How Do You Determine Who’s Responsible in an Accident at an Intersection?

How Do You Determine

This is the fifth and final installment of our series regarding intersection safety. Pedestrians include those walking or riding in a wheelchair. Bicycles are categorized as vehicles according to Colorado law and have the same responsibilities as drivers. Both pedestrians and bicyclists are considered as vulnerable in terms of intersection collisions. Too frequently, motorists are speeding or using mobile devices without regard for the potential devastation that they may cause. Here, we will look at how liability or fault is legally determined in these types of accidents.

Understanding Fault

The first order of business for pedestrians or bicyclists injured in accidents is to seek immediate medical attention when appropriate. Determining fault in an intersection accident can often be challenging and may be a point of contention regardless of whether a citation was issued to one of the parties. For this reason, it is important to consult with a lawyer who has the resources and knowledge to determine fault in the accident. A driver may have legal responsibility in a crash when he or she demonstrates a failure to maintain reasonable care for others on the road. Even somewhat minor issues like failing to use a turn signal or exceeding proper speeds based on the conditions can be factors in apportioning negligence.

Comparative Fault & Contributory Negligence

Auto accident claims are largely based on establishing that a party was negligent, that the negligent action resulted in injuries, and thus the plaintiff is entitled to pursue recovery for damages. Colorado is a state that recognizes a theory of modified comparative negligence, meaning that a plaintiff may still recover as long as his or her allocation of negligence is less than 50%. Another term heard in this realm is contributory negligence, which can be thought of as meaning that the plaintiff “contributed” to the injury. In Colorado, if a plaintiff was found to have contributed 10% in causing the accident, he or she is only eligible to recover 90% of any monetary award.

Key Findings: Bicycle Accidents

Across the county, the number of accidents involving bicycles and motor vehicles has continued to rise over the last decade. Other trends have also been identified. Most of these collisions occur on weekdays. Most violations attributed to bicyclists relate to traffic signals. Motorists are at fault in over half of these collisions.

Colorado State Statutes: Crossing

  • In the absence of traffic signals, drivers should yield to pedestrians when the pedestrian is walking on their side of the roadway, or if they are so close to the driver’s side of the roadway that there is the potential for a collision.
  • Pedestrians may not abruptly enter the road in front of approaching vehicles.
  • Pedestrians crossing where there is no crosswalk shall yield to vehicles.
  • At a pedestrian tunnel or elevated pedestrian crosswalk, persons crossing should yield to vehicles when upon the roadway.

Denver Municipal Code: Crossing

  • Pedestrians should only cross roadways at right angles to the edge of the road unless an angled crossing indicates otherwise. (such as crossing between corners that are diagonal to one another)
  • When crosswalks exist with traffic control signals, pedestrians may not cross from other points along the road.
  • Pedestrians may not cross from a point in the road directly to access a vehicle that is parked or stopped on the opposite side of the road. (Exceptions may apply on local roads.)

Bicycle Requirements

After dark or in dimly lit areas, bicycles must be equipped with side reflectors, a headlight, and a rear-facing reflector. Only one person should be carried on a bicycle at a time unless it is specifically equipped for such purposes. Bicyclists intending to turn right should signal using their right arm out straight or left arm pointed upward from the elbow. Bicyclists intending to turn left should signal by positioning their left arm out straight.

Who is Responsible for a Collision at an Intersection in Colorado?

If you violated any traffic or any other relevant law or rule, then you are likely responsible for any accident that emanates from that violation or negligence. And remember: even if you are the injured party, you could have still contributed to the collision. So, whenever on the road or sidewalk or in the vicinity of any Colorado roads or highways — whether as a motorist, cyclist, or pedestrian — always stay alert and abide by the laws and rules of the road. Should an accident occur and you sustain injuries, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to ensure you are treated fairly following a crash.

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