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JD, Lawyer
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Over 11 years in practice as a litigator ... civil and criminal
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I was in an accident 2 days ago. It was at about 7:15-7:20,

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I was in an accident 2 days ago. It was at about 7:15-7:20, I was leaving for work. The road in front of my house bends at the left and there is very little of it visible from my driveway. I looked to the right, there was a vehicle but it was further away. I looked to the left, at the time that I looked it was clear. The morning was wet and still dark. Drivers, including myself had headlights on. When I determined that it was clear to the left and the car on the right was far enough away I started to turn left onto the road. As I turned left the large gray truck came from around the bend, without lights. I stopped as soon as I saw him, I started to back up in case I was to far out in the road, and I couldn't determine how fast he was going. He clobbered me before I could do anything. I was charged with failing to yield right of way when leaving a private roadway. I don't think I caused it, but I don't know what the court will say. Any insight will be welcome. Thank you. Laura

Here is the failure to yield law.



Here is the light law as well as the "hours of darkness" definition.



These standards will serve as your defense to the citation as well as your claim against the other driver for the damages to your vehicle. I strongly recommend you contact your insurance carrier and let them know these circumstances and urge them to assist you in assigning fault to the other driver. You will also want to consult a local attorney about filing a lawsuit. The police's decision to cite you is not a judicial determination of relative fault or negligence.


Please reply if I can help further.







Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Thank you. That's information that I had essentially. I have talked to my insurance company, unfortunately, due to the ticket they aren't very interested in helping me. I'm not very happy with my insurance company needless to say. I was more interested in an opinion as to whether or not it was worth my time to fight it, or if it is likely that a judge will simply side with the police officer. I also imagine that if I show up to fight it and the judge sides with the police officer it will add to my costs for having tried to defend myself. I also know that sunrise was at 7:21 that morning according to the US Naval Observatory. I know that the accident happened prior to 7:24, because I sent a text to my coworker to let her know what had happened so that she would know where I was. I have the information that would help me, accept for a case that would show precident, which I haven't been able to find yet. I am just interested in how useful the information that I have typically is.

Thank you

Your insurance company's response isn't surprising. However, if this other driver was not visible for 500 feet due to the weather and lighting conditions then you are correct that his violation would be considered a proximate cause of the accident (you cannot yield to something that you cannot see).


Obviously we need to focus on the 500 feet visibility requirement.


I run a few case law searches and supplement this post with the results shortly.



Unfortunately I cannot link you to this case as I have been unable to find it on any general internet site. However, here are two quoted sections I think you will find helpful in your assessment from the Washington Supreme Court's decision in Sanders vs. Crimmins, 388 P.2d 913 (Wash. 1964).


"The fact that two cars collide within an intersection establishes that they were simultaneously approaching a given point within the intersection, within the meaning of the statute; and the disfavored driver may not escape liability for his failure to yield the right of way unless he proves that, as a reasonably prudent driver, he was deceived by the wrongful operation of the vehicle on his right"


"The duty imposed by the statute on the operator of a motor vehicle to drive with adequate lights at night is not merely for the benefit of such operator to enable him to see and avoid injury to others, but for benefit of others to enable them to avoid injury from approaching motor vehicles."


Though the above quote uses "at night" the court did also mention the five hundred feet requirement. The same standard would apply. The case law has held that failing to use headlights as required by Washington statute constitutes negligence and imposes liability for any resulting accident.


I think your biggest issue will be whether or not the visibility was poor enough to require headlights and whether or not you can prove the other driver had no lights in operation. I would also address the other driver's speed in conjunction with the other aspects of the accident to determine fault and liability.


Please reply if I can help further.



JD and 5 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Thank you. I found a site that provides exact weather conditions for the day in question. The visibility was rated the same at the time of the accident as it was at midnight. It also states that it was overcast and raining. The History on The Weather Channel site also supports this, though with less detail. I guess that leaves me with his word against mine about his headlights, because they weren't on, but I have no way of proving it.

Thank you,

Good luck.