If you get injured and you file a case against the parties you feel are responsible for your injuries and pain and suffering, you may believe that the court will pay all the damages awarded to you by a jury of your peers. Why not, since you are the one suffering the financial effects and pain from the accident, right?
It may come as a surprise to you that even though the judge and jury may feel great sympathy for you, especially if your health is permanently compromised, many times the lawyer for the defendant will try to prove that you are partially or solely responsible for your own injuries. If they can prove that you share some of the responsibility through your own actions, comparative fault rules in Utah may lower the compensatory damages you receive.
Let’s say you were dining at a fine restaurant and had some wine with dinner. As you are leaving, you were talking to your spouse while walking and didn’t notice the spilled beverage on the floor. You slipped and fell, injuring your back. The defendant will probably argue that you are at least partially at fault for the fall because you were impaired after drinking alcohol, in addition to not paying attention to your surroundings. The jury decides that you were 30% at fault and the restaurant was 70% responsible for not removing the spill that you slipped on. The court awarded you significant damages, but under the rules of comparative fault, the amount will be reduced by the same percentage determined to be your fault. In this case, your damages would be reduced by a full 30%. If you had been extremely intoxicated and non-attentive and it was determined that you were therefore 50% or more at fault due to your inebriation, you may not receive any damages at all! This is why it is so important to have an attorney evaluate your case and be properly prepared for the complicated issues that can be presented in court.