Understanding Utah Car Accident Laws

In 2022 on Utah’s roadways, 320 people died. This is more than in 2021, the last full year for which there is complete data. In that year, there were 61,406 vehicle crashes in which 297 people died and 18,220 people were injured.

A Salt Lake City Car Accident Lawyer can help you understand Utah car accident laws and pursue recovery for your damages if you were injured in a car accident or a loved one was killed.

What Do “At Fault” and “No Fault” Mean?

If you are injured in a car accident, car insurance will generally pay for your medical bills. Whether it is your insurance or the other driver’s insurance depends on the state you live in.

If the accident was in a state that has “at fault” laws, if you prove the accident was the fault of the other driver, that driver’s insurance pays for your medical and hospital bills and other damages like pain and suffering.

In a “no fault” state, your own car insurance personal injury protection (PIP) policy will pay for your medical and hospital bills. Utah is a no fault state. So, if you were injured in Utah, you first collect from your own car insurance PIP policy. Car crash attorneys can answer your questions about how this law affects you.

Utah’s No Fault Laws

According to Utah’s no fault statute, no matter how severely you might be injured, the first $3,000 of your medical bills must be paid by your PIP portion of your own car insurance. If your reasonable and necessary medical expenses exceed that amount, consult with car injury attorneys who can help pursue a personal injury claim against the driver whose negligence caused the accident. 

You may also file a claim against the driver you allege is at fault even if you do not meet the $3,000 threshold if you have certain types of major injuries, some of which are considered severe enough to warrant a claim include:

  • Loss of a limb.
  • Permanent disability.
  • Permanent disfigurement.
  • Permanent impairment.

Types of injuries that may result in permanent disability or permanent impairment may be a traumatic brain injury (TBI), spinal cord injury, or loss of vision.

If you meet either of these thresholds, either a qualifying injury or medical expenses exceeding $3,000, an auto accident attorney may file a personal injury claim on your behalf and pursue compensation for all your monetary losses as well as non-economic damages such as pain and suffering.

The laws can be complicated. A car accident lawyer Salt Lake City has embraced can help you understand this no-fault law and how it applies to your case. Car crash attorneys are always willing to help you collect all the damages to which you are legally entitled.

Utah Distracted Driving Laws and Crashes

Utah’s careless driving statute specifically prohibits distracted driving. It includes “searching for an item in the vehicle” or “attending to personal hygiene or grooming” while driving as examples.

The law also prohibits using hand-held communication devices while driving but allows using hands-free devices with some restrictions.

If distracted driving is the cause of a crash, the driver may be charged with a class B or C misdemeanor. If someone is injured or dies, the driver may be charged with a felony.

You still must meet one of the thresholds allowing personal injury claims: either medical expenses exceeding $3,000 or suffering from a qualifying injury. Car injury attorneys can help you pursue a claim against a distracted driver.

Utah Driving Under the Influence Laws and Car Crashes

Drunk driving is the fourth leading cause of traffic deaths in Utah. An average of 37 people per year have been killed by drunk drivers over the last 10 years. Hundreds more have been severely injured in drunk driving accidents.

Utah considers any driver with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .05 to be driving under the influence (DUI). The test, either a breathalyzer or a blood test, determines the BAC. The closer the test is taken to the time of the accident the more accurate it is.

If the driver is convicted of a DUI and causes a car crash resulting in bodily injury to another, the driver will be charged with a third-degree felony and subject to a prison sentence of up to five years and a fine of up to $5,000.

If the crash caused by the DUI driver resulted in someone’s death, the driver will be charged with a second-degree felony and be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Lawyers for car accidents may help you get the compensation you deserve if a drunk driver caused your injuries. An auto accident attorney will gather the evidence needed that will allow you to file a personal injury claim against the drunk driver if you have met one of the two thresholds Utah requires in order to qualify to file a personal injury or wrongful death claim against the at fault drunk driver.

Utah Speeding Laws and Car Crashes

According to the Utah Department of Public Safety (UDPS), in 2021, the most recent year for which there are statistics, 37 percent of all fatal car crashes were speed-related and were the cause of 13 percent of all accidents. In 2021, there were 8,095 speed-related car crashes resulting in 109 deaths and 4,276 injuries.

A crash is considered speed-related “when at least one of the drivers was exceeding the posted speed limit or driving too fast for conditions, as indicated by the police officer in the crash report under the driver contributing circumstances.”

There can be severe consequences when speeding:

  • All the driver’s errors are magnified and speeding shortens reaction time.
  • Easier loss of control of the car.
  • Increased stopping distance once the driver perceives there is a problem.
  • Increased severity of crashes and injuries if there is a crash. For every 10 mph driven over 50 mph, the risk of dying in a car crash doubles.
  • Seat belts are not as effective in a high-speed car crash.

If you suffered a qualifying injury or paid $3,000 in medical expenses under your PIP car insurance policy, a car accident lawyer Salt Lake City UT residents have learned to trust.

Utah Truck and Large Vehicle Laws and Car Crashes

Trucks and large vehicles generally are regulated by the federal government since they cross state lines and are involved in interstate commerce. Some of those regulations include:

  • Preventing fatigued driving by limiting the number of hours drivers can drive without resting. Studies have shown fatigued driving can be as dangerous as drunk driving.
  • Increasing requirements for obtaining a commercial driver’s license which is required for driving semi-trucks and 18-wheelers.

A crash with a truck or large vehicle can be catastrophic. A fully-loaded semi-truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds as opposed to an average sedan weighing approximately 5,000 pounds.

If you were injured in a crash with a large vehicle, chances are your medical expenses have exceeded the $3,000 threshold required for you to be able to file a personal injury claim against the negligent truck driver. A car accident lawyer Salt Lake City UT residents can depend on can help you.

How an Attorney Can Help

When you’ve been in an accident, having the right lawyers for car accidents handling your case is the most important decision you’ll make. This is especially true when you have an accident in Utah and are fighting Utah’s no-fault accident laws.

Our legal experts at Craig Swapp & Associates are skilled in receiving compensation for clients who have been injured in a car accident by negligent drivers, and who meet one of the required thresholds for filing a personal injury claim. To schedule a free consultation with an experienced injury attorney with Craig Swapp & Associates, simply complete this contact form.

Written By: Ryan Swapp     Legal Review By: Craig Swapp