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Why am I at fault in this car accident?

Kirkland, WA |

I turned around a corner, and a woman was stopped in the middle of the lane, right around the corner, dropping her kid off. No one was hurt as I was going slow, but the police officer said I was at fault. I don't see how, when she was just stopped in the lane.


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Attorney answers 3


Clearly, stopping in the middle of a roadway to drop someone off may be negligent. So may be hitting a vehicle in the rear. Not seeing a car that was there to be seen may be negligent too. The officers opinion, although important, unless qualified as an expert, is not determinative.

Personal injury cases only; I'm good at it; you be the Judge! All information provided is for informational and educational purposes only. No attorney client relationship has been formed or should be inferred. Please speak with a local and qualified attorney. I truly wish you and those close to you all the best. Jeff

Phillip Charles Gilbert

Phillip Charles Gilbert


I generally agree with this answer but would note that under Washington law there is essentially a presumption that the driver of the car that rear-ends another car is negligent and liable (Miller v. Cody, 41 Wn.2d 775, 252 P.2d 303 (1953)). If you can establish that the other driver's action consituted "unexpected behavior" (which will be determined by a jury in all likelihood), then you may have a defense. As a matter or practicality, I am afraid that most jurors would find you liable based on the fact that Washington law requires that all drivers maintain a "proper lookout" for other cars and operate their vehicle in a way and at a speed that is reasonable under the circumstances. Based on your description of the corner and accident, I suspect that a jury would conclude that you should have made your turn at a speed low enough to have allowed you to stop before hitting the other car.

Jeffrey Mark Adams

Jeffrey Mark Adams


Agree with Mr. Gilvert.


Fault determnations are made by comparing as many facts as possible with standards for determination which include but are not limited to rules of the road, statutes and regulations. No one who was not there to observe the collision, including the police officer, can arrive at a conclusion without many facts such as witness statements, a view of the area, sketches, photos or observation of the damage to the vehicles.

The biggest factor against you is that all motor vehicle operators have a duty to (1) operate their vehicles in control at all times and (2) operate at a safe speed under all conditions. These tend to mitigate against the person who operates a moving car into any stopped object, as it is foreseeable at any moment that any one of a number of things can obstruct traffic such as vehicles stopping, animals, school busses, children, delivery trucks, and more.

If anyone was injured, retain an attorney before you make any statements. If no one was injured, turn this over to your insurance company, let them sort it out and be glad no one was hurt.


I agree, turn it over to your insurance company. However, just because the police officer says you are at fault, does not make it so. You will have a right to contest any ticket. I would be more concerned with the decision of your/her insurance companies with regard to fault. Get a lawyer and thoroughly discuss the facts.

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