Under Washington state tort law how is liability determined for an accident caused by someone making a left turn?

Asked about 6 years ago - Renton, WA

Yesterday I was driving through an intersection under what I thought was a green light, only to find myself being hit by a car turning left into my lane (a middle lane that becomes a far right lane on the other side of the intersection). He said I was the one who ran the redlight. I honestly don't think I had a red light, or else it must have changed really fast... it is a tricky intersection where there is a right turn with a green light while the intersecting road is going left. There is a possibility that I mistook the green turning light for my light. :( Bottom line, I was in lala land. :( SO anyway, how much am I to blame for this accident? There WAS another lane that the driver could have gone into. He certainly had enough time to honk at me, but he claimed the road was slick and he could not stop in time to prevent hitting me (?!). My driver's side door was quite damaged, and he had some damage to his passenger side front and hood. It could have been worse, and thankfully no one was injured (we'll see if he decides to claim something later). I am just curious to know how the insurers will decide the level of fault, since he was the one that hit me but I got cited for running a red light, and how this might all go down. I have never had this kind of accident before. I have not had any citations in almost 5 years.

Attorney answers (1)

  1. Dale G. Larrimore

    Contributor Level 12

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    Lawyer agrees

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    Answered . Generally, if a police officer is not at an intersection, it is difficult for them to cite a driver for running a red light (since they did not see the light). If the officer saw you run the light, or if there is other strong evidence from independent witnesses that you ran the red light, then you would clearly be the party most at fault.
    Your question makes it pretty evident that you really don't know whether you ran the light or not ("I was in lala land"..."There is a possibility that I mistook the green turning light for my light") so it will be hard for you to defend a claim that you were at fault. It sounds like you placed the other driver into a sudden emergency situation and that he could not avoid the impast. I suspect that your insurance company will pay the claim and assess you with the fault for the crash.
    Note that I am NOT an attorney in Washington, and it is possible that the laws are different in your state. But my comments are based on general law on the rules of the road that I believe would be true in most states.

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