Utah Auto Accident Laws & Resources
Here we’ll explore car accident laws and information on insurance, fault, and other resources if you’ve been injured in a Utah car accident.
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Statistics and Notable Utah Car Accident Settlements
The Salt Lake Tribune reported in 2016 that traffic deaths in the state rose by 7% in 2015, with a total of 275 people killed on Utah highways.
The superintendent of the Utah Highway Patrol reported that the increase could be because more people are driving more miles from lower gas prices. Another factor could be because of the growing state population. However, the largest share of blame is most likely human error and poor driving behavior. People are not wearing seatbelts, they are speeding and more people are driving drunk, according to public officials.
Recent hikes in traffic fatalities in Utah have come after a steep decline from 2002 to 2012. In that time, annual road deaths in the state dropped from 329 to 217. They have gone up every year since. The group with the largest jump in fatalities is pedestrians. In 2014, there were 30 pedestrian deaths, but this increased to 47 in 2015.
One thing that did not seem to lead to a higher number of Utah traffic fatalities is the increase of the speed limit on urban highways to 70 MPH, and increasing the speed limit on some rural roads to 85 MPH. Public officials have not seen any increase in the number of fatalities based upon these changes.
Also, it is reported that ¾ of the fatalities on Utah roads are not on interstates but are on smaller roads. Overall, speed was found to be a factor in 58 deaths on Utah roads in 2015, but most of the vehicles were going well over the speed limit or were driving too fast for conditions.
The deadliest roads in Utah for 2015 were:
- Interstate 15: 36 deaths
- US 89: 13 deaths
- Interstate 80: 12 deaths
- Interstate 70: 10 deaths
- US 6: 11 deaths
- US 40: 7 deaths
Statistics from the Utah state government from 2012 to 2016 found the following top reasons for motor vehicle traffic deaths:
- Speed: 497 cases
- Unrestrained occupants: 377 cases
- Drunk driver: 158 cases
- Failure to yield: 154 cases
- Distracted driver 108
There were 469 deaths involving drunk drivers in this state from 2003 to 2012. The rate of death per 100,000 for drunk driving was 1.2, compared to 3.3 overall in the US. Given the higher population of Mormons in Utah who do not drink, this is a likely explanation for the lower number of drunk driving deaths.
One of the most notable car accident cases in Utah in recent years was the June 30, 2016 accident in Salt Lake City where a 17-year-old female intentionally rammed a car and killed the two occupants. She was allegedly trying to commit suicide and did not intend to kill the occupants of the other vehicle. The teen driver rammed the other vehicle from behind at 100 MPH and sent the other vehicle into a traffic signal pole. The passenger died at the scene, and the driver died later.
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Utah Accident Settlement Taxes
According to the IRS, payments you receive for physical personal injuries and physical sickness are received free of taxes. This is the case at the Utah state level as well. It does not matter if the personal injury settlement is a court-ordered award or a settlement out of court. It also does not matter if it is paid in installments or a lump sum.
Also, compensation that is provided to you for your emotional distress from a physical personal injury is also free of taxes. Distress on an emotional level is thought to be part of the physical personal injury process.
Amounts that you receive for medical expenses are free of taxes as well. But if you claim a tax deduction for medical expenses that are reimbursed in your settlement later, this amount is taxable. Further, if part of the award or settlement is interest for the period between the personal injury and sickness and the time you receive payment, that part of the settlement is taxable.
Further, payments for any punitive damages you receive will be taxed at the federal and Utah state levels. They are taxable even if they are paid to you as compensation for your physical personal injury.
Comparative Negligence Laws in Utah
In Utah, the modified comparative negligence rule is used to determine negligence in a motor vehicle accident. Under this rule, the injured party in an accident cannot bring a personal injury claim against another person if their negligence level is 50% or more. So, if the plaintiff’s degree of negligence is 49% or lower, he can bring a personal injury claim against the other person. It is up to the jury or the insurance company to estimate the percentage of negligence involved for all parties in the accident.
Understanding comparative negligence law is important because it can reduce your compensation in a car accident claim. If you were 40% at fault for a car accident, your potential financial award will be reduced by 40%.
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Auto Insurance Requirements in Utah
As in most states, you are required in Utah to carry a minimum level of car insurance. You are required to carry a minimum of $25,000 for property damage; $65,000 for bodily injury, and $15,000 in coverage for the other party’s property. Also, the no-fault law in the state requires that you have at least $3000 of personal injury protection (PIP). This covers your medical other expenses in a minor car accident.
No Fault Law in Utah
In car accidents, Utah has a no fault system. This means after most motor vehicle crashes, the injured person’s insurance provider will give coverage for lost income and medical expenses, no matter who was at fault. Generally, you cannot hold the other driver liable in the car accident unless you have a ‘serious injury.’ Most minor fender bender accidents will fall under the no fault system. But if you can show that you have serious injuries, you may be able to file a claim against the at fault driver.
Car Accident Statute of Limitations in Utah
Utah limits the amount of time that you can file a personal injury case in a car accident. You have four years from the date of the accident or injury to file the case.
Utah Car Accident Resources
If you are in a car accident in Utah, you can be stressed and unsure what to do. First, it is very important to not leave the scene of the accident. You are required under state law to provide help to anyone who has been injured. If the accident involves any injuries, death or property damage above $1000, you must inform the highway patrol or Utah police as soon as possible.
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