All California drivers should know the term “right of way” and understand what this means in traffic. Simply put, having the “right of way” means a driver is legally able to continue on their intended path through traffic. Right of way fluctuates in various situations, and all drivers are expected to maintain situational awareness so they can respect the right of way at all times.
Failure to yield the right of way can easily result in an accident. When this occurs, the driver who failed to yield is liable for the resulting damages to others. If you or a loved one has recently been involved in an accident that you believe occurred due to another driver’s failure to yield the right of way, you may have trouble proving this and holding them accountable. However, an experienced car accident attorney can assist you in gathering the evidence you need to establish fault for an accident from failure to yield the right of way.
Examples of Failure to Yield the Right of Way
Failure to yield the right of way is a moving violation in California. When a driver fails to yield the right of way, other drivers near them may account for this unexpected problem and make necessary adjustments, avoiding accidents. Unfortunately, others are not so fortunate and experience damaging accidents due to various forms of failure to yield the right of way:
- Intersections with four-way stop signs require drivers to take the right of way in a “first come, first served” rotation. The first driver to arrive at their stop sign at the intersection would proceed after making their full stop, followed by the second driver to arrive at their stop sign. This would continue alternatively until all cars have moved through the intersection. If a driver does not yield the right of way in this situation, it can easily cause an accident in the middle of the intersection.
- Some intersections with crossing arrows allow left turns once the opposing lane is clear. However, the signs next to these arrow signals will typically state “Left turn yield on green,” indicating drivers must yield to oncoming traffic in the other lane before performing left turns.
- All drivers are expected to yield the right of way to nearby emergency vehicles with lights and sirens engaged. If you are driving and an emergency vehicle appears behind you, it’s best to move out of their way or pull over safely to allow them to pass. Failure to yield the right of way to an emergency response vehicle can result in a traffic citation and demerit points on your driver’s license.
- Drivers must yield the right of way to pedestrians in their path, even if they cross the street illegally outside of designated crosswalks. Fatal pedestrian accidents can occur when drivers fail to use appropriate caution near pedestrian foot traffic.
There are many other ways drivers may violate the rule of yielding the right of way, and when accidents occur, those drivers become liable for the resulting damages.
Proving Fault for a Failure to Yield Accident
If you believe your recent accident happened because another driver failed to yield the right of way as required in the situation, an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you hold them accountable. You must prove the at-fault driver directly caused the accident in question and that your claimed damages were solely the results of their actions.
If failure to yield caused your accident, your attorney can prove this by obtaining traffic camera data, reviewing the at-fault driver’s cell phone records, and securing statements from eyewitnesses who saw the accident happen. Ultimately, every car accident claim is unique, and you need an experienced attorney to guide you through the complicated legal proceedings you may face after an accident from failure to yield.
Some plaintiffs may require expert witness testimony to substantiate their claims, proving liability or establishing the plaintiff’s damages. For example, an accident reconstruction expert can help prove exactly how an accident happened. In addition, a medical professional can support a plaintiff’s claim of severe injuries and long-term medical treatment costs.
Recovery From Your Accident
An insurance claim is typically the first step toward recovery after an auto accident in California. The state requires every driver to maintain coverage for bodily injury and property damage if they cause an accident with another driver. Therefore, if another driver failed to yield the right of way and caused your recent accident, you would need to prove fault to succeed with your insurance claim. In addition, you would need to exhaust available insurance options before filing a civil claim against the at-fault driver.
After recovering what you can from insurance, your attorney can help you build a personal injury claim and seek compensation for remaining damages, such as ongoing medical care expenses, lost future earning potential, and your pain and suffering.
Q: Is Failure to Yield the Right of Way a Criminal Offense?
A: Typically, failure to yield the right of way is a standard traffic citation in California if a police officer witnesses it happen. However, a driver could face charges for reckless driving or criminal negligence if they display a pattern of incidents from failure to yield or cause multiple accidents within a relatively short time.
Q: How Long Will It Take to Settle My Case?
A: If you must file a personal injury claim to recover from your recent accident, the settlement negotiation process can take several weeks, even under ideal circumstances. If the defendant demands a trial or otherwise refuses to settle the case, the case proceeds to litigation, and it will take much longer to resolve.
Q: Is It Worth Hiring an Attorney for a Failure to Yield Accident Claim?
A: An experienced attorney can make it much easier for you to manage the legal proceedings likely to follow a failure to yield accident, such as an insurance claim and a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver. Your attorney can significantly improve your chances of success with your case and help you maximize the total recovery you obtain for your damages.
Q: What If I’m Found Partially at Fault for My Accident?
A: If a plaintiff bears partial responsibility for causing the damages claimed in a personal injury case, they receive a fault percentage based on their level of contribution to the incident in question. They would then lose this percentage from their final case award to reflect their comparative fault.
If you recently suffered losses in an accident caused by another driver’s failure to yield the right of way, Easton & Easton can help you determine your best legal options for recovery. Contact us today to schedule your consultation.