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Who Is at Fault When an Accident Happens After a Light Turns Yellow?

Jan 7, 2022 | Auto Accident

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Traffic lights help ensure that motorists and pedestrians can pass through intersections safely. Green means go and red means stop but some people aren’t certain how to treat a yellow light.

Yellow is a sign that you should stop if you’re able. But judging when you can safely make it through the intersection before the light turns red can be challenging. So what happens if you cause an accident when going through a yellow light? It all comes down to which driver was negligent in the accident.

Yellow light accidents are like any other type of car accident in that determining who is responsible for the accident comes down to evaluating which driver made a mistake that caused the accident.

To evaluate who is at fault for the accident, you should seek counsel from an Indiana car accident attorney. In the meantime, here are a few factors that could help determine who is at fault for a yellow light car accident.

Right of Way at Intersections

The first step in evaluating who is at fault for a yellow light accident is to see who had the right of way. If the light is yellow and you’re turning left, the driver going straight through the intersection likely still has the right of way.

But if you’re turning right through an intersection, you have the right of way over the car turning left. Therefore, the car with the right of way is the one who would be the victim and the car without the right of way would be at fault for the accident.

However, negligence isn’t entirely that simple. Under this law, drivers have a responsibility to look out for the wellbeing of other motorists, which means even if you have the right of way, you have to pay close attention to what other drivers are doing and look out for them.

Negligence has four main elements:

  1. You have a duty of care toward other motorists.
  2. By reckless or negligent driving, you failed to maintain that duty of care.
  3. The breached duty of care caused injury to someone else.
  4. Your breached duty of care cost someone financially.

Causes of Yellow Light Accidents

A yellow light is designed to tell drivers to slow down if they can’t make it through the intersection before the light turns red. However, drivers often fail to obey this warning signal and instead speed up to make it through the intersection instead of waiting through the next light cycle. And when they speed up, they increase the impact that a collision with another vehicle will have.

Many yellow light accidents involve a car going straight and another car that is turning, most often turning left. As the light changes to yellow, both cars speed up to make it through the intersection and collide with one another. In these scenarios, the driver turning left is almost always the one at fault.

However, several factors could impact whether this is the outcome of the collision.

  • If the other driver exceeded the speed limit
  • One of the motorists was running a red light
  • The motorist was driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • A driver was distracted
  • One of the drivers was drowsy
  • A motorist was engaging in the unsafe or otherwise reckless operation of a vehicle

Much like any type of car accident, determining fault is complicated and requires special expertise. A car accident attorney knows how to review vehicle damage and accident scene evidence to prove which driver is at fault. For a skilled team of attorneys ready to defend your case, contact Stewart & Stewart for your free consultation.

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