Among the states in our great nation, only a handful of states operate as “no-fault” insurance states. Utah is one of these no-fault states. This means that when there is an auto accident, someone is at fault and that person or company must pay.
In a fault state, no person or party can receive any compensation without first determining who is at fault (neither insurance company will step up and pay until fault has been determined). Ultimately, it will only be the insurance company of the person who is at fault who will pay for the damages, but it may take a while to determine fault and the injured person is in a state of lingo while waiting for the fault determination.
On the other hand, the no-fault accident is different. The one who incurred damages brought about by another party can be compensated by his own insurance company and then that insurance company will seek reimbursement from the other insurance company when fault is determined. This speeds up the process for the injured person and allows them to get immediate medical attention as well as peace of mind. Essentially, the injured person gets paid and then the insurance companies fight it out amongst themselves. In Utah, if you are in an accident, either insurance company can pay for the costs of the property loss or the injuries and then recover from the other insurance company once fault is determined (hence why Utah is a “no-fault” state).
Statutorily, Utah requires that every driver carry a minimum of $3,000 in personal injury protection insurance “PIP.” This $3,000 is basically just a pot of money sitting there waiting to be used. This money can be used regardless of fault. So if you crash your own car into a tree and it is your fault, you can use the $3,000. If you are injured by someone else’s carelessness, then you can use that $3,000 for your initial medical bills including transportation to the hospital, x-rays, etc…
Another interesting aspect of Utah injury law is what is referred to as “threshold law.” In Utah, if you fail to exceed $3,000 in medical expenses then you do not qualify for a personal injury claim (only when the harm arises from an automotive crash). Threshold law means that you are barred from filing a personal injury claim unless your medical bills amount to more than $3,000. On one hand PIP coverage is great because it is available immediately and helps people get the initial medical treatment that they need. On the other hand, PIP has to be reimbursed out of your settlement unless policy limits are obtained. So if you do not reach the policy limits you have to pay back the $3,000 making it of little value.
If you are in an accident give us a call. Each situation is unique and we can advise you (for free) how these laws apply to your particular case. PIP laws and threshold laws can be sticky, so contact an experienced personal injury attorney today so that you don’t make a costly mistake.