Utah Motor Vehicle Accident Laws and Safety Requirements

Utah’s 200 to 250 annual traffic deaths place it among the nation’s safest 25 percent of states. Injured victims and surviving family members of deceased victims can take advantage of Utah’s comprehensive legal regime to secure fair compensation for their losses.

Statute of Limitations: You have four years from the date of a road accident to file a personal injury claim, two years to file a property damages claim, and two years (from the date of the victim’s death) to file a wrongful death claim (a one-year statute of limitations applies to wrongful death lawsuits against a state government entity).

When the Victim is Partly at Fault: When the victim is partly to blame for the accident, a Utah court will apportion the blame among the parties on a percentage basis. If the victim was at least 50 percent at fault, the claim will be dismissed with no damages. If the victim was less than 50 percent at fault, the court will simply subtract the victim’s percentage of fault from the damages recovery, and award the remainder to the plaintiff.

Fault/No Fault Rule: Utah is a “no-fault” auto insurance state – you must look to your own insurance first for compensation, regardless of who was at fault. There are two loopholes – (i) if your medical expenses exceed $3,000 or (ii) if your injuries are within a class of injuries labeled “serious” under Utah personal injury law.

Minimum Insurance Coverage: The minimum auto insurance coverage allowed by Utah law is $25,000 per injured victim, $65,000 per injury accident, and $15,000 in property damage.

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage: Utah does not require its drivers to purchase coverage for uninsured or underinsured motorists.

Types of Damages Available: Although compensatory damages are available, there is a $450,000 cap on non-economic damages (such as pain and suffering) in recent medical malpractice cases. Lower caps apply to older cases. Although punitive damages are not capped, there is a lower burden of proof for DUI-related cases.

Product Liability for Defective Vehicles: No-fault product liability is available no matter how old the vehicle is, but comparative fault principles apply if the victim shared blame for the accident.

Suing the Government over Defective Roadways (Sovereign Immunity): Utah applies a cap of $583,900 per injured victim, $233,600 for property damage and $2 million per case for lawsuits against the state government.

Motorcycle Helmet Laws: All riders under 18 must wear helmets.

Seat Belt Laws: All occupants must buckle up, no matter where they are sitting. The maximum second-offense fine is $45.

Dram Shop Law: Licensed alcohol sellers face limited liability to injured third parties if they sell alcohol to underage customers or obviously intoxicated customers whose intoxication later injures the third party. Social hosts face liability for serving minors under 21 whose intoxication later injures a third party.

DUI/DWI Penalties (first offense): The minimum penalty for a first-offense DUI is 48 hours in jail, a $700 fine and a driver’s license suspension of 120 days.

Penalty for Refusing a Sobriety Test: A DUI suspect who refuses to take a breath, blood or urine sobriety test can lose his driver’s license for 18 months (first offense).

Distracted Driving (texting while driving, etc.): Texting while driving is illegal in Utah. Cell phone use is banned for on-duty school bus drivers and drivers under 18, including hands-free cell phones.