Once you live in Utah—or anywhere else for that matter—you are no longer a lone island. For example, you have neighbors. Your decisions or the lack of them, especially those that concern your backyard, can affect not only you but also others. Take, for example, what happens if someone meets an accident or injures themselves while within your property? What is your liability, if there is?
Who’s at Fault?
If a person injures themselves in your patio or backyard, the law allows them to file civil damages to the claims court. But it doesn’t hand a decision right away. One of the critical steps is to determine your level of liability, which isn’t easy.
First, the court has to answer this question: Who’s at fault, and is there negligence? It then considers the five elements: duty, breach of duty, proximate cause, cause in fact, and damages. If indeed you are responsible for the person’s injury, the court then determines your percentage of participation. Were you at least 80% at fault? Then the damages the person receives will be equivalent to that. This is the principle of comparative negligence.
Note, however, that Utah has a long statute of limitations or the period when people can sue you. It’s four years for the injury and even three years if the person wants you to replace or repair their damaged property. Although the state has a cap or limitation on the damages it can award, it applies only to cases arising from medical malpractice. There’s also no limit to punitive and economic damages.
The state also implements strict personal injury laws involving animal attacks, especially dog bites. Utah doesn’t follow the one-bite rule, which usually gives the pet owner a free pass for the first bite. With this rule out of the way, you can be held liable for the person’s injury regardless of how your dog behaves in the past.
How Do You Avoid Personal Injury Cases?
Nobody wants to face a court and then pay up a significant amount of money. You should do your best to avoid a personal injury case with these tips:
1. Take care of your yard. For example, consider hiring specialists in tree trimming. Trees can be a cause of serious injuries such as fractures or head injuries.
2. Know your liability limits. Knowledge is power. You can achieve peace of mind if you know what you can be liable of. For example, if the road outside your home is public, then it’s the government that should be sued if someone meets an accident there.
3. Be aware of the rules within your neighborhood. Read your association guidelines, ask questions to your county, or know more about the state regulations to everything, from noise to tree removal.
4. Strive your best to be a good neighbor. Go out and make friends. When your neighbors feel that they can talk to you, they are less likely to bring matters to court should they experience an injury while in your premises.
Personal injury cases can be financially draining and overwhelming, particularly if you don’t have sufficient insurance or, worse, you don’t have any form of coverage. You can significantly lower your risks by doing the tips given above.