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Scott McDonald and Associates PLLC

Uncontrolled Intersections - Who Has the Right of Way?

Comments (2)

When an intersection does not have a traffic light, stop sign, or other traffic control device who has the right of way?  Seattle car accidents happen because drivers don't know the answer to this question.  A 3 year-old child was ejected from a child car seat following a Seattle car accident at an uncontrolled intersection early this week.

Video clip with Seattle PD at scene.

The car accident happened near Pratt Park.  A car and a  full-size van approached the intersection at the same time, the car was traveling northbound and the van was heading westbound.  The car was on the right of the van. 

Washington state law under RCW 46.61.180 says "When two vehicles approach or enter an intersection from different highways at approximately the same time, the driver of the vehicle on the left shall yield the right-of-way to the vehicle on the right."  In this accident, the driver of the van had the duty to yield to the car.  He was negligent in failing to do so and is now liable for the all damages caused to the car and its passengers.  The car had two adults, the 3 year-old child, and another child of unknown age.  Three of the car passengers suffered life threatening injuries.

The full-size van hit the car with such force that the car was spun around into the oncoming lane of travel where it was hit by a mini-van.  The mini-van will likely have no fault in the wreck.  Hopefully, the full-size van had adequate insurance to cover the serious injuries suffered by the car passengers.
Although the police officer’s evaluation of “fault” it is not determinative it can influence the insurance company. Bear in mind that the police officer was not there when the wreck happened so he is not an eye witness but what the parties to the wreck say to the police officer is admissible evidence. If the officer does ascribe fault to one of the drivers the insurance company will consider it but often only if it helps its insured. I had a case where my client was cited by the officer for violating the right of way. I showed that the other driver was well over the speed limit causing my client to be deceived and I got the policy limits for my client. I’ve also had a client who was hit by a drunk driver who ran a stop sign and the insurance company asserted my client had 35% fault because their drunk insured had “control of the intersection”. The bottom line is, that it is helpful if the other party is cited but the facts determine who is at fault and the insurance company’s evaluation can at times be arbitrary. Therefore, if no one is cited it does not mean the other party is not at fault.
Posted by Scott McDonald on March 21, 2016 at 11:31 AM
What's happens when the police officer writes it up as no fault accident but the driver on the right had the right of way. How can police reports effect the outcome and what if police are wrong not giving a ticket who did not yield and entered intersection after the driver on the righ? What can citizens do to have it revaluated?
Posted by Vicki Kreifels on March 20, 2016 at 10:24 PM

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