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Who’s Liable for an Accident at a Traffic Circle?

Traffic Circle

The number of roundabouts throughout New York has increased over the last decade. Also referred to as traffic circles or rotaries, roundabouts help to facilitate a continuous flow of traffic without requiring drivers to stop at a light. Instead, drivers are only required to yield, allowing this type of intersection to minimize delay. While roundabouts are meant to reduce the likelihood of an intersection accident, collisions can still arise due to driver confusion and disagreement regarding who has the right of way. Importantly, if you suffered serious injuries in a traffic circle accident, you may be entitled to recover your damages by filing a personal injury action. 

Common Reasons for Roundabout Accidents

Although a roundabout is meant to help traffic move without interruption, many drivers are often unfamiliar with the rules for navigating a traffic circle. Significantly, it is up to the driver to determine when it is their turn to go in the rotary — and when they must yield. Lack of understanding, hesitation, and confusion are leading causes of roundabout accidents.

Other common causes of roundabout accidents can include the following:

  • Speeding or recklessness
  • Unexpected stops
  • Failure to yield to the right of way
  • Driving while texting 
  • Distracted driving
  • Using the wrong lane
  • Changing lanes abruptly
  • Failure to enter the traffic circle safely

Depending upon the cause of the accident, many different types of motor vehicle crashes can occur in a traffic circle. For instance, an abrupt stop can lead to a rear-end collision or a multi-car pileup. Driving in the incorrect lane can result in a driver trying to change lanes abruptly to exit the roundabout, causing a sideswipe crash with an oncoming vehicle. In addition to yielding to the right of way to other vehicles, drivers in roundabouts must also yield to pedestrians and bicyclists. Failure to do so can result in catastrophic injuries or fatality. 

Liability and Compensation for a Roundabout Accident

Ultimately, liability for a roundabout accident will be based upon which driver had the right of way. If a driver ignores the yield sign, fails to give the right of way, or attempts to get in front of another vehicle by driving recklessly, they are putting everyone in the traffic circle at risk. In the event a driver’s careless behavior causes an accident that results in injury to another, they could be held liable for negligence. 

In certain instances, a party other than a motor vehicle operator may be responsible for a rotary accident. For example, a municipality might be held liable if it had notice of a hazardous condition in the roadway of the roundabout but failed to repair it. A municipality might also be held accountable if the accident was caused by a poorly designed roundabout. Sometimes, there may be more than one party who shares the blame for a roundabout accident, such as in cases involving several vehicles.

If another party’s negligence caused the roundabout accident, a victim may be entitled to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover the damages they suffered in connection with their serious injuries. While no-fault benefits may cover up to $50,000 for a car accident victim’s medical expenses and a portion of their lost wages, this isn’t always adequate to cover the full extent of their losses. In a personal injury action, a victim may be eligible to recover their economic damages for unreimbursed medical expenses, lost wages, and out-of-pocket costs — in addition to non-economic damages for their pain and suffering.

Contact an Experienced New York Personal Injury Attorney 

If you were injured in a roundabout accident caused by someone else’s carelessness or recklessness, you may be eligible for compensation. A diligent personal injury attorney can fight for your right to recover your economic and non-economic damages and strive to obtain the compensation you deserve. The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. has represented victims of motor vehicle accidents for over three decades and provides skillful advocacy to secure the best possible results in each of their unique cases. Contact us today for a consultation.