By nature, motorcycles offer more flexibility and freedom on the road. Unfortunately, those benefits can come at a price. The majority of accidents that involve motorcycle accidents are not the fault of the driver. To add injury to insult, these accidents are more likely to result in severe bodily damage.

If you’re interested in how the laws protect you in a motorcycle crash in Utah, we’ll look at the frequency of motorcycle accidents in the state, their common causes, how fault is assigned, and how an attorney can help.

How Common Are Motorcycle Accidents in Utah?

The statistics on motorcycle accidents in Utah, like many states, are not exactly comprehensive. In 2016, the state reported 1,168 crashes, 41 deaths, and 1,014 injuries. According to the states, you were nearly ten times more likely to die in a motorcycle crash than in any other type of crash.

Risk of Death from a Motorcycle Crash

Between 1990 and 2016, motorcyclists were involved in just 1% of people in crashes but 15% of all deaths in the state. On average, crash rates have been either neutral or falling, but the number of deaths has increased.

Helmet Statistics in the Beehive State

Motorcyclists who were not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash were more likely to be fatally injured than those wearing a helmet. The majority of crashes typically involve only one other vehicle, and others involve no other vehicles at all (e.g., a motorcyclist runs off the road into a ditch on a sharp turn).

Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents

Motorcycle accident causes can include:

  • Speeding: One of the most common causes of any accident, vehicles that are going too fast may fail to both notice and accommodate a motorcyclist on the road.
  • Tailing: Any vehicle that follows too closely increases its chances of being involved in an accident.
  • Lane changing: Motorcycles can flit in and out of traffic, but every lane change increases the odds that another driver won’t anticipate the movement.
  • Swerving: Whether it’s to avoid an animal on the road or another vehicle, evasive actions or swerving can end in crashing.

How Is Negligence Related to Motorcycle Accidents?

Despite the tens of thousands of motorcycles registered in the state of Utah, the laws written in the state are somewhat murky. Utah may be known as a no-fault state, but the term doesn’t apply to motorcyclists. This means that you can still collect medical expenses and other benefits from the at-fault driver under the no-fault law.

Liability in a Motorcycle Crash Utah

Under state law, drivers generally have more responsibility to the motorcyclists on the road. A Utah motorcycle accident attorney can tell you that if the other driver wasn’t paying attention or otherwise made an error when on the road, they would typically be held liable.

If you were in an accident and sustained injury or property damage due to the collision, you would likely be entitled to a compensation package from the other driver. This package can include not just direct reimbursement to hospitals and clinics for care but also emotional damages as well.

How Is Fault Determined in Utah?

Like any vehicle accident, motorcycle collisions can involve a number of factors. A Utah motorcycle accident attorney will apply the rules of the road to the facts of the case.

  • Citations: A citation from a police officer can serve as a strong point of who was at fault. For instance, if a cop issues the other driver a reckless driving ticket. However, cops are people who can read the situation incorrectly, so it’s not the only way of determining fault. If you were the one who was issued a citation, this does not automatically mean that you don’t have a case.
  • Site of property damage: Crashes can happen in the blink of an eye. For those involved (and even for those who are watching from the sidelines), it’s not always a straightforward story of who did what. A motorcycle accident attorney in Utah can study the evidence. The damage can show the orientation of the vehicles, which can help officers and attorneys alike reconstruct the events.
  • Witnesses: If you have several witnesses at the scene of the crash who all share the same opinion about what happened at the scene of the accident, this is a strong start if you’re hoping to prove your case in court. If the witnesses stay until the police arrive, you may not even have to track them down to make a statement for a Utah motorcycle accident lawyer.
  • Video: Whether it’s a red-light camera, business video surveillance, or body camera footage from a cop, replaying what happened on film makes it possible to slow everything down and see exactly where the fault lies.

Becoming Familiar with Motorcycle Accident Laws in Utah

People choose to ride motorcycles for any number of reasons, but many of the perks come down to mobility. The small size makes it easy to maneuver in tight places and achieve the acceleration you want on short freeway ramps.

Lane Filtering in Utah

This is often one of the biggest perks for motorcyclists, but a motorcycle lawyer in Utah can tell you that the privilege must be used very carefully. Utah recently changed its laws on filtering, so it’s important to know what they are before you head out on the road.

Lane filtering refers to the act of splitting lanes. You are allowed to do this in the state, so long as the road does not exceed 45 miles per hour. In addition, the other vehicles must be completely stopped for this action to be legal. Finally, motorcyclists may not drive more than 15 miles per hour if they choose to filter.

So let’s say you were on a road with two lanes going in the same direction and a dotted yellow line in the middle. Due to a collision ahead, there are miles of stopped traffic both in front and behind you. In this case, a Salt Lake City motorcycle accident lawyer can safely say that you can move between the traffic to pass other vehicles moving in the same direction.

General State Laws for Motorcyclists

Laws under the Utah state code include:

  • Helmets: You are required to wear a helmet if you are both on a motorcycle and under 21. This includes drivers and passengers.
  • Eye protection: Unless the motorcycle has a windscreen on it, you must wear eye protection.
  • Insurance: All Utah motorcyclists are required to carry a bare minimum of liability insurance.
  • Licensing: You can get your motorcycle license either by first getting a permit and then taking a skills test or by successfully completing the riding course and test. You must carry your license on your person while on the road.
  • Speeding: Motorcycle drivers in Utah are expected to follow the posted speed limits at all times.
  • Stopping: If you’re allowed to make a right turn on red, you must make a full and complete stop to check the intersection before proceeding. Motorcyclists must signal at least two (2) seconds before turning.
  • Yielding: You are expected to yield to any emergency vehicles, including police cars and ambulances.
  • Passing: The motorcyclist is expected to change lanes before passing another vehicle. Motorcycles can ride side-by-side in one lane, but there can be no more than two vehicles riding together.

What to Do After a Motorcycle Crash

After a motorcycle crash, it’s important to get all of your ducks in a row. You never know what information you’ll need to prove your case down the line, so it’s important not to leave anything out. In addition to exchanging contact and insurance information with the other driver, you need to get other people involved. This means EMTs, paramedics, law enforcement, a Utah motorcycle accident lawyer, etc. Always seek medical attention, especially because injuries aren’t always apparent in a motorcycle crash.

Medical Injuries 

Even minor accidents can have major consequences. For instance, you may seem fine only to find that you have internal bleeding from the impact of the crash. Do not remove any of your gear, such as knee pads or helmets, until paramedics or EMTs arrive as this can inadvertently make the injury worse.

All injuries should be documented and reported for further reference. A Salt Lake City motorcycle accident lawyer can attest that these companies will need all the paperwork to pay out any compensation for your expenses.

Police Reports 

You should also obtain a copy of the police report, as this will include everything from the driver’s contact information, the police officer’s version of the story, and whether they issued the other driver a ticket. Even if the police officer got the story wrong, you’ll need to know their opinion before you begin trying to prove your side. Take note of the police officer’s name and badge number in case you want to get in touch with them later on.

How a Motorcycle Accident Attorney in Utah Can Help

If you’re considering a motorcycle lawyer in Utah, Craig Swapp & Associates is here for you. A crash in Utah can turn out to be far more complex than drivers realize, particularly if there are serious injuries involved. The right motorcycle accident attorney will investigate the details, turning over the facts and ensuring that their clients have every advantage when it comes to negotiating and receiving their compensation package. Contact us today to see what we can do for you.

Written By: Ryan Swapp     Legal Review By: Craig Swapp