Who Is at Fault in a Yellow Light Motor Vehicle Accident?

Yellow Light Motor Vehicle Accident

Despite Oklahoma traffic laws indicating that a yellow signal means the light is about to turn red, drivers often make it a habit to speed through a yellow light instead of exercising caution, slowing down, and preparing to stop. The mentality is often, “Gotta speed through this light before it turns red or I’m stuck at this intersection for another 120 seconds.”  

While running a red light is a clear violation of traffic laws and provides strong evidence that the driver is at fault for the accident, driving through a yellow light is more of a gray area. Determining fault depends on several factors.

How an Insurance Company Determines Fault for Yellow Light Traffic Accidents

If two drivers are going straight, they can both pass each other without incident, even if the light is red. Most traffic light accidents happen, however, when one driver is going in a straight direction, and the other is making a right or left turn. They’re both trying to make it through the intersection before the signal transitions from yellow to red.

The question is this: which of these two drivers is at fault if they were both treading the fine line between driving through a yellow light and running a red light?

Though it’s not technically illegal to drive through a yellow light, failing to observe the law, which is to exercise caution and prepare to stop, can lead to a driver being found liable for an accident. 

As a general rule, an insurance company will assign fault to the driver who was making a turn, especially a left turn. The rationale is that left turns are more dangerous because they require drivers to navigate oncoming traffic. Therefore, drivers have a greater duty to be cautious and aware of their surroundings.  

There are, of course, exceptions, and the insurance company will evaluate all yellow light accidents on a case-by-case basis to determine fault. For example, other factors could shift the balance of blame to the driver headed straight, including evidence of the following: 

  • Distracted driving
  • Drunk driving
  • Speeding
  • Unsafe vehicle maneuvers

Gathering Evidence to Prove Fault

Even if you think it’s clear that the other driver cut things too closely and went through the light as it turned red, it can be challenging to prove your case without evidence. Personal injury attorneys will comb through all of the available evidence to help determine fault, including the following sources: 

  • Police report
  • Your personal statements
  • The other driver’s version of events
  • Eyewitness testimony
  • Camera footage at the intersection
  • Pictures at the scene of the accident
  • Forensic and physical evidence at the scene 

Typically, you (or your attorney) will coordinate with the other driver’s insurance company to negotiate an appropriate financial settlement that includes compensation for property damage, lost wages, medical bills, pain and suffering, and other damages.

The amount of compensation that you could receive will depend on the circumstances of the accident. However, according to the Insurance Research Council, accident victims who hire a personal injury attorney receive settlements 3.5 times higher than those without legal representation.

Injured in a Yellow Light Accident? Call the Law Office of Bryan Garrett, PLLC Today

Don’t wait to seek compensation for your injuries or property damage. Traffic light accidents are typically subject to a two-year statute of limitations, meaning you have only two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. The law office of Bryan Garrett, PLLC, can help expedite the filing process if needed. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us to schedule a free initial consultation.

Bryan Garrett PLLC

Bryan Garrett has been dedicated to personal injury law for over 15 years in Oklahoma City. He has achieved excellent results for countless clients, whether through settlement or litigation.

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