Roundabouts, also known as traffic circles, have become increasingly common as a traffic management solution on New York roads. Even though they are designed to help improve safety and traffic flow on busy roadways, accidents can still occur at a roundabout. Like any other car accident, determining fault can range from straightforward to complex depending on the circumstances.
Understanding How Roundabouts Work
Roundabouts are designed to promote the continuous flow of traffic, with vehicles circulating in a counter clockwise direction around a central island. These intersections are known for their safety benefits which include:
- 90% fewer fatalities and 75% fewer injuries than a traditional intersection
- Safe for the elderly and beginner drivers
- 10-40% fewer pedestrian and bicycle crashes with vehicles
However, despite their advantages, accidents can still happen due to factors such as human error, distraction, or misunderstanding of the right-of-way rules.
Types of Accidents At A Roundabout
While roundabouts have been shown to improve traffic flow and safety compared to traditional intersections, accidents still occur. These are the most common types of collisions at roundabouts:
Failure to Yield Accidents
One of the most frequently seen accidents at roundabouts are failure to yield accidents. This occurs when a driver who is entering the roundabout fails to stop or yield to a vehicle that is currently in the roundabout, often leading to a t-bone impact with the passenger side of the circulating vehicle.
Rear-end collisions can happen when a driver who is in the circle fails to account for either the distance between them and the car in front of them or the speed at which they are traveling. This can also occur when a vehicle entering the roundabout does not account for the vehicle in front of them stopping or yielding to pedestrian traffic or vehicles already in the roundabout.
Sideswipe collisions are especially common accidents in multi-lane roundabouts. These accidents occur when a driver fails to signal a turn to exit the roundabout or change lanes, or fails to acknowledge another vehicle in the lane next to them.
Pedestrians or cyclists using the crosswalks or bicycle lanes generally have the right of way, even in a roundabout. If a motorist is not paying attention and collides with a cyclist or pedestrian, serious injuries can result.
Determining Fault In A Roundabout Accident
If you’re involved in a roundabout accident, determining who is liable is a crucial first step. Key factors in determining fault at a roundabout include:
Right of Way Rules
Understanding the right of way rules at a roundabout is important to avoid collisions. Generally, vehicles that are already in the roundabout have the right of way, and vehicles that are entering must yield. Failure to adhere to these rules can result in a collision, where the driver who has failed to yield to traffic in the circle will likely be found at fault.
Reckless driving, speeding, failure to signal, and driving while intoxicated can contribute to accidents at a roundabout. Eyewitnesses, surveillance footage or traffic cameras can be a key piece of the puzzle when determining if a driver was acting negligently behind the wheel.
Visibility and Signage
Typically, a municipality is required to ensure that the roundabout has proper and visible signage so that traffic can flow safely. Poorly maintained landscaping, inadequate lighting or missing signage can hinder a driver’s ability to properly navigate the roundabout.
Road conditions, including factors like potholes and wet or snowy roadways, can contribute to accidents. All drivers have a duty to act responsibly while behind the wheel, which includes maintaining their vehicles and employing safe driving practices in adverse weather conditions. If the roads are improperly maintained and can be found as the cause of the accident, responsibility may shift to the municipality in charge of road maintenance. That said, drivers are expected to drive appropriately for the road conditions they face.
Distracted driving, or anything that takes your visual or mental focus off of the road while driving, is a major cause of accidents in the United States. If a driver is acting negligently while driving, like texting or changing the radio, and he or she causes a collision, then the driver can be found at fault.
What To Do If You’re Injured In A Roundabout Accident
Being involved in a roundabout accident is no less stressful than any other car accident, but it’s important to stay calm while at the scene of the accident to collect vital information for your claim. If you’re in a roundabout accident, use the following as a guideline on what to do:
Call 911 At The Scene To Report The Accident and Injuries
After an accident, be sure to pull your vehicle over to a safe spot if you’re able to check yourself and others for any injuries. Call 911 to report the accident and request medical attention. Once the responding officer and EMT arrive, they will check you and others for any injuries and file a police report on your behalf. The police report will typically include information on the point of impact, any injuries, road conditions and the driver’s information, but it’s always a good idea to ensure you collect that information independently as well.
Seek Medical Attention
If you declined care from the reporting EMT at the scene of the accident, it’s still important to seek medical attention, even for seemingly minor injuries like bumps, bruises, and sores. Over time, injuries can worsen if not properly treated, and having a medical professional’s documentation can help to prove that your injuries were caused as a result of the accident in the event you choose to pursue a claim for damages.
Report The Accident To Insurance
If you’ve been injured in a roundabout accident, it’s important to report the accident to the insurance company as soon as possible. The window to apply for no-fault benefits to help cover your medical expenses and lost wages as they relate to your accident is only 30 days from the date of your accident, so reporting the accident and your injuries in a timely manner is crucial.
Speak To An Attorney
Before giving a statement to the insurance company, it’s always advisable to seek the guidance of a legal professional who specializes in car accidents. Your attorney will work to prove negligence on behalf of the at-fault driver while ensuring that your rights are protected and pursuing compensation for your injuries and damages.
Roundabout Accident? Call Cellino Law
Unfortunately, accidents happen. While dealing with the aftermath of an accident and the resulting injuries can be stressful, our team of attorneys are here to help. If you or a loved one has suffered injuries as a result of a roundabout accident, don’t want to contact us.
Content checked by the personal injury attorney Ross Cellino. As a family man and a trial attorney, I pride myself on winning cases and serving the community. With over 35 years of experience, I understand the function of a jury, how juries arrive at conclusions, and the role that the jury plays in administering justice. I know how to win cases. You can find us in Manhattan, Buffalo, Melville, Rochester, Brooklyn, The Bronx, Queens and other locations throughout New York.
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