Who’s Responsible? Texas Car Crashes and Roundabout Laws
Roundabouts are common in Texas, but San Antonio got its very first multilane traffic roundabout just last year at the intersection of San Pedro and Main. Before, traffic safety experts and commuters found that the intersection was both a headache and a hazard. But now, the architectural feature has transformed the area and drastically cut back on commute times.
Nationally, roundabouts are becoming more popular, but many drivers don’t know how to handle them. And while statistics show that roundabouts improve travel time and traffic and decrease collisions by 40%, they’re only a safer option if everyone understands proper roundabout use.
Have you ever been in the straight or left turn lane of a roundabout and had someone in the right lane cut you off? It’s an accident just waiting to happen. Roundabout lanes have exit designations for a reason, and not following the laws could not only cause a crash but also affect your personal injury claim —even if someone else hit you.
Keep reading to learn how roundabout laws affect the determination of fault for a collision and what it means for you and your injury claim.
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Determining Fault in a Roundabout Crash
There are two main factors to consider when determining fault for a roundabout collision. First, you need to understand the laws that govern proper roundabout use. Second, you need to understand the elements of your specific crash.
Proper Roundabout Use in Texas
Not using roundabouts as intended or ignoring signs about the lanes could place some of the blame for a collision on you. When navigating a roundabout:
- Yield to traffic already in the circle
- Drive counterclockwise
- Do not try to pass other vehicles or change lanes
- Do not stop in the circle unless yielding to a pedestrian
- Follow the exit rules for the lane you are in
Roundabout Right of Way Laws in Texas
- Pedestrians: Regardless of whether they are walking at a crosswalk, all vehicles entering or navigating a roundabout must yield to pedestrians.
- Emergency Vehicles: As with regular roads, pull over and yield to emergency vehicles in or entering a roundabout. If you are unable to get over enough for the vehicle to pass you, exit the circle as soon as possible and then pull over.
- Moving Traffic: Vehicles already in the circle have the right of way. Do not cut off another vehicle to enter a roundabout sooner.
- Cyclists: Cyclists in or entering a roundabout are considered another vehicle. Cyclists walking or biking across a crosswalk are considered pedestrians.
Rear-End Accident Liability
People often assume that in a rear-end collision, the vehicle that rear-ended the other is liable. However, this isn’t always the case. In roundabouts, there are two main events that lead to rear-end collisions, and determining fault is not always clear cut.
- Following Too Closely: Following too closely is often cited in rear-end collisions. In roundabouts, following too closely typically means that the vehicle in back miscalculated the speed of the other vehicle or assumed they were continuing around the circle when they were slowing down to exit.
- Lane Changing: As previously mentioned, you should never change lanes in a multi-lane roundabout. Lane signs are posted to allow you to get into the lane you need prior to entering the circle. Trying to change lanes once you are in a roundabout is illegal, and the unexpected action could cause someone to rear-end you.
How Fault and Contributory Negligence Affect Your Claim
Did you use an incorrect lane or fail to yield? Even if the other driver was speeding or not paying attention and hit you, a judge might rule that you are also partially at fault for the collision.
“Roundabout lanes have exit designations for a reason, and not following the laws could not only cause a crash but also affect your personal injury claim —even if someone else hit you.”
Texas follows a modified comparative negligence law when determining fault and compensation in a personal injury claim. Under this rule, if both you and the other driver failed to navigate the roundabout safely and properly, your compensation will be decreased by the percent of fault the judge assigns to you. You can still receive compensation if your percent of fault is less than the other driver’s.
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For example, another driver is speeding around the circle; you misjudge their speed and distance and enter in front of them. You both are at fault because they were speeding and hit you, but you failed to yield. A judge may determine that you were 40% responsible for the collision. Because the other driver is mostly at fault, you can still recover compensation, but will only receive 60% of the compensation owed to you.
Crosley Law Firm | Texas Car Accident Attorneys
Roundabouts have always been controversial, but regardless of public opinion, Texas continues to add more roundabouts each year, and we expect to see more here in Bexar County. Understanding roundabout laws is crucial to determining fault in a personal injury claim. At Crosley Law Firm, we have experience protecting the rights of victims in a wide range of accident-types — including roundabouts.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a roundabout collision and are considering filing a claim for your injuries, please contact our skilled and experienced attorneys today. We help clients navigate the claim process and counter unfair claims of shared fault to help victims get the full compensation they deserve.
All About Roundabouts. (2017). City of Fort Worth Texas – Department of Transportation. Retrieved from http://fortworthtexas.gov/projects/ roundabouts/brochures/FW_Benefits-Brochure.pdf
Selcraig, Bruce. (2018, November 29). San Pedro traffic roundabout has ended a downtown headache. San Antonio Express News. Retrieved from https://www.expressnews.com/news/local/article/San-Pedro-traffic-roundabout-has-ended-a-downtown-13429665.php
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.
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