Liability in a Four-Way Stop Accident
Four-way stops can be found in towns and cities throughout New Jersey. When traffic is stopped from four directions and there is no traffic light to tell drivers when to proceed through the intersection, it can be confusing for drivers to know when to proceed, creating a risk for a car accident.
In some areas, four-way stops involve traffic circles, which can be very confusing for unfamiliar drivers.
Knowing the state’s right of way laws is key to navigating a four-way stop. However, these laws are not always simple and when other drivers do not abide by them, a stopped driver must use their common sense and defensive driving tactics to move through the stop without being involved in an accident. When an accident does occur and results in injury to one or more parties, those parties may seek compensation for their damages through personal injury protection (PIP) claims with their own auto insurance providers. When the victim’s injuries exceed the Limitation on Lawsuit threshold, they can file a personal injury claim with the negligent party’s insurance provider to seek compensation for their damages.
Right of Way in a Four-Way Stop
The driver who arrives to a four-way stop first has the right of way, meaning that they may pass through the intersection first. When two or more vehicles are at the stop and cannot determine which arrived first, the driver furthest to the right has the right of way.
Right of way laws in New Jersey go beyond this, though. In New Jersey, motorists must yield to the following:
Pedestrians in crosswalks
Traffic in a position that would otherwise cause an accident if the motorist fails to yield
Emergency vehicles sounding their sirens and lights
Buses and postal vehicles reentering traffic after a stop
Trains moving through crossings
Motorized scooters and other mobility devices
Although pedestrians are not supposed to jaywalk or cross when the traffic signal tells them to remain on the sidewalk, motorists must yield to pedestrians who are illegally crossing the street. As a general rule, motorists should always yield in situations where failing to yield could cause an accident, even when they technically have the right of way.
Which Party was Negligent?
When a motorist is injured and considering filing a personal injury claim, they must determine the negligent party and demonstrate how that party’s negligence caused the accident. Drivers who disregard traffic laws, such as running through red lights and exceeding the posted speed limit, are typically said to be negligent. Other negligent driving behaviors include:
Text messaging or talking on the phone without a hands-free device while driving
Driving while drunk or under the influence of drugs
A victim must submit evidence of the other driver’s negligence with their claim. This can include photographs, witness testimony, and the official police report.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Richard DiTomaso
Richard DiTomaso, Esq. was admitted to the practice of law in New Jersey and Pennsylvania in 1996, and was admitted to the practice in Illinois in 1995. He is admitted to practice in all State Courts of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, the Federal District Court of New Jersey and the Eastern District Court of Pennsylvania and also the U.S. Supreme Court. Richard DiTomaso, Esq. is a Certified Civil Trial Attorney as designated by the Supreme Court of New Jersey.
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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.