Is the “Right of Way” a Legal Defense in a Traffic Accident?
When you are on the road, there are rules that apply. Many of those rules govern who gets to go first in various situations when traffic is traveling in different directions – particularly when those different directions intersect, such as when roads cross, vehicles enter a roadway, or when traffic is turning across a roadway. Other laws govern right of way regarding public transit vehicles, pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, and various other situations drivers will encounter on the roads.
With so many laws regarding right of way, a question arises. Is having the right of way a legal defense in a traffic accident? While the answer might seem self-apparent, the question is worth examining.
Right of Way Laws
Right of way simply means that in a given situation on the roads, you have the right to proceed first. The law varies depending upon the situation, but most people have a basic understanding of right-of-way laws. If you are merging onto a roadway – such as an interstate or other major highway – from an on-ramp, or turning onto a road from a side street, you have to wait until there are no vehicles approaching that could hit your vehicle. This is not just the law, but it is also common sense.
For example, in the United States, traffic travels on the right. If you are driving in the left lane of a two-lane road that has only one lane of traffic traveling in each direction, you absolutely do not have the right of way. This actually is the first situation mentioned in the Tennessee statute regarding failure to yield the right of way. That same statute makes it a misdemeanor when your failure to yield the right of way under a number of statutory sections results in serious injury or death. Violating right-of-way laws can result in a state Class B misdemeanor charge with a fine of $250 if the accident causes serious bodily injury to another person. Other right-of-way rules are cited in this primary statute setting failure-to-yield right of way charges in various other situations that also fall under this statute’s penalties.
Ultimately, Tennessee statutes make it clear that failing to yield the right of way can be punished under both state and local laws. State law is clear on numerous situations regarding which vehicle has the right of way. In any traffic situation, if the other driver is cited for a traffic law violation, you have a defense in any civil action by that driver. If the other driver violates traffic laws resulting in an accident, that driver – not you – should be responsible for the accident.
Learn How Our Nashville Car Accident Lawyers Can Help
When the other party in an accident you are involved in violated traffic laws and those violations resulted in the accident, you have a solid defense if the other driver subsequently sues you for damages. This is true no matter what laws were violated, including right-of-way laws. If you are facing such a situation, you should contact the Nashville accident attorneys of Bednarz Law for a free case evaluation.