When you can’t settle your case, you must file a lawsuit or just accept what the insurance company is willing to give you. Some attorneys only settle cases. The better attorneys file lawsuits and go to jury trials when needed to exact fair and reasonable compensation for the injured party. UTAH CAR ACCIDENT LAWYER JAKE GUNTER.  LET HIS 20 YEARS EXPERIENCE WORK FOR YOU

Filing a lawsuit generally obtains better compensation, but delayed and there is a lot of mandatory disclosures to get there. Here are some mandatory disclosures that are right in the start of the lawsuit—Initial Disclosures.

What are Initial Disclosures in a Utah Car Accident Lawsuit?

Utah Rules of Civil Procedure 26 outlines what a party’s mandatory initial disclosures are. Each party at the beginning of the lawsuit must automatically disclose the following:

(A) the name and, if known, the address and telephone number of:

(i) each individual likely to have discoverable information supporting its claims or defenses, unless solely for impeachment, identifying the subjects of the information; and

(ii) each fact witness the party may call in its case-in-chief and, except for an adverse party, a summary of the expected testimony;

This is where you list all police officers, passengers in each car and any other nearby witness who may have witnesses the Utah car accident. You need to have some substance of what you expect these people to testify to and how to reach them. Utah appellate case law states you can’t use put conclusory statements but must have some facts disclosed in the summaries. In Re Koller Trust Dispute, 2024 UT App 26.

Failure to Disclose = Strike.  Failure to list witnesses generally bars you from using that witness at trial or any other hearing, unless you can show it was harmless. If the other party had a chance to depose them, In Re Koller states it is likely harmless error in non-disclosure.

(B) a copy of all documents, data compilations, electronically stored information, and tangible things in the possession or control of the party that the party may offer in its case-in-chief, except charts, summaries, and demonstrative exhibits that have not yet been prepared and must be disclosed in accordance with paragraph (a)(5);

Any major document you may offer in your part of the trial, you need to disclose it here. Again, just like witnesses, failure to disclose documents generally bars you from using the document unless it is harmless error.

(C) a computation of any damages claimed and a copy of all discoverable documents or evidentiary material on which such computation is based, including materials about the nature and extent of injuries suffered;

These documents are classically your summary of special damages, table of medical contents and underlying medical bills and medical treatment records. Your damages computation better be robust and calculateable, otherwise it is subject to being struck and inadmissible. You need to provide any expert witness calculation and other non-expert based damage calculation during fact discovery or they will likely be struck. All damage calculations in car accident or personal injury cases should be front loaded if possible.

(D) a copy of any agreement under which any person may be liable to satisfy part or all of a judgment or to indemnify or reimburse for payments made to satisfy the judgment; and

Each party must disclose all insurance policies that may cover the car accident. This way the injured plaintiff understands what the policy limits are. Utah insurance rules also require all carriers operating in Utah to disclose upon request all policies limits in automobile cases prior to filing suit. Not so in premise liability cases.

(E) a copy of all documents to which a party refers in its pleadings.

If you refer to any police reports in your lawsuit, you must disclose them. Anything document wise you mention or refer to you must disclose. You mention a video, you must disclose the video.

Utah Rule of Civil Procedure 26.2 Additional Disclosures in Personal Injury Cases

In addition to Rule 26, every Utah personal injury case also requires the following mandatory disclosures.

(b)(1) A list of all health care providers who have treated or examined the plaintiff for the injury at issue, including the name, address, approximate dates of treatment, and a general description of the reason for the treatment.

You have to list all your medical providers who treated you for the injury you are claiming money damages for. Period. You need to give a brief explanation and description of why you went there.

(b)(2) A list of all other health care providers who treated or examined the plaintiff for any reason in the 5 years before the event giving rise to the claim, including the name, address, approximate dates of treatment, and a general description of the reason for the treatment.

The holy grail of defending an injury claim is to tell the jury that the person was already hurt, and you didn’t hurt them, and if you did, it was just a small aggravation of something that already exists. This is called the pre-existing injury defense.

Insurance defense paralegals and attorneys comb current medical records looking for references to older records, providers and injuries. They then request those records, looking for any pre-existing injury that can be used for their defense to lower the case value.

Utah law states that the defendant is only responsible for the injuries they cause or aggravate. The at-fault driver is not responsible for prior injuries, only for new injuries or pre-existing injuries they aggravate.

The 5 year look back mandatory disclosure shortcuts the process and requires injured parties claiming money damages to disclose a 5 years history for any reason. These prior records could be embarrassing substance abuse records or female/male health records. You can get a protective order, but the provider name, and reason you went there must be disclosed.

Failure to disclose these prior injuries and providers is a basis for striking your entire damages claim or limiting it severely.

(b)(3) Plaintiff’s Social Security number (SSN) or Medicare health insurance claim number (HICN), full name, and date of birth. The SSN and HICN may be used only for the purposes of the action, including compliance with the Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP Extension Act of 2007, unless otherwise ordered by the court.

Pretty standard social security and birth date disclosure for purposes of federal Medicaid and Medicare reporting requirements. If you don’t have a social security number because you are illegally in the country, don’t worry. Illegal immigrants still have a right to compensation for their injuries. The Utah and Federal constitutions do not discriminate against people illegally in the country when they are hurt.

(b)(4) A description of all disability or income-replacement benefits received if loss of wages or loss of earning capacity is claimed, including the amounts, payor’s name and address, and the duration of the benefits.

These disclosures require you to list all social security benefits, workers compensation benefits, personal injury protection benefits and other first-party, no-fault insurance benefits, commonly wage loss, medical pay and lost household services. See Utah Code 31A-22-306, the PIP statutes.

(b)(5) A list of plaintiff’s employers for the 5 years preceding the event giving rise to the claim if loss of wages or loss of earning capacity is claimed, including the employer’s name and address and plaintiff’s job description, wage, and benefits.

If you are claiming past lost wages or lost future earning capacity you must automatically disclose your last five years of work history. Failure to disclose will forfeit your ability to claim lost wages or impaired capacity to work. Common disclosure documents are W2s, 1099s, paystubs, tax returns, doctor’s notes and job histories.

(b)(6) Copies of all bills, statements, or receipts for medical care, prescriptions, or other out-of-pocket expenses incurred as a result of the injury at issue.

This is classically your summary of special damages and medical table of contents. A summary of special damages details chronologically your medical bills incurred. The table of medical contents lists chronologically your medical treatment records and the providers.

(b)(7) Copies of all investigative reports prepared by any public official or agency and in the possession of plaintiff or counsel that describe the event giving rise to the claim.

These disclosures are the police report, any DI-9, body camera footage or witness statements gathered by public entities. This does not cover private investigators because you can often claim work product or attorney-client privilege, not always.

(b)(8) Except as protected by Rule 26(b)(5), copies of all written or recorded statements of individuals, in the possession of plaintiff or counsel, regarding the event giving rise to the claim or the nature or extent of the injury.

Nearly every car accident across the nation will have some adjuster interviews in the claims file. Insurance adjusters immediately after a car accident conduct recorded insurance adjuster interviews trying to make liability decisions. These are recorded under oath and often transcribed and given to the attorneys involved in the claims process. They must be disclosed. Private investigator files when disclosed and adjuster interviews are disclosed here.

Failure to Disclose Witnesses or Documents—Can’t Use It.

If you fail to tell your attorney and the attorney fails to disclose a witness or documents, the general rule is that you can’t use that witness or document. There can be exceptions for rebuttal or impeachment limited purposes, but you should not count on those exceptions.

The rule behind initial disclosures is to disclose most everything and disclose it early, often and supplement as needed.

Your Utah car accident case initial disclosures should be front loaded well prior to the case being filed.

Late or Untimely Disclosures of Witnesses or Documents—Possible Can’t Use Them.

Even if you disclose all witnesses and documents prior to the end of fact discovery, you still may not be able to use them. If you for the first time disclose significant new witnesses or damages just prior to the end of fact discovery, you very well could have them stricken.

Best Practice with Witnesses and Documents. Disclose Early and Often.

The best practice with any Utah car accident case is front load the entire case. All witnesses, documents and expert witnesses must be readied, and front loaded. You should constantly disclose all new evidence and witnesses as they come up.

Case Law Example. De La Cruz v. Ekstrom, 2024 UT App 18.  Future Medical Bills Struck

The injured plaintiff for the first time a week before fact discovery closed disclosed an additional $70,000 in future shoulder surgery costs. Upon motion by the insurance defense attorneys, the trial court judge struck all use of the $70,000. Effectively leaving the plaintiff without any evidence of a future shoulder surgery and only $11,000 in past medical bills as damage evidence. The ruling excluding the $70,000 in untimely disclosed medical bills eviscerated the plaintiff’s damages case.

Da La Cruz was not a case of late disclosure because the injured plaintiff did disclose the $70,000 in bills prior to the deadline, but it prejudiced the defense’s ability to defend so late in the game. The trial court judge noted:

“[P]recisely why the Rules require early disclosure of damages—a party necessarily litigates a case involving roughly $11,000 in past medical expenses plus pain and suffering materially differently than a case worth nearly $70,000 in special damages (plus pain and suffering), and reasonably so. . . . [A] party should not have to litigate a case twice.”