"Warning: Missing a Utah Statutory Deadline Can Destroy Your Case!"
One of the most important jobs for a Utah Accident Lawyer is to know and apply the statute of limitation applicable to the client's case.
A statute of limitation is a law which limits the length of time within which a lawsuit must be started before the right to sue is lost. A lawsuit is usually commenced by your Utah accident lawyer filing a "Complaint" at the clerk's office of a local court.
In a legal case, a "Complaint" is the first document filed with the court by your Utah accident lawyer stating the factual and legal basis for claiming monetary compensation against the defendant (the person being sued).
Statutes of limitation for all Utah cases are found in the Utah Code.
Utah Accident Lawyers refer to the State's Categories of Cases:
For automobile accidents in Utah the time limit for filing suit is four years from the date of the accident. However, if a city, county, or state employee caused the crash then you must comply with the provisions of the governmental immunity statutes which give you less time to take action. The Utah Code Section that defines the four-year time period for automobile accident claims is 78-12-25. If someone is killed in the car crash then the Utah Wrongful Death Statute of two years applies.
An action may be brought within two years for recovery of damages for a death caused by the wrongful act or neglect of another; Utah Code Section 78-12-28.
Some Utah accident lawyers handle claims against medical professionals. These claims are known as medical malpractice and have a special statute of limitation.
A medical malpractice action against any health care provider must be brought within two years of the date when the injury was or should have been discovered, with a maximum limit of four years after the negligent act. Utah Code Section 78-14-4 (1996).
Note that this statute has two parts:
1) the first requires action within two years of the date when the injury was discovered or should have been discovered. This is a "statute of limitation."
2) the second part sets a limit of "four years after the negligent act." This latter part, which applies regardless of whether the injury has been discovered, is called a "statute of repose."
Here's an example, Dr. Brown does an appendectomy on Mrs. White on Jan 2, 2002. He fails to remove a sponge and Mrs White suffers strange pains for five years when, during another unrelated surgery, the sponge is discovered. This falls outside the four-year statute of repose.
Fortunately, notwithstanding the four-year statute of repose, an action filed by Utah injury attorneys based on a foreign object retained in the body may be brought within one year of the date when the object was or should have been discovered. Id.; Day v. Meek, (Utah March 30, 1999).
The medical malpractice statute of limitations also applies to malpractice death actions. Jensen v. IHC Hospitals, Inc., 944 P.2d 327, 332 (Utah 1997).
An action may be brought within one year for libel, slander, false imprisonment, or seduction;Utah Code Section 78-12-29.
Utah Code Section 78-12-33.5. Statute of limitations -- Asbestos damages -- Action by state or governmental entity. (1) (a) No statute of limitations or repose may bar an action by the state or other governmental entity to recover damages from any manufacturer of any construction materials containing asbestos, when the action arises out of the manufacturer's providing the materials, directly or through other persons, to the state or other governmental entity or to a contractor on behalf of the state or other governmental entity. (b) Subsection (1)(a) provides for actions not yet barred, and also acts retroactively to permit actions under this section that are otherwise barred. (2) As used in this section, "asbestos" means asbestiform varieties of: (a) chrysotile (serpentine); (b) crocidolite (riebeckite); (c) amosite (cummingtonite-grunerite); (d) anthophyllite; (e) tremolite; or (f) actinolite.
"A civil action under this chapter shall be brought within two years from the time the individual who would be the claimant in such action discovered, or in the exercise of due diligence should have discovered, both the harm and its cause." Utah Code Section 78-15-3
Slip and fall
For slip and fall cases in Utah the time limit for filing suit is four years from the date of the accident. However, if a city, county or state employee caused the fall then you must comply with the provisions of the governmental immunity statutes and so you have less time to take action. Look below to find the steps for complying with the Utah Governmental Immunities Act. The Utah Code Section that defines the four-year time period for slip and fall (and other "fall" type) claims is 78-12-25.
Claim against city, county, or state
A Utah injury legal claim against a state or local governmental entity is started when a Utah accident lawyer files a "Notice of Claim."
TIME FOR FILING NOTICE OF CLAIM
A Utah accident lawyer is alert to the presence of an at fault party who works for a state or local governmental entity. When he sees one, he makes sure he makes a notation in his calendar or in his "docketing software" so that he will comply with the following requirement:
The notice of claim must be filed within one year after the claim arises.
The rules describing the content of a Notice of Claim are very precise and are found in Utah Code Section 63-30d-401.
A Utah accident lawyer must make sure the Notice of Claim is delivered to the appropriate branch of the governmental entity and/or to the specific person designated by this statute.
Claim against federal government
A Utah accident lawyer knows that claims against the federal government come under a special law passed by Congress called the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA).
The statute of limitations under the FTCA for filing an administrative claim, in writing, with the appropriate Federal agency is 2 years from the date of the accrual of the claim.
The accrual of a claim begins at the moment the Government violated an individual's rights and the individual was damaged. In some cases, the accrual of the claim is not easy to determine and may be subject to interpretation by the court. While the court cannot change the two-year statute, it can interpret the date on which it begins.
Claimants may use form SF-95 to file a claim under the FTCA. However, if this form does not contain all the requirements of an administrative claim, then it is not a valid claim. In addition, not all complaint letters that request money are claims under the FTCA. Some complaint letters are simply complaint letters and should be treated as such.