What is the Car Accident Statute of Limitations in Utah?
First, let’s explain that a “statute of limitations” is a state law that sets a deadline for the filing of any kind of civil lawsuit. These deadlines differ depending on the kind of case being filed, but the time limits are almost always expressed in years. Most importantly, fail to comply with the deadline set by a statute of limitations, and your case is likely doomed before it gets started.
Now, onto the specifics of the law in Utah, where Utah Code section 78B-2-307 sets something of a catch-all statute of limitations that will apply to almost all injury lawsuits arising from a vehicle accident. This law gives you four years to ask Utah’s civil court system for a remedy for any kind of personal injury caused by someone else.
So, in the context of a car accident, that means any lawsuit by any driver, passenger, motorcycle rider, bicyclist, or pedestrian injured in the crash will be subject to this three-year filing deadline, and the “clock” starts running on the date of the accident.
If anyone was killed as a result of the car accident, Utah Code section 78B-2-304 42-2-2 sets a two-year statute of limitations deadline for any wrongful death claim that might be brought by the deceased person’s family. And it’s important to keep in mind that for these kinds of claims, the two-year “clock” starts running on the date of the accident victim’s death (as opposed to the date of the accident itself). Learn more about Wrongful Death Lawsuits in Utah.
Finally, if you had your vehicle or other personal property damaged as a result of the car accident, Utah Code section 78B-2-305 says that any lawsuit over that damage must be filed within three years of the date of the vehicle accident.
(Keep in mind that regardless of the basis for bringing the lawsuit -- whether it’s an injury, a death, or just damage to a vehicle -- the success of the case will almost certainly hinge on your ability to prove that the defendant’s negligence was the cause of the crash. Learn more about Proving Fault for a Car Accident.)
From a strategy standpoint, you always want to make sure you have plenty of time to file a lawsuit, even if you’re pretty sure you’ll reach a car accident settlement. If you have all of your options open -- and the other side knows it -- you’ll have more leverage during settlement talks. So if the filing deadline is approaching, it may be time to talk with a Utah car accident attorney.