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Who Is at Fault for a Yellow Light Accident?

Colburn Law

Proving Fault After a Yellow Light Car Accident in Washington

Traffic signals are crucial to protecting drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists from preventable accidents. Every responsible driver knows that a red light is a signal to stop, and under Washington law, any person who violates this rule is responsible for the damages in an accident he or she causes.

If the accident happens during a yellow light, determining who is responsible for a collision becomes more difficult. To establish liability, you will need to understand the circumstances leading to the accident and who had the right of way at the time of the crash. For information on your case, contact a Seattle car accident lawyer at Colburn Law today.

Common Causes of Yellow Light Accidents

Yellow lights are warning signals. They tell drivers to slow down and prepare to stop when the traffic signal changes to red. Unfortunately, not all drivers obey this warning; often, a motorist will see a yellow light and drive faster to avoid a delay. These actions can contribute to serious accidents.

While the circumstances may vary, most yellow light accidents share the same characteristics. Often, these accidents involve one driver who is going straight and another who is making a left turn. When the signal turns yellow, both motorists speed up to pass through the intersection in an attempt to avoid the red light. As a result, they crash into each other.

In this scenario, the driver turning left would be responsible for the accident. He or she had a duty to wait until the road was clear to make that turn and should have reasonably seen the oncoming vehicle.

Not all yellow light accidents result in this outcome. If the collision involved any of the following aggravating circumstances, the blame may shift.

  • Driving over the speed limit
  • Running a red light
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Driving while distracted
  • Drowsy driving
  • Unsafe or reckless driving

Proving Fault in a Washington Car Accident Case

Since Washington is a fault-based insurance state, proving liability is crucial to a car accident claim. All drivers must pay for the damages of the victims in any accident they are responsible for. Victims can seek compensation for their injuries by filing an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit.

To receive a settlement, however, the victim will need to prove that the at-fault driver is truly responsible for his or her injuries. The victim and his or her attorney will need to prove three important facts to establish the defendant’s negligence.

  • The at-fault driver owed the victim a duty of care.
  • The at-fault driver breached his or her duty of care.
  • The driver’s actions directly caused the victim’s injuries.

For example, say a driver making a left-hand turn at a yellow light collides with an oncoming vehicle. The driver of the oncoming car and his or her attorney can establish duty of care through the fact that all drivers must obey traffic laws and drive safely. Surveillance footage can prove that the left-hand turn driver breached that duty by speeding through a yellow light and failing to check for oncoming traffic.

This evidence and the victim’s medical records can establish causation, and the victim is able to prove negligence. However, the defendant may try to defend him or herself by claiming the plaintiff was speeding at the time of the crash, which can affect the outcome of the case.

Building a case for compensation after a yellow light accident can be difficult. These accidents are complex and may involve several aggravating factors that can impact liability. If you are the victim of a yellow light accident, speak to a Seattle personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Your lawyer will help you understand who is responsible for the accident and begin crafting a compelling case in your favor.