Understanding Intersection Accident Cases in Washington

An uncontrolled intersection is one with no stop signs, stop lights, blinking traffic signals, or yield signs. These are 3-4 way road intersections and can be found in remote areas where there is no huge traffic. These intersections are also found in residential neighborhoods and may pose a huge risk to walkers, runners, cyclists, and pedestrians. Many road accidents occur at uncontrolled intersections. The following is a review of the law on uncontrolled intersections in Washington and who is held accountable for an accident at an intersection.


Rule of Law for Uncontrolled Intersections

The Washington State Law RCW 46.61.180 states that when two cars approach an uncontrolled intersection, the vehicle on the right side has a right of way. Therefore, the left-hand-side driver should yield such right of way to the right-hand-side driver failure to which amounts to a violation of the traffic law on uncontrolled intersections.


Fault for an Accident at an Uncontrolled Intersection

Determining liability for an accident at an uncontrolled intersection can be difficult. Typically, in such accidents, there are no traffic cameras, no witnesses, and no police report since police officers are in most cases not notified. Insurance companies often try to force shared liability or shared fault instead of conducting a thorough investigation of fault.

Though responsibility for an accident at an intersection is determined based on the circumstances of the case in question, the RCW law is used as a reference point. In most cases, the one held liable for an accident at an uncontrolled intersection is the person who is on the left hand side.


Example of Case Law Involving Uncontrolled Intersection Accidents

In the case of Watson v. Miller, 59 Wn.2d 85, the court ruled that the defendant was negligent as a matter of the law on uncontrolled intersections. In this case, the defendant approached the intersection and observed a vehicle approaching at the right. He applied brakes on his vehicle but was not able to avoid an accident. The court established that both vehicles were approaching the uncontrolled intersection at the same speed and therefore the defendant’s negligence caused the collision.


How a Lawyer Can Help in Intersection Accidents

First, your lawyer will help you determine whether you have a viable case by interpreting to you the laws on uncontrolled intersections. After establishing that your case is strong, your lawyer will gather evidence to prove that the other motorist was liable for the accident and that you should be compensated.