Ignoring other drivers’ right of way is a leading cause of many accidents in California. These crashes can be head-on collisions, side-swipes and side-impact crashes. They also can involve innocent pedestrians and bicycle riders. In a heavily-trafficked city such as San Francisco, one of the most common types of failure to yield accidents is the failure to yield the right of way to a pedestrian at a crosswalk. Because California has several, very specific rules regarding who has the right of way when approaching an intersection, many drivers either ignore or do not know these rules.
Right of Way Laws in California
California’s right of way laws state who can proceed first when one or more vehicles are at an intersection at the same time. Who has the right to proceed is dependent upon where the encounter takes place and whether the people involved are pedestrians, in vehicles or in emergency vehicles. Allowing another traveler to continue first is called “yielding the right of way”.
In Vehicles at 3 and 4-Way Intersections – Generally, if two vehicles reach an intersection at the same time, the vehicle on the left should yield to the vehicle on the right. However, there are a few exceptions:
3-Way Stop. A 3-way intersection is one in which one of the two roads ends at the intersection – that has not stop signs. The vehicle traveling on the road that ends must yield to the vehicles on the roadway that continues. At 3-way intersections with stop signs, vehicles on the left must yield to vehicles on the right.
Malfunctioning traffic lights. If a traffic light is malfunctioning, all cars must stop before entering the intersection and may then continue on if safe. At a 4-way intersection when two cars meet at the same time, the vehicle on the right is the one that should go first. At a 3-way stop with a malfunctioning traffic light, a vehicle traveling on the roadway that does not stop must yield to the vehicles on the roadway that continues.
Signals or signs. If an intersection has working traffic signals or signs, naturally certain travelers have the right of way. For example, when a driver faces a yield sign, it indicates that those traveling on the road that intersects with that road have the right of way. Once it is clear, the driver who yields can then proceed on.
When a vehicle is going to turn left. When a driver wishes to turn left at an intersection, he or she must yield to oncoming traffic.
At crosswalks. Vehicles must yield to pedestrians at crosswalks regardless if the crosswalks are marked or unmarked. However, pedestrians are obligated to watch out for their own safety wherein they don’t cross streets in a haphazardly manner nor stop or delay traffic. Pedestrians who choose to j-walk or cross streets at locations other than marked crosswalks must yield to traffic. However, drivers on the roadway must take due care not to hit the pedestrians.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a failure to yield accident that was caused by someone else, you should speak to a California personal injury attorney. It is possible that you can seek compensation for your injuries to help cover your medical expenses and related damages you’ve suffered due to the other person’s negligence.
Liability in Failure to Yield Accidents
In most cases, the person who fails to yield the right of way is at fault in this type of car accident. The basic rules of the road in California include yielding the right of way to other drivers in situations such as when entering a freeway, before making turns or whenever a yield sign is present. Violating this rule constitutes negligence. Therefore those drivers failing to yield can be found liable for injuries and other damages suffered by other drivers or pedestrians.
Causes of Failure to Yield Accidents
Failure to yield accidents can be caused by a variety of factors including:
Driver intoxication – An intoxicated driver is one that is very likely to fail to yield. It could be that a drunk driver is so inebriated that he/she simply fails to see a yield sign. An intoxicated driver also may drive very carelessly and blow right through an intersection or crosswalk without giving the yield sign a single thought.
Distracted drivers – Driver distraction is the reason many accidents happen. A driver who is busy chatting on his phone, checking email or engaged in conversation with passengers can easily cause a failure to yield accident. Motor vehicle operators must pay attention to their driving and be on the lookout for other vehicles and individuals while driving. This is a basic rule of the road. Fiddling with a tablet computer or sending a text are obvious examples of failing to pay attention.
Vehicle fault – It is the duty of car, truck and motorcycle operators to make sure their vehicle are in good working order. Something as small as a broken tail light can cause a back-end collision that results in serious injuries. Faulty brakes can easily cause a driver to fail to yield as he or she simply would not be able to stop at intersections when needed.
Inexperienced drivers – Many inexperienced drivers such as some teenagers do not know all the rules of the road. It’s easy for a driver with little experience to become confused at an intersection wherein he/she proceeds when it is not their turn to do so.
Types of Failure to Yield Accidents
Failure to yield accidents are one of the most common types of accidents in California and the rest of the United States. There are many types of failure to yield accidents including those caused by:
- Drivers failing to yield at traffic lights
- Drivers failing to yield to pedestrians
- Drivers failing to yield for emergency vehicles
- Drivers failing to yield when merging
- Drivers failing to yield to oncoming vehicles when turning left on a green light
- Drivers failing to yield from private drives or parking spaces
Unfortunately, the result of these types of accidents is usually catastrophic with innocent victims becoming seriously injured or killed. This is because the impact to an oncoming driver or pedestrian is usually straight-on. A head-on collision can thrust passengers forward in their car to result in injuries to the head or neck. A pedestrian who is struck by a car in a crosswalk can be thrown through the air, knocked to the ground or thrust onto the hood of a car, leaving them with serious injuries to the head, torso, or legs.
It’s important to speak to an experienced California personal injury attorney if you’ve been seriously injured due to the negligence of another. You may face growing medical bills, hospital and rehabilitation costs and loss of earning power. If you’ve lost a loved one in an accident caused by a driver who failed to yield the right of way, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim. This type of claim will help you get justice for the death and can help secure the financial futures of any dependents of the deceased.