When a person is injured in an accident that is caused by another party’s negligence, he or she may pursue a personal injury lawsuit with the help of a personal injury attorney in Salt Lake City. While many personal injury cases settle, some defendants fail to make a reasonable settlement offer. A personal injury attorney may suggest to pursue a lawsuit in these situations. If the case goes to trial, a jury determines whether to rule in favor of the victim or the defendant and then how much of an award to give the victim. The jury must take the following principles into consideration.
In order for a victim to win the case, he or she must be able to prove that the defendant’s negligence caused him or her injury. Your attorney can explain that this usually comes down to whether the defendant’s actions were different than how a reasonably prudent person would have acted in a similar situation. For example, a person may be liable in a car accident case if his or her speeding caused the accident. A reasonably prudent person obeys the speed limit.
The amount of the jury award is largely connected to the damages that the victim suffered. The victim may suffer damages that are easier to estimate, such as medical expenses and lost wages. Additionally, the victim may suffer more subjective damages, such as pain and suffering, mental distress and loss of companionship. In order for the jury to place a numeric value on these more subjective damages, the jury considers the amount of damages that would make the plaintiff whole. In order for a victim to recover for pain and suffering damages, the nature of the injury must result in medical expenses of at least $3,000, or the injury must be considered permanent.
Punitive damages are sometimes awarded by juries when the defendant’s actions were intentional or particularly reckless. Punitive damages are designed to punish the guilty party and deter future conduct that is underlying the claim.
Utah places a cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases. This cap is $450,000. The cap does not apply to the economic damage portion of the claim.
For more information on how personal injury awards are determined in Utah, contact a personal injury attorney in Salt Lake City from ECKO Legal.