If someone injures you in a preventable accident in Utah due to negligence, that person may owe you compensation for your damages. Most personal injury claims resolve with settlements, not trials. A settlement is an agreement between you and the at-fault party’s insurance company to end the case with an amount of money deemed suitable for your injuries and losses. In Utah and many other states, a damage cap may restrict how much you can receive in a settlement.
What Are Damage Caps?
Damage caps are laws that limit the amount of money a person can receive during a personal injury claim or another type of civil lawsuit. If a damage cap applies to a case, the injured party will not be able to recover an amount that exceeds this limit, even if his or her damages surpass the damage cap. Many states have removed their damage caps due to conflicts with their state constitutions. Utah, however, still uses damage caps during certain types of lawsuits and damage categories.
Utah Caps on Noneconomic Damages
Utah Code Section 78B-3-410 is the state law imposing damage caps on civil cases. This law says that in a medical malpractice cause of action, an injured plaintiff may not recover more than the stated amount in compensation for noneconomic damages. Noneconomic damages serve to compensate a plaintiff for general or intangible losses connected to an accident. These often include physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, mental anguish, loss of consortium, and lost quality of life. Utah imposes different damage caps on noneconomic damages according to the date of the claim.
- $250,000 for medical malpractice cases arising before July 1, 2001.
- $400,000 for claims arising from July 1, 2001 to July 1, 2002.
- $400,000 adjusted for inflation for causes of action arising between July 1, 2002 and May 15, 2010.
- $450,000 for claims arising on or after May 15, 2010.
The state treasurer will adjust these caps based on inflation for cases arising between July 1, 2002 and July 1, 2009. Note that Utah’s damage cap only applies to malpractice claims against health care providers. The damage cap does not apply to other types of personal injury cases, such as car accident claims and premises liability lawsuits. Caps on medical malpractice damages are common in states that have damage caps. Limiting the amount an injured plaintiff can recover from a health care provider or hospital helps prevent bankruptcy in health care – something that could take critical medical services away from other patients.
Utah Caps on Punitive Damages
Punitive damages in Utah refer to a type of compensation a judge will award on cases involving a defendant’s gross negligence, maliciousness or intent to cause harm. Punitive damages punish a defendant for these actions by making him or her give the plaintiff more money. Utah Code Section 78B-3-410 states that Utah’s damage cap on medical malpractice claims does not apply to punitive damages. The number of punitive damages awarded, if any, will depend on the defendant’s financial assets, type of misconduct and extent of the plaintiff’s damages.
What Is Utah’s Collateral Source Rule?
Utah’s collateral source rule, described in Utah Code Section 78B-3-405, states that the courts will decrease an injured plaintiff’s award by an amount equivalent to the total the plaintiff received in payments from all collateral sources. The courts will not make this reduction, however, for collateral sources that have subrogation rights. Collateral sources can include insurance payments, Social Security payments, income replacement insurance and wage continuation plans.
Contact Feller & Wendt Today
Understanding the value of your medical malpractice claim in Utah may take assistance from an attorney. Contact the Bountiful personal injury lawyers at Feller & Wendt 24/7 for a free consultation about your specific case. We can review your losses connected to medical malpractice and estimate the value of your case. Then, we can explain how Utah’s damage caps might affect your financial recovery. Call (801) 499-5060 now to schedule your case review in Layton.