Here’s the State of Utah traffic and injury liability laws you need. Protect your right to compensation for injuries caused by a negligent driver.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident in the State of Utah, you may have questions about how the laws will affect your property damage and personal injury claim.
You’re entitled to seek compensation from a negligent motorist whether you were walking, riding, or driving another vehicle when the collision occurred.
In this article, we’ll review the laws most commonly associated with car accidents. For your convenience, we’ve summarized each law and provided a link to the full text of each State of Utah statute.
Pedestrian Traffic 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.
Utah Code § 41-6a-305
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.
Utah Code § 41-6a-1002
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:
- 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.
- 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.Utah Code § 41-6a-306
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.Utah Code § 41-6a-1003
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.Utah Code § 41-6a-1008
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.
Utah Code § 41-6a-907
Drivers to Exercise Due Care
The driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian upon any roadway and shall give warning by sounding the driver’s horn when necessary and shall exercise proper precaution upon observing any child or obviously confused, incapacitated, or intoxicated person.
Utah Code § 41-6a-1006
Pedestrians Under the Influence of Alcohol or Controlled Substance
Utah Code § 41-6a-1009
Utah Driving Laws
Obedience to Traffic Control Devices
Utah Code § 41-6a-304
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 or a bicycle or moped in the right lane
- Upon a roadway with three (3) or more marked lanes of traffic
- Upon a roadway restricted to one way trafficUtah Code § 41-6a-701
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.
Utah Code § 41-6a-704
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 (200) feet of oncoming traffic. Drivers must also not drive on the left side of the road under the following conditions:
- When approaching or on a crest of a grade or a curve on the highway where the person’s view is obstructed within a distance which creates a hazard if another vehicle approached from the opposite direction
- When approaching within one hundred (100) feet of any intersection or railroad grade crossing, unless otherwise indicated by a traffic-control device or a peace officer
- When the view is obstructed while approaching within one hundred (100) feet of any bridge, viaduct, or tunnelUtah Code § 41-6a-706
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.Utah Code § 41-6a-705
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. Drivers must leave sufficient space ahead of their vehicle so that at least two seconds elapse before reaching the location of the vehicle directly in front of theirs.
Utah Code § 41-6a-711
Drivers and Mobile Electronic Devices
Drivers must not drive while using a handheld mobile electronic device to write or read text messages, instant messages, or email messages, to dial a phone number, to access the internet, to view or record a video, or to enter data into the device. Driver are permitted to use a handheld mobile device for voice communication, for GPS , for calling emergency services, or for reporting a safety hazard.
Utah Code § 41-6a-1716
Drivers and Intersections
Utah Code § 41-6a-901
Drivers Intending to Turn Left at Intersections
Utah Code § 41-6a-903
Drivers Entering or Crossing a Roadway
Utah Code § 41-6a-903
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, except penalties related to operator licenses under alcohol and drug-related traffic offenses.
Utah Code § 41-6a-1102
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 must not ride more than two (2) abreast in a single lane.
Utah Code § 41-6a-1502
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.
Utah Code § 41-6a-1502
Utah Code § 41-22-10.8
Motorcycles and Headlights
Utah Code § 41-6a-1603
Driving Offenses and Accident Rules
A driver is guilty of careless driving if the person:
- Commits two (2) or more moving traffic violations within a continuous period of driving three (3) miles or less
- Commits a moving traffic violation while being distracted by activities taking place within the vehicle, including searching for an item in the vehicle or attending to personal hygiene or groomingUtah Code § 41-6a-1715
A driver is guilty of reckless driving if the driver drives in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property or the driver violates three (3) or more acts of the Traffic Code in a continuous period of driving three (3) miles or less.
Utah Code § 41-6a-528
Alcohol and Minors
Utah Code § 53-3-231
Driver’s Duty to Give Information and Render Aid
A driver involved in an accident must immediately stop and remain at the scene of the accident until the driver has given to the persons involved their name, address, the registration number of the vehicle being operated, and the name of the insurance provider covering the vehicle being operated including the phone number of the agent or provider.
Upon request and if available, the driver must show their driver’s or operator’s license to any investigating peace officer present, the person struck, the driver, occupant of, or person attending the vehicle or other property damaged in the accident; and the owner of property damaged in the accident, if present.
The driver must immediately and by the quickest means of communication available give notice to the nearest law enforcement agency.
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.
Utah Code § 41-6a-401.7.1
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 41-6a-401.7.1 to give information and render aid.
Utah Code § 41-6a-401.7
Accidents Involving Only Damage to Another Car or Property
A driver involved in an accident resulting only in damage to property or another car which is driven or attended by any person must immediately stop at the scene of the accident or as close to it as possible and must remain at the scene of the accident.
The driver must also give to the persons involved their name, address, the registration number of the vehicle being operated, and the name of the insurance provider covering the vehicle being operated including the phone number of the agent or provider.
Upon request and if available, the driver must show their driver’s or operator’s license to any investigating peace officer present, the driver, occupant of, or person attending the vehicle or other property damaged in the accident; and the owner of property damaged in the accident, if present.
If the accident resulted in property damage of fifteen-hundred ($1,500) dollars or more, the driver must immediately and by the quickest means of communication available give notice to the nearest law enforcement agency.
Utah Code § 41-6a-401
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 their name, address, and the registration number of the car being driven.
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 their name, address, and the registration number of their car.Utah Code § 41-6a-401
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 fifteen-hundred ($1,500) dollars or more must immediately by the quickest means of communication give notice to the nearest peace office.
If the driver is physically unable to give immediate notice and there is another occupant in the car, the other occupant must immediately by the quickest means of communication give notice to the nearest peace office.Utah Code § 41-6a-401.7.1
Utah Code § 41-6a-402
Accident Reports Filed By Police Departments
Utah Code § 41-6a-402
Accident Report Forms
Utah Code § 41-6a-402
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 moving, stopped, or parked on Utah roadways.
An opened alcoholic beverage container can be kept only in part of the vehicle that is not accessible to the driver or passengers who are inside the vehicle, such as the trunk. It cannot be kept in the utility or glove compartment.Utah Code § 41-6a-526
Driving Under Influence of Alcohol or Controlled Substance
A driver must not drive after drinking an alcoholic beverage or consuming an intoxicant in an amount which renders the driver incapable of driving safely along roadways.Utah Code § 41-6a-502
Ignition Interlock Device
A driver who is guilty of driving while under the influence of an intoxicant may 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.Utah Code § 41-6a-518
Utah Injury Liability Laws
Utah Dram Shop Law
Utah has a Dram Shop Law. Dram Shop Law refers to the liability of private social hosts, bars, hotels nightclubs and other commercial establishments who serve alcohol to patrons or to minors for injuries intoxicated patrons or minors cause to third parties such as in car accidents.
A private social host is the host at a private party, such as a wedding reception, a corporate sponsored event, a gathering of friends at a private residence, where alcohol is served not for profit.
In Utah, it is illegal for a social host or a commercial establishment to serve alcohol to a minor or a person under the influence of an intoxicant, and the host or establishment is liable for the damages caused by the intoxicated person as a result of being intoxicated.
Financial Responsibility Car Insurance Minimum Limits
In the State of Utah, 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 $25,000 per person
- At least $65,000 for two (2) or more people
- $15,000 per occurrence for property damageUtah Code § 41-12a-304
Drivers who do not have liability insurance at the time of an accident are required to personally compensate the victim(s) of the accident.
For insurance requirements, see the Utah Department of Insurance website.
For information about buying auto insurance, see the Auto Insurance Buyers Guide.
Comparative Negligence (51% Rule)
In Utah, the victim in a car accident can sue the negligent driver for compensation. The victim’s liability in causing the accident, their comparative negligence, affects the amount of compensation the victim receives.
If the victim contributed less than 51% of the negligence that caused the accident, then their compensation is reduced by the amount they contributed to the accident.Utah Code § 78B-5-818
Example: Comparative Negligence (51% Rule)
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.
In the event the jury had found Jackson’s negligence equaled 49% of the accident, and Melanie’s equaled 51%, the jury would be barred by law from awarding Melanie any compensation for the damages.
Utah’s No Fault Car Insurance
In Utah, car owners must purchase car insurance. The Utah insurance claims system is based on no-fault. No-fault insurance allows a person, who is injured in a car accident or whose property is damaged, to file a claim with their own car insurance company.
No-fault insurance allows a person to avoid pursuing a negligent driver for compensation for damages. No-fault insurance does not compensate for pain and suffering, and the amount of personal injury protection (PIP) insurance purchased by the injured party determines their coverage.
Statute of Limitations
Utah has a three (3) year statute of limitations for property damage and and a four (4) year statute of limitations for 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 file a lawsuit within the allowable period following the date of the accident.
Utah Code § 78B-2-305
Utah Code § 78B-2-307
Small Claims Courts
In Utah, 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.Utah Code § 78A-8-102
To submit a claim in small claims court, visit the Utah Courts website.
Utah Government Tort Claims – Sovereign Immunity
In Utah, the law states that it is not 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. Yet, there have been several cases where the Utah courts did allow claims against the government and its employees.Utah Code § 63G-7-201
Utah Code § 63G-7-402
How Much is Your Injury Claim Worth?
Find out now with a FREE case review from an attorney…