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Motorcycle Laws

Of all the accidents involving motorcycles and another vehicle, 80% were not the motorcyclist’s fault. Many of these accidents led to serious injuries since the rider lacked the protection that cars provide. Yet, the laws surrounding insurance policies for motorcycles can often seem confusing and complicated.

Here at Christensen and Hymas, we want to help. This article is a brief overview of the laws surrounding motorcycles. While we cannot provide you with legal advice specific to your situation, we want to give you the tools to empower you in this difficult time.

What laws govern riding a motorcycle?

According to Utah law, a rider must sit in a normal position and must only carry passengers if the bike is built for more than one person. Any passenger on the bike cannot interfere with the driver’s ability to see or control the vehicle.

The driver must also have “both hands on the handlebars” meaning they cannot hold onto a package or other items while riding.

In Utah, motorcyclists do not need to wear a helmet unless they are under 18 or are in an enclosed cab. While riders over 18 are not required to wear a helmet, we—among many other sources—strongly encourage it. Further, the state will waive $8 of a ticket fine if the rider was wearing a helmet and not riding under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Up to two motorcycles can ride in a lane. Other vehicles cannot share a lane with a motorcycle. Motorcycles cannot ride between lanes and cannot pass a vehicle in the same lane as it.

Utah law also requires that the handlebars do not go above shoulder height. It also requires certain equipment. A specific list can also be found here.

What laws may affect my accident case?

Utah does not allow for a motorcycle to be covered by the owner’s car insurance policy if it is not specifically listed on that policy and the coverage is currently uninsured. A person’s personal injury protection (PIP) policy does not cover the driver of a motorcycle. However, he or she can seek for a similar coverage if the insurance company offers it.  This no-fault insurance policy covers any passengers on the motorcycle.

However, if an owner or operator of a motorcycle does not have PIP, they can potentially start a legal claim right away. Normally, an injured person would have to wait to begin until they met certain qualifications, including damages costing more than $3,000.

If a person is involved in an accident, the act of not wearing a helmet does not mean they were negligent, nor can the other side use this as evidence against the person.

What else should I know about specific motorcycle policies?

In one case, two boys were riding a scooter built for one rider. A driver did not see them and turned right into them. The boys were injured so they sued the driver. However, because the law required them to only have one person on this particular scooter, they lost their case.

In another case, a motorcycle passed a large truck turning left. Another car travelling in the opposite direction had already started to turn left. The motorcycle hit the back of the car and sued. The jury found him 100% negligent because it was his duty to approach the intersection with caution.

With all of the specific regulations and the confusing nature of insurance coverage, you may feel overwhelmed at the idea of dealing with your accident. We can help. Please call us at 801-506-0800 (main number), 801-224-2999 (Utah County) or 801-294-9500 (Davis County) for a free consultation. We’ll take care of the insurance companies so that you can focus on healing and recovery.

To read more about motorcycle accidents, read our article, “Motorcycle Accidents.