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Car accident negligence argument: failure to yield the right of way.

From the time we all learn to drive, we know that there are plenty of circumstances when we’re supposed to allow another driver to drive on a “shared” road. This article will discuss the negligence theory that concerns when a driver ignores this basic rule and causes an accident.

What even is “right of way”?

The right of way is exactly what it sounds like: a right to make way in the path that lays before the person who possesses the right. Right of way can also be used to denote the surface upon which a vehicle travels, under certain circumstances. For instance, rail road tracks are often referred to simply as the train’s right of way. In this context, no one is talking about the train conductor’s rights; they’re literally talking about the tracks. But since trains on the tracks have a right of way that is so well established, this intrinsic property of the railroad tracks becomes the main way that it is described.

When we speak of right of way in the context of a car accident, we are referring to the path immediately in front of the car that is driving and who has a greater legal right, by way of circumstance or statute, to occupy that portion of road at the time in question. So when a car pulls into that driver’s path, they are violating or encroaching upon his right of way.

Semantically, this term can be a bit tricky, mostly because it’s an old term derived before the world spoke modern America English, but when you think of it as essentially meaning “the right to make your way on a particular path,” one’s failure to yield the right of way then means “one’s intrusion upon your right to make your way on a particular path.”

Common ways that a defendant can fail to yield the “right of way” to you.

Drivers can fail to yield in any number of ways, but below are the most prevalent examples. If you don’t see your exact accident, don’t worry about it. We’re here to make the law work for you.

Yield Signs

Defendants will frequently ignore yield signs found on off-ramps for highways. Any time you are driving on an access road adjacent to the freeway you will inevitably pass a yield sign. They are typically a red and white colored triangle instructing you to yield to the traffic exiting the freeway. Often, defendants will ignore these signs and cause you to be involved in a car accident while you are trying to exit the freeway.

Stop Signs

If a defendant has run through a stop sign, they have ignored an express sign to yield and may be held responsible for your damages. While a stop sign is not a traditional yield sign, its intent is to have drivers use caution and yield to you as you pass. Many times, two roads will cross and will have the right of way while the other must yield as mandated by a stop sign. If you are hit by a car that did not obey the stop sign, then they can hold the other driver liable in court for your resulting damages.

Turn Signals

One of the most common accidents caused by drivers failing to yield involves left hand turn signals. This is often found when drivers are attempting to turn left onto an intersecting roadway, but instead of a green arrow which gives you complete authority to turn, you are simply given a green light with the instruction to yield to oncoming traffic. Countless drivers at this yielding green light fail to pay adequate attention to the traffic flow, or they intentionally drive through thinking that they can essentially beat other drivers to the intersection. Whether the driver causes you to be hurt in an accident due to their carelessness or intentional recklessness, that negligent driver should be responsible for your damages because they failed to yield the right of way.

How does a lawyer prove the defendant failed to yield the right of way?

Proving any car accident case requires meticulous legal work. It’s of principal importance that your attorney first of all collect any and all evidence available. This is not something done with a touch of a button, but rather involves seeking out witnesses who saw your accident, collecting publicly-available documents like police reports and forensic analysis, as well as the lawyer launching his own investigation. Because many of these cases come down to “he said, she said” swearing matches, your attorney cannot simply assume that a jury will believe your version of events out of hand.

Of growing importance today is the prevalence of surveillance footage. Many stores, restaurants, and even cars have video equipment in place that—if properly subpoenaed—can show the truth of how someone hurt you. Further, many street signals have cameras in place to catch people running red lights. These cameras have been known to catch drivers failing to yield.

Our attorneys at Grossman Law Offices have various techniques for proving negligence and establishing the defendant’s liability in a failure to yield right of way claim. To further discuss how we might specifically prove your case, contact Grossman Law Offices at (855) 326-0000 for a free consultation.


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