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Who Is At Fault in an Intersection Accident?

Written by Steven Gursten
Jan 15, 2023 Car Accidents, Vehicle Wrecks
  1. 1. What Causes Intersection Accidents?
  2. 2. Who Is Responsible for an Intersection Car Accident?
  3. 3. How Do I Prove Fault After an Intersection Collision?
  4. 4. Injured in an Intersection Accident? Schedule a Free Consultation 
  5. 5. About Steven Gursten

Most car accidents happen at intersections, plain and simple. According to the Federal Highway Administration, roughly half of car accident injuries and one-quarter of car accident fatalities occur at intersections. But it can be difficult to determine who is at fault in an intersection accident—with many turning into a “he said, she said” situation. 

In this article, I explore the complexities of intersection accidents and explain how car accident lawyers uncover who is liable for a crash victim’s injuries. 

What Causes Intersection Accidents?

The simple answer is, “negligent drivers.” The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) noted in a 2010 study that about 96% of intersection crashes involved an at-fault driver. 

But what causes these car accidents? Many factors can contribute to an intersection accident. My law firm has studied intersection accidents for years, identifying the most dangerous intersections in my state, Michigan. Our research suggests that these are some of the top factors in intersection crashes:

  • Left turns: Data suggests that most car accidents at intersections involve a left turn. Turning left requires more attention than some other driving maneuvers—and distracted drivers can easily misjudge the distance between their vehicle and oncoming traffic, as well as the speed of oncoming traffic.
  • Traffic volumes: When more cars and trucks are on the road, car accidents are more likely to happen. It’s no surprise that most intersection accidents occur at peak rush hour and on our busiest streets and near busy highway on/off ramps.
  • Distracted driving: Distracted driving and inattention is the top cause of car accidents at intersections, according to the NHTSA.
  • Drunk driving: Both alcohol and drugs can impair your judgment, vision, and reaction times. Drunk drivers often cause intersection collisions. 
  • Age and experience: Both younger and older drivers report higher rates of being in an intersection accident.

But if you or someone you love was injured in a car accident, you probably don’t care that it happened at a busy intersection while someone was attempting a left turn. Your biggest concern is holding the other driver accountable and getting your family the compensation they deserve.

Who Is Responsible for an Intersection Car Accident?

While the other driver might seem like the obvious answer, many parties can be liable for a car accident. They might include the driver’s employer, a mechanic who improperly maintained commercial vehicles, or even a city or state that negligently designed an intersection. 

At the end of the day, you must prove that these parties were negligent. When a car accident lawyer talks about “negligence,” they are referring to very specific requirements:

  • The party owed you a duty of care (like the duty to follow the rules of the road).
  • They violated that duty.
  • This violation caused your injuries.

Sometimes, negligence is relatively clear cut after a car accident. Suppose a drunk driver ignores a stop sign while driving 20 miles over the speed limit and T-bones your car. In this case, you’ll probably have a strong argument that this driver owes you compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

But in many cases, it’s not so simple. The negligent driver might deny that they were texting and driving. Or they might argue that you “came out of nowhere,” trying to shift the blame to you.

How Do I Prove Fault After an Intersection Collision?

Sadly, other drivers and their insurance companies often try to shift blame to innocent car accident victims. In these cases, it’s best to consult with an experienced injury lawyer who understands your state’s traffic laws. 

Our teams are skilled at investigating crashes and pinpointing exactly who caused your car accident. This might include a variety of tactics.

Preserving Electronic and Cell Phone Data

There is a remarkable amount of electronic data out there. Cell phone records, GPS data, dash cams, electronic logbooks, and security footage can all help identify the precise causes of an intersection accident.

However, you must act quickly to preserve this evidence. Companies only have to hold onto certain records for a short time. 

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Interviewing Witnesses

Eyewitnesses are an important part of any injury claim. They can support your side of the story and clarify what really happened. However, memories can fade, and people can move away. The sooner your attorney can interview witnesses and take their statements, the more reliable (and credible) they will be.

Identifying Less Obvious At-Fault Parties

As I mentioned above, the negligent driver might not be the only person who is financially responsible for your damages. If the driver who caused your intersection or left turn accident was in a company vehicle, their employer might be liable.

But other parties might have contributed to your crash too. For example, if a car manufacturer sold vehicles with defective brake or acceleration systems, you might have a product liability case against the company. However, it’s difficult to identify these less-obvious claims without help from an expert attorney.

Analyzing State and Federal Laws and Regulations

A variety of laws and regulations might apply to your case. A lawyer can help you navigate these rules and apply them. For example, many trucking companies must follow strict federal safety regulations. And when they violate these rules, the companies might be considered negligent per se

This would also apply to wrongdoers who violate Michigan or Texas law. For example, if you prove that someone ignored traffic signals, like a red light or a stop sign, a judge or jury might find that they violated their duty of care.

Consulting With Experts

Experts are an essential part of any personal injury claim. A skilled attorney might consult with a variety of experts:

  • Doctors and therapists who can explain your injuries and treatment plan
  • Engineers who can help reconstruct your intersection accident and analyze electronic data
  • Economists and vocational experts who can assess how your injuries will affect your ability to work and financial future

Judges, juries, and insurance companies often put a lot of weight on the opinions of experts—both when determining fault and when calculating damages. 

Injured in an Intersection Accident? Schedule a Free Consultation 

When someone else’s negligence leads to your life-changing injuries, you deserve answers and accountability. An experienced injury lawyer can help you get both. If you were injured in Texas, please contact Crosley Law for assistance. Their team has both the proven track record and expertise that you and your family need—and you can schedule a no-risk, free consultation. Simply contact them at 210-LAW-3000 | 210-529-3000  or by completing their online form

If you were injured in car accident in Michigan, I’d encourage you to contact my firm, Michigan Auto Law

About Steven Gursten

Steven Gursten is a recognized leader in auto accident law both in Michigan and nationwide. He is the current president of the American Association for Justice (AAJ) Distracted Driving Litigation Group, and a past-president of many other litigation groups and organizations. Steven speaks throughout the country every year, teaching lawyers on such subjects as trial advocacy, traumatic brain injury, truck accident litigation, and on maximizing auto accident settlements.

To learn more about his practice, please visit the Michigan Auto Law website.

References 

About intersection safety. (2022, May 18). Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved from https://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/intersection/about/

Crash Factors in Intersection-Related Crashes: An On-Scene Perspective. (2010, September). National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Retrieved from https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/811366

Steven Gursten
Website | + posts

Steven Gursten is a recognized leader in auto accident law both in Michigan and nationwide. He is the current president of the American Association for Justice (AAJ) Distracted Driving Litigation Group, and a past-president of many other litigation groups and organizations. Steven speaks throughout the country every year, teaching lawyers on such subjects as trial advocacy, traumatic brain injury, truck accident litigation, and on maximizing auto accident settlements.

To learn more about his practice, please visit the Michigan Auto Law website.

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