Which Driver Is At Fault In A Car Accident?

Fault In A Car AccidentA white building on top of a blue background.

Determining fault in a car accident is not as simple as which vehicle initiated contact with another vehicle. There are many different factors which need to be proven to show who is at fault in a car accident. Some of these factors include which vehicle had the right of way, which vehicle was required to yield, which vehicle correctly followed all traffic laws, etc. Stolmeier Law discusses below fault in some of the most common types of car accidents.

Rear-End Collision

The driver who makes contact with the vehicle in front of him is almost always at fault for the rear-end collision. This is because rear-end collisions almost always occur due to the trailing driver tailgaiting, speeding, driving under the influence, or driving while intoxicated. As a result, when the leading driver comes to a gradual or even sudden stop, the trailing driver does not have adequate distance or reaction time to stop before colliding with the leading car.

However, the trailing driver is not always at fault. A leading driver can be at fault for a rear-end collision if the leading driver:

  • Reverses suddenly.
  • Does not have properly operating brake lights.
  • Suddenly stops to turn.
  • Brake checks the trailing vehicle.

Despite these situations in which a leading driver can actually be at fault in a car accident, the trailing driver will have a difficult challenge proving the leading driver was at fault unless a witness or video is presented. This is simply because more often than not a jury will tend to believe the trailing driver was at fault for a rear-end collision.

Left Turn Accidents

The driver who is turning left into an intersection is almost always at fault in a car accident. The reason is because the driver who is driving straight or turning right generally has the right of way in in these types of accidents.

However, the facts of the car accident can show that the driver who turned left may not be at fault in the car accident. Some of these facts that will be beneficial to a left turning driver are:

U Turn Accidents

The driver who makes a u turn is almost always responsible for the accident. This is because the driver who makes the u turn is entering into a lane of traffic that is traveling in the opposite direction. The u turn driver must consider not only on coming traffic, but also vehicles that are crossing through the intersection that the u turn is at, and vehicles that are pulling right out of parking lots to enter the lanes that the u turn driver is driving into.

A u turn driver may not be at fault if the other driver is speeding, driving recklessly, intoxicated, or distracted driving.

Right Turn Accidents

Fault in right turn car accidents is fact determinative. A driver who turns right can be at fault in a car accident if:

  • The driver turned right on red and collided with traffic.
  • The driver turned right on red when a sign indicated that a right turn on red was illegal.
  • The driver turns right on green and collides with another vehicle.

Merging Off The Highway

Generally, the vehicle that is merging off of a highway or a faster moving roadway onto a slower moving road way is not at fault in a car accident. A driver who is exiting the highway or a faster moving road \way onto a slower moving roadway as the right of way and the vehicles on the slower moving roadway must yield to these vehicles. The reason the slower moving vehicles must yield is because it is a lot easier for these vehicles to slow down than it is for the faster moving vehicle to slow down.

However, the slower moving vehicles only need to yield if there is a traffic signing requiring them to yield. Sometimes a yield sign is not present because the slower moving lane is has a close enough speed limit to the faster moving lane, so an exiting vehicle will be traveling at a similar rate of speed as the slower moving vehicles.

It should be noted that if a driver who is exiting a highway crosses a sold white or yellow line when exiting, then they could be held at fault in a car accident. It is a traffic violation for an exiting vehicle or a vehicle in a slower moving lane to cross over a solid white or yellow line. These vehicles must wait until the traffic lines are dashed to cross. The reason for this is because the exiting vehicle needs a certain distance to slow down and smoothly enter into the lanes of the slower moving traffic. An accident can easily result when an exiting vehicle crosses over a solid traffic line or a vehicle in a slower moving lane crosses over a solid line.

Merging Onto The Highway

The driver merging onto the highway or onto a faster moving lane is generally always at fault in a car accident. This is because the vehicles on a highway or the faster moving lane have the right away. It is much more difficult for the vehicles on a highway or a faster moving lane to slow down to allow a slower vehicle to merge than it is for the slower merging vehicle safely enter the highway or faster moving lane.

However, as with vehicles that merge off a highway or a faster moving lane, no vehicle should cross a solid white or yellow traffic line. A vehicle merge should only happen when there is a dashed traffic line. This helps protects faster traveling vehicles when a slower traveling vehicle suddenly enters their lane, and it protects slower moving vehicles when a faster moving vehicle suddenly cuts into the slower vehicle’s lane.

Contact Stolmeier Law

Stolmeier Law has served car accident and other personal injury victims in San Antonio and South Texas for over 35 years. We have the knowledge, expertise, and fight to help win you maximum possible compensation. Unlike other big TV law firms, we will not treat you just like another case number. We will not pass you down to the lowest lawyer on the totem pole who is over worked and just trying to make a quick buck. We will build a relationship with you and treat your case as if it was us who was injured. So if you or a loved one was seriously injuried in a car accident, contact Stolmeier Law. Let this family fight for you.