Some drivers operate as if they always have the right of way. However, all drivers have a duty to obey the rules of the road in order to avoid foreseeable harm to others. This includes following rules about yielding to other drivers in certain circumstances. Failure to yield the right of way when required by law can lead to liability for any resulting accidents.
A failure to yield accident occurs when a driver fails to yield the road appropriately, causing a crash. What makes these accidents different from many other types of crashes is that often the injury victim drives into the car that fails to yield. These accidents happen in situations such as when there is a flashing yellow or red light, when a driver making a left turn fails to yield to oncoming traffic, when a car is aggressive about merging onto the highway, when a driver is entering the street from a private driveway, or when a driver fails to yield the right of way to a pedestrian already in a crosswalk.
Failure to yield may be the actual and proximate cause of a crash. A person who is hurt by another driver's failure to yield can sue for compensatory damages. The types of damages may be both economic and noneconomic. They can include medical bills, lost income, out-of-pocket expenses, household services, vocational rehabilitation, disfigurement, and pain and suffering. In some states, the spouse of an injured person can bring a claim for loss of consortium.
If you believe the other party failed to yield to your right of way, you should take photographs of damage to your vehicle, damage to the other vehicle, and any injuries. You should exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver. Although your temper may flare because you believe you had the right of way, you should not get into a fight or accuse the other driver. You should gather contact information of any witnesses to the accident and provide that information to your insurer and attorney.
After the accident, the other party's insurer may call you and ask for your statement. It is advisable to wait and retain your own attorney before talking to the other party's insurer. Although you may believe you had the right of way, the other party's insurer will try to find reasons you are at fault for the accident in order to avoid having to pay your damages. The other party's insurer owes you no duty of care and may try to trick you or flatter you into making admissions that later prove damaging to your case.
On the other hand, if you believe you were at fault for failure to yield, you should not apologize or admit fault to the other party. Admissions can be used as evidence in negotiations and in the courtroom. You should discuss the case only with your own insurer or attorney.
What if it is unclear who was at fault for a failure to yield accident? In such cases, the attorneys may need to retain accident reconstruction specialists to review all available evidence, such as skid marks, debris, and witness testimony, to reconstruct how the accident happened.