What Should I Know About Reporting a Car Accident in Utah?

A man on the phone reporting a car accident between a blue sedan and a black hatchback.The aftermath of a car accident is pretty often confusing and chaotic. Even if the accident is just a minor collision or a fender bender, tension and emotions tend to run high as people try to figure out what happened.

Once everyone who was in the accident gets their bearings, there are going to be either one or two questions on just about everyone’s mind.

“Who was responsible for the mess?”

“What do I do now?”

And, if we can add one more question by extension, as this usually follows the previous ones: who has to pay for it all?

Is Utah a No-Fault State?

Yes, Utah is a no-fault state. What this means is when a car accident happens in Utah, parties involved must seek compensation for injuries from their respective insurance providers under what is known as Personal Injury Protection (PIP).

This system is called “no-fault” because the rule holds true regardless of who caused the accident.

Utah’s no-fault insurance system is limited by thresholds. While liability insurance exists and is required in Utah, a driver’s injuries must pass certain thresholds for them to have the option to file a liability lawsuit against another party.

A no-fault state requires car accident victims to file claims with their insurance providers when they are injured before pursuing claims elsewhere.

By contrast, an at-fault state requires whoever was responsible for any injuries to cover the expenses of anyone injured. How much and whether or not an at-fault party pays depends on whether the state follows comparative or contributory negligence.

States that use an at-fault system are also called “tort” states.

Only eighteen out of fifty states follow some sort of no-fault system: Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Marylands, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, and Washington State.

Of these states, Kentucky, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania are optional no-fault states. This means drivers in these states are allowed to opt into being held to no-fault rules.

What Is Personal Injury Protection?

Because each person on the road is responsible for their own compensation in a no-fault system, state law requires all drivers to have a PIP insurance policy.

PIP is a kind of insurance policy that covers the medical expenses of policyholders and anyone else involved in a car accident. A driver’s insurance policy extends its protection to accident victims even if they have no insurance themselves.

There is a limit on PIP specifying it does not cover property damage. It exclusively compensates a person for medical expenses and usually does not account for other economic and non-economic damages.

Unfortunately, this means PIP cannot compensate a person for pain and suffering.

PIP insurance requirements and coverage vary across the eighteen states that utilize the system. For example, Utah has a $3,000 policy requirement, while Florida requires $10,000.

Utah PIP Insurance Specifics

Utah’s $3,000 PIP requirement is the minimum amount of coverage drivers are required to have. This is also the threshold medical costs need to surpass in order for an accident victim to file a liability insurance claim from an at-fault party.

Unlike PIP, liability insurance is affected by the responsibility of each party in the accident. In Utah, modified comparable liability is applied, where each party’s percentage of fault is reduced from the total value of the claim.

Also, while $3,000 is the minimum amount required for PIP, drivers are allowed to have higher amounts if they would rather not get involved with other parties. Doing so offers several advantages compared to liability claims.

  • Faster Coverage and Payout: Because PIP is not affected by fault, investigations will focus on compiling damages and assigning value. And because it does not include damages besides medical expenses, investigation, and payout is quicker than liability claims.
  • Less Legal Hassle: Liability claims require more evidence and effort to build a case because of the consideration for fault. This means your lawyer will have an easier time arguing for the maximum amounts possible when fighting for a PIP claim than for a liability claim.
  • Avoiding Disputes: It is extremely common for at-fault parties to dispute liability claims, which is understandable since being at fault puts a person at risk of increased insurance premiums. Higher PIP insurance coverage might be more expensive but allows you to avoid the delays and stress associated with such disputes.
  • Consistent Availability: Unlike some liability insurance policies, PIP is available regardless of the severity of injuries you sustain in a car crash. And higher amounts also mean the same coverage is available for your family’s injuries as well as your own.
  • Cost Savings: Despite having to pay a higher premium, a higher amount of PIP usually avoids the additional costs of having to pursue liability claims. This holds more true when it comes to more serious and debilitating injuries, as they cost insurers more money to cover, which means adjusters will look to devalue them in liability claims.

Of course, there are some disadvantages to higher PIP coverage compared to liability insurance claims. If there were none, then liability insurance would not be an option.

  • Higher Premiums: Higher cost means better protection in the event of a car accident, but not everyone gets into a car accident that can take advantage of the higher limits. Sometimes, the extra premium goes to waste.
  • Coverage Limits: PIP doesn’t cover property damage and non-economic damage, which means you might still have to pursue compensation for these from the at-fault party anyway. If that’s the case, you might as well have kept the threshold necessary to step outside PIP lower.
  • Higher Exemption Threshold: A higher exemption threshold means paying for benefits that could be considered redundant when an at-fault driver’s liability policy could have paid for them instead.
  • Generous Liability Claims: Not always, but often liability claims tend to offer higher payouts compared to PIP. In Utah, minimum Bodily Injury (BI) liability is $25,000 per person and $65,000 per accident, which might make increased PIP unnecessary if your total medical expenses fall above the threshold but below $25,000.
  • Lack of Accountability for the At-Fault Party: PIP claims mean you pay for your own injuries. While that may make you feel like a good, responsible citizen, it can also feel like the person who injured you faces no repercussions and, indeed, makes you pay for any damage to your body they caused.

Whether the pros outweigh the cons or vice versa is a personal decision up to each individual to make.

Accident Reporting Requirements

Before even thinking about reporting an accident, it’s important to ensure the safety of yourself and everyone in the area. Move yourself (and the vehicle if possible) out of the way of any danger, check yourself and others for any injuries, and only then call the authorities.

You should report an accident, no matter how minor the damage is and regardless of any injury. The official report will be filed by an officer at the scene, but parties involved are required to “immediately and by the quickest means” contact and inform an officer in the first place.

When the officer arrives, they will usually look for specific information to assess the situation. The officer will want to interview people who were at the scene the moment the crash occurred, including you, drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.

  • Personal, vehicle, and insurance information: In the event of a car accident, Utah law requires you to exchange names, addresses, vehicle registration numbers, and insurance information. Providing this to the police officer can help ensure other drivers do the same, even when some of them do not want to cooperate.
  • Time and conditions of the accident: Try to paint a clear picture of the situation wherein the accident occurred. Be as objective as you can when providing details, and try not to assign blame for the event.
  • Injuries sustained in the accident: Any injuries you’ve identified on yourself should be noted on the police report.
  • Photographs and videos documenting the scene: Responders on the scene will usually have their own equipment with which to record the accident. However, it can be helpful to take photographs before emergency responders arrive, as car crashes can be volatile events where things change over time.

Everyone else who was part of the accident will likely provide a statement, and it will be the police officer’s job to consider the provided information and piece together what happened. Once the report is complete, its copies are furnished for all parties involved.

The police report is one of the most useful pieces of evidence for anyone who was in a car accident. When you file your insurance claim, your lawyer, as well as the insurer’s adjuster, will use the information on the report to help determine important points such as fault and value.

PIP or Body Liability Claim? Work With Valley Law Today

If you are looking into compensation for an injury sustained in a car accident, call Valley Law Accident and Injury Lawyers. Lead attorney Brigham Richards brings a decade of experience in personal injury to the table to help people like you get a fair amount from their claims.

We work on a contingency basis and do not charge you until we win your case. Call 801-810-9999, or contact us online via this form for a free case evaluation today.

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