What Does “Yielding the Right of Way Mean”?

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Traffic laws are designed to keep those who share our roadways safe. Here in New York City, we are a dense metropolis with many cars, trucks, public transportation vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists all maneuvering the same city streets. And while our traffic laws have been developed so each party shares responsibility, when so many vehicles and people occupy the same geographic area, there are bound to be issues. In addition to that, when parties fail to take their responsibility seriously and behave negligently, accidents and injuries can result. 

Being injured in a car accident can be overwhelming and financially challenging. On top of medical bills, there are also injuries that you need to tend to as well as time off work. Seeking the help of an experienced New York City car accident attorney may be able to help you recover the compensation you deserve. The experienced lawyers at Kucher Law Group may be able to help. Call us today at (929) 274-8000 to schedule a consultation.

The Dangers of Failure to Yield Accidents

According to traffic law, right-of-way means the right to proceed. When two vehicles or parties come to or occupy the same area or intersection simultaneously, one of these parties will lawfully have the right-of-way. All states have laws that detail circumstances when a driver, cyclist, or pedestrian has the right-of-way or must grant the right-of-way to another party. 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has reported that failure to yield accidents were the fourth leading cause of fatal crashes in the United States in 2018. Failure to yield the right-of-way also accounts for the rising number of pedestrian and cyclist deaths in New York City. 

New York has specific right-of-way laws and state legislators have implemented stricter laws, increased penalties, and deployed additional safety features to ensure that everyone understands and considers their rights and responsibilities. Unfortunately, right-of-way violations in New York City are still one of the leading causes of fatal injuries each year. 

When Do Failure to Yield the Right of Way Laws Apply?

Failure to yield situations most often occur at intersections, including

  • Failure to obey signals and signs at intersections – Failure to obey traffic signals and signs at an intersection is the most common cause of failure to yield the right-of-way accidents. 
  • Failure to yield when there is no signal or sign – When vehicles approach an intersection without traffic signals or signs, the vehicle that is entering first or already in the intersection has the right-of-way. 
  • Left hand turn at an intersection – A vehicle making a left hand turn must yield the right-of-way to any oncoming traffic. 
  • T- intersection – At a T-intersection, drivers on the through street always have the right-of-way unless there are stop signs at the intersection. 
  • Four-way stop – At a four-way stop, drivers who arrive at the intersection first have the right-of-way. Vehicles that arrive at the same time must yield to the vehicle to their right. 

Furthermore, drivers in other situations can be cited under failure to yield the right-of-way laws. These can include

  • Vehicles entering a larger roadway – A driver turning onto a larger road from a side road, parking lot, alley, driveway, or other similar circumstance must yield the right-of-way to any traffic on the larger roadway.
  • Yield signs and rotary traffic circles – Whenever there is a yield sign or traffic roundabout present, a driver must yield to the traffic that is already on the roadway or in the traffic circle. 
  • Pedestrians – In most cases, a pedestrian will always have the right-of-way when there is a marked or unmarked crosswalk. In all cases, a driver must slow down and yield to a pedestrian, even if that pedestrian is crossing unlawfully. 

Right-of-Way Laws For Motorists in New York 

Very few of our city streets are high-speed areas. For the most part, our traffic moves at a slower pace, but it also sees extensive bicycle and pedestrian traffic. In New York, we have specific laws regarding failure to yield for drivers of motor vehicles:

  • NY VTL Section 1142(b) – Drivers of motor vehicles must yield to pedestrians crossing a road. Drivers must always yield to a pedestrian regardless of whether a pedestrian is in a crosswalk or jaywalking. 
  • NY VTL Section 1151 – Drivers must yield to pedestrians crossing within a crosswalk even when there is no signal or sign. A driver may not pass someone who is stopped for a pedestrian.
  • NY VTL Section 1151(a) – Drivers must yield to pedestrians on sidewalks as they are entering or exiting buildings, private roads, driveways, or alleys.
  • NY VTL Section 1140 – Drivers must yield to another vehicle that has already entered an intersection from another roadway. If both vehicles meet at the intersection at the same time, the vehicle to the left must yield the right-of-way to the one on the right.
  • NY VTL Section 1141 – Vehicles that are turning right at an intersection must yield the right-of-way to any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction. 
  • NY VTL Section 1142 – Vehicles must stop at a stop sign and yield to any vehicle that enters the intersection first, such as those vehicles stopped at four-way stop signs. 
  • NY VTL Section 1143 – A vehicle about to enter a roadway must yield to those already on that roadway.
  • NY VTL Section 1145 – A vehicle approaching a traffic circle or island must yield to those already in the circle or island.
  • NY VTL Section 1146 – The driver of a motor vehicle must exercise due care at all times to avoid a collision with pedestrians, cyclists, or domestic animals.

In New York, cyclists are subject to all the rights and responsibilities of motorists and must follow all the right-of-way laws that drivers of motor vehicles are subject to. 

New York Right-of-Way Laws for Pedestrians

Pedestrians are also responsible for their own actions on our streets in New York City. While drivers of vehicles have the bulk of the responsibility for yielding the right-of-way, pedestrians who do not follow their own rules can be held accountable if an accident results.

Pedestrian failure to yield laws include:

  • NY VTL Section 1150 – Pedestrians must obey any traffic control signals when crossing a road and must yield the right-of-way to vehicles if instructed by the crossing signal to do so. 
  • NY VTL Section 1152 – Pedestrians must yield the right-of-way to vehicles on a street when there is no crosswalk.

How Does Failure to Yield the Right-of-Way Affect Liability in an Accident?

When an accident occurs as a result of someone’s failure to yield the right-of-way, the individual who failed to yield will typically be held liable for any damages that resulted from that failure. 

As in all other matters of personal injury, negligence is an important component of liability when an accident results from a failure to yield. If an accident and injury results, it must be proven that the party who failed to yield was behaving negligently. 

To prove negligence in a failure to yield the right-of-way accident,it must be established that

  • The other party had a duty of care to yield to them
  • The party breached this duty of care and failed to yield altogether or for a sufficient time to prevent the accident
  • The breach caused an accident that would not have happened if they had yielded the right-of-way
  • The injured party suffered damages as a result of the accident. 

In some cases, a defendant may argue that the injured party was partly to blame for the accident and injuries. New York law considers comparative negligence when more than one party is at fault for an accident. If the injured party is partially at fault for the accident, their recovery will be reduced by the percentage of their fault. 

What Should You Do After a Failure to Yield the Right-of-Way Accident?

If you have been injured by a driver who has failed to yield the right-of-way, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. These can include

  • Your current medical expenses
  • Possible future medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Future lost earning capacity
  • Property damage
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress

If the accident resulted in a fatality, family members may have the right to seek wrongful death damages to be compensated for their damages as a result of the loss of their loved one. 

After a collision caused by a failure to yield the right-of-way collision, you should take immediate action and get medical assistance as soon as possible. Call police to report the accident and exchange all contact information with any other drivers who were involved as well as any other witnesses who can confirm the cause of the accident. Take photos of the area, traffic signs or signals, any skid marks or debris, and make notes about the circumstances of the accident. All this information may be needed as evidence in a personal injury claim. 

Get Experienced Legal Assistance

Proving negligence after a car accident can be complicated. It is to your advantage to get a skilled legal professional to fight for your compensation and your legal rights. As the injured party, you will have the burden of proof in any accident claim and it is important to have an experienced car accident lawyer on your side to help navigate any injury claim. 

At Kucher Law, we are highly experienced New York City car accident attorneys who can hold the at-fault party accountable for your injuries. We offer a free consultation and never charge legal fees unless we recover compensation on your behalf. Call us at (929) 274-8000 or contact us through our website contact form.

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