Can I Sue After a Motorcycle Accident in Utah?

A motorcycle accident lawyer behind his desk, filling up a form for his client.It depends on the circumstances of your accident, but in many cases, yes. An experienced motorcycle accident attorney can help you determine the best way to address your damages.

If you or a loved one suffered a motorcycle accident, Valley Law Accident and Injury Lawyers is available for a free consultation about your case.

How Much Can You Sue for a Motorcycle Accident?

If your lawyer determines that another party negligently caused your accident, they will help you calculate your damages. This step is important because insurance companies often undervalue an injured person’s claim.

You may be able to seek compensation for the following damages:

  • Medical expenses. You can sue for your medical bills related to the accident, and your attorney will ensure that future costs are also considered, including physical therapy, follow-up appointments, medication, and other costs. In most cases, we will wait until your treatment is complete before settling the case, but if you have long-term healthcare costs, we can calculate these future expenses. If you have your current bills handy, that will be helpful in calculating your damages.
  • Lost income or earning potential. We may be able to seek compensation for time missed at work or lost earning potential if you become permanently disabled and unable to work due to your injuries.
  • Property damage. You can sue for the total cost of repairs or replacement for your bike, including depreciation due to the accident. In most cases, this is covered by the at-fault driver’s car insurance.
  • Pain and suffering. You can pursue compensation for your physical pain and emotional or mental distress.
  • Wrongful death. If you lost a loved one to an accident caused by another driver, you can pursue damages, including funeral/burial expenses, final medical bills, loss of financial support, loss of consortium or companionship, and more.
  • Punitive damages. In some cases, you may receive punitive damages, which are meant to punish the negligent party rather than compensate the victim for specific losses. Punitive damages are only available in cases where the defendant’s behavior was willful, malicious, or showed reckless indifference toward others.

After discussing all these potential damages with you, your lawyer will calculate what your claim should be worth.

How Do No-Fault Accident Laws Work in Utah?

Some people don’t think they can sue for a motorcycle accident in Utah because it’s a no-fault state, but that’s not entirely true. No-fault states generally seek to limit car accident lawsuits to more substantial claims.

The idea is to avoid tying up the courts with minor cases by having everyone cover their own costs up to a certain point. In Utah, that point is $3,000 in personal expenses for medical treatment.

The Utah DMV requires residents (or visitors who will be using their car in the state for at least 90 days) to carry $3,000 in PIP insurance to take care of minor car accident injuries. If you have, for example, $2,000 in medical bills from a car accident, you can file a claim with your own PIP insurance regardless of who was at fault.

However, motorcycles are exempt from no-fault insurance laws. You don’t have to meet any threshold to file a lawsuit the way you would in a car accident.

When Can You File a Lawsuit for a Motorcycle Accident in Utah?

When you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, and another driver was at fault, you can file a lawsuit. Remember that the requirement of $3,000 in medical bills does not apply to motorcycle accidents.

Do You Have to Prove Fault in a Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit?

Yes. Because Utah uses comparative fault statutes with a 50 percent bar to recovery, you will need to show the other driver was at least 51 percent responsible.

If you were 50 percent or more at fault, you would not be able to recover any damages from the other driver. However, you could still use your PIP insurance for the first $3,000 in medical expenses if you have that optional coverage.

If you have MedPay and Collision coverage on your bike insurance, you may also be able to recover from these policies.

Not surprisingly, the other driver and/or their insurance carrier may claim you are at fault. Because both parties can share fault in Utah, they don’t have to make a case that you were 100 percent responsible for the collision.

In fact, the insurance company can still reduce its financial burden even if its client is more than 50 percent at fault. Any percentage of blame assigned to you can be deducted from your damages, so if you were 10 percent at fault, the insurance company would save 10 percent.

Sometimes, people think it’s all right to admit fault after an accident because of the state’s no-fault laws, but they may not understand those laws don’t apply in motorcycle collisions (or in car accidents where another party has more than $3,000 in medical expenses).

Worse, they are often incorrect – many people think they caused an accident when another party was actually at fault. You might not know all the facts after a collision, or you may not be thinking clearly because of your injuries.

It’s also hard to know how expensive your medical bills will be or the extent of your injuries right after an accident, so you should always assume that fault could be a concern.

For this reason, we recommend that you exchange contact and insurance info with the other driver but avoid discussing fault. When the police arrive, answer their questions honestly, but be brief and to the point – there is no need to volunteer information they didn’t ask for.

Who Determines Fault in a Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit?

You might be picturing a lengthy court case, but most motorcycle accident lawsuits don’t go to trial. Much of the time, we settle the case out of court by negotiating with the other party’s insurance company.

However, our ability to win in court is still crucial because the insurance company’s adjuster will be less likely to settle for a fair amount if they believe they can win. As a result, we work to collect evidence and build a strong case before we file a lawsuit and begin negotiations with the insurance company.

Our investigators will search for several types of evidence in your case, including:

  • Witnesses. We’ll start with any witnesses named in the police report, but we also canvas the scene and check to see if anyone who lives or works nearby saw the accident. Sometimes, we find a witness who wasn’t interviewed at the scene but can shed light on what happened.
  • Video. These days, cameras are all around us. We frequently check with businesses or homes in the area to see if a security or doorbell camera might have caught the accident. In other cases, a witness may have captured a picture or video of the accident on their phone. However, people tend to delete videos frequently because they take up so much storage space, so the sooner you contact a lawyer, the better your chances of recovering a video.
  • Electronic data. Bikers often like to get out of the city and enjoy the open road, and sometimes, accidents can happen in these relatively empty stretches. If so, there may not be any cameras or witnesses around, just a vehicle driver who insists they did nothing wrong. In these cases, we can still learn about the accident from the vehicle’s event data recorder, or EDR (sometimes called a “black box”). This is a device found in most cars on the road today, which collects data points during any “event,” like an accident. In some cases, we may be able to determine how fast the car was going, the direction it was heading, whether it changed directions suddenly, and what evasive maneuvers the driver made (if any). Some motorcycles also have EDRs, and if so, the data from yours may also be helpful in showing that you weren’t at fault.

How Can You Get Help With Suing for a Motorcycle Accident?

If you or a loved one have been injured in a motorcycle collision, you may have medical bills, lost wages, chronic pain, and other damages. Relying on the insurance company to make things right could result in an undervalued claim or a denial due to disagreement about fault.

Instead, please contact Valley Law Accident and Injury Lawyers for a free consultation about your case. There is no obligation, and if you decide to move forward with our help, we won’t charge you anything until we win or settle your case.

Valley Law was founded by attorney Brigham Richards, who is dedicated to helping injured people access the resources they need to recover.

After graduating from law school at Arizona State University, he began helping clients resolve their personal injury claims, always fighting for a fair settlement. He is a member of the Utah and Nevada State Bars and is fluent in English and Spanish.

Call us today at 801-810-9999.

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