Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently asked questions about Utah car accident cases.

You have a claim against your family member for the car accident they caused injurying you.  There is no difference legally between a stranger who hurts you and a family member who happened to be the driver.

Having a Utah car accident requires the following.  1.  The other car must be at least 51% or more at-fault for the accident.  2.  The accident caused you injuries or aggravated your prior injuries 3.  Your injuries required more than $3,000 in medical bills, permanent injury or scarring.

Being outside a crosswalk and hit by a car is just one factor on who is at-fault.  Smaller children in the roadway are different than a drunk adult.  Being in or out of the crosswalk is just one factor in the totality of factors that an insurance adjuster will view in determining who is at-fault for a car v. pedestrian accident in Utah.   See this article on how to prove fault in a pedestrian crosswalk accident. 

The car that hit you on your scooter covers your injuries.  Additionally that car is first coverage for PIP benefits and possible your car may also have stacking secondary PIP benefits available to help with your medical bills.  See this article on how the Utah Traffic Code applies to scooter v. car accidents.

You must pass threshold or you don’t have a claim for pain and suffering in a Utah car accident.  Unless it is an uninsured motorist claim where threshold doesn’t apply, you must meet threshold to make a general damages claim.

Threshold is found at Utah Code 31A-22-309 and is:

(1).  death, dismmemberment or permanent injury.

(2).  greater than $3,000 in medical bills incurred from the car accident.

(3).  bone fracture.

No.  You should not give an adjuster interview without your attorney present after a boating accident that caused property or personal injuries.  You have a duty to cooperate with your own boat insurance, but it can wait until you hire a Utah boating accident attorney.  You have no duty to cooperate with the other person’s insurance company and give an adjuster interview.

A wrongful death case is a civil case for money damages.  The wrongdoer, or at-fault party who caused the death can also be criminally prosecuted.  Your Utah wrongful death attorney needs to understand both worlds and monitor any criminal case that is ongoing.

If your neighbor’s house burnt down, then spread and burned your house causing damages, their insurance company pays for your fire damages.   You can also ask your own homeowners insurance to pay for your damages.

Yes.  Often you will have an injury claim against the driver for allowing his car to rollover.  The driver’s insurance covers these types of injuries.

Yes.  Just because you are illegally in Utah, you can still receive compensation for your injuries caused by the car accident.

Yes.  When your life insurance is denied you generally must file a lawsuit to recover any benefits.   Often these lawsuits are removed to federal court.

Loss of consortium is a claim by the non-physically injured spouse for loss of companionship of the spouse due to their injuries.  Loss of consortium is the damage that the accident caused the relationship.  Whether that is loss of income, loss of household services or sexual relations, etc.

Most commonly loss of consortium is claimed by someone whose spouse is seriously injured in an accident.  But sometimes children, or other dependents can also claim a loss of consortium in Utah.

  1. You can settle out of court.
  2. You can file a lawsuit and then settled during the pendency of the court proceedings.
  3. You can file a wrongful death lawsuit with an agreement to arbitrate the matter.
  4.  You can file a wrongful death lawsuit then agree to mediation the claim and settle it out-of-court.
  5. You can file a wrongful death lawsuit and have a jury or judge decide how much money compensation is appropriate.

Yes.  Children are treated just like adults who are injured in car accidents and make insurance claims for money damages for their injuries.

No.  Generally in Utah personal injury cases if you win you win you don’t get the make the other side pay for your attorney fees.  There are very limited exceptions.  In this great country, we apply the American Rule, where each side pays their own attorney fees, win or lose, unless by contract or statute attorney fees are allowed.  The British rule is loser pays the other side’s attorney fees.

99.9 percent of the time you don’t have to pay their attorney fees if you lose your case.  You do have to pay a limited array of costs if you lose after a lawsuit has been filed.  Utah personal injury costs can include:  The $375 filing fee.  Any service of the lawsuit costs, around $50.  Subpoena costs, $18.50.  Deposition costs, $300 plus.   Costs generally don’t include expert witness fees.  Expert witnesses in personal injury cases can cost $5,000 or more.




Probable Not. The vast majority of civil personal injury cases in Utah are resolved and settled prior to even filing a lawsuit.  Of those where a lawsuit is filed, very few are resolved by a jury trial.

It is super important that you hire a Utah personal injury attorney who can take an injury case all the way to a jury trial and hire the best experts.  Otherwise you will continue to get low ball settlement offers because they know your attorney can’t go to court.

The percentage of your fault will be deducted from your recovery.  Either by the jury, adjuster or judge.   You just can’t be 50 percent or more at-fault for causing the accident.  You can be 49 percent or 33 percent at-fault, but not 50 percent or greater.

See this article for a deeper look at comparative fault.

On the short, it will take 3-4 months.  Longer cases that go to a jury trial will take nearly 2 years.

See this article on timelines in a litigated personal injury case.

Waiting.  Injury claims take a while to process.  Mainly because the injured person has to get better, has to recover and reach maximum medical improvement because a settlement can be reached.

False.  Hiring an attorney will generally get you far better results with less stress than doing it yourself.

No.  Most injury claims are between $3,000 and $25,000.  Real working injury lawyers in Utah commonly handle small car accidents, or dog bites where physical injuries completely resolve.

Yes. We do our best to come to a reasonable settlement before filing even considering a lawsuit.

Most personal injury claims never turn into public lawsuits.  Many times, your injury lawyer and the insurance adjuster negotiate a fair settlement for your claim and you will never see the inside of a courtroom.

No.  There is not a Utah minimum settlement amount. Some medical malpractice cases have damages caps.

Police reports.   Photos of the accident and your injuries.  Receipts for medical care.  Pay slips for lost wages.  Doctor’s inability to work letters.  Witness testimony.   Estimates for automobile damages.

Yes.  Most ATVs, 4 Wheelers and Side-by-Sides will have liability insurance.  Just like cars must have insurance.

You will have an insurance claim for your injuries against the ATV owner’s insurance.  These claims proceed very much like car accident injury cases.

Yes.  It is mandatory that most boats have liability insurance in Utah.  Just like cars must have insurance.  You will have an insurance claim for your injuries against the boat owner’s insurance.  These claims proceed very much like car accident injury cases.

Trial experience. War chest. Focus. Personal Injury Lawyer Jake Gunter has the ability to try lawsuits, has been trying lawsuits to a jury for nearly 20 years and believes firmly that insurance companies know which attorney will try a lawsuit and which ones will not. At Howard Lewis & Petersen, PC, the firm has the financial ability to hire the best experts for our clients to maximize their chance at fair and adequate compensation for their physical injuries. Lastly, attorney Jake Gunter focuses his practices on Utah personal injury cases. You never want to hire a dabbler to represent you in your Utah personal injury case.

Often home owner’s insurance policies will have no-fault medical pay benefits that will help the injured person pay for their medical bills that arise out of a physical injury occurring at the covered residence. Your Utah personal injury attorney will need to inquire with the insurance adjuster for the home owner’s insurance carrier about these benefits.

Yes. Generally most home owner’s insurance policies will pay for dog bites, regardless of whether the dog bite occurred at the park, or inside the dog owners home. Sometimes an insurance carrier will specifically exclude certain breeds of dog because they are notorious for violent tendencies. Other times the insurance carrier will have knowledge that the home owner has a dog and will expressly exclude that dog from liability insurance coverage. Your personal injury attorney will need to obtain a copy of the insurance policy and review it for coverage.

You can recover for your injuries that were incurred while escaping the attacking dog. No physical touching is required between you and the dog and no biting is needed as a prerequisite to recovering compensation in Utah courts from the dog owner for your injuries. Strict liability, often called absolute liability, is the legal obligation to pay for injuries or damages even if the dog owner or keeper did absolutely nothing wrong.

Utah dog bite laws can be found at Utah Code Ann. 18-1-1. Dog bites have their own Title in the Utah Code. A Utah dog owner or dog keeper is strictly liable for the injuries their dog causes. There is no need to prove that the dog attacked someone, or that the dog has propensities for viciousness.

No. A dog bite case is generally just an insurance claim against the dog owner’s home owner’s insurance policy. Unless the insurance company is refusing to pay adequate and fair compensation for the dog bite injuries, then you can elect to file a lawsuit. People are always concerned about neighborly relations and they should be. Dog bites are really just an insurance claim that have little to do with the dog owner, unless they are acting in complete disregard for public safety.

1. Mandatory Personal Injury Protection Benefits (“PIP”). PIP covers medical pay at a minimum of $3,000. $20 per day for household services. Lost wages and funeral benefits to name a few. PIP is mandatory for all Utah car policies of insurance. 2. A minimum $25,000 of liability insurance to pay the other person who you might hurt in a Utah car accident. 3. A minimum of $15,000 in property damage insurance to pay for any property damage you may cause when operating a car. 4. Underinsured Motorist Coverage (“UIM”). UIM can be waived in writing, but should never be waived. UIM coverage exists when the person who hurts you does not have enough car insurance to cover your injuries and make your whole. Then your own car insurance company kicks in and starts paying for your physical injuries. 5. Uninsured Motorist Coverage (“UM”). UM can be waived in writing, but should never be waived. UM coverage exists when the person who hurt you does not have insurance, or it is a phantom, hit-and-run situation. When this occurs, your UM coverage attached to your own car insurance kicks in to start paying for your injuries incurred in a car accident.

Contingency fee agreements are used by personal injury attorneys because there is risk with taking an injury case without paying attorney fees as the case progresses. It is like working for Zion’s Bank for about a year and not getting paid until the end with a chance of not getting paid at all. Since the attorney has financial risk and has to carry legal costs all the way until the end of the case, personal injury attorneys charge 33 percent of whatever the settlement is. Personal injury attorneys carry enormous costs on injury cases. Commonly, the personal injury lawyer will hire orthopedic surgeons, economists, accident reconstructionists, life care planners and a host of other really expensive expert witnesses to testify on behalf of their clients. These experts cost a lot of money and if the case is lost, the personal injury attorney loses these costs expended on behalf of the client. This can easily be $10,000 or more, per case. Here at Howard Lewis & Petersen, PC, if you do not receive a compensation for your injuries, you owe us nothing. Even if we have expended $10,000 on expert witness services and put in hundreds of hours litigating your case.

Immediately. When you are in a car accident, let your personal injury attorney do the leg work of investigation, viewing the accident scene and preserving evidence. You are hurt and need to get better, let your Utah personal injury attorney deal with the insurance companies for you. Additionally and importantly, you will need an honest hand to guide you through the insurance process for a physical injury.

If you do not receive compensation, you owe us nothing, and this is in writing.

You can file a complaint with the Utah Insurance Department. See the Insurance Department’s website at Hiring an attorney will also alleviate how the insurance company is treating you and how much compensation you will receive. Hiring a Utah personal injury will get you better results.

Yes, and plenty of it. PIP benefits are not mandatory for motorcycles, unlike cars. You should obtain at least $10,000 in PIP benefits for your motorcycle. PIP medical pay benefits are no-fault benefits and pay out anytime you are hurt using your motorcycle, regardless of who is at fault. The state minimum for medical pay PIP benefits is $3,000 for cars and is mandatory. Motorcycle collisions simply have a higher risk of severe injury then a Utah car accident. Therefore increased PIP medical pay benefits are warranted.

Lots. Driving a motorcycle in much more dangerous than driving a car. Additionally the Utah state minimum for bodily injury is $25,000. $25,000 is easily used up if a car collides with you on your motorcycle. That is where you should have very high Underinsured coverages, around at least $250,000 or more. The potential for head injuries increases with motorcycle collisions, along with fractures.

Yes, and lots of it. When using a motorcycle you should have very high insurance coverages, at least $250,000.

You should file an Uninsured insurance claim with your own car insurance company. Uninsured Motorist Coverage is specifically meant for circumstances where the other person who hurt you has not insurance and you are not at fault. Uninsured coverage can be waived in writing, but never should be waived. It is very valuable and affordable insurance.

You should file an Uninsured insurance claim with your own car insurance. Generally, all Utah car policies of insurance have Uninsured Motorist Coverage attached to all Utah car policies of insurance. You have to specifically waive Uninsured Coverage to not have it automatically attached to your car insurance policy.

When you are hit on your bicycle by a car insured in Utah, that car’s insurance policy is the primary PIP insurance company for paying out the no fault benefits. Thereafter, if you exhaust the car’s PIP benefits and you also have a Utah car policy of insurance, you can reach out to your own insurance carrier and ask that PIP benefits start to flow. You can stack your PIP benefits on top of the car’s PIP benefits.

Assuming both you as the passenger and the driver both have Utah car policies of insurance, then the car policy of insurance covering the car you are in is the primary PIP coverage. If that primary PIP coverage is exhausted, then your own car policy of insurance steps in and starts providing PIP coverage benefits. You will need to provide a PIP exhaust letter from the primary PIP carrier to your secondary PIP carrier to initiate benefits.

The usual statute of limitations for a Utah car accident is four years. It does not matter if it was a Provo car accident or an Orem car accident. The general four year car accident statute of limitations can be found at Utah Code Ann. There are numerous exceptions, one being if you are suing the government, you are a minor child, and there are a host of other exceptions. You should consult an experienced personal injury attorney for the exact statute of limitations as it applies to your Utah car accident.

UIM is a policy of insurance that is a part of your Utah car policy of insurance. It covers you when somebody else hurts you while operating a motor vehicle and that at-fault driver did not carry enough liability insurance to cover all your injuries. When at-fault driver does not have enough insurance, then your own Underinsured coverage kicks in to help make you whole. You can read the exact details of Utah’s UIM statute here.

This is where the at-fault driver in a Utah car accident did not have any insurance, or you encounter a hit and run driver. Just like UIM, UM can be waived in writing, but never should be.  The Utah UM statute can be found here.

Nearly all personal injury attorneys work on what is called a contingency fee agreement where if you don’t receive compensation for your injuries, the contingency fee attorney does not get paid.  See an article by Personal Injury Attorney about the contingency fee being the “keys to the courtroom.”

Your personal injury attorney can ask the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier to arrange and pay for a rental car. But they do not have to give you a rental car at that point. The at-fault insurance carrier can cut you off early from your rental car. Another option is to work out a rental car through your own insurance carrier and pay the deductible. This option only works if you have rental car coverage as part of your own car policy of insurance.

No. You have no obligation to cooperate in an adjuster interview for the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Although, there may be good reason to do so for speed of recovery and moving the insurance claim along. Most of the time it is not in your best interest to give an interview because it is the insurance company’s second chance at a deposition. Everything you say in an adjuster interview will be used against you in the courtroom. Often you are still shaken up from your injuries and not completely with it. Other times you simply do not know what is going on because this is the first time you have been in a car accident and now there are numerous new people in your life asking for information. Doctors, personal injury attorneys, coverage adjusters, liability adjusters and your own insurance company. This can be overwhelming for many people.

Yes. Unlike the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier, you have a contractual duty to cooperate with your own insurance company. If you do not cooperate, they might have arguments to rescind your own car policy of insurance.

Medical bills ultimately are your responsibility to pay for. Regardless of whether you may, or may not be reimbursed later through a personal injury settlement. What typically happens in a Utah car accident case is that Personal Injury Protection Benefits pay for the first $3,000 in medical bills caused by the car accident. Then, your own private health care insurance begins paying the remainder of the medical bills. If you do not have private health care insurance, then you will treat your injuries on a lien basis. See this article for lien basis medical work.

A lien is secured debt where you have to pay back the value of the medical care you received during your personal injury case. Being a secured debt is like a house mortgage, where if you don’t pay, they will take back your house. Or like a car note, where if you don’t pay your car payment, they will repossess your car. Liens are the same way. It is a secured transaction on your personal injury settlement proceeds. Your Utah personal injury attorney must pay your liens or your attorney, his law firm, and you will risk being sued by the lien holder for payment of the lien.

Yes. And you should purchase at least $10,000 in medical pay PIP benefits. It is very cheap insurance and covers you when you need it the most.

Yes. Boats often will have very similar insurance coverages to cars. If you are you hurt in a boating accident, you should contact a personal injury attorney.

Yes. Often ATVs will have liability insurance specifically made for ATVs. Other times if the ATV collision occurred at the owner’s home, the home owner’s residential home owner’s policy of insurance will cover the personal injuries.

Personal Injury Protection Benefits are not required for ATVs or motorcycles, but it is highly recommended that you get at least $10,000 in PIP medical pay coverage. PIP is cheap insurance in a time when you are going to need it the most.

Inter family arbitration is where you were hurt by the fault of a direct family member. An example would where Dad is driving and rolls the car over with his wife and children inside—hurting them. This situation would qualify for Utah’s inter family arbitration procedures. The statute can be found here.

Yes. Under certain facts you can stack two or more PIP policies. An example would be when you are a passenger in your friend’s car which rolls over. The primary PIP carrier in Utah is the car you were in. The secondary PIP carrier would be your own car insurance’s PIP provisions. First you have to exhaust the primary PIP carrier, then present an exhaustion letter to the secondary PIP carrier for that carrier to begin paying.

If you miss work for greater than two weeks consecutively, you are entitled $250 per week or 80% of your gross income. Whichever is less. You can read the statute which outlines all the PIP benefits here.

$3,000 is required for all Utah car policies of insurance that are issued for motor vehicles. It does not apply to ATVs, boats or motorcycles.

You have a doctor write a letter indicating how the injuries have effected your ability to complete household tasks. Then detail for the PIP adjuster what duties you were doing and how they are impaired by the car accident.

One way to obtain the needed surgery is to use surgical funders. Surgical funders will pay for your surgery, then expect to get paid back out of the settlement funds when the case settles. This process is called a surgical funding lien. These funders will charge a premium for lending the money for the surgery. Usually you will get a cheaper surgery if you use your own health care insurance, if you have insurance. Surgical funders are an excellent option for people without heath care insurance. It helps injured people get the medical care they need, even when they can’t afford it.

Yes. Mileage to and from your medical appointments is covered, but not at the regular IRS mileage rate. It is covered at medical IRS rate, which currently is .17 cents. (06/30/2017).

At Howard Lewis & Petersen, PC, you only pay your personal injury attorney if you receive compensation. If you don’t win your case, you do not owe the attorney for anything. The attorney is paid on the back end when the settlement is received.

No. The law firm of Howard Lewis & Petersen, PC pays all costs up front and then recoups those costs when a personal injury settlement of verdict is rendered. The costs come out of the settlement proceeds on the back end when the case resolves.

Yes. Meeting with personal injury attorney Jake Gunter regarding your injury claim is completely free. In fact, no fees will ever be assessed unless you receive compensation for your injuries. If you don’t win your case, you owe us nothing.