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Who is Liable for an Accident at an Intersection?

April 12, 2021

Car accident waiting to happen

Determining liability after a car accident is not always easy. Even when the situation seems fairly straightforward, a person seeking damages in a personal injury case or compensation from a claim on the other driver’s auto insurance must prove negligence in order to proceed in pursuing monetary recompense for their losses. When it comes to accidents at intersections, proving negligence can be more complicated than one might think.

Anyone who has been involved in a car accident at an intersection should reach out to an experienced car accident lawyer for assistance.

How do I Prove that Another Driver was Negligent?

Proving negligence in a car accident has a few requirements. First, the claimant will need to prove that the other driver had a duty of care. This is simple when it comes to car accidents, as every driver has a duty to care for other road users and to ensure that their driving does not endanger others. Secondly, the claimant must prove that the other driver defaulted on this established duty. For example, a driver who speeds or runs a red light disregards their duty to drive safely. Further, the claimant will have to prove that the other driver’s actions directly resulted in the accident that left them harmed. Finally, to receive any damages, the harm must have been significant enough to require compensation to set the claimant right again after the accident.

How Common are Intersection Car Accidents?

There are about 2.5 million accidents that happen at intersections across the United States every year, according to the Federal Highway Administration (FHA).

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that approximately 40 percent of car accidents occur at intersections; rear-end crashes are the only accident category that outpaces intersection accidents. The same study indicates that driver error is to blame in 96 percent of intersection accidents.

NHTSA estimates that half of all serious car accidents happen at intersections and that intersection accidents cause 20 percent of traffic fatalities.

The FHA data shows that left-hand turns make up a significant portion of accidents at intersections. NHTSA estimates that running red lights causes 165,000 accidents per year and 700 to 800 deaths. 

What are the Most Common Types of Intersection Accidents?

Many of these accidents happen when one car strikes another while one or the other car is making a left turn that crosses over the other car’s straightforward path. Another common type of intersection accident is a side-impact crash that involves one car crashing into the side of another vehicle; these are also called T-bone accidents. Intersection accidents also include right-turn accidents in which a driver proceeds without noticing a cyclist or pedestrian crossing the intersection or approaching from behind.

What Kinds of Driver Mistakes Lead to Car Accidents at Intersections?

Driver error and negligence are often cited as factors in intersection accidents. Some of the mistakes or actions that lead to accidents at intersections include the following:

  • Inattention to surroundings, including other road users
  • Mistaken anticipation of another driver’s behavior
  • Misjudgment of other car’s speed or opening in traffic
  • Obstructed view while turning
  • Showing disregard for traffic signs, signals, or markings
  • Ignoring a red light or stop sign
  • Failing to yield appropriately
  • Making an unsafe lane change
  • Executing an illegal U-turn
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Driving while distracted
  • Driving while fatigued
  • Speeding

What Other Factors Could be Involved in an Intersection Accident?

At times when driver error or negligence are not clearly or solely the cause of a dangerous crash, there might be other factors to blame for an intersection accident. For instance, hazardous road conditions might be the cause of a serious collision. Another possible cause might be a structural or mechanical failure in one of the vehicles involved in the crash.

A deep pothole at a poorly maintained intersection could cause an accident. Design issues can create poor visibility for drivers as they approach an intersection. Natural overgrowth or fading can make traffic signs difficult to see. If these issues are a recurring problem at a specific intersection, such evidence might point to liability on the part of officials responsible for the upkeep and safety of the roads and intersections.

If a vehicle’s mechanical or structural failure is found to be the cause of an accident, the vehicle manufacturer or the maker of the defective auto part might be considered liable.

What Damages are Recoverable After an Intersection Accident?

In general, recoverable damages fall into two categories: property damages and personal injury. Property damages relate to damage to personal belongings; in car accident cases, this usually involves damage to the vehicle. These damages are typically straightforward, consisting of the cost of repairs or replacement cost for a totaled car.

Personal injury is another matter. Although personal injury claims should certainly cover the medical expenses of bodily injury, they can encompass far more than just doctor bills. Some of the recoverable damages of bodily injury include the following:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages while recovering
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Loss of life satisfaction
  • Pain and suffering
  • Wrongful death

Why Should I Hire a Lawyer?

After a devastating car accident, someone with serious injuries may be unable to figure out how to go about obtaining the claim compensation they need while they heal. Unfortunately, this may make them an easy target for insurance companies trying to get off easy by paying a lesser amount than the extent of their injuries may require. With a lawyer representing their interests, an accident victim will be better positioned to recover maximum compensation to cover the full scale of the harm they suffered as a result of their accident.

Huntsville Car Accident Lawyers at Hodges Trial Lawyers, P.C. Help Victims after Car Accident Injuries

If you were hurt in a car accident at an intersection, you should be able to collect damages from the at-fault driver or another liable party. The Huntsville car accident lawyers at Hodges Trial Lawyers, P.C. can help you determine who is responsible for your injuries and represent you in a claim for compensation for medical costs, lost wages, and other damages. For a free consultation, call us at 256-539-3110 or 888-539-3110, or contact us online. Our Athens and Huntsville, Alabama, offices represent clients throughout North Alabama, including Madison County, Limestone County, Marshall County, Jackson County, Morgan County, and Lauderdale County.