Intersectional Collision Cases

Intersectional collisions make up approximately 40% of all motor vehicle accidents. Typically, one vehicle’s front bumper will strike the other on the side in one of three locations:

(1) the front quarter-panel;

(2) the front or rear doors; or

(3) the rear quarter panel.

The side of a car may be the least protected area. There are no bumpers to absorb the impact forces and generally there is very little occupant protection in the side area of the car. Unless your vehicle is equipped with side airbags, the front airbags are essentially useless since they are not designed to activate when the vehicle is not struck in the front bumper area. Because the impact occurs in a vulnerable area of the vehicles, these accidents can inflict serious and fatal injuries on the motorist involved.

The law in most states requires that the motorist who is confronted with a stop sign come to a complete stop. Once stopped, the motorist must appraise traffic and ensure that it is safe to proceed. Only when is safe to proceed can the motorist enter the intersection. Stopping is only half of what the law requires. To stop and then pull into oncoming traffic constitutes negligence and an offending motorists will generally be held at fault for any resulting accident. The driver on the favored street will generally have the right of way and motorist entering that roadway must not enter the roadway until it is safe to do so. The driver that fails to obey the stop sign (by coming to a complete stop and only proceeding when it is safe to do so) will be held at fault.

The problem arises in intersectional collisions when traffic signals are involved and it is not clear who had the green light. Typically each driver will claim to have had the green light. Without independent eyewitness testimony, it may be very difficult to prove who was at fault. Experienced attorneys are needed when serious injuries result from these difficult to prove accidents. Many cities have traffic signal departments (or similar departments) that may maintain records of traffic sequences for all traffic lights. By carefully questioning the drivers, an attorney experienced in these types of accidents can help determine the sequence of the traffic lights when the accident occurred. Sometimes this information is enough to tip the scales in your favor.


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