Right of Way Laws

Right of way laws vary by state, but the vast majority of laws are redundant on the idea of yielding to the right of way, or in essence, taking care to prevent a collision with another driver. Failing to yield to the right of way of another driver creates negligence. A negligent driver, through failure to yield, stands accused of creating an environment of undue danger of causing a collision. This negligent conduct, as well as the ensuing damages stemming from a collision, create grounds for a plaintiff driver to file suit against the negligent party. Following a collision, however, establishing which driver possessed the right of way, as well as the proportional level of fault, or negligence, of each party is not always clear. The following examples of common right of way accidents describe some scenarios where right of way disputes, and in turn fault, can be established.

Right of Way Disputes in Car Accidents

When determining fault in a car accident, the party that failed to yield to the right of way another driver is often deemed negligent, and therefore, responsible for damage claims. Some common accident scenarios and right of way violations are detailed below, including:

  • Failure to Yield - Failing to yield to the right of way of another driver, such as at entry ramps, merging locations, and unmarked intersections, is illegal. Typically, determining which party had the right of way before an accident is established by the police report, which will detail the traffic violations that may have attributed to an accident by both parties. Again, not all right of way accidents are the direct result of one particular moving violation, and therefore, the police report will often include notations on the negligent actions of both drivers. Furthermore, one or more drivers may also receive a traffic citation for their actions to fail to yield to the right of way of another driver at the scene of the accident.
  • Traffic Control Signs and Lights - Similar to right of way, but with additional levels of negligence, drivers that fail to respond to the direction of traffic control devices are negligent in their actions, which may attribute to the accidents commonly seen at intersections. Traffic control devices, such as stoplights, distinctly note which driver has the right of way, and any violation of these right of way laws leading to an accident will not only establish fault, but will result in a traffic citation for the violation.
  • Rear End Accident - Rear end collisions with another vehicle almost universally place fault on the driver striking another driver from the rear. The assumption is that all drivers are required to follow another vehicle at a safe enough distance to allow for emergency braking and should be paying close enough attention to be able to do so. Citations for following too closely, otherwise known as tailgating, or even some form of distracted driving may be issued to drivers held at fault in rear end collisions.

Can a Lawyer Help?

It is always possible to dispute a traffic citation with the assistance of an attorney. In cases involving an accident stemming from an alleged traffic violation, drivers may wish to prove their innocence of the traffic violation in order to mitigate or dismiss their levels of fault in causing an accident. In the end, this may result in drivers avoiding thousands of dollars in damage claims from other parties, as well as avoiding the citations associated with right of way violations causing an accident.

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