Right of Way in Florida: How Does This Impact My Personal Injury Claim?

Having the right of way in Florida when driving is everything.  The right of way determines who is allowed to drive at any given moment as well as who is permitted to take certain actions, such as making a particular turn or going first at a roundabout.  Having the right of way becomes even more important when trying to sort out who is responsible if there has been an accident and a jury is determining which motorist involved in that accident bears the blame for causing the accident.

However, one peculiarity about Florida law is that it never explicitly states who actually has the right of way in virtually any given situation.  Instead, it provides who is required to yield the right of way in Florida in many different situations or circumstances.  In plain English, rather than plainly stating that a certain motorist has the legal right to proceed, Florida law instead states who does not have the right to proceed.  Accordingly, you can be ticketed and deemed at fault if you were required to yield the right of way to an oncoming driver before making a turn or proceeding to accelerate from a stop sign or yield sign, but you chose not to, and an accident occurred as a result.  However, given how fact-intensive every accident is, and the frequent grey areas that many accidents fall into, there is never a clear-cut answer when a failure to yield accident occurs as to who was as fault.  Indeed, multiple parties can bear varying degrees of fault for the same accident regardless of who was supposed to yield and perhaps failed to do so.

Right of Way in Florida: What is the Law in Certain Common Scenarios?

Florida law is full of instances where a driver is required to yield to another motorist:

  • At a stop sign, a motorist is required to come to a complete stop and then is only permitted to proceed once traffic is clear.
  • At a roundabout, the traffic inside the traffic circle has the right of way and any vehicle seeking to enter the roundabout has to yield to the traffic that is already in the traffic circle and then can only proceed to enter the circle once there is a break in traffic and it is safe to do so.
  • Similarly, unless there is a dedicated green arrow, a vehicle that is attempting to turn onto a road has to yield the right of way to motorists that are already proceeding along that road until traffic has cleared and it is safe to complete a turn.
  • There are also certain instances where you may have to yield the right of way where you would otherwise not be required to yield.  One such instance is for emergency vehicles with their sirens on.  If an emergency vehicle is driving with its sirens and flashers on, then all vehicles are required to yield to that emergency vehicle.

The Consequences of Failing to Yield the Right of Way in Florida When Required to Do So

Failing to yield the right of way in a situation where you are required to do so means that you can be found at fault if an accident takes place due to your failure to yield.  For example, if you run a stop sign and plow into another vehicle, then you can be held responsible for the damages and injuries caused to that other motorist, any passenger(s), and his or her vehicle because of your failure to yield.  The same would be true if you were making a left at a turn where another driver had the right of way, but you thought you had enough room to spare and tried to complete your turn before the other motorist could arrive at the intersection.

If An Accident Took Place and You Failed to Yield, Are you 100% At Fault?

Simply because an accident takes place, and you were required to yield the right of way does not mean you were automatically at fault.  Many times, the situation is more complicated than the simplistic scenarios that most traffic rules envision.  For instance, many people simply have no clue what the actual rules for driving in a roundabout are given that traffic lights are so much more common in Florida, and in the United States more generally, than in other places like in Europe.  Therefore, another car may be proceeding so slowly through the roundabout that you think he or she is allowing you to proceed ahead of him or her, whereas the other driver may simply have been unsure what to do. An accident resulted because you went, assuming the other driver was yielding to you when in reality all he or she was doing was proceeding extremely slowly.  In such a circumstance, you were required to yield the right of way, but it is not as if the other driver did not have some sort of fault in causing confusion by proceeding so slowly through the roundabout.  An experienced personal injury attorney will be able to analyze and present your case even if you were technically in the wrong.

Contact Schwed Adams & McGinley

At Schwed, Adams & McGinley, our experienced personal injury attorneys have more than 150 years of experience representing the victims of motor vehicle accidents.  Our experienced accident attorneys have dealt with virtually every scenario possible over their decades of collective experience, regardless of the facts involved in a particular case.  Whether you were required to yield the right of way and an accident occurred or whether someone else was supposed to yield the right of way and refused to, we can untangle the most complicated accidents and recover maximum compensation for our clients.  If you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence in Florida, contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Schwed, Adams & McGinley, P.A. today at 877-694-6079 or contact@schwedlawfirm.com for a free consultation.