Nov 15 2019

Basics on Utah’s Specific Personal Injury Laws, Part 1

When it comes to personal injury cases of a variety of types, rules and regulations vary fairly widely between states. Every state has its own set of laws and statutes that apply to personal injury cases, whether they’re in the form of vehicle accidents or numerous other injury types that could take place.

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, we’re here to help with any and all Utah-specific statutes or laws for any personal injury case. Our personal injury attorneys will help you navigate any restrictions or roadblocks that come up along the way, all with a detailed knowledge of the applicable laws here and how they apply to your case. In this two-part blog series, we’ll go over some of the specifics of Utah law as it relates to personal injury, auto accidents and other specific case types that might come up.

Utah’s specific personal injury laws

Shared Fault

For non-vehicle accident injury cases in Utah, it’s important to note that the state has what’s called a shared fault system in place. This means that injury cases can have more than one party that’s at fault, and liability cases may reflect partial fault from multiple parties.

In some cases, this rule – known as the comparative fault rule – may reduce the damages you can recover from another party. In these situations, the goal of a judge or jury will be to ascertain a percentage of fault for each party involved. If you are found to have at least 50% of the fault, you may not be allowed to collect damages at all.

Example of Shared Fault

Let’s go over a basic example of shared fault in an injury case. Let’s say you’re in a restaurant and you trip and fall on a broken floor tile, breaking your arm as you land. The restaurant did not properly mark the broken floor tile, but at the same time, multiple witnesses saw you distracted by your cell phone and not looking where you were going when you fell.

In this case, a court will factor both these considerations into a decision on fault. They may determine you were 20% at fault for not paying full attention, but the restaurant was 80% at fault for the dangerous conditions on their premises. If your total damages were set at $20,000, you would actually only receive $16,000 in this case under the comparative fault rule. As we noted, if you’re determined to have at least 50% of the fault, your damages will likely drop to zero and you cannot collect any compensation.

No-Fault Car Insurance

In car accident cases, on the other hand, things are very different. Utah is among many no-fault states, which means that after an accident, your insurance company will cover your medical expenses and lost income – even if you believe another party was at fault for the accident.

Only in cases where your case meets a “serious injury” threshold can you hold the other driver liable, meaning this is the primary area our attorneys will look to help you prove. In these cases, you can step outside the no-fault system and file a liability claim. Our auto accident injury attorneys will help explain what meets the criteria for “serious injury” in your case.

For more on Utah-specific personal injury regulations, or to learn about any of our personal injury attorney services, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

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Nov 08 2019

Understanding Timing Requirements for Auto Accident Injury Claims

If you believe you’ve been the victim of negligence or any other issue that puts another party at fault for personal injury or property damage after a car accident, one of the first things you may be wondering about is how soon you have to file such a claim. Various laws have their own sets of statutes and limitations, and some worry they have to file quickly or else risk letting the statue expire.

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, LLC, we’re here to help with this and any other auto accident attorney services you may be requiring. Let’s go over our basic recommendations on filing your claim, what the Utah statute of limitations is for these kinds of issues, and some documents to ensure you have in order when preparing to file.

timing requirements auto accident claims

General Recommendations

Generally speaking, we always recommend you file a claim for a vehicle accident as soon as realistically possible following the event. Insurers and the at-fault party will try to use any tactic they can to hurt your case, and one such tactic might be muddying the waters by claiming they can’t accurately determine how much damage was caused since you took so much time to file.

While this is generally a spurious argument to begin with, it begins to hold a bit more weight if you wait too long to file. Our attorneys will advise you on the precise timing you should consider for your claim.

Utah Statute of Limitations

The Utah statute of limitations for personal injury cases involving personal harm or property harm in a vehicle accident is four years. If you do not file it within this period of time, the Utah court system is within their rights to refuse to hear it whatsoever. For more specifics on this, you can view the Utah Code with the full text on injury cases and their statute of limitations.

Important Documents for Filing a Claim

There are a few important documents to ensure you have in order for your filing, something our personal injury lawyers will help you with. Here are the most vital:

  • Police report: You should have filed a police report at the time of the accident, plus ensured you took the report number. This is to ensure the proper evidence is brought to court and the case isn’t decided by your word against another’s.
  • Medical documents: If you have to go to the hospital or emergency room as a result of your injuries, or even have to have a future medical appointment due to lingering whiplash issues, keep all the paperwork for your filing.
  • Insurance information: Be sure you get insurance information from the other driver, plus their contact information. Record their license plate as well.

For more on the timing involved in filing auto accident injury claims, or to learn about any of our personal injury attorney services, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

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Nov 01 2019

Determining Liability for Bicycle Accidents With Vehicles

While many are aware of the fact that they can seek compensation if they’re injured in a car accident by a negligent driver, you might not know that the same theme applies for bicycle riders. Unfortunately, a great number of cyclists are hit by vehicles during the course of a given year, and there are many such cases where driver negligence was the underlying cause and the bicyclist might have a liability claim against this party.

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, LLC, we’re here to help if you’ve been injured in a bicycle accident, just the same way we would be if you were injured in a typical car or motorcycle accident. We’ve spent 35 years as advocates for victims of such events, and we’ll represent you with vigor and expertise in these and other personal injury lawyer needs. Let’s look at some of the basics on bicycle accident negligence, bicycle hit-and-run situations, and how you should respond in the aftermath of such an accident if one occurs.

liability bicycle accidents vehicles

Bicycle Accident Negligence

In any case where a bicyclist is hit by a vehicle on the road, the goal of the judge and jury in a resulting liability case will be to determine which party’s negligence caused the accident. If a vehicle driver is speeding, running a stop sign, drifting into a designated bike lane or breaking the law in any other way at the time of the accident, this will often be used as evidence of negligence.

For cyclists, on the other hand, negligence could refer to riding the wrong way on a certain street, turning unexpectedly into traffic or running a red light. Cyclists are required to obey the rules of the road when they’re on it just like vehicle drivers – do not simply assume that the other party is liable if the accident was a result of you being reckless or ignorant to your surroundings.

Hit-and-Runs

Just like accidents involving two vehicles, hit-and-runs are a risk in bicycle accidents as well. A driver may flee the scene after, an act that’s a felony if they had reason to believe you were injured by drove away anyway. In these cases, working with police to identify the party responsible will save you from having to use your own insurance to cover any medical bills or repairs.

How to React

If you are involved in an accident with a vehicle as a cyclist, the first and most important step involves remaining at the scene for police to arrive. You should do this even if you don’t believe you are injured, as many injuries don’t show up until hours later. Make sure your version of events are recorded by officers, along with those of any witnesses who can corroborate your story. Also be sure to take pictures if possible.

For more on bicycle accidents, or to learn about any of our personal injury attorney services, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, LLC today.

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Oct 18 2019

Assessing Liability in Ride-Sharing Vehicle Accidents

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates LLC, one of the most common needs for our attorney services is in the realm of car and truck accidents. Sadly, there are tens of thousands of vehicle accidents, injuries and even deaths per year, many of which are caused by negligence or other factors that necessitate a personal injury claim.

One area here that’s on a major rise over the last several years is incidents that take place involving a ride-sharing company such as Uber or Lyft. More and more Americans are utilizing these services every year, but the legal field is still catching up in terms of liability when accidents take place involving ride-sharing drivers. Let’s go over some basic numbers here, the role insurance plays and the limited likelihood of successfully bringing suit against these companies directly.

liability ride-sharing vehicle accidents

Ride-Sharing Usage and Increasing Accident Deaths

While there is not necessarily direct proof to link these two trends, traffic incidents and fatalities have gone up over the last few years – at a similar rate to the increase in ride-sharing services, per several area of research. This has led some to speculate that more ride-sharing drivers are clogging the roads and helping contribute to a greater number of traffic incidents. And whether or not this is the case, the fact remains that many people utilize these services and need to be prepared in case an incident takes place during such a ride.

Which Insurance Applies?

In cases where you’re injured as the passenger of a ride-sharing service and your driver is at fault, the insurance coverage of the individual driver is the first place to check. If this person has a commercial insurance policy or a personal policy that includes a ride-sharing provision, you’ll be covered. The problem: Most Uber and Lyft drivers do not have this kind of insurance.

Luckily, Uber and Lyft carry third-party liability insurance coverage up to $1 million for personal and property injuries. These kick in after the driver’s own policy is used up, if applicable, so you’re covered in these cases regardless.

What about situations where your driver is not at fault and the incident was caused by another motorist? In these circumstances, you’d seek coverage from the at-fault driver’s insurance via an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit. In rare cases where this third party does not have car insurance that will cover your injuries, ride-sharing companies also offer a $1 million policy for uninsured or underinsured cases.

Suits Against Ride-Sharing Companies

Uber and Lyft list their drivers as independent contractors, not employees, in large part so they don’t have to be legally responsible for driver negligence. For this reason, it’s generally very difficult to bring and win a personal injury suit directly against these companies. While you’ll generally be able to take advantage of their $1 million policies for negligence issues, suing them directly usually isn’t a viable option.

For more on who is responsible for damages in a ride-sharing vehicle accident, or to learn about any of our auto accident attorney services, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates LLC today.

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Oct 11 2019

Understanding Liability and Negligence for Hunting Accidents

While cases like car accidents, pedestrian concerns and various traumatic injuries are those most commonly handled by personal injury attorneys, there are also several rarer and more unique types possible. Any situation where an individual has experienced injury or distress due to the negligence of another party could lead to a personal injury claim, and those making such claims will need the best representation on their side.

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates LLC, we’re here to help. Our personal injury attorney services range from the most common case types to extremely rare ones, with a high-level legal team that can handle even your most unique concerns. One such rarer form of personal injury that’s nonetheless important to understand if you spend time in this activity area: Hunting accidents. Let’s look at some basic statistics on the frequency of these incidents, their causes and how to prevent them – plus what to do if you happen to be involved in such an accident.

liability negligence hunting accidents

Basic Statistics

According to survey data from the US Fish and Wildlife Service taken back in 2016, over 100 million people over the age of 16 go hunting each year in the United States. And while you might think this is a dangerous pursuit in general based on the use of firearms and other lethal weapons for hunting, the rate of accidents is actually very low.

In fact, combining with Canada, fewer than 1,000 people per year are the victims of shooting-related hunting accidents. Under 10 percent of these, or roughly 75 people per year, are killed in these accidents. The most common accident causes are mistaken hunters who think they’ve seen a deer or other prey, but end up shooting a person who is running or performing some other task.

And while these cases are rare, they can still happen – and in many situations, they’ll be caused by negligence that could lead to a personal injury claim.

Negligence Causes

In most cases, hunting injuries or deaths qualify as negligence cases – these require the injury victim to prove that the defendant did not take reasonable care, and was responsible for the accident. Some of the reasons a defendant might be considered negligent include:

  • The hunter did not responsibly handle their firearm.
  • The hunter did not learn how to discharge their weapon safely.
  • The hunter did not take care to ensure the area was cleared of potential human bystanders.

A parent teaching their child to hunt could be held liable for lack of training or supervision if the child is involved in the accident.

Caution and Responsiveness

For both hunters and non-hunters, it’s important to exercise major caution when in the woods or any other area where hunting takes place. Wear bright and reflective clothing, and apply intelligent firearm training and handling if you’re a hunter.

If you happen to be involved in a hunting accident in any way, contact our team of personal injury lawyers for assistance if a negligence or liability claim is being filed.

For more on any of our personal injury lawyer services, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates LLC today.

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Oct 04 2019

Child Bullying and Potential Resulting Liability Claims

If you’re the parent of a child who has been accused of bullying a fellow child, whether at school or somewhere else, you should take this very seriously for several reasons. Bullying is a major issue across the US, and can have serious consequences for those involved in it – parents should be speaking to their children about how bullying is not okay and will not be tolerated. At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates LLC, we’re here to warn you about an additional potential risk if your child is involved in bullying: Legal liability. Our personal injury attorneys handle a wide variety of cases, and one potential such case involves liability related to bullying. Let’s go over the basics you need to know here if you’re a parent.
child bullying liability claims

Bullying Laws and Lawsuits

Technically speaking, there is no anti-bullying law that’s universal or at the federal level. However, nearly every state in the US has adopted some form of their own anti-bullying laws, and these can be brought up in severe cases of bullying that lead to other incidents.

The most common bullying lawsuits are brought when the practice in question results in a major tragedy. Sadly, the most common such tragedy here is the victim of bullying taking their own life. Parents of these victims can bring a suit alleging that bullying or cyberbullying (just as important to warn your kids about) was a primary cause of pushing the child to take their life. Cases alleging direct physical harm to the victim are also often brought, and these have higher success rates given the common presence of specific physical evidence to corroborate the claims. Finally, hazing or other bullying areas that lead to physical or sexual assault can also be part of these cases.

Lawsuits Against Parents

In certain cases, the lawsuit in question will be brought against the parents of the child doing the bullying. This is particularly common if this bullying leads to the death, injury or harm of a classmate, in which cases parents may be held liable for a failure to intervene soon enough. This type of claim will have particular success if the parent in question was warned or informed of their child’s behavior by a teacher or another parent, and nothing is done to correct the behavior.

Lawsuits Against Districts

In other scenarios, lawsuits may be filed against the school or school district where the bullying took place. The general line of argument here is that the school or district was negligent and failed to intervene to stop the bullying despite opportunities to do so. Because many schools and districts are public government entities, they may have some protections based on sovereign immunity – but this is not an absolute cover, and there are many examples of cases where schools or districts have been found legally liable for the results of a bullying case.

For more on bullying and personal injury cases, or to learn about any of our other attorney services, including dog bite claims, auto accident attorney needs and many others, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates LLC today.

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Sep 20 2019

Injuries and Liability Concerns With Malfunctioning Vehicle Airbags

As another recent round of airbag recalls is making big news, this time through a manufacturer called Takata, it’s a good time to remind readers that while airbags are meant to function in a way that promotes your safety, this isn’t always the case. Airbags are present in several varieties within a given vehicle, and while they often save lies, they can also be the cause of injury themselves when they’re defective.

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates LLC, not only do we provide comprehensive car accident attorney services, we’re also here to serve you if you believe a defective airbag has caused you injury or harm. Let’s go over some of the basics of airbag malfunctions, the common injuries that are sustained as a result, and whether you might have a liability case if this happens to you.

injuries liability malfunctioning vehicle airbags

Airbag Malfunction Concerns

While some consumers might think of airbags as soft, airy items that provide a nice little cushion after a collision, this simply isn’t the case. Rather, airbags deploy quickly and with great force when they’re called into action, providing a significant barrier that stops what can be very strong forward human motion after a vehicle accident.

While this force is often valuable for safety, it can also cause bodily harm. Especially in cases where an airbag is faulty or deploying based on a malfunction, those near them can be seriously injured in some cases.

Possible Airbag Malfunction Injuries

Due to the force exerted by a malfunctioning airbag, plus the related complete surprise that’s often brought on people in the vehicle, some of the following injuries are most common during these incidents:

  • Facial injuries: The face is the most common location to be impacted by a malfunctioning airbag deployment. Airbags can cause injury to the face, nose, mouth and eyes. In the worst cases, malfunctioning airbags have led to broken facial bones and even permanent blindness.
  • Neck or back injuries: Whether due to a direct impact or some kind of a rocking sensation, neck and back injuries – including concussions – can take place due to a faulty airbag. Neck injuries often progress into worsening pain issues for months or even years into the future.

Chest injuries: The airbag deploys fast to stop you from slamming into the steering wheel or dashboard, but a faulty product may do so incorrectly or when it isn’t needed, leading to upper body soft tissue and possible broken bone issues in the chest.

Liability and Attorney Services

While we would never accuse any company of intentionally placing faulty airbags in their vehicles, the fact remains that these issues do take place – and the manufacturer is often liable. If you’ve been injured by a faulty or malfunctioning airbag, contact our auto accident attorneys right away to determine if you might have a liability claim to make.

For more on airbag deployment, or to learn about any of our personal injury lawyer services, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates LLC today.

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Sep 13 2019

Determining Responsibility in Vehicle-Pedestrian Accidents

Whether you’re the driver of a vehicle or a pedestrian, you are responsible for safely and appropriately sharing the road. There are numerous basic laws and regulations in place to assist with this concept, from traffic lights and pedestrian crossing areas to turn signals and simple vehicle warnings.

However, we still see a number of unfortunate pedestrian accidents at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, LLC, including many where our car accident attorney services are requested by one party or another to help recover damages based on someone else’s negligence. Generally speaking, fault and liability in a pedestrian-vehicle accident can be grouped into three categories: Driver, pedestrian or municipality. Let’s look at examples of each area and how a pedestrian accident you’ve been involved with may shake out.

responsibility vehicle-pedestrian accidents

Examples of Driver Responsibility

In virtually every state in the US, it is the driver’s responsibility to be alert to their surroundings, including everything from potential road hazards to pedestrians (technically pedestrians qualify as road hazards as well). If the pedestrian in question is acting within the law and observing their right to certain areas of the road, and is hit by a vehicle driver, responsibility will usually lie with the driver.

The simplest example here is when a pedestrian is within a legal crosswalk, but it’s not the only one. Even if the pedestrian is elsewhere, for instance, a speeding driver may still be found liable for such an accident. The same goes if the driver ran a red light or otherwise broke the law soon before the incident occurred.

Examples of Pedestrian Responsibility

Pedestrians themselves have responsibilities here too, however, and it’s important not to forget about these if you’re walking near or between busy roadways. If a pedestrian uses a non-crosswalk area in a reckless manner while attempting to cross, and is struck in the process, they may be held liable for both their own damages and any to the vehicle or driver. Pedestrians can’t simply enter the street anywhere and expect moving traffic to stop for them.

Examples of Municipality Responsibility

Finally, there are cases where neither the driver nor the pedestrian in question is responsible. An example of this would be if a traffic light and connected pedestrian signals malfunctions, telling a pedestrian it’s okay to walk despite directing oncoming traffic their way. Similar examples may include concealed or improperly printed stop signs, unsafe crosswalk placement or any other safety hazards based on the way a given roadway or traffic markers are designed. In these cases, both pedestrians and drivers involved in pedestrian accidents may have liability cases against the municipality responsible for such hazards.

For more on who is responsible for a given pedestrian accident, or to learn about any of our personal injury or auto accident attorney services, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates LLC today.

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Sep 06 2019

Tax Ramifications for Personal Injury Settlements or Judgments

While they’re never anyone’s favorite subject, taxes for a variety of income forms are always areas we have to consider. And while you may not have thought so previously, a monetary sum you receive as a result of a settlement or judgment based on a personal injury case may count as income that requires taxation.

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, we have a personal injury lawyer ready for you regardless of your claim type, whether it’s an auto accident, dog bite claim or any other kind of personal injury issue. We’re also happy to go over the details of any tax-related areas for you, areas that have changed significantly since new tax reform laws were passed back in 2017. While the answer to any of your tax questions may depend on individual circumstance, here are some general guidelines in terms of which settlement or judgement funds are taxable and which might be tax-free.

tax personal injury settlements judgments

Claim Origin

For starters, the primary determinant of whether your settlement or judgement will be taxed as income is the origin of the claim in question. Is the claim being made to recovery compensation based on areas like lost wages, emotional distress or related themes? In these cases, the money received will generally be taxable. However, as we’ll get into in subsequent sections, there are other recovery types that may not be taxed.

Pre-Settlement Agreement

If a settlement is being worked on by the plaintiff and defendant of any personal injury case, tax areas should be discussed in detail before completing the settlement. While any agreements made here technically aren’t binding by the IRS, they cannot be disputed if they are properly agreed upon in writing by both parties.

Physical Injuries or Sickness

Before the year 1996, when laws were changed, taxes were very different when it came to personal injury cases: They generally did not apply for any kind of personal injury damages, even emotional distress, defamation or similar areas.

Since then, laws have restricted non-taxed damages to specifically physical areas only. If you are physically injured or become sick as a result of the incident in question, funds recovered under this portion of liability generally will not be taxed.

Punitive Damages and Interest

If you are paid punitive damages on top of compensatory areas, or if your settlement includes interest in any way, these fund types are virtually always taxed.

Attorney’s Fees

Finally, while we wish it were not the case, the law says that all money you receive for lost wages and emotional distress must be taxed – including any portions you divert to attorney’s fees. If the funds you’re recovering are physical in nature and therefore not taxable, however, you generally won’t have to worry about tax on attorney’s fees either.

For more on the tax ramifications associated with personal injury cases, or to learn about any of our auto accident or personal injury service, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

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Aug 16 2019

E-Cigarettes and Potential Personal Injury Liability

Introduced just over a decade ago, electronic cigarettes – abbreviated e-cigarettes or simply e-cigs in many cases – have exploded in popularity around the country and even the globe. These devices, which are often marketed as safer, healthier alternatives to harmful cigarettes, come in numerous shapes and sizes, and from a number of different manufacturers.

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, our personal injury attorneys are beginning to see a rise in the number of cases related to these devices and their use. What are e-cigs, and are they truly healthier than cigarettes? Perhaps more importantly for our readers, are there situations where their manufacturers might be liable for certain negative outcomes? Here’s a look at everything you need to know.

e-cigarettes personal injury liability

E-Cigarette Basics

E-cigarettes comprise a variety of devices out there on the market today. Their basic construction involves a battery-powered tube that can heat up a pre-concocted solution, one generally made from a combination of nicotine, propylene glycol and glycerin. Together, these ingredients form a material that can be heated into vapor form, then inhaled by the user.

These devices come with numerous flavor choices. The general idea here is that by avoiding the true smoke and several other highly harmful elements of traditional cigarettes, this is a safer alternative for those who require a nicotine fix.

E-Cig Health Risks

And while it may indeed be true that e-cigarettes bring certain health upgrades on traditional cigarettes, they come with their own set of risks as well. Users may experience higher rates of respiratory problems, cardiovascular issues, eye irritation, and even potential harm to unborn babies. On top of this, a high percentage of e-cig users also still smoke regular cigarettes. To top it off, there’s limited research data on the long-term health effects of e-cigs.

Now, it’s important to note that many of these areas do not fall under the realm of personal injury. If you are using these devices by your own choice, you accept the basic assumed risks of inhaling substances that might not be good for you.

Non-Assumed Risks and Personal Injury

That said, there are several instances where the manufacturer of e-cigarettes could be listed as liable in a personal injury case. There have been several publicized incidents where these devices have overheated or even exploded, causing injury to the person using them or even others nearby. Issues such as facial burns, teeth knocked out, eye injuries, and even fractured bones in the face or nearby areas have all taken place. If you or a loved one has been the victim of such an event, it’s entirely possible you could have a claim against the manufacturer or vendor of these products, and you should contact a personal injury lawyer from our offices right away.

To learn more about e-cigarettes and personal injury cases, or for information on any of our car accident, dog bite or other attorney services, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

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