A serious injury changes every aspect of your life, inflicting physical pain and emotional distress while burdening you with devastating medical bills. It’s never easy to start picking up the pieces after you’ve been hurt in an accident, but know that as an injury victim, you have legal rights. If you or one of your loved ones was injured because of another person’s careless actions, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, the income you have lost, and the pain and suffering you have been forced to endure because of your accident.
At the Salt Lake personal injury firm of Overson & Sheen, LLC, we believe accident victims deserve to pursue justice for the wrongs that have been perpetrated against them. Attorney Jay Sheen has over 33 years of experience providing aggressive, results-oriented legal representation on behalf of injury victims throughout Utah, and has helped countless clients resolve their claims favorably. Jay will not let your case be swept under the rug, and is prepared to fight until the very end in pursuit of maximum compensation for your injuries.
To set up a free legal consultation with Jay, call the law offices of Overson & Sheen, LLC at (801) 618-3580. Even if you aren’t sure whether you have a case or need an attorney, please do not hesitate to call, no matter how late or early the hour. Jay will keep your information absolutely confidential.
Types of Personal Injury Cases Our Firm Handles
Personal injury is a broad field of law which encompasses many different types of injuries and accidents. Jay has decades of experience handling a wide variety of claims and lawsuits, including but not limited to:
- Car Accidents – According to the Utah Department of Public Safety, there were 54,036 automotive accidents in 2014, causing 23,364 injuries and more than 250 fatalities. Negligent acts like speeding, ignoring traffic lights, making improper turns, following too closely, texting while driving, and driving while intoxicated are all common causes of preventable crashes and collisions.
- Medical Malpractice – Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor, nurse, surgeon, dentist, or other healthcare professional makes a careless error, resulting in a patient death or injury which would have been preventable with superior care.
- Motorcycle Accidents – Because motorcyclists aren’t protected by safety features like seatbelts or airbags, motorcycle crashes often result in death or disabling injuries.
- Premises Liability – “Premises” refers to property, while “liability” describes fault for an accident. Premises liability deals with accidents which occur on unsafe or hazardous properties, including commercial properties like bars, restaurants, grocery stores, parking lots, parking garages, shopping malls, and department stores.
- Product Liability – Product liability deals with injuries caused by malfunctioning, mislabeled, or defective consumer and industrial products, including toys, cars, appliances, prescription drugs, foods, beverages, safety gear, and industrial machinery.
- Slip and Fall Accidents – Slip and fall accidents are the most common type of premises liability claim. They are usually caused by property defects resulting from substandard maintenance, such as broken flooring, icy sidewalks, or leaks on the ground.
- Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) – TBI describes a brain injury caused by a physical blow to the head. According to the CDC’s most recent data, the leading causes of TBI are car accidents, accidental falls, being struck by objects, and acts of violence. TBI can cause severe, permanent cognitive impairment. The victim may struggle to communicate, form memories, process information, or make decisions.
- Truck Accidents – Professional truckers are pressured to complete their journeys as quickly as possible. As a result, many truck drivers intentionally violate federal safety regulations limiting the number of consecutive hours they may drive, eventually becoming fatigued or falling asleep and causing an accident.
- Wrongful Death – When a person is killed by the negligent actions of a business or individual, the death is described as a wrongful death. Utah allows surviving spouses, parents, adult children, and other relatives, as well as personal representatives, to file wrongful death lawsuits.
Jay handles cases throughout Salt Lake County and the surrounding counties, including but not limited to Bountiful, Draper, Farmington, Riverton, Salt Lake City, Sandy, South Jordan, West Jordan, West Valley City, and other local communities.
Common Medical Complications and Injuries Caused by Negligence
Any number of serious, sometimes permanent injuries can result from the negligent acts of an individual or business. Depending on the nature and severity of the injury, the victim might need to apply for permanent disability, undergo risky and hugely expensive surgical procedures, make costly home renovations for improved wheelchair accessibility, or hire a caregiver for assistance with daily tasks. They may have to end a decades-long career, or even lose their marriage. If the victim was previously supporting children or dependents, the medical bills and loss of income can financially devastate the entire family for years.
Some common types of injuries and medical complications resulting from acts of malpractice or preventable accidents include:
- Back Injuries
- Bulging Disc
- Herniated Disc
- Vertebral Fractures
- Bone Fractures
- Broken Arm
- Broken Collarbone
- Broken Leg
- Buckled Fractures
- Compound Fractures
- Fractured Rib
- Broken Ankle
- Simple Fractures
- Chemical Burns
- Third Degree Burns
- Facial Injuries
- Broken Cheekbone
- Broken Nose
- Broken Jaw
- Chipped Tooth
- Scarring and Disfigurement
- Hand and Wrist Injuries
- Distal Radius Fracture
- Flexor Tendon Injuries
- Fractured Wrist
- “Mallet Finger”
- Scaphoid Fracture
- Soft Tissue Injuries
- Torn Ligaments
- Whiplash Neck Injuries
- Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI – Lumbar, Thoracic, Cervical)
- Tetraplegia (Quadriplegia)
Elements of Tort Liability: What Must an Accident Victim Prove in Order to Obtain Compensation?
The “burden of proof” in a personal injury case rests upon the accident victim, meaning you must be able to prove that certain facts were true of your accident in order to obtain compensation for your losses. While every situation is unique, there are four core factors common to all successful cases. As a plaintiff, you will need to demonstrate the existence of the following four elements:
- The defendant owed you a “duty of care.” All drivers have a duty of care to other drivers, as well as pedestrians, bikers, and cyclists. Landlords have a duty of care to their tenants. Doctors have a duty of care to their patients. Business owners have a duty of care to their customers.
- The defendant breached their duty of care. Breach of duty means failure to exercise the precautions that would have been exercised by a reasonable person acting under the same circumstances in order to minimize the risk of foreseeable death or injury. Stated more simply, it means the defendant either did something they should not have done, or failed to do something which they should have done. Breach of duty can take many different forms, depending on the nature of the accident. For example, breach of duty in a car accident might involve driving while intoxicated, while breach of duty in a malpractice case might involve failure to sterilize medical instruments.
- Your accident was caused by the other party’s actions or failures to act. This element, which is called “causation,” has two components: “actual cause” (direct cause) and “proximate cause” (indirect cause). For instance, the actual cause of a car accident might be drifting into the wrong lane, while the proximate cause would be the other driver’s negligent inattention to the road.
- You were harmed by the accident. This element is called “damages.” If there were no actual damages, the injury victim will not be able to recover compensation, even if the defendant acted negligently. Damages can be physical (like an injury), financial (like a medical bill), or psychological (like emotional distress).
What Damages Are Recoverable in a Personal Injury Claim in UT?
Compensation is not a blanket sum. Instead, damages are separated into a few different categories, with each providing compensation for a different type of harm. Different types of damages are subject to different limits, which are called “damages caps.”
- Compensatory Damages – Compensatory damages are intended solely to compensate the victim for the losses he or she has sustained. While this distinction might initially seem redundant, it is necessary to distinguish compensatory damages from punitive damages.
- Punitive Damages – In contrast to compensatory damages, punitive damages are meant to punish the party at fault for gross (extreme) negligence. They also help deter others from repeating the same behavior in the future.
- Economic Damages – “Economic damages” refers to compensation for financial harms, such as the bill for a hip replacement, or the earnings you lost while you were out of work getting treatment for your injuries.
- Non-Economic Damages – “Non-economic damages” refers to compensation for non-financial harms, such as pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of life. If you were injured in a car accident in Utah, you will not be able to recover non-economic damages unless your injuries resulted in either of the following:
- Medical bills exceeding $3,000.
- Dismemberment, permanent disability, permanent disfigurement, or permanent impairment.
Utah limits non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases to $450,000 for non-fatal injuries sustained after May 15, 2010. However, in August 2015, the Utah Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to limit the amount of compensation recoverable for wrongful deaths caused by medical malpractice.
How is Fault Determined After a Car Accident?
Many states follow a “fault” system, in which car accident victims must prove that the other driver was at fault for the accident in order to be compensated through the at-fault driver’s insurance company, called a third-party insurance claim. Utah, however, uses the “no-fault” system. Under this system, accident victims are compensated through their own insurers, which is called a first-party claim, regardless of which driver caused the accident to occur.
If you were hurt in a car crash in Utah, you will not be able to hold the other motorist liable unless your injuries either (1) resulted in medical bills exceeding $3,000, or (2) caused permanent physical damage, including disfigurement, disability, loss of limb, and impairment of normal function. If either of these statements apply, you may be able to obtain compensation from the other driver. Utah requires all motorists to carry, at bare minimum, the following coverage amounts:
- $15,000 per accident for property damage
- $25,000 per person for personal injury
- $65,000 per accident – not per person – for personal injury to two or more individuals
Even if you were partially to blame for the accident, you may still be able to recover compensation as you were less than 50% at fault. In this scenario, any compensation you recovered would be reduced to reflect your share of responsibility for the crash. For example, if you were awarded $100,000 and were found to be 10% at fault for a head-on collision, the award would be reduced to $90,000 proportional to your degree of fault. If you are found to be 50% at fault or more, you will not be able to recover damages for your injuries and expenses.
Fault is determined through a variety of techniques, such as interviewing eyewitnesses, comparing the drivers’ actions against Utah’s traffic laws, and examining physical evidence like dents and tire skid marks.
What is the Deadline to File a Lawsuit in UT?
After suffering a severe injury, all you want to do is rest, recuperate, and be with your loved ones. The last thing anyone wants to do is deal with legal matters. We completely understand, and would fully encourage you to prioritize recovery and self-care during this difficult time.
That being said, it is critically important for injury victims to be aware of the time limits on injury claims in the state of Utah. A strict, inflexible legal deadline known as the “statute of limitations” limits the number of years in which an injury victim may file a claim. Utah’s statute of limitations on personal injury is four years, counting down from the date the injury was sustained. Utah’s statute of limitations on wrongful death is two years, beginning from the date of the decedent’s death.
In a small number of cases, the “discovery rule” extends the normal deadline. However, the discovery rule is only applicable in scenarios where the victim did not become aware of his or her injuries until a later point in time, or where exceptional circumstances are present. Because this does not always apply, it is never wise to rely on the discovery rule for an extension of time.
The safest course of action is always to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney, ideally well before the statute comes close to running out. If you wait until the deadline is about to pass, there may not be enough time to build a strong case on your behalf. If the statute of limitations expires, the claim will not be able to move through the judicial system – and as a result, the victim will lose their ability to obtain the compensation and sense of closure they are seeking. The sooner you are able to consult with an attorney, the better chance you will have of obtaining compensation.
Why Should You Hire a Lawyer?
All of this information culminates in a final question: Why hire a lawyer in the first place? What are the benefits of being represented by an attorney, as opposed to simply representing yourself? There are numerous advantages to having quality legal representation. By hiring an attorney to handle your personal injury claim, you’ll benefit from:
- Knowledge and experience. With more than three decades of practical experience, Jay has personally dealt with countless legal challenges and accident scenarios. He knows what to anticipate and how to strategize when dealing with insurance companies and defense attorneys.
- Access to resources. Our firm will put its full resources toward your case, whether that means sending physical evidence away for lab analysis, interviewing top-notch experts, or combing through years of records. We will do everything in our power to build a robust case on your behalf.
- Legal advocacy and guidance. It’s not always obvious what you should or shouldn’t do after you’ve been hurt in an accident, nor is it easy to navigate the many legal complexities that surround an injury claim. Your attorney will keep you informed and up-to-date on the progression of your case while answering your questions and helping you prepare.
- Protection of your legal rights. Unfortunately, insurance companies all too often engage in unethical, deceptive, and outright illegal “bad faith” tactics designed to deny claimants fair coverage. Jay does not stand for insurers who try to take advantage of already suffering accident victims. He will take aggressive measures to counteract attempts to violate your rights.
- Stress management. When you’ve sustained a major injury, you need to focus on resting and getting your strength back. Your attorney will handle all of the communications, negotiations, and legal work on your behalf, so that you can focus on being with loved ones and getting the care you need.
After you’ve been injured by another person, it’s extremely tough to keep your emotions neutral. You might feel tempted to lash out at the person who harmed your loved one, or to accept the first settlement offer that comes your way. You might accidentally say something that could undermine your case, or do something that isn’t in your best interest. You can count on your attorney to train a neutral, objective eye on the facts at all times.
Of course, the main factor that gives people pause is concern about the costs of legal fees. “Hiring a lawyer is expensive,” injury victims often think. “My medical bills are costing me enough; I just don’t have the money to hire an attorney right now.” If you’ve had similar thoughts, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to learn that legal representation is much more affordable than most people realize. Attorney Jay Sheen works on a contingency basis, which means you will not be charged unless Jay obtains compensation for you. Even your initial consultation is completely free of charge, so there’s no risk and no obligation involved in reaching out for advice.
At Overson & Sheen, our fee structure is simple. We only get paid if you do. There are no upfront costs for you. It really is that simple. Call us today, we would love to talk to you. We can do a consultation over the telephone or schedule you to come into the office. If you cannot travel, we would be happy to visit your home. We want to make this as easy a process as possible for you. You have already endured a loss. Let us help you. It’s what we do.
If you, your spouse, or one of your family members was seriously injured due to the negligence of another party, turn to Overson & Sheen, LLC for knowledgeable guidance, strategic representation, and compassionate support. Personal injury lawyer Jay Sheen is thoroughly committed to protecting the legal rights of accident victims throughout the Salt Lake City area. To set up a free, completely confidential consultation with Jay, call the law offices of Overson & Sheen, LLC at (801) 618-3580. Please don’t hesitate to call during evenings or weekends, no matter the hour.