How is Fault Determined in an Intersection Accident?

One of the most devastating situations a driver can go through is being involved in a car accident. Unfortunately, accidents are common occurrences. According to a Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor vehicle (DHSMV) report, in 2020, there were 22,106 accidents in Palm Beach county. A significant percentage of these accidents happened at intersections.

Intersection car accident lawsuits can be complex. Determining who’s at fault in an intersection car accident may need a thorough investigation. Sometimes, the driver who was hit may be at fault. It’s also possible for both drivers involved in the car accident to be equally responsible. We suggest consulting with an experienced West Palm Beach Car Accident Lawyer to learn more about your rights.

Leading Causes of Intersection Accidents

The common reasons for intersection accidents include:

Ignoring stop sign/red light– When a driver ignores a stop sign or a red light, they dart right into oncoming traffic. If a driver is heading in the opposite direction, the chances are that they are driving too fast to respond in time. The outcome can be a severe car accident. 

Rushing through a yellow light– When some drivers see a yellow light, they think it’s time to speed up. A yellow light is a signal to slow down, however. Trying to make it through a yellow light increases the chance of an intersection accident. 

Prohibited right turns– A driver shouldn’t turn right at an intersection that prohibits a right turn. In these areas, a right turn poses a significant danger of a crash. 

If a right turn is allowed at an intersection’s red light, a driver who wants to turn right shouldn’t obstruct traffic to make this turn. A driver who insists on turning right without a straightforward way to proceed puts several cars in one lane at risk. 

Distracted driving– Driving while distracted is one of the leading causes of car accidents. If something else distracts a driver at an intersection, a driver can easily make errors and cause an accident. 

Failure to observe the right-of-way– A driver should always observe these rules as the right-of-way should guide the driver’s decision in an intersection without a traffic signal. 

Right-of-Way Rules at an Intersection

All drivers are expected to follow traffic rules, including the right-of-way rules. At busy intersections, there are traffic rules regarding who must yield and who has the right-of-way, and failure to respect these rules may cause fatal intersection accidents. 

Many West Palm Beach, Florida, cameras will record the events resulting in an accident, including drivers who refuse to yield. 

Here are examples of right-of-way rules for all motorists:

Controlled intersections– These are intersections that feature stop signs, traffic lights, and yield lights to help motorists move in an orderly fashion. Motorists must yield to drivers with the right-of-way. 

Intersections without traffic signals– The vehicles already at the intersections have the right-of-way. If two motorists arrive simultaneously at the intersection, the right car has the right-of-way. 

Intersections featuring multiple-lane roads– Motorists on the multi-lane road have the right of way. A driver on the one-lane road must yield. 

Types of Intersection Car Accidents in Florida

Rear-ending other drivers and running through red lights can cause severe accidents at intersections. Here are the most common types of car accidents that can occur:

T-Bone or Side-Impact Collisions– A side-impact collision occurs when the front of a vehicle rams into the side of another vehicle, normally at about a 90-degree angle. This accident can lead to severe injuries to a person on the passenger side of the car that is hit. This accident commonly happens when a driver is distracted, fails to regard the right-of-way, or runs through a red light. 

Read-End collisions– These mostly happen when drivers ignore their surroundings or are tailgating another motorist. For instance, a rear-end collision can happen at an intersection if a driver doesn’t slow down in time to avoid ramming into a car that’s stopped at a red light. 

Head-On Collisions– This accident can occur at an intersection when a driver makes an illegal left turn. A head-on collision is a devastating accident that could cause fatalities, especially if the cars involved are traveling at a high speed. 

Left-Turn Accidents– This accident occurs when a vehicle turning left at the intersection hits a car going straight through the intersection. In most instances, the driver turning left is liable for an accident since they must yield to the driver driving straight through the intersection. 

Tips to Prevent Intersection Accidents in Florida

Avoid changing lanes when approaching an intersection. If a driver changes lanes while driving through an intersection, they may lack the time to complete the change safely, mainly if the light changes. This kind of mistake can result in a sideswipe crash.

Don’t assume the right of way. Even if a driver has a green light and it’s their time to proceed, they should check to ensure there aren’t pedestrians crossing or other drivers turning on a red light. Sadly, some cyclists don’t obey traffic lights, and some pedestrians insist on crossing at red lights. 

Avoid distractions. Drivers should remain alert at intersections to notice any unexpected movement. Keep cell phones or any other distracting objects away. A fraction of a second is enough for a driver to cause a fatal accident.

Intersections with no lights should be approached with utmost care. Without functioning lights, drivers should treat this kind of intersection as a four-way stop. Not every driver understands how four-way stops work. Be alert for unexpected driving from other motorists darting into the intersection. 

Look out for children and other road users. These road users may behave in an unexpected manner. Additionally, young children may be confused by traffic lights and dart unexpectedly into the road. Before you turn or proceed, ensure your way is clear.

Always be ready for a surprise. Other road users may speed, wander into an intersection, or switch lanes suddenly. Always remain alert. 

How is Fault Determined at an Accident at an Intersection?

In an intersection car accident, the motorist at fault is not determined by who hit whom. In most cases, fault at an intersection accident depends on which vehicle had the right-of-way. Sometimes, the vehicle with the right-of-way can also be at fault for not noticing the other motorist. Sadly, there’s rarely adequate evidence at the scene to help investigators determine who was at fault. 

What to Do if Involved in an Intersection Car Accident in West Palm Beach, Florida

Who’s at fault in intersection accidents in most cases comes down to what the witnesses and the drivers claim happened. 

For this reason, one of the best moves to take following a car accident in an intersection is to contact an experienced West Palm Beach car accident lawyer for legal representation. 

Call us today at (561) 800-8000.


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