Determining Fault in Intersection Accidents
Dec 14 2018

Determining Fault in Intersection Accidents

Intersection AccidentsIntersection accidents are among the most common car accidents, with hundreds occurring daily in California alone. If you’ve been injured in such an accident, you may be wondering if you have any recourse for compensation.

You might — and not just from the other driver(s) involved. To learn more, contact Russell & Lazarus APC today.

Who Is at Fault for the Accident?

According to traffic statistics, about 40% of all car accidents happen at intersections. Human error causes nearly all of them. When cars travel in opposite directions on the same road and cross one or more streams of traffic on other roads, the accident risk skyrockets, even where there are clear signs and traffic lights. Changing lanes, turning left or right, and trying to go through an intersection when traffic is coming on the other road(s) are the main culprits.

However, accidents are sometimes the result of badly-designed intersections. If the approach isn’t obvious, if warning signs aren’t in place or are obscured by vegetation, or there’s not a clear view of other traffic, then you may be able to sue the city, county, or municipality for neglect. They’re responsible for providing a decent intersection.

Proving Road Hazard Faults

A known trouble spot should have enough traffic signs, lights, and other devices in place to help drivers avoid accidents. Stop signs or caution lights, for example, may not be enough if road construction on other routes increases traffic on the route you’re driving; so at least temporarily, the lights should be upgraded. Dedicated left-turn lanes can also decrease accident rates.

To prove your accident intersection was hazardous, you’ll need a lawyer to help you collect evidence of the hazard and prove it was already known or should have been obvious. This may involve investigating other traffic accidents at the intersection. If the local highway agency hasn’t made a serious effort to improve the intersection and cut down on the accidents, you may have a case.

Right-of-Way Issues

According to state laws, specific drivers have the right-of-way (ROW) in certain situations. If you had the ROW and someone hit you, you may have a case against them; at least, they’re liable for your injuries and damages. So make a sincere effort to determine who had the ROW when your accident occurred.

You can prove you had ROW if you:

  • Had a protected green light as you navigated the intersection.
  • Stopped at lights or stop signs on your side of the intersection.
  • Yielded to traffic on a through street that lacked signs or signals.
  • Treated the road as at least a two-way stop (if existing lights were turned off).
  • Yielded to autos in the intersection already.
  • Got to the intersection at the same time as a car on the right and yielded to them.
  • Entered a multi-lane road from a two-lane road and yielded to cars on the larger road.
  • Yielded to vehicles on a highway as you entered from an on-ramp unless you had a protected lane.
  • Yielded to cars on the frontage road when exiting a highway.

Don’t Let Insurers Determine Fault Without Your Input

When you make a claim with an insurer, the company investigates and tries to determine who was at fault in the accident. (Otherwise, a jury will determine the fault in a trial.) In California, both drivers can share some degree of fault. This doesn’t prevent you from seeking compensation from the other at-fault driver, though that compensation may be lowered depending on your percentage of fault.

So be sure to get a police report! Try to keep the other person from leaving until the police arrive and determine fault. Because of the reliability of a police report, it’ll weigh heavily in the insurance company’s determination of fault.

If You Were in an Intersection Accident, Contact Us Today

Russell & Lazarus APC has years of experience in handling car accident cases in the Orange County area. If you need help getting compensation for a loved one or yourself, contact us today for a free consultation. We may be able to help.

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