The act of running a stop sign alone is a violation of traffic law and counts as negligence. Drivers who run a stop sign or commit other stop sign violations resulting in an accident are generally legally responsible. However, determining who’s at fault in stop sign accidents can be tricky, especially in accidents involving several cars at an intersection.
If someone else caused your stop sign accident, you could be entitled to damages such as medical expenses, car repair or replacement, pain and suffering, and others. Having a dedicated car accident attorney in your corner can be crucial for proving the other party’s fault and getting what you deserve.
Morgan & Morgan can protect your rights, help you navigate the legal process, and pursue maximum possible compensation. Contact us today for a free and confidential case review to determine if you qualify for compensation.
What Are the Stop Sign Rules?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the following stop sign rules apply:
The First to Stop Is the First to Go
The most basic of all stop sign rules is that the first vehicle arriving and stopping at a four-way section is the first to proceed.
Farthest Right Goes First
If several vehicles arrive simultaneously at an intersection with stop signs, the car on the furthest right has the right of way.
Straight Traffic Goes First
If neither of the other two rules applies, straight traffic goes first. For example, if two opposing drivers arrive at the same time, with one going left and the other going straight, the driver going straight ahead has the right of way.
When in Doubt - Bail Out
If it is your right to proceed at the stop sign, but you believe an accident could occur if you move forward or you feel uncomfortable for another reason, consider letting other traffic go first. Defensive driving can prevent accidents and injuries.
Causes of Stop Sign Accidents
The NHTSA determined that 94 percent of all car crashes occur due to human error. Causes for accidents at intersections with stop signs can include:
Driving Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol
According to the NHTSA, almost 12,000 people died in alcohol-related crashes in 2020, a marked increase from previous years. Alcohol and drug use can have several impacts on a vehicle driver, including:
- Longer reaction time
- Reduced ability to judge distance and speed of other cars
- Difficulties with decision-making
- Blurry vision
- Increased risk-taking behaviors
An impaired driver may not be capable of deciding who has the right of way at a stop sign or miss the sign altogether and plow through an intersection without stopping.
Speeding causes accidents and can lead to more severe injuries and more extensive car damage than collisions at lower speeds. A speeding driver may be unable to stop quickly and run a stop sign. Driving at high speed and then attempting to stop can cause the car to end up in the middle of the intersection, at risk of getting hit by other vehicles.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nine people lose their lives every day in the US due to distracted driving. Distracted driving can include texting, eating, reaching for objects, or listening to loud music. Distracted drivers may ignore stop signs and fail to yield to other vehicles, pedestrians, and bicycle riders.
Reckless and Aggressive Driving
Reckless and aggressive driving can include the following behaviors:
- Erratic lane changes
- Failure to obey stop signs and other traffic signs and signals
- Following too closely
- Illegally passing
- Failing to yield
- Racing other cars
- Failure to signal
- Making improper turns
- Road rage
Dangerous drivers may willfully run a stop sign or fail to yield while speeding or racing other drivers. Aggressive driving can lead to severe injuries and deaths.
Other Factors Leading to Stop Sign Accidents
Human error or unsafe driving behaviors are not always responsible for stop sign accidents. Other causes of crashes can include:
While accidents from car defects are not as frequent as those resulting from human error, they do happen. The NHTSA’s crash causation survey revealed that car defects such as faulty brakes, damaged tires, and steering problems cause around two percent of vehicle collisions. A driver dealing with faulty brakes or a blown tire may be unable to come to a complete halt at a stop sign, potentially causing an accident. In cases where a car defect causes an accident, a car manufacturer may be responsible for victims’ damages.
Obstructed Stop Signs
Stop sign accidents can happen if drivers cannot see the signs. In some neighborhoods, stop signs may be partially or wholly obstructed by bushes, trees, construction work, or other signs. Drivers unfamiliar with the area may not be aware of a stop sign until it is too late to stop.
Stop signs must not be obstructed and should be visible at some distance. If your accident happened due to a blocked or partially obstructed stop sign, you could hold a property owner or local government entity accountable and pursue compensation.
Injuries in Stop Sign Accidents
Running a stoplight can result in T-Bone crashes, rear-end collisions, and other accidents. Low-speed stop sign crashes may cause only minor car damage and no injuries. However, drivers racing through an intersection at high speed could potentially cause devastating accidents with severe injuries and fatalities. Injuries in stop sign accidents can include:
Whiplash is a common rear-end accident neck injury. Minor whiplash, although uncomfortable, can heal by itself within a few weeks. However, severe whiplash can have long-term health consequences and cause loss of function and chronic pain.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
TBIs can be common in stop sign accidents. A significant TBI can have devastating consequences and could impact a car victim’s cognitive abilities. Individuals with a severe TBI may need long-term care and costly rehabilitation therapies.
Commonly broken bones in car accidents can include the clavicle, skull, arm, face, and wrist bones. While a minor fracture could heal without too much medical attention, crush injuries or shattered bones may require multiple surgeries. Depending on the severity of fractures, victims may experience reduced mobility or permanent loss of function.
Internal Organ Injuries
A severe car crash and the resulting trauma to the body can cause internal bleeding and organ damage. Significant internal injuries are generally life-threatening and require emergency treatment.
Spinal Cord Injuries and Paralysis
Spinal cord injuries are generally serious and often irreversible. A completely severed spinal cord leads to permanent paralysis below the injury and can cause various additional health complications. Car accident victims with a severe spinal cord injury may never work again and could require round-the-clock care.
Car accidents with injuries or fatalities can cause significant emotional trauma and distress. The emotional impacts of a stop sign accident can include depression, anxiety, and insomnia, making it challenging for victims to resume a normal life.
You Could Qualify for a Stop Sign Accident Settlement
In stop sign accidents, who’s at fault is an important question, as you could be entitled to compensation from the responsible party. In most states, the at-fault party or their car insurance company should reimburse you for costs, such as car damage, healthcare bills, wage loss, and other expenses.
If you suffered significant injuries, you could also qualify for so-called non-economic damages, such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma
- Loss of a limb
- Loss of life enjoyment
However, getting what you deserve from the at-fault party or insurer can be tough. Most insurance companies are more interested in their bottom line than in providing fair settlements for stop sign accident victims.
However, an experienced car accident lawyer can level the playing field and could help you get your injury claim paid. Seeking prompt legal assistance after you or a loved one suffered harm in a stop sign accident can be vital. Morgan & Morgan’s car accident lawyers can be here for you and fight for what you deserve.