An auto accident is classified as “failure to yield” when one driver who does not have the right of way fails to offer safe passage to the other driver who does. In these situations, the at-fault driver took the right of way from the driver who was legally proceeding through the intersection.
What Exactly is Fault?
The person or entity legally at fault is the party determined to be negligent and therefore responsible for the damages resulting from the accident. Following an automobile accident, the party who is at fault typically must cover car repair expenses and pay for medical bills as well as lost earning capacity. This is determined on a case-by-case scenario.
Are There Definitive Rules Regarding the Right-of-Way?
Intersections are one of the most common places for accidents to occur because drivers can be unclear about who should yield the right of way. However, there are definitive rules regarding the right of way and knowing the could prevent car accidents in the future. The following is a non-exhaustive list of rules all drivers should know:
- Controlled Intersections: At controlled intersections with traffic signals or stop signs, drivers must obey the signals.
- Non-Controlled Intersections: Drivers are required to yield to vehicles already at the intersection. If two vehicles arrive at the intersection at the same time, the driver on the left must yield to the driver on the right.
- Intersections with Multiple-Lane Roads: When a one- or two-lane road intersects with a larger road, the driver on the smaller road must yield to drivers on the multi-lane road.
- T-Intersections: When a road dead-ends into a through street, the driver on the dead-end road must yield to traffic on the other street.
- Highway Entrance and Exit Ramps: When an access road intersects with a highway entrance or exit ramp, drivers on the ramp must yield to drivers on the highway.
What Common Scenarios Involve the Failure to Yield the Right-of-Way?
1. Making a Left Turn
When turning left at an intersection, drivers are required to follow all traffic signals. Unless a driver has a green arrow, he must always yield to oncoming traffic proceeding on a green light. This includes vehicles making a right turn on the green light. If a driver makes a left turn without a protected green and strike another vehicle, that driver will likely be found at fault.
2. Right Turn on Red
Unless a driver sees a sign indicating no right turn on red can be made, he can legally do so after stopping at the red light and checking for oncoming traffic. When turning right on red, however, drivers are required to yield the right of way to any other vehicle proceeding through the intersection with a green light. This includes vehicles proceeding through and those making a legal left turn on a solid green light when it is safe to do so. Drivers moving on a green light always have the right of way over a car making a right turn on red.
When a lane merges into traffic, drivers entering the flow of traffic are required to yield the right of way to vehicles already moving in a forward position. It is often common courtesy for vehicles on highways to change lanes and allow the merging vehicle to join the flow of traffic but the right-of-way rules do not require it. Drivers traveling in a forward direction always have the right-of-way over anyone merging.
4. Parking Lot
Parking lot driver can be confusing for some people because most of the intersections are not controlled by stop signs. When driving in any main thoroughfare in a parking lot that exits to a street, drivers have the right of way over other cars that are entering the thoroughfare from smaller “feeder” lanes. As it relates to backing out of parking spots, drivers already moving through the lane have the right-of-way over a car that is backing out.
When pulling out of a driveway, whether it is residential or from a parking lot, drivers must always yield the right-of-way to drivers already in the street. As discussed above, anytime a driver moves into the flow of traffic, they have to first ensure it is safe to proceed.
Owner and Managing Attorney
Jerry Bowman, J.D., M.A., Owner and managing attorney of Bowman Law LLC, takes his responsibility to the legal profession seriously and dedicates his time and effort to providing quality and competent legal representation to clients in Denver and throughout all of Colorado. He holds an MA in Political Science from Wayne State University and earned his law degree in two and a half years from Michigan State University College of Law.
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