Alaska Car Accident and Personal Injury Laws



If you've been injured in a car accident in the State of Alaska, you may have questions about how the laws will affect your property damage and/or personal injury claim. In this article, we'll review the laws most commonly associated with car accidents. To read the entirety of each law, click the link to the specific State of Alaska statutes in each section.

Here are the Alaska car accident and traffic laws we'll cover:

Pedestrian Laws

Pedestrians and Crosswalks

The driver of a vehicle must stop and yield the right of way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian has reached the halfway point of the crosswalk, or when the pedestrian is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the crosswalk as to be in danger.
Section 13.02.155

Restrictions on Pedestrians Crossing Roadways

No pedestrian must enter any marked or unmarked crosswalk when traffic is so close that it might constitute an immediate hazard, nor must any pedestrian enter any marked or unmarked crosswalk where traffic signs forbid such entry.
Section 13.02.155

Pedestrian Control Signals

Whenever special pedestrian control signals, exhibiting the words Walk or Don't Walk or the symbols of a walking person or an upraised palm are in place such signals shall indicate as follows:

  1. Walk or Walking Person. Pedestrians facing such signal may proceed across the roadway in the direction of the signal and shall be given the right of way by the drivers of all vehicles.
  2. Don't Walk or Upraised Palm. No pedestrian shall start to cross the roadway in the direction of such signal, whether flashing or steady. Any pedestrian who has partially completed the pedestrian's crossing on the Walk or Walking Person signal shall complete the crossing to a sidewalk or safety island while the Don't Walk or Upraised Palm signal is showing.
Section 13.02.015

Crossing at Other Than Crosswalks

Pedestrians intending to cross a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles on the roadway.

Pedestrians must use only the marked crosswalk to cross between two adjacent intersections that have traffic-control signals in operation.

Pedestrians can cross an intersection diagonally only when it is authorized by traffic-control devices.
Section 13.02.160

Pedestrians on Roadway

Where sidewalks are provided, it is unlawful for any pedestrian to walk along and upon adjacent roadway, bicycle lane, or bicycle path.

Where sidewalks are not provided, pedestrians are permitted to walk only on or along the left side of the roadway or on it's shoulder facing traffic from the opposite direction.
Section 13.02.175

Pedestrians' Right of Way on Sidewalks

The driver of a vehicle emerging from or entering an alley, building, private road, or driveway shall yield the right of way to any pedestrian approaching on any sidewalk extending across the alley, building entrance, road, or driveway.

If the driver's vision is restricted by buildings, parked vehicles, weather, or other conditions, he shall give warning with the horn of the vehicle after stopping and before proceeding.
Section 13.02.257

Drivers to Exercise Due Care

Every driver of a vehicle must exercise care to avoid colliding with a pedestrian, an animal or another vehicle.
Section 13.02.545

Driving Laws

Obedience to Traffic Control Devices

A driver must obey any traffic control devices applicable to the driver, unless directed by a traffic or police officer.
Section 13.02.005

Driving on Right Side of Roadway

Drivers must drive in the right lane of roadways with the following exceptions:

  • When passing another driver in the same direction
  • When there is an obstruction in the right lane
  • Upon a roadway marked with three or more lanes of traffic
  • Upon a roadway restricted to one way traffic
Section 13.02.050

Passing On the Left

Driver proceeding in the same direction must pass to the left at at a safe distance and shall remain in the passing lane until it is safe to return to the right lane. Drivers being passed must not increase the speed of their vehicle until their vehicle is completely passed by the overtaking car.
Section 13.02.065

Limitations on Overtaking on the Left

Drivers may drive to the left side of the center of the roadway in overtaking and passing another vehicle only if the left side is clearly visible and the overtaking vehicle can return to its lane without coming within two hundred feet of oncoming traffic.
Section 13.02.065

Passing On the Right

Drivers may pass on the right under the following conditions:

  • When the driver about to be passed is about to make a left turn. However, the driver attempting to pass on the right must not do so without driving off the pavement of main-traveled portion of the roadway.
  • When the roadway has two (2) or more lanes of traffic moving in the same direction.
  • On a one-way street where the roadway is free from obstructions and wide enough for two or more lines of moving vehicles.
  • The driver of a vehicle traveling in a roundabout may not overtake and pass on the right of another vehicle.
Section 13.02.055

Following Too Closely

A driver must not follow another driver more closely than is "reasonable and prudent", having due regard for the speed of other drivers and traffic conditions along the roadway. A driver who is towing another vehicle must leave sufficient space ahead of their vehicle to allow an overtaking vehicle to enter and occupy this space without danger.
Section 13.02.090

Drivers and Mobile Electronic Devices

Drivers must not drive while using a mobile electronic device to read or type text messages.
Section 28.35.161

Drivers and Intersections

When two (2) drivers approach an intersection at approximately the same time the driver on the left must yield to the driver in the right.
Section 13.02.120

Drivers Intending to Turn Left at Intersections

A driver who intends to turn left at an intersection, or into an alley, private road or driveway must yield the right of way to drivers approaching from the opposite direction.
Section 13.02.125

Drivers Entering or Crossing a Roadway

A driver about to enter or cross a roadway from any place other than another roadway must yield the right of way to all other drivers and cyclists on the roadway to be crossed.
Section 13.02.135

Bicycling Laws

Bicyclists must obey the same traffic laws as drivers of cars, and are subject to the same penalties as are drivers for violating traffic laws.
Section 13.02.385

Motorcycling Laws

Motorcycles

Motorcyclists must obey the same traffic laws as drivers of cars, and are subject to the same penalties as are drivers for violating traffic laws.
Section 13.02.422

Motorcyclists and Lanes of Traffic

Motorcyclists are entitled to the full use of a traffic lane and drivers must not take any action to deprive a motorcyclist of his or her right to use a full lane on a roadway.

A motorcyclist must not pass another driver in the same lane. Motorcyclists may not ride more than two (2) abreast in a single lane, and only if both motorcyclists consent.
Section 13.02.427

"Lane Splitting"

Motorcyclists must not pass another driver in the same lane. Commonly known as "lane splitting," motorcyclists sometimes attempt to pass other drivers when traffic is slowed, or bumper to bumper. To move forward through traffic motorcyclists sometimes drive between cars. Doing so is not only illegal, but quite dangerous.
Section 13.02.427

Helmet Law

All motorcyclists must wear helmets while riding on roadways. If the motorcycle is not equipped with a windshield, then motorcyclists must also wear protective eyewear while riding on roadways.
Section 13.04.350

Motorcycles and Headlights

From thirty minutes after sunset until thirty minutes before sunrise, every motorcycle riding on a roadway must have at least one multi-beam road-lighting headlight turned on.
Section 13.04.320

Driving Offenses and Accident Requirements

Negligent Driving

A person who drives a motor vehicle in a manner that creates an unjustifiable risk of harm and endangers a person or property is guilty of negligent driving.
Section 28.35.410

Reckless Driving

A person who drives a motor vehicle in a manner that creates a substantial and unjustifiable risk of harm to a person or to property is guilty of reckless driving.
Section 28.35.400

Alcohol and Minors

A driver at least fourteen (14) years or age and under the age of twenty-one (21) must not drive upon any roadway after drinking any quantity of alcohol.
Section 28.35.280

Driver's Duty to Give Information and Render Aid

A driver involved in an accident resulting in injury or death to any person, including other drivers, passengers, and/ or passersby must give their name, address and the vehicle license number.

Moreover the driver must render to any person injured in the accident reasonable assistance, including making of arrangements to transfer the injured person to a physician, surgeon, or hospital for medical or surgical treatment if it is apparent medical treatment is required.
Section 28.35.060

Accidents Involving Death, Personal Injury, or Substantial Bodily Injury

A driver involved in an accident resulting in injury or death of any person must immediately stop and remain at the scene of the accident until the driver has fulfilled the requirements of Section 28.35.060.

Section 28.35.060 reads in part that the driver must give their name, address and vehicle license number to any person injured in the accident or to the driver of the car involved in the accident.

Moreover the driver must render to any person injured in the accident reasonable assistance, including making of arrangements to transfer the injured person to a physician, surgeon, or hospital for medical or surgical treatment if it is apparent medical treatment is required.
Section 28.35.050
Section 28.35.060

Accidents Involving Only Damage to Another Car or Property

A driver involved in an accident resulting only in damage to property must immediately stop and remain at the scene of the accident until the driver has fulfilled the requirements of Section 28.35.060.

Section 28.35.060 reads in part that the driver must give their name, address and vehicle license number to any person involved in the accident.
Section 28.35.050
Section 28.35.060

Accidents Involving Damage to Unattended Car or Unattended Property

A driver who collides with a parked car or who collides with other property which is unattended must immediately stop at the scene of the accident or as close to it as possible and must attempt to locate and notify the driver or owner of the damaged car or damaged property.

Once located the driver who caused the accident must give the name and address of the operator and owner of their vehicle.

If the driver or owner of the damaged car or property cannot be located, the driver who caused the accident must attach a written note to the damaged property in a conspicuous place giving the name and address of the operator and owner of their vehicle as well as the circumstances of the accident.
Section 28.35.050

Driver's Duty to Notify Police Department

A driver involved in an accident resulting in injury, death, or total damage to all property resulting in $2,000 or more must immediately by the quickest means of communication give notice to the nearest police office and forward a written report within 10 days of the accident.

A driver who is physically unable to report an accident is not required to make a report. If there was another occupant in the vehicle capable of making the report, then the other occupant must make the report.
Section 28.35.080
Section 28.35.090

Accident Reports Filed By Police Departments

Every law enforcement officer who investigates a motor vehicle accident resulting in injury, death, or damage totalling $2,000 or more must forward an electronic report of the accident to the Department of Administration within 24 hours of completing their investigation.
Section 28.35.080

Accident Report Forms

The Department of Public Safety must prepare and upon request supply to police departments, coroners, local peace officers, garages, and other suitable agencies or individuals, forms for accident reports.
Section 28.35.100

Open Alcohol Container Law

A driver or passenger must not be in possession of an opened container of an alcoholic beverage or consume a controlled substance while the car is traveling on Alaska roadways.

An opened alcoholic beverage container can be kept only in the trunk of a vehicle, in a motor driven cycle, or in the space behind the rearmost upright seat. An opened alcoholic beverage container can also be kept in an area normally occupied by passengers if there is a solid partition that separates the driver from the passengers.

Passengers of a hired vehicle that has a capacity of 12 people or more can consume and possess an opened container of alcohol.
Section 28.35.029

Driving Under Influence of Alcohol or Controlled Substance

A driver must not drive while under the influence of an alcoholic beverage, inhalant or controlled substance. In Alaska, a driver is guilty of the offense of Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence of an Intoxicant if the driver has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) that is 0.08% or higher within four hours of the alleged operation of a vehicle.
Section 28.35.030

Ignition Interlock Device

A driver who is guilty of driving while under the influence of an intoxicant might be ordered to have installed at his or her own expenses an ignition interlock device. The ignition interlock device will serve to restore the driver's driving privileges during the pendency of the driver's probation. If an ignition device is installed, it must be installed in every car owned or operated by the driver.

An ignition interlock is a device which measures any amount of alcohol contained in a driver's body. Before starting the car the driver must blow into a tube emanating from the ignition interlock device. If the device then detects a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) higher than is permitted by law the car will not start and the violation will be reported to the prosecutor, the probation officer, and/or the judge. At that point the driver may be subject to loss of driving privileges, immediate arrest and incarceration up to the maximum term provided by law.
Section 28.15.201

Liability Laws

Alaska Dram Shop Law

Under Alaska law, it is a violation of the liquor control laws for an establishment to serve alcohol to a minor or a person under the influence of liquor. The person who sells alcohol to a minor or an intoxicated person can be held liable for the civil damages caused by the minor or intoxicated person if their intoxication substantially contributed to the civil damages.
Section 04.21.020
Section 04.16.030

Financial Responsibility Car Insurance Minimum Limits

In the State of Alaska, each motor vehicle must be covered by an insurance policy that includes liability coverage of the following amounts for all damages resulting from an accident:

  • At least $50,000 per person
  • At least $100,000 for two or more people
  • $25,000 per occurrence for property damage
Alaska's Department of Administration Insurance Requirements Fact Sheet

Alaska Insurance Information

For information about the insurance requirements in Alaska, see the Division of Motor Vehicles webpage on the Department of Administration website.

Negligence & Several Liability

In Alaska, the victim in a car accident can sue the negligent driver for compensation. The victim's liability in causing the accident affects the amount of compensation the victim receives. The courts enter judgment against each party liable on the basis of several liability, meaning each party's percentage of fault for causing the accident. Compensation is determined based on each party's percentage of fault.
Section 09.17.080

Example of Negligence & Several Liability

One morning, Jackson was driving north on his way to work. At an intersection, he pulled into the left turn lane. At the same time, Melanie approached the intersection from the opposite direction. Suddenly, Jackson turned left into Melanie's lane and their cars collided.

Melanie sustained serious brain injuries and damage to her car, totalling in $100,000 dollars worth of damages.

After their investigation, the police determined that Jackson had failed to yield according to traffic laws. A pedestrian witness told police he saw Melanie texting at the time Jackson's car crashed into Melanie's. As a result, the police issued Melanie a citation for using a mobile device while driving.

Melanie sued Jackson for $100,000 and claimed he was 100% at fault for the accident because he did not yield to her right-of-way. At trial, the jury found Jackson liable for failing to yield the right-of-way. However, the jury also found Melissa liable for using a mobile device while driving and partially responsible for the accident.

The verdict stated Jackson's negligence equaled 70% of the accident, and Melanie's equaled 30%. The jury awarded Melanie only $70,000 dollars.
Negligence and Several Liability: Section 09.17.080
Right of Way: Section 13.02.125
Drivers and Mobile Electronic Devices: Section 28.35.161

Alaska's No Fault Car Insurance

The Mandatory Insurance Law in Alaska requires either the vehicle owner or driver to carry liability insurance. Vehicle owners or drivers who are at fault in a collision are required by the Financial Responsibility law to pay for any damage or injury caused to another person. For information about the insurance requirements in Alaska, see the Division of Motor Vehicles webpage on the Department of Administration website.

Statute of Limitations

Alaska has a two (2) year statute of limitations for property damage and personal injury claims. This means if a driver, passenger, or passerby is injured or sustains property damage at the hands of a negligent driver, the victim must either settle their claim within two (2) years, or file a lawsuit. If the victim fails to settle their claim or file a lawsuit within the two (2) year period the victim is barred from pursuing the negligent driver in court.
Section 09.10.070

Small Claims Courts

In Alaska, victims of car accidents can choose to sue the negligent driver in small claims court. The jurisdiction of a small claims court regarding personal injury and property damage is limited to a maximum of $10,000, exclusive of filing fees and court costs. For information about the small claims court, see the Alaska Small Claims Handbook.
Section 22.15.040

Alaska Government Tort Claims - Sovereign Immunity

In Alaska, it is possible to submit a claim against a governmental agency or its employees for personal injury or property damage as a result of negligence on the part of the governmental agency or its employees. The claim must refer to an lawful action on the part of the governmental agency or employee performed in the scope of their duties.

If the injury or property damage occurred as a result of an unlawful action, then the claimant can sue only the person(s) who caused injury or property damage individually. The governmental agency would not be liable.
Section 09.50.253
Section 09.50.250

Example

If Melissa stopped for a few drinks and became intoxicated before heading to a worksite and causing an accident, then the City of Anchorage can claim sovereign immunity. Melissa performed an unlawful act and was not acting in the scope of her duties when she became intoxicated on her way to the worksite.

To seek compensation for damages, injured parties would have to sue Melissa personally. The determination of whether or not Melissa was acting within the scope of her duties would have to be decided during a trial.
Section 09.50.253
Section 09.50.250
NCSL

Sources

State Government of Alaska

Alaska Department of Transportation

Alaska State Legislature

Alaska Department of Public Safety

Governors Highway Safety Association

Alaska Bar Association

National Conference on State Legislature

Print Friendly and PDF

How Much Is Your Claim Worth?

Find out now with a FREE case review from an attorney...

How Much Are Your
Injuries Worth?

Find out with a
free attorney review:

TYPE OF ACCIDENT
AUTO ACCIDENT
PERSONAL INJURY
WORKERS COMPENSATION
MEDICAL ERROR
YES! I WANT FAIR COMPENSATION