Fault

Utah law defines it as “any actionable breach of legal duty, act, or omission approximately causing or contributing to injury or damages sustained by a person seeking recovery.”  That is to say, the law defines fault in much the same way the average person would:  If your unlawful or inconsiderate actions cause an injury, the fault is yours.

Example Sentence

It wasn’t my fault the cup fell over, the wind blew it over.

Case Study

After an automobile accident, you must determine who is legally at fault for the accident before deciding the legal responsibility for an accident or injury. For example, Katie was driving to work and was behind on emails so she decided during traffic to quickly look at her emails from her smartphone. When she looked up from her phone, traffic had suddenly stopped in front of her causing her to slam on her brakes, barely stopping before the car in front of her. However, the person behind her had to also slam on their brakes but they didn’t stop in time and hit into the back of Katie’s car. The question is, who is at fault? By law, the person who hit Katie’s car is at fault in the rear-end collision. This is because they should have had an acceptable distance from Katie’s car to allow enough distance to stop in time even if she slams on her brakes.

Other Important Information

In Utah, fault is assigned on a basis of comparative negligence, in which each defendant is only as liable for damages as they were accountable for the occurrence that gave rise to them.  Multiple defendants may be held to account to differing degrees, or the claimant may be entitled to less in damages because of their own hand in an accident.  Fault is not an either/or matter, and the law accords with this. However, it is important to note that there is an no-fault state exception when it comes to rear-end collisions in some states. There are 12 no-fault states across the country. In a no-fault state drivers are required by law to carry their own auto insurance. The idea is that drivers will collect compensation for their injuries from their own insurance company rather than clogging up the courts with lawsuits. In some no-fault states—for example, Michigan—injured drivers may still sue an at-fault driver for pain and suffering but only if the injuries sustained reach a certain threshold. If a rear-end collision occurs in a no-fault state, an apportionment of fault is irrelevant unless the injuries sustained are permanent and severe.

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