitration in Utah. The main features are a cap at $50,000 and you can’t try property damage. The at-fault party’s personal assets are not collectable and are safe from any excess verdict. The De Novo, do over again appeal applies. You can have a 3-panel arbitration or a single arbiter.  UTAH PERSONAL INJURY ARBITRATIONS--JAKE GUNTER

Dog Bite Arbitration. Utah Code 18-1-4. Not well used in Utah and has many of the same features as 321 arbitration. Dog bite statutory arbitration has similar De Novo appeal features and all monetary damages is capped at $50,000. You cannot claim punitive damages with this form of arbitration, but you can claim property damage and any no-fault pay benefits associated with the insurance policy. Discovery is governed by the Utah Rules of Civil Procedure. The Utah Rules of Evidence apply loosely and rules applicable to the Utah Uniform Arbitration Act apply, unless stipulated by the parties otherwise.

Underinsured Motorist Coverage Arbitration. Utah Code 31A-22-305.3. Like most arbitrations, the plaintiff injured party can elect arbitration but there is a De Novo review option. Upon filing a De Novo appeal, there are penalties associated with the appealing party’s failure to secure more money on appeal. The UIM arbitration has a unique “Undisputed Tender” associated with the statute which requires your own insurance company to put up money which it feels is appropriate. You can continue to litigate or accept the tender as payment in full.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage Arbitration. Utah Code 31A-22-305. Key Features—De Novo review process just like 321 arbitrations or UIM arbitrations. The arbitration is informal, faster and costs less. Experts can be presented on their reports, rather than live testimony.

General Tort Arbitration. Utah Code 78B-10a-101. This statute is arbitration specific to Utah personal injury (called tort actions). It is capped at $50,000 and the plaintiff can elect for it with a De Novo review process. All the speed and cost reductions that apply to other arbitrations apply here.

General Utah Uniform Arbitration Act. Utah Code 78B-11-101. This is the general, default, fall back arbitration rules in Utah. When the parties or other statutes don’t dictate otherwise, this uniform arbitration act applies.

Arbitration by Stipulation. When neither party pleads or requests arbitration pursuant to a specific arbitration statute, the parties can nonetheless agree to arbitration anyways and how the arbitration should be conducted and what the rules are. This is a less common way of arbitrating personal injury cases in Utah, but still a viable option.

Arbitration by Insurance Policy. Arbitration is often demanded by the first party insurance company pursuant to the terms of the insurance contract that specifically require arbitration in first party matters.


Larger Injury Cases. Unfortunately for the client, larger injury cases are because the injuries are so severe and pervasive. Any type of larger personal injury case are tried to a jury or judge if not settled. No real working Utah personal injury attorney will allow a larger injury case to be arbitrated because of the likelihood for poor results.

Evidence Rules at Arbitration. The custom and practice at nearly all personal injury arbitrations are relaxed evidence rules where the arbiter makes the evidence decisions and the parties just accept it. Many of the specific arbitration statutes specifically state that the Utah Rules of Evidence are to be relaxed. Yet the parties can agree to have the evidence rules apply as if in a jury trial, although rarely done. Additionally, the Utah Uniform Arbitration Act assumes the evidence rules apply unless otherwise agreed to by the parties.

Expert Reports. In most arbitrations except some, expert witnesses do not testify live. These experts submit through their written reports to the arbiter and are received into evidence. Relying on expert reports rather than live testimony is cheaper and faster and is the custom in Utah arbitrations.