Proving Liability and Damages in a Stop Sign Car Accident: Explained by Our Los Angeles Car Accident Lawyers
Even a little kid knows what a stop sign means. That bright red and hexagon shape makes it unmistaken even at night or during a heavy rainstorm. Yet, far too many motorists fail to follow the rules of the road regarding a stop sign. According to government statistics, nearly 700,000 police-report motor vehicle crashes in the United States occur at stop sign intersections. This is a staggering and unacceptable number. Whether this was negligently running a stop sign, failing to see the stop sign, or intentionally running through the stop sign, a motorist who runs a stop sign is unnecessarily exposing other motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists to unnecessary risk in California.
Our Los Angeles car accident lawyers at the Broadway Law Firm know this to be true from handling serious interaction auto collisions. Running a stop sign can cause some of the worst types of collisions, including t-bone accidents where the heavy engine block end of one vehicle is piercing into the thin, passenger side door of another vehicle. Oftentimes stop sign car crashes result in catastrophic personal injuries including traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, broken bones, and other disabling or permanent harm. If you or a loved one were injured in a California stop sign accident, call to learn what your rights are during a FREE consultation by dialing 213.444.3155.
Common Causes of Stop Sign Auto Accidents
There are many common causes of stop sign auto accidents in California, with almost all causes being due to the negligence of a defendant. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the most common causes include the following:
- “Illegal maneuver” or “inattention” while crossing over an intersection controlled by a stop sign
- “Turned with an obstructed view” at a stop sign intersection and not seeing another oncoming vehicle with the right of way
- “Misjudgment of gap or other’s speed” at a stop sign intersection, and
- “False assumption of other’s action” while turning at a stop sign.
For motorists 24 years old and younger, the NHTSA finds the following the most common causes:
- Internal distraction
- False assumption of the other’s action
- Too fast for the conditions
- Aggressive driving, and
- External distractions.
For motorists between 25 years old and 54 years old, the NHTSA finds the following common causes to be the following:
- Critical non-performance error
- Illegal maneuver
- Too fast for the conditions, and
- Aggressive driving.
For motorists 55 years old and higher, the NHTSA finds the most common causes for stop sign accidents to be the following:
- Inadequate surveillance, and
- Misjudgment of gap or other’s speed.
Proving Liability in a California Stop Sign Accident
All of the common causes cited by the NHTSA are due to the negligence of a defendant motorist. This is because each of those causes could be avoided with reasonable care under the circumstances in the use or operation of a motor vehicle. This is the common law standard, or standard articulated in judicial decisions that have evolved over the years and reflect public sentiment. This standard is a very flexible one, allowing a trier of fact at trial (either a judge in a bench trial or a jury in a jury trial) to review and gauge whether the actions of a driver were reasonable.
Therefore, proving liability as a plaintiff injured in a California car accident can be proven in one or both ways.
Common Law Cause of Action
While these seem like a lot of elements and hurdles to prove, it is not difficult for an experienced Los Angeles car accident lawyer. This is because all motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists are required to follow the California vehicle code and traffic laws. Complying with the law is simply acting as a reasonably prudent person would have in the use or operation of a motor vehicle; this is what is expected of all individuals on or near the roadway. Failing to follow California law is a breach of a duty. When failing to comply with the law results in personal injuries, that is both causation and damages. Therefore, a plaintiff would likely be successful in a stop sign car accident case.
Using the Violation of a California Statute to Prove a Personal Injury Case
In addition to the common law approach, a plaintiff could also prove liability against a defendant for violating California vehicle code and traffic laws and causing personal injuries. This is known as the doctrine of negligence per se and using statutory law, or legislatively-made law, as a grounds for proving a car accident case.
In order to be successful using the doctrine of negligence per se, a plaintiff must prove the following:
- that the defendant violated the law,
- the law was meant to protect the victim from harm, and
- the harm that was caused to the victim was sought to be prevented by the statute.
Here, the applicable statute is California Vehicle Code section 22450 which provides under subdivision (a) that: “[t]he driver of any vehicle approaching a stop sign at the entrance to, or within, an intersection shall stop at a limit line, if marked, otherwise before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection. If there is no limit line or crosswalk, the driver shall stop at the entrance to the intersecting roadway.”
A defendant who fails to stop at a stop sign and crashes into another vehicle causing personal injuries to the occupants is likely to be in violation of this California vehicle code and traffic law. Therefore, it is also likely that a victim will be able to establish liability against the defendant under the doctrine of negligence per se.
Ask Our Stop Sign Car Accident Lawyers in Los Angeles for Help
If you or a loved one were seriously injured in a stop sign car accident in California, you may be entitled to compensation. However, know that not all stop sign car accident cases are as easy to prove as it may sound. This is because insurance adjusters will try to blame you for a stop sign auto accident and even claim you failed to yield to the right-of-way. Even though this is not fair, it is all too common. Our Los Angeles auto accident lawyers know this, and we can fight back to protect your rights to compensation. Learn what your rights are during a FREE consultation by dialing 213.444.3155 or using our easy-to-use contact us box available by clicking the link here.