IT IS ALL ABOUT THE “CONTROL F” SEARCH
Adjusters. A job at an insurance company that adjudicates claims. Adjusters have around 100 plus insurance claims that they are required to work and resolve pursuant to company and state regulations. Insurance adjusters will often adjust claims over multiple states.
Adjusters–Coverage. A coverage adjuster is a specialized adjuster to determine if the insurance policy is triggered and covers the alleged event requiring money compensation to the claimant. Often attorneys are hired for an ultimate coverage opinion.
Adjuster–Property Damage. Sometimes the bodily injury adjuster also handles any property damage claims. Other times there is a separate property damage adjuster, bodily injury adjuster and coverage adjuster.
Adjuster–Personal Injury Protection Benefits. Most of the time in Utah there are separate PIP adjusters administering the PIP benefits. PIP benefits commonly are, medical pay, lost wages, household services and death/funeral benefits. See Utah Code 31A-22-306 to 309 for exact benefits.
Adjuster Interviews. Adjusters for both the liability carrier and first party carrier always try to conduct insurance adjuster interviews of parties and witnesses immediately after the car accident. Most of the time these adjuster interviews are just recorded phone calls. You have a duty to cooperate with your own insurance company and conduct an adjuster interview. You have no duty to cooperate with the adverse liability carrier.
Adjusters–Bodily Injury. Bodily Injury (“BI”) adjusters handle the personal injury side of the case. Some insurance companies combined the property adjuster with the BI adjuster.
Arbiters. Arbitration have arbiters. Arbiters are generally licensed attorneys mutually respected by each attorney in the case. Personal injury arbiters are generally seasoned attorneys who did insurance defense work.
Arbitration. Arbitration is where you hire a lawyer for the day to decide your case. The parties normally agree to a neutral arbiter who decides their case. Dog bite, premise liability, car accidents, slipnfalls, and any other personal injury negligence case can be arbitrated. Arbitration can be by agreement, by court order or by statutory election.
Arbitration–321. 321 car accident arbitration is a specific statutory arbitration where the plaintiff injured party can elect it. It is found at Utah Code 31A-22-321 in the Utah Insurance Code. 321 car accident arbitration is fast and cheap but capped at $50,000. And you waive your ability to collect any judgment from the judgment debtor’s assets.
Arbitration–Dog Bite. A specific type of arbitration for dog bites only found at Utah Code 18-1-4. Like many of Utah’s arbitration statute, the injured party can elect for arbitration. Further, any money award is capped at $50,000 and you cannot pursue the dog owner’s personal assets.
At-Fault Driver. The at-fault driver is the driver of the car that hurt you and is at at-fault for the car accident. The at-fault driver’s insurance is often called the 3rd party carrier, the liability carrier or the at-fault carrier. There can more than one at-fault driver responsible for your injuries.
Attorney Fees. In American law, the American Rule of attorney fees applies where each party bears their own attorneys fees. There are exceptions, but Utah is not a loser pays state. When you win your Utah car accident case the other side doesn’t have to pay your attorney fees.
Back Wage Loss. Back lost wages are wages you lost attending medical appointments, lost recovery from the injury and otherwise unable to work. Back lost wages substantiation documents generally include tax returns, pay stubs, 1099s, doctor’s notes and letters from your employer stating you can’t work. There are back and future lost wages and these are different from future impaired capacity to earn.
Bodily Injury Claim. (“BI”) BI claims are for mental and physical injuries. Property damage claims are not BI claims.
Brain Injury/Concussion/TBI/MTBI. A brain injury is often a silent cognitive killer. Brain injuries can be mild or traumatic. Bain injuries can be have impacted caused damage or where you head doesn’t hit anything during the car collision. A proper medical and psychological work-up is essential.
Burdens of Proof. There are several burdens of proof in Utah car accident injury cases, but most often it is a preponderance of the evidence and the injured party bears the burden of moving forward. The defense bears the burden of proving any affirmative defense. A preponderance is a 51 percent standard or the greater weight of the evidence.
Costs. Legal costs are governed by Utah Rule of Civil Procedure 54. After a judgement, jury verdict or arbitration award, Rule 54 requires the court to grant certain legal costs in your case. Legal costs under Rule 54 are the filing fee, service fee, subpoena fee and deposition fee. Noticeable, expert witness costs are not Rule 54 reimbursable costs.
De Novo Appeal. Nearly all statutory arbitrations where the plaintiff can elect arbitration have a built-in De Novo Appeal process. Either party if unsatisfied with the arbitration award can file a De Novo Appeal in the District Court and do the entire case all over again. De Novo just means “Do Over.”
Jury Verdict. This is where the people have spoken and given a money judgment on your car accident case. It is the ultimate justice we have in the American courts. The jury right is guaranteed by our federal and state constitution.
Reasonable Suspicion. Reasonable suspicion means suspicion based on specific, articulable facts drawn from the totality of the circumstances facing the officer at the time of the stop, which facts are most frequently based on an investigating officer’s own observations and inferences. State v. Navarro, 2017 UT App 102, ¶ 17, 400 P.3d 1120, 1124. Reasonable suspicion is not used in personal injury cases.
Probable Cause. Probable cause does not require that the officer had proof beyond a reasonable doubt, or even proof by a preponderance of the evidence. Probable cause exists when an officer has knowledge of facts and circumstances that are of such weight and persuasiveness as to convince a prudent and reasonable person of ordinary intelligence, judgment, and experience that it is reasonably likely that a crime has been committed and the person arrested committed that crime. The existence of probable cause is measured as of the moment of the arrest, not on the basis of later developments. Thus, the ultimate resolution of the criminal charges is irrelevant.
Preponderance of the Evidence. This is the burden most often used in car accident injury cases. Preponderance of evidence – Evidence which is (even slightly) of greater weight or more convincing than the evidence which is offered in opposition to it. Utah car accident involving punitive damages or DUI cases can have a higher standard of Clear and Convincing evidence.
Beyond a Reasonable Doubt. The highest standard of proof in the American legal system. The jury instruction read to the jurors on “Proof Beyond a
Reasonable Doubt” is found at Utah Model Jury Instruction 103. The jury must be “firmly convinced” of the defendant’s guilt. Only used in criminal cases, but has been used in Indian child welfare cases by federal statute.
Comparative Fault. When more than one person may be at-fault for the car accident, the jury or judge must determine who is at-fault and how much they are at-fault for the car accident. The governing law is the Utah Comparative Fault Act, Utah Code 78B-5-818.
Coverage Issues. Coverage issues arise in Utah car accidents when you have rental cars, or you were driving another person’s car. Sometimes coverage issues arise when out-of-state insurance policies are triggered.
Chiropractors. Doctor of Chiropractic. In Utah a chiropractor deals with muscular-skeletal issues concerning the spinal column. Chiropractors by their practice scope in Utah law are not surgeons but can diagnose and order radiology.
Chiropractor Lien. One of many types of liens in personal injury cases. A chiropractor lien is always consensual and chiropractors are rarely, if ever, paid by private health care insurance companies for their services.
Contingency Fee Agreement. Contingency fee agreements are required for all injury cases in Utah where the attorney doesn’t get paid unless you receive a settlement. They must be signed by the injured party generally before any work can proceed.
Dramshop Act. Utah calls its dramshop act the Alcoholic Product Liability Act and it is found at Utah Code 32B-15-1. When alcohol serving establishments overserve an intoxicated patron, they are liable for the harms and damages that they cause. Serving minors can also trigger the damage provisions of Utah’s dramshop act.
DUI Accident Case. DUI car accident injury claims have punitive damages available. Normally punitive damages injury cases must be proved by Clear and Convincing evidence, but not so in DUI car accident cases in Utah. The DUI punitive damages statute is found at Utah Code 78B-8-201.
Deposition. Depositions mostly occur with filed lawsuits but can occur prior to a lawsuit being filed when you have to preserve testimony before impending death. Depositions are where you answer questions under oath about your car accident injuries. Your answers in the deposition are often used at trial or motion practice.
Deponent. The person whose deposition is taken.
Evidence. Evidence in a case can be documentary, exhibits or testimonial.
Evidence—Direct. Direct evidence is where the witness has first hand knowledge because they saw it. Direct evidence can also be documentary evidence directly on point to the issue disputed.
Evidence—Circumstantial. Circumstantial evidence is certainly allowed in Utah courts. Circumstantial evidence has the same weight as direct evidence under Utah law.
Evidentiary Hearing. Evidentiary hearings are much like bench trials where the judge alone decides the facts and law concerning your case. Evidentiary hearings are generally shorter and focused on one or two issues of law or fact. The Utah Rules of Evidence apply to evidentiary hearings.
Economist. A common expert in a car accident personal injury case that reduces to present value future damage awards, such as future medical bills, future medical life care plans and future lost wages.
Expert Witnesses. Expert witnesses are nearly always required to get to a jury trial. Without an expert witness your case will be thrown out before it even gets to a jury trial. Expert witness cost a lot of money and if you win, the other sides doesn’t have pay for your expert. America does not use a loser pays system like the United Kingdom. Common experts are orthopedic surgeons, accident reconstructionists and trucking experts.
General Damages. There are general damages, special damages and punitive damages in Utah car accident cases. General damages are supposed to make the person whole. General damages are to make up for what was taken because of the injuries. General damages can be based on nearly anything appropriate to make the person whole.
Here is what Utah’s jury instructions state:
CV2004 Noneconomic damages defined.
“Noneconomic damages are the amount of money that will fairly and adequately compensate [name of plaintiff] for losses other than economic losses.
Noneconomic damages are not capable of being exactly measured, and there is no fixed rule, standard or formula for them. Noneconomic damage must still be awarded even though they may be difficult to compute. It is your duty to make this determination with calm and reasonable judgment. The law does not require the testimony of any witness to establish the amount of noneconomic damages.
In awarding noneconomic damages, among the things that you may consider are:
(1) the nature and extent of injuries;
(2) the pain and suffering, both mental and physical;
(3) the extent to which [name of plaintiff] has been prevented from pursuing [his] ordinary affairs;
(4) the degree and character of any disfigurement;
(5) the extent to which [name of plaintiff] has been limited in the enjoyment of life; and
(6) whether the consequences of these injuries are likely to continue and for how long.
While you may not award damages based upon speculation, the law requires only that the evidence provide a reasonable basis for assessing the damages but does not require a mathematical certainty.
I will now instruct you on particular items of economic and noneconomic damages presented in this case.”
Governmental Immunity Act. There are special rules when you sue or make a claim against the government. Government means nearly all governmental agencies, state, municipal and special service districts. See the Utah Governmental Immunity Act, Utah Code 63G-7-1. There can be money caps and have special, specific procedures you must jump through to sue the government. Be wary.
Hit-and-Run Drivers. Hit and Run drivers are covered by the Utah uninsured motorist statute detailed at Utah Code 31A-22-305. There are three types of hitNrun drivers in Utah with different evidence burdens associates with each one. (1). HitnRun drivers that disappears from the scene but not contact between the cars occurred. (2). HitnRun drivers that hits your car, but disappears from the scene. (3). The normal car accident, but the other driver didn’t have car insurance.
Hospital Lien. Utah hospital liens are created by statute and found at Utah Code 38-7-1. Hospital liens must be dealt with, or you can get sued.
Interrogatory. An interrogatory is a written question posed to a party to the lawsuit. Interrogatories can only be posed to parties to the lawsuit.
Insurance Defense Attorney. Any attorney who takes legal fees from an insurance company to defend them against injury claims. Google Tri-Parte Relationship for a good read.
Insurance–Primary. Primary insurance coverage is most often the insurance policy covering the car that hurt you. Sometimes when the at-fault driver was on the job, there can be secondary insurance policies to be triggerd.
Insurance–Secondary. Secondary insurance coverages often apply with UBER, LYFT, Door Dash or when people are on the job. Pizza delivery jobs or other delivery jobs where they use their personal car for someone else’s business. Whenever you are hit by someone who is driving someone else’s car, there can be secondary coverage issues.
Lift Share Car Accidents. Lift share car accidents have unique insurance coverage issues. Common lift share or ride share are LYFT, UBER or Door Dash.
Loss of Consortium. Loss of consortium is where the non-physically injured spouse, child or dependent is damaged because the injured person can’t help them anymore or provide society or care.
Liens. Liens are secured debt rather than unsecured debt. Unsecured debts are naked promises to repay the debt without collateral involved. Secured debts are medical liens, mortgages, car loans and anything were they will take back the collateral if the debt is not paid.
Maximum Medical Improvement. MMI is where the doctors state that you are as good as you are going to get. Normally your personal injury attorney should not bring a claim or settle your case until you reach MMI.
Minimum Personal Injury Protection Benefits. All PIP benefits are detailed at Utah Code 31A-22-306 to 309. The Utah State PIP minimums are $3,000 in medical pay, up to 52 weeks of lost wages at $250 per week or 85%, whichever is less, lost household services and funeral-death benefits.
Medical Providers. The most common medical providers in Utah car accidents are. Medical Doctors (MD). Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (DO). Nurse
Practitioners (NP). Doctors of Chiropractic (DC). Physician’s Assistant (PA). Nurses (RN). Physical Therapists (PT or DPT).
Medical Causation. Most Utah car accident cases require a medical provider to testify that your injuries were caused by the car accident. Without a doctor testifying to medical causation your case will never see the light of a jury or courtroom. MDs, DOs, NPs, DCs, PTs and PAs can all testify to medical causation in most cases.
Mediation. Car accident mediation is where a trained and experienced attorney is hired to facilitate a mutually agreeable settlement. Mediation is generally confidential and voluntary. The basic law for mediation is found at Utah Code 78B-10-101 and is known as the Utah Uniform Mediation Act. Generally customs and practice govern how people mediate in Utah.
Medical Lien. Medical liens can be voluntary, contractual or created by statute. Hospital liens, Medicare and Medicaid liens are statutory created. While chiropractor and physical therapist liens are contractual and voluntary.
Medical Release HIPAA. A medical release or HIPPA is a voluntary signed document allowing a third party to view your medical records. Medical releases can always be revoked at any time. The federal law governing access to medical records is Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.
Medical Chronology. It is important that your personal injury attorney have an accurate medical chronology and picture of your injuries, treatment and medical bills to properly settle your case.
Negligence. American negligence law, or tort law, is where someone acts unreasonably and hurts another person, requiring them to pay for all the harms and losses they cause.
Orthopedic Surgeon. Orthopedic surgeons are common expert witnesses hired to show that the car accident caused the surgery, whether a back, neck, elbow etc.
Passenger Car Accident Claims. When you are a passenger in a car, moped or motorcycle and are hurt you often have two claims. The first claim is against the other driver. The second claim is against the driver of your own car that you were a passenger in.
PIP Denial. A PIP denial is where the PIP issuing insurance carrier denies paying the PIP benefits, usually the medical payments portion of PIP. PIP denials often happen with high PIP policies like, a $10,000 PIP medical pay policy. You can challenge a PIP denial.
PIP Insurance Carrier. The PIP carrier is the insurance company that is issuing personal injury protection benefits. PIP benefits are lost wages, household services, medical bill pay and wrongful death and funeral expenses. Most of the time there is only one PIP carrier, but there can be several PIP carriers offering PIP benefits in succession once the prior PIP carrier exhausts their benefits.
PIP Wage Loss. Utah personal injury protection benefits pay after two consecutive weeks of work are missed. PIP wage lost cannot be triggered until you miss two consecutive weeks. You receive the lower of $250 per week, or 85 percent of your regular earnings. First party PIP wage loss is more limited and is different than third party lost wages against the at-fault driver.
PIP Threshold. PIP stands for “Personal Injury Protection” Benefits. Utah’s PIP threshold is found at Utah Code 31A-22-309. The most common PIP thresholds are death, permanent injury or medical bills over $3,000. PIP threshold doesn’t apply to Uninsured motorist claims.
Physical Therapy. Physical therapist can treat the entire body for muscular-skeletal physical impairment. Physical therapy is very common after Utah car accidents. Physical therapist can treat a wider arrange of injuries than chiropractic physicians.
Policy Limits. Every insurance policy has a maximum money amount they will pay under the insurance policy. This max amount of called the policy limits. Utah State’s minimum liability consumer car policy limits are $25,000 per person, up to $65,000 per occurrence, regardless of how many people were hurt in the single car accident. PIP minimums are $3,000 in medical pay.
Policy Limits Demand. A policy limits demand is where you ask for the entire maximum policy limits available under that liability insurance policy.
Policy Limits Tender. This is where the insurance company is offering the maximum policy limits to settle the case. A tender is an offer and all offers must be accepted to be legal and binding.
Property Damage Claim. (“PD”). PD claims are not the same as BI claims for personal injury. PD claims are where your car hits another car causing damage. PD claims can be were your car hits a telephone pole causing the utility company damages. Utah State liability property damage minimums are $15,000. If you hit a TESLA and then ram into a school bus, you will well over the state minimum.
Punitive Damages. Punitive damages don’t happen a lot in Utah car accident cases. Utah punitive damages are governed by Utah Code 78B-8-201. Punitive damages are available to punish a wrongdoer for intentional or reckless conduct.
Lost Wage Earning Capacity. Lost earning capacity is different from back lost wages. Lost future earning capacity is where you can’t do the same job as your used to do before the car accident. A surgeon who loses their hand can’t be a surgeon anymore and must take up psychiatry is an example.
Jury Trial. Long live the jury, the greatest engine for truth ever devised. Jury trials don’t happen very much anymore in civil cases. A jury trial is where your peers from the county come together and adjudicate (decide) what the facts are when there are conflicting facts. The judge still makes the legal rulings. The right to a jury trial is fundamental in the Utah and United States Constitution.
Judge (Bench) Trial. A bench trial or trying the case to the bench is where the judge sits as the drawer of facts and makes all the legal rulings. On cases that hinge on legal matters, often attorney select a judge only trial. When case depend on factual matters, attorneys most often select a jury. The parties have to agree to a bench only trial in a civil injury case. Either party can select a jury trial.
Kelly Blue Book. Pretty much the “go to” for vehicle valuations. This is a handy link when valuing your property damage after a car accident.
Motions in Limine. Called MILs, motions in limine are pretrial motions filed by either party asking the judge to rule on evidence prior to the start of the trial. Often each side files five or more standard pretrial motions in limine.
Rear-End Car Collision. When the car behind you fails to keep a clear lookout and impacts the rear of your car. 99% of the time the car that hits you from behind is at-fault for the collision.
Small Claims Court. Some small car accident cases can be decided in Utah’s Small Claims Courts. The jurisdiction is $15,000 or less, excluding interest and costs, but including attorney fees. Utah Small Claims Courts do not have any equitable powers and can only order money judgements.
Social Security Disability. Social Security Benefits are provided federally to people who are disabled. In car accidents where you are catastrophically injured, there is a car accident settlement and a social security case is started.
Special Damages. Special damages are economic damages like medical bills, property damage or mileage to and from medical appointments. Special damages can be past or future lost wages, or lost earning capacity. The jury is the ultimate determiner of what counts as special damages at trial. Here is the
Utah jury instruction on special damages.
CV2003 Economic damages defined.
Economic damages are the amount of money that will fairly and adequately compensate [name of plaintiff] for measurable losses of money or property caused by [name of defendant]’s fault.
MUJI 1st Instruction
Liability Insurance Carrier. The at-fault, or liability carrier is the insurance company for the at-fault party. Sometimes there can be two or more liability carriers.
Underinsured Motorist Coverage. “UIM” coverage is where the at-fault car didn’t have enough liability insurance to make you whole. Once you exhaust the liability insurance policy, you can make a claim through your own underinsured motorist coverage. UIM is first party insurance and is provided for by an insurance contract between you and the insurer.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage. “UM” or Uninsured Motorist Coverage is where the other person who hit you with their car didn’t have insurance or fled the scene never to be found. UM and UIM are not the same types of coverages, but are often misunderstood.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage Property Damage. Just like UM for uninsured car collisions that hurt you, UM for property damage is where the person damaged your property, but didn’t have insurance or fled the scene.
Utah State Car Insurance Minimum. Found at Utah Code 31A-22-304. Bodily Injury (“BI”) Utah State minimum car insurance is $25,000 per person, up to $65,000 per occurrence. 25/65 means that regardless of how many people were hurt in the car collision, the insurance company will pay a maximum of $65,000 per single occurrence.
Utah Insurance Department. The Utah Insurance Department is part of the U.S. insurance regulatory framework which is a highly coordinated state-based national system designed to protect policyholders and to serve the greater public interest through the effective regulation of the U.S. insurance marketplace. The Utah Insurance Department is found HERE: https://insurance.utah.gov/
You can file an insurance complaint HERE: https://insurance.utah.gov/complaint
Utah Business Entity Search. This is a nice online search portal to see who actually owns the business. https://secure.utah.gov/bes/index.html
Utah Safety Council. See a variety of training programs on safe driving in Utah.
Wrongful Death Claim. When someone dies from the carelessness of another. The heirs of the deceased person make the claim or file the lawsuit.
Wrongful Death Heirs. Utah law specifies who exactly can bring a wrongful death claim. Normally it is the immediate family, wife, children or parents.