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  • Writer's pictureBrad Keating

Who Is at Fault in a Car Accident in an Intersection?

Updated: Jan 17

When a vehicle driver crashes, the most common question to ask is 'who's at fault?' but it's sometimes difficult to answer, especially if the accident occurred in an intersection. The following sections explain a few of the factors that are at play in these cases, and why it's so important to hire a lawyer.

How Do Car Accidents Occur at Intersections?

How Do Car Accidents Occur at Intersections?

Being in a car accident is one of the most unpleasant situations someone could go through. However, they are very common. Additionally, intersections can be quite busy, which makes people prone to crash on them, especially under specific circumstances.

There are many reasons why car accidents can occur at intersections, but in a lot of cases, it's due to negligence. Consequently, getting help from a legal expert is essential since victims can have a passionate personal injury lawyer by their side to defend them and guarantee they get the settlement they deserve.

Drivers have a duty of being alert and paying attention to any oncoming traffic, but still, intersection accidents are immensely common. The following are some of the most frequent reasons why they can occur:

Someone Runs a Red Stop Sign

Nationally, per year, there are over 165,000 accidents caused by people running a red stop sign. Clearly, it's one of the most common issues that cause intersection accidents.

When someone runs a stop sign, they enter the direct path of oncoming traffic and pedestrian crossing, which can lead to very serious consequences - and sometimes, even tragic ones. There will be much bigger issues to face other than just wondering where to tow the car after the accident.

A car accident that occurs due to someone running a red stop sign is usually serious since the other driver has no time to react before it happens. If they are correctly following their driving duties when the at-fault party runs the stop sign, they might not be able to stop the car, so the crash may be very complicated.

Drivers Don't Yield the Right of Way

Another common reason why a car accident might happen in an intersection is that the driver fails to yield the right of way. Before they get behind the wheel, drivers must be aware of the rules of the road, and yielding the right of way is one of the most important ones they should keep in mind.

The driver making a left turn is obliged to yield their right of way to the other driver, so if they don't, they might cause an intersection accident.

In some cases, an accident at an intersection occurs because of a mistake or misunderstanding. Thus, the other driver might not be aware of the fact that they have to yield the right of way, or they may react too slowly when they're driving.

Therefore, laws and rules are meant to be followed, especially when it comes to driving. Understanding each one is essential for determining fault, which is why a personal injury attorney often examines the situation along with the client to identify who's responsible for the accident.

People Misjudge the Situation

An accident at an intersection can also happen when people misjudge the situation and incorrectly react to it. Pulling out or crossing lanes too early, for example, are two common actions that lead to accidents at intersections since the drivers misjudge the approaching vehicles' speed.

On some occasions, drivers try to rush through a yellow traffic light, but there's actually not enough time for them to do so. If that occurs, they might hit other drivers due to their misjudgment as well.

One of the most important aspects people should keep in mind is that accidents can happen due to misjudging the situation even if drivers stop when they see the sign or the traffic light. The moment they turn, for example, could be the exact minute they misjudge the speed of approaching vehicles, and that could lead to a crash.

Malfunctioning Traffic Lights

Even though many intersection accidents are a consequence of negligence, not every single case is like that. Thus, it's imperative that people involved hire a car accident attorney to guarantee they get the desired outcomes when handling their case. Lawyers at The Keating Firm are available to help clients with their situations.

Sometimes, traffic lights don't function correctly. Someone could have vandalized them, or rough weather could affect visibility. Power surge issues or high winds can also cut electricity, and maintenance problems might cause the lights to be off.

In any case, it's immensely important that drivers proceed with caution if they notice the traffic lights are malfunctioning. There are, of course, traffic control devices such as cameras that might be able to prove if that's true.

However, even with a traffic control device to confirm the client's statement, the person must follow the road's rules. If there are no functioning traffic lights, the person must proceed as if there were a four-way stop sign to avoid crashes. When accidents still occur, the police report can explain what happened.

Flashing Traffic Lights

Clients might believe a red light is quite obvious, but it's not like that in all cases. Flashing lights can confuse drivers, especially under specific circumstances, and they might cause accidents.

If a driver, for example, fails to yield the right of way while running a flashing yellow or red light, they might cause a serious accident. The situation can get much worse when pedestrians are involved since they might get seriously hurt.

Consequently, the at-fault driver might have to deal with medical bills and the medical treatment of the person injured in the accident if that's what the judge decides in the trial. To avoid that, they should follow the road's rules and hire the best personal injury lawyers to help them in case they need legal support.

Unfortunately, flashing lights are often involved not only in many accidents but also in a lot of crashes that result in personal injuries such as spinal cord injuries, broken bones, or even wrongful death. Since these traffic accident cases can be so complicated, drivers must try to be extremely careful behind the wheel.

Failure to Keep a Safe Distance

Drivers who do not keep a safe distance between their own vehicle and others can cause collisions as well. When someone, for example, runs a light without realizing the car ahead did not decide to stop, they might crash.

Every driver who's behind the wheel must oblige by the rules of the road, and those include keeping a distance between their own vehicle and the one ahead of them. Consequently, they must be able to stop if the car ahead of them stops as well.

Even so, people behind the wheel must remember that judges consider many factors when they're determining fault. Thus, having a police report is vital. Thus, contacting a specialized company like The Keating Firm to get a free case evaluation is a great idea, especially if they are thinking about filing a personal injury claim.

People Don't See Others Crossing the Street

Intersection collisions also result when the driver does not see pedestrians crossing the street. Although it may sound odd, forgetting about foot traffic is immensely common.

When an accident occurs, it may be because the driver forgot about others crossing the street. The collision could involve someone riding a bike or pedestrians walking by.

If there's a crosswalk, the driver must rightfully let the people walk by unless the 'don't walk' sign is flashing. In cases when pedestrians still cross the street even with that sign flashing, the individual behind the wheel might not be responsible for the accident.

However, since there are clearly more people in these cases, the best idea is to always get legal advice. In fact, on many occasions, collisions of this type result in shouting matches in the middle of the road, which is why it's so important to call the police to report the accident scene.

Driving Under the Influence

There are many possible causes behind intersection collisions, but driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is still a crucial one people must keep in mind.

Accidents happen every day, and unfortunately, many medical records show some drivers attempt to be behind the wheel while being under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Obviously, that might be a clear case of negligence, but experts still need to gather all the evidence they can to prove it.

Common Types of Car Accidents at Intersections

Being in a car crash means the people involved probably need to go through a legal process involving insurance companies and several other experts. Nonetheless, one of the first things professionals must determine is the type of collision that occurred since that's essential for police reports and helps identify who's at fault.

The following categories are the most common kinds of car accidents that people might see at intersections. Although each case is unique, there are similarities between many of them, so here are the most common kinds of issues people might go through:


A head-on collision occurs when two vehicles going in opposite directions hit each other. This is the most common type of accident that happens if one of the two parties is driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

When someone is under the influence, they might not be able to control the direction of their vehicle or worse: they could fall asleep while driving. They might not even see any traffic signal around, even if it's flashing right in front of them.

Consequently, drivers might cause head-on collisions. However, the influence of drugs and alcohol is not the only thing that can result in an accident, so contacting a law firm is essential to determine who's at fault and why.

Side Impact

The second essential type of collision is the side-impact crash, which can result when a driver trying to speed the red light hits another one who's turning to the left or right.

Side impacts can be immensely serious, and they often result in injuries because the person's side has little protection when they crash. On many occasions, they can even cause dangerous or life-threatening injuries.

Rear End

In rear-end accidents, other things might be at play. Reckless drivers, for example, might be distracted while they're behind the wheel and text while they're driving.

Nonetheless, the only way to determine what exactly caused the accident is to consult with an expert lawyer after calling the police. Legal professionals can guide drivers through the process of their claim and guarantee they get the best results possible.

Fault Can Affect Insurance Claims

Experts still have to determine who's at fault if someone runs a red light or if two drivers collide head-on. Depending on the individual responsible for the accident, there are different consequences.

One driver, for example, might not have to do anything while the other driver's insurer pays for lost wages, bills, and so on. It can all change depending on the case, but that's why consulting with an expert is so important.

Clients Must Always Talk to an Expert

Clients Must Always Talk to an Expert

The most straightforward way to deal with an accident after talking to a police officer on the scene is to contact an expert like the Columbus car accident lawyers at The Keating Firm. Clients could get a free consultation and ask the initial questions they have about their case.

An uncontrolled intersection can be the origin point for the most common accidents, and something as simple as going over the speed limit might cause them. However, the individual at fault should cover medical costs and repair costs of the car after the accident if need be, so the client must hire an attorney to guide them through everything.


Accidents in intersections are immensely frequent, and they can cause common injuries or property damage. Different factors might be at play, for instance, the influence of drugs and alcohol or simply trying to run a stop sign. Thus, hiring vehicle accident lawyers from The Keating Firm is essential to go through the process and determine who's at fault since it can vary depending on the case.


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