Utah Hit and Run Laws: What happens if someone leaves the scene of an accident?
- Utah Hit and Run Laws: What happens if someone leaves the scene of an accident?
- Utah hit and run laws explained: What happens if you leave the scene of an accident?
- Will my insurance cover hit and run in Utah?
- What to do after an accident in Utah?
- Is leaving the scene of an accident a misdemeanor in Utah?
Leaving the scene of an accident without fulfilling statutory obligations is a misdemeanor in Utah. If the accident involves death or serious injury, the fleeing driver is guilty of a felony.
Quick take: Leaving the scene of an accident
- Do not admit fault at the scene of an accident.
- Remain at the scene until law enforcement officers arrive.
- You may transport the victim to a physician or hospital upon request or if it is apparent that the individual requires immediate medical assistance.
- You may leave the scene if you have a valid reason to fear for your wellbeing.
- Utah is a no-fault state. Your insurer pays you.
- You may take civil action against a hit and run driver.
- A conviction for hit and run will impact your insurance premiums.
Utah hit and run laws explained: What happens if you leave the scene of an accident?
Under Utah code sections 41-6a-401.3 through 41-6a-403, you must immediately stop your vehicle and fulfill the statutory obligations listed in section 41-61-401.9. Section 41-61-401.9. “Duties of Operator, Occupant, and Owner” states that you must:
- Give your name, address, and vehicle registration to the injured person or struck property owner.
- You must also give the victim your phone number, the name, and the number of your insurer.
- If the struck person or a peace officer requests it, and if available, you must exhibit your driver’s license.
- Render reasonable assistance to anyone who needs it.
Subsection C of the statute reads, quote:
“Render to any person injured in the accident reasonable assistance, including transporting, or making arrangements for transportation of the injured person to a physician or hospital treatment if (1) the victim requests it. (2) if it is apparent that treatment is necessary.”
Because of that, if someone suffers a serious injury, transporting that person to a care facility is not a violation of the statute. But you must report the accident using the quickest means of communication.
Will my insurance cover hit and run in Utah?
Under state law, you do not need to have uninsured motorist coverage. However, having uninsured motorist coverage is beneficial. If authorities fail to apprehend the hit and run driver, you may recover damages, including lost wages, repair/replacement costs, or other damages included in your cover.
What to remember:
- Driving without insurance is a class B misdemeanor in Utah.
- You will lose your driving privileges upon conviction for any of the crimes below.
- Upon conviction for a hit and run, your insurer will increase premiums, and some may deny you coverage.
What to do after an accident in Utah?
An accident in Utah becomes a crime if you leave the scene without fulfilling the requirements above. However, that means you may avoid criminal charges if you do the following:
- Stop the vehicle and remain at the scene until the victim or a law enforcement officer present at the scene asks you to leave.
- Document anything useful, and gather evidence, including witness testimonies and dashcam footage.
- File a police report within the set period (see below),
- Contact your insurer
- If the accident involves expensive property damage, serious injury, or death. Contact your attorney.
- Do not admit fault or show guilt.
Remember, the state may use anything you say against you, meaning it is good practice to let an experienced attorney speak for you.
Is leaving the scene of an accident a misdemeanor in Utah?
Yes. Under state law, you are guilty of a misdemeanor if you leave the scene of an accident involving property damage without fulfilling the obligations listed above.
Section 41-61-401. “Accidents Involving Property Damage” says that you are guilty if you knowingly leave the scene. The statute defines “knowledge” as quote:
“Knowledge” or “with knowledge” means, with respect to an individual’s conduct or circumstances surrounding an individual’s conduct, that the individual is aware of the nature of the conduct or the existing circumstance.”
“Reason to believe” means information from which a reasonable person would believe that the person may have been involved in an accident.”
Because of that, you may use “lack of knowledge of your involvement in a traffic collision” as a defense.
Knowingly leaving the scene of an accident involving property damage is a class B misdemeanor in Utah.
What happens if you hit an unattended vehicle in Utah?
Under state law, you must make a reasonable effort to locate the struck property owner. If you find the owner, give the person your name, registration number, insurance information, and address. If you cannot find the owner, you may attach a note containing said information on a conspicuous section of the struck vehicle.
Failing to locate the struck property owner or leaving a note constitutes a class C misdemeanor under section 41-6a-401.7. (6).
What is a reportable accident in Utah?
Under section 41-6a-402, you have ten days to file a report for any accident that results in property damage above $2500, death, or injury. Additionally, while at the scene, you must contact law enforcement and emergency services if necessary, using the quickest means of communication.
Failure to file a report is an infraction.
What if you are unable to file a report?
If the driver is unable to immediately notify law enforcement, a passenger in either vehicle may notify the police.
Is leaving the scene of an accident a felony in Utah?
Yes. Under section 41-6a-401.3. “Accident Involving Injury,” leaving the scene of an accident involving serious bodily injury without exchanging information or rendering aid to the victim, is a third-degree felony.
Under section 2 (a) of the statute, obstructing traffic and failing to remain at the scene constitute a class A misdemeanor.
Vehicular homicide and DUI hit and run Utah
Section 76-5-207 “automobile homicide” defines automobile homicide as, quote:
“Criminal homicide is automobile homicide, a third-degree felony, if the person negligently operates a motor vehicle causing the death of another and: (1) has sufficient alcohol in his body that a subsequent chemical test shows that the person has a blood or breath alcohol concentration of .05 grams or greater at the time of the test; (2) is under the influence of alcohol, any drug, or the combined influence of alcohol and any drug to a degree that renders the person incapable of safely operating a vehicle; or (3) has a blood or breath alcohol concentration of .05 grams or greater at the time of operation.”
Consequently, if a hit-and-run happens when the driver is under the influence of drugs/alcohol, or while engaging in reckless behaviour -such as road rage. The driver risks vehicular homicide charges if the victim dies.
What is the penalty for leaving the scene of an accident in Utah?
- Knowingly Leaving the scene of an accident involving property damage. Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in county jail and a $1000 fine.
- Hit and run involving an unattended vehicle. Class C misdemeanor. Punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a maximum fine of $750.
- Leaving the scene of an accident involving injury. Class A misdemeanor, punishable by a minimum fine of $750 and up to 364 days in jail.
- Leaving the scene of an accident involving serious injury. Third-degree felony, punishable by a minimum fine of $750 and up to 5 years in prison.
- Hit and run involving death. Third-degree felony, punishable by a minimum fine of $750 and up to five years in prison.
- Automobile homicide/DUI hit and run/negligent homicide: third-degree felony.
Note that section 76-5-207.8. states that quote:
“A person is guilty of a separate offense for each victim suffering bodily injury or serious bodily injury as a result of the person’s violation of Section 41-6a-502 or death as a result of the person’s violation of this section whether or not the injuries arise from the same episode of driving.”
Civil and administrative penalties
If you are the victim of a hit and run in Utah, you have the option to take civil action and recover damages, including lost wages, pain, and suffering, hospital bills repair and replacement, and so on. We recommend consulting with a claims attorney and acting before the statute of limitations expires.
Upon conviction, the court may order punitive damages.
As the victim. Below is what you should do immediately after a hit and run:
- Gather evidence, including dashcam footage, damage done to the fleeing vehicle, driver description, or anything else that may aid investigators.
- Do not comment about your physical well-being before getting an expert medical opinion.
- Call your insurer.
- Do not admit fault or engage in road rage.
Note that “fear for one’s safety” is an affirmative defense in most states. Consequently, if you threaten or harm the other driver, the individual may have a solid defense.
If you leave the scene because you fear for your safety, you must immediately notify law enforcement.
How is fault determined in Utah?
Utah is a “no-fault” state. Meaning that after an accident, you should file a claim under your injury protection coverage. As mentioned, you also have the option to file a personal injury claim to recover damages.
We recommend consulting with a claim’s attorney immediately.
The state also has a “modified comparative fault rule” that diminishes the amount you may recover based on your share of fault for the accident.
What is the statute of limitations on accidents in Utah?
Under state law, you have:
- Three years to file a property damage claim.
- Two years to file a wrongful death claim (countdown begins when the victim dies).
- Four years to file a personal injury claim.
Utah hit and run laws: Defense
Commonly used defenses for leaving the scene of an accident in Utah include:
- Lack of knowledge of your involvement in a traffic collision.
- Mistaken identity.
- You fulfilled statutory obligations.
- Leaving the scene was involuntary.
- Leaving the scene was the quickest way to get help.
We recommend consulting with a defense attorney to find a suitable defense.
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