UTAH CROSS WALK INJURY CASES—WHAT DOES THE TRAFFIC CODE SAY?

Utah CrossWalk Injury CasesHit In A Utah Cross Walk?  Who is At-Fault?

Being hit by a car or motor vehicle in a Utah crosswalk has legal ramifications on who is at-fault.  Fault is ultimately determined by agreement of the parties or the fact finder.  The parties can just agree to an apportionment of fault which is between the insurance company and the injured person through their attorneys.  Or, fault can be adjudicated (determined) by the fact finder.  The fact finder can be the jury or the judge, depending on which method was selected.

Apportionment of Fault in Utah Bicycle Accidents. CrossWalk Bicycle Cases

The Utah Comparative Fault Act applies to all accident cases where the partys’ can’t agree on who exactly at-fault.  See Utah Code 78B-5-817.  The comparative fault act must be precisely followed or you are looking at disastrous results.  There are many issues you must plead in your responsive pleading and there are notices you must file prior to fact discovery closing to afford the right at trial to apportion fault.

Violations of the Utah Traffic Code.

If either the driver or bicyclist violated any provisions of the Utah Traffic Code that will serve as evidence regarding who was at-fault for the bicycle accident.

Traffic Code Provisions for Bicyclists in Cross Walks.

The Utah Traffic Code has 20 parts.  It’s huge.  The main bicycle chapter is:

Part 11 “Bicycles and Other Vehicles, Regulation of Operation”

CrossWalk Pedestrian Injury CasesLike any other portion of the traffic code you must read Part 11 in combination with the general definitions sections of 41-6a-102 which is applicable to all parts of the Utah Traffic Code.

Traffic Code Defines “Crosswalk” as follows:

(13)        “Crosswalk” means:

(a)          that part of a roadway at an intersection included within the connections of the lateral lines of the sidewalks on opposite sides of the highway measured from:

(i)

(A)          the curbs; or

(B)          in the absence of curbs, from the edges of the traversable roadway; and

(ii)           in the absence of a sidewalk on one side of the roadway, that part of a roadway included within the extension of the lateral lines of the existing sidewalk at right angles to the centerline; or

(b)          any portion of a roadway at an intersection or elsewhere distinctly indicated for pedestrian crossing by lines or other markings on the surface.

Bicycle is defined in the Utah Traffic Code as:

Bicycle” means a wheeled vehicle:

(i)            propelled by human power by feet or hands acting upon pedals or cranks;

(ii)           with a seat or saddle designed for the use of the operator;

(iii)          designed to be operated on the ground; and

(iv)         whose wheels are not less than 14 inches in diameter.

(v)          “Bicycle” includes an electric assisted bicycle.

By Default—Bicycles are to be Treated Like Other Motor Vehicles.  Utah Code 41-6A-1102.

The key provision regarding bicycles in the Utah Traffic Code states that the traffic code applies to bicycles, just like it does to other vehicles.  The default position, the throwback stance is that bicycles must operate like motor vehicles while on roadways unless otherwise indicated in more specific provisions of the Utah Traffic Code.

The controlling provision reads:

41-6a-1102.  Bicycle and device propelled by human power and moped riders subject to chapter — Exception.

(1)          Except as provided under Subsection (2) or as otherwise specified under this part, a person operating a bicycle, a vehicle or device propelled by human power, or a moped has all the rights and is subject to the provisions of this chapter applicable to the operator of any other vehicle.

(2)          A person operating a nonmotorized bicycle or a vehicle or device propelled by human power is not subject to the penalties related to operator licenses under alcohol and drug-related traffic offenses.

MYTH:  You Must Walk Your Bike Through Cross Walks in Utah.

You don’t have to walk your bicycle across any cross walk in Utah.  Maybe it would be prudent to walk your bicycle across the cross walk, but it is not required under the Utah Traffic Code.  Bicycles may “not operate at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the existing conditions, giving regard to the actual and potential hazards then existing” over cross walks.

The main cross walk speed or traveling over a Utah cross walk states:

Effective 5/8/2018

41-6a-1106.  Bicycles and human powered vehicle or device to yield right-of-way to pedestrians on sidewalks, paths, or trails — Uses prohibited — Negligent collision prohibited — Speed restrictions — Rights and duties same as pedestrians.

(1)          A person operating a bicycle or a vehicle or device propelled by human power shall:

(a)          yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian; and

(b)          give an audible signal before overtaking and passing a pedestrian.

(2)          A person 18 years of age or older may not operate a bicycle or a vehicle or device propelled by human power on a sidewalk, path, or trail, or across a roadway in a crosswalk, where prohibited by a traffic-control device or ordinance.

(3)          A person may not operate a bicycle or a vehicle or device propelled by human power in a negligent manner so as to collide with a:

(a)          pedestrian; or

(b)          person operating a:

(i)            bicycle; or

(ii)           vehicle or device propelled by human power.

(4)          A person operating a bicycle or a vehicle or device propelled by human power on a sidewalk, path, or trail, or across a driveway, or across a roadway on a crosswalk may not operate at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the existing conditions, giving regard to the actual and potential hazards then existing.

(5)          Except as provided under Subsections (1) and (4), a person operating a bicycle or a vehicle or device propelled by human power on a sidewalk, path, or trail, or across a roadway on a crosswalk, has all the rights and duties applicable to a pedestrian under the same circumstances.

Subsection (5) is what gives bicyclists in Utah cross walks “all the rights and duties applicable to a pedestrian under the same circumstances.”  This authorizing language treating bicyclists similar to pedestrians on a crosswalk grants bicyclist all the same rights as pedestrians in cross walks.  Being hit by a car on your bicycle in a cross walk is treated very similar to being hit by a car as a pedestrian.  The basic legal structures and protections afforded to pedestrians are given to bicyclist.

The following protections are afforded pedestrians in cross walks from being hit by cars and by above authorizing language, bicyclists too.

No Jaywalking.  Diagonal Crossing the Road.

A pedestrian can’t diagonally cross the roadways and if they do they must yield to on-coming motor vehicle traffic.  Utah Code 41-6A-1003.

Utah Cars Must Yield To Cross Walk Pedestrian Traffic.

The controlling and main statute commanding cars to yield to pedestrians inside of crosswalks or so close to entering the cross walk is Utah Code 41-6A-1002.   The basic rule is that if a pedestrian is in a crosswalk, on your portion of the cross walk, you must yield.   You still must yield if the pedestrian is in the opposite half of the cross not directly in front of your car, but will soon be in your portion of the cross walk you must yield if not doing so would cause danger.

Cars required to yield to pedestrians in cross walks reads:

Effective 5/8/2018

41-6a-1002.  Pedestrians’ right-of-way — Duty of pedestrian.

(1)(a)    Except as provided under Subsection (2), the operator of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way by slowing down or stopping if necessary:

(i)           to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian is on the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling; or

(ii)          when the pedestrian is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the roadway as to be in danger.

(b)          Subsection (1)(a) does not apply under conditions of Subsection 41-6a-1003(2).

(c)           A pedestrian may not suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard.

(2)          The operator of a vehicle approaching a school crosswalk shall come to a complete stop at the school crosswalk if the crosswalk is occupied by a person.

(3)          If a vehicle is stopped at a marked crosswalk or at any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection to permit a pedestrian to cross the roadway, the operator of any other vehicle approaching from the rear may not overtake and pass the stopped vehicle.

Obviously a pedestrian can’t jump out in the middle of the road and expect the protections of this law requiring vehicles to yield to pedestrians in cross walks.   Subsection (c) indicates that “A pedestrian may not suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard.”

Another key provision is that once a car in front of you is yielding to pedestrian cross walk traffic, the motor vehicles behind that yielding car must also yield and can’t overtake the cars in front of them who are yielding.

“If a vehicle is stopped at a marked crosswalk or at any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection to permit a pedestrian to cross the roadway, the operator of any other vehicle approaching from the rear may not overtake and pass the stopped vehicle.”  Utah Code Ann 41-6A-1002(3).

What ultimately happens at a cross walk is for the jury or judge to decide, whoever is the chosen fact finder. The jury may read the applicable Utah Traffic Code and interpret (findings) that the pedestrian was at-fault, or they may find the car was not at-fault, but someone needs to pay for the young child’s damages.  The jury or judge is the ultimate adjudicator of the facts and can be led by passion or sympathy rather than the raw facts of where the pedestrian or bicyclist was within the cross walk.

UTAH BICYCLE AND PEDESTRIAN INJURY ATTORNEY JAKE GUNTER.  Call/TXT (801) 373-6345 for a free consultation on your injury case.  Jake’s been helping the underdog for nearly 20 years. Let his experience work for you.