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When do you have to have your headlights on in Seattle?

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Driving without your headlights on can be very dangerous to those around you and yourself. Driving without your headlights on can make you invisible at night and possibly cause a car accident that injures you and others. If someone cannot see you coming straight for them, they may turn in front of you causing a “t-bone” or head on collision. For this reason, Seattle makes it mandatory to have your headlights on at certain times of the day and during certain conditions.

In Seattle, you have to have your headlights on half an hour after sunset until half an hour before sunrise. Sunset is determined by what the official time of sunset is in Seattle. For example, sunset in Seattle for May 29, 2018 is 8:56 pm. This means that you must have your headlights on at the latest by 9:26pm. If you have your headlights off after that time, you may be subject to a ticket and a fine.

Additionally, you have to have your headlights on where there is insufficient light on the road due to dark clouds, heavy rain, snow, etc. where objects are not discernible at a distance of 1,000 feet in the distance. It is important to have your headlights on during poor weather conditions so that others can see your car on the free way and on regular streets. If someone can’t see you, they may accidentally rear end your car or turn in front of you.

Luckily, today many cars have automatic lights that either run all the time or turn on when wether conditions or outside conditions get too dark. This makes it so you never have to remember to turn on your headlights at night or during heavy rain or snow. The sensors on your car will turn your lights on when they do not get enough light into them.

Here is the law-

RCW 46.37.020

Every vehicle upon a highway within this state at any time from a half hour after sunset to a half hour before sunrise and at any other time when, due to insufficient light or unfavorable atmospheric conditions, persons and vehicles on the highway are not clearly discernible at a distance of one thousand feet ahead shall display lighted headlights, other lights, and illuminating devices as hereinafter respectively required for different classes of vehicles, subject to exceptions with respect to parked vehicles, and such stop lights, turn signals, and other signaling devices shall be lighted as prescribed for the use of such devices.

Andrew CherinWhen do you have to have your headlights on in Seattle?
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Ticket For Not Properly Restraining Child

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The leading cause of deaths among children under 12 is car accident related injuries. Seattle has some of the worst traffic in the US and there are a lot of people driving in the city that are not familiar with all of the streets, hills, and rules of the road. Couple this with driving around with a young child and you want to do everything you can to keep your child safe.

Washington State has one of the strictest laws on child car safety. The law was created in response toa Walla Walla parent, Autumn Alexander Skeen who lost her four-year-old son, Anton Skeen in a rollover collision. Anton was using a seat belt in accordance with state law at the time.  Yet,  because seat belts are built for adult bodies, he slid out of his seat belt and was thrown from the vehicle and crushed in the collision.

If you do not follow the law correctly, you could receive a ticket for not properly restraining your child for $112 for each child. Children are far more likely to be injured in a car accident when they are not properly seated in the car with the right safety restraint devices for their size and age.

However, if you get a ticket, know this. The state created a clause in the law that will actually allow you to not have to pay the fine so long as you can prove that you went out and purchased a child booster seat or car seat. They figure that the fine would be better spent on keeping the child safe.

Here are the basics of the law: (These are not manufacturer recommendations though so check those to make sure you are in compliance)

  • Children under age 8, unless they are 4’9″ tall (whichever comes first), must be restrained in an appropriate child restraint system (car seat or booster seat).
  • Children 8 years old or at least 4’9″ tall who wear a seat belt MUST use it correctly (never under the arm or behind the back) or continue to use a child restraint.
  • Children less than 13 years old must ride in the back seat of cars, unless there is no back seat.
  • Child restraint system must be used correctly according to the car seat AND vehicle manufacturer’s instructions. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and guidelines for both the child restraint and the vehicle.

You can read the full law here at RCW 46.61.687 

The law is very vague and provides that you must follow the proper instructions by the manufacturer. Different car seats have different weight limits and different sizes requiring different positions.

Rear Facing Car Seats – 2 Years or Younger and weight limit- Generally, a child must be in a rear facing car seat until they are two years old or have outgrown their seat according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. Rear facing car seats in the back seat are the safest position for your child and should be left in this position as long as possible, until they meet the guidelines for change. The middle back seat is the safest to protect from side impacts.

Infant car seats are generally only made for rear facing children and are not made for forward facing positioning once they have outgrown rear facing. Infant car seats are generally lighter and have carrying handles. These generally have lower weight limits and don’t last as long as convertible car seats.

Convertible car seats are much bulkier and do not have handles on them. These are made to both be positioned rear facing and then forward facing once your child is big enough. These are made so that your child can stay rear facing longer than infant car seats. Most convertible seats have weight limits for rear facing up to 40 pounds.

Forward Facing Car Seat – Generally, forward facing car seats have guidelines that state that a child must be in the car seat from until they are 65 pounds and less than 4’1″ tall. Some children will get too tall for their car seat and require a booster seat and an earlier age than others.

Booster Seat – Booster seats are made for children who have outgrown their forward facing car seat. Generally, booster seats are for children until they are 4’9″ tall. Booster seats are generally only for children who are at least 40 pounds and have outgrown their car seat.

Seat Belted in Back Seat – In Washington State, a child may not be only restrained by a seat belt until they are at least 4’9″. Children must ride in the back seat until they are 13 years old, under Washington State law.

Note: Just because a child is 8 years old does not mean that they can safely be seated in a safety belt alone. Children should continue to follow manufacturer’s guidelines and use a car seat or booster seat until they recommend not to. 

 

Andrew CherinTicket For Not Properly Restraining Child
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5 Tips for Keeping Children Safe Around Cars

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I was reminded of the need to keep our children safe around our houses and at school from cars the other day when a young child was struck and nearly killed by a car. The child was playing just outside their house when he dashed into the street for a ball and was struck by a car. There are so many things we need to do to keep our children safe. Car accidents injuries to children are the worst. Here are some tips to keep your child safe around streets.

Teach your child about the dangers of streets and cars

Children should learn to fear streets. This is not an overreaction or an overstatement. This is the truth and one of the only ways to keep them out of the street. Young children like to play near streets but you should teach them that they should not. Teaching them about the dangers of cars and what it can do to people who are hit by cars is a hard subject but it has to be taught to them as early as they can comprehend speech.

Never allow your child to enter the street without you or an adult holding their hand

One of the ways to do this is to teach them that they are never allowed to cross or enter the street without you or an adult holding their hand. Tell them that this is very important to you and your family. Tell them that they will be in big trouble if they are caught doing this and will lose all outdoor privileges if they do. Regularly walking around and holding your child’s hand can reinforce the need to always hold your hand while walking across streets. They realize it is a privilege to walk across the street and dangerous so they need you to reinforce this by always holding their hand when crossing streets.

Do not allow children to play near streets

Children playing near streets creates an unnecessary opportunity for the child to be in danger with cars. Whether it is a ball rolling out into the street or the ice cream truck, you should not allow the opportunity for a child to run into the street. Only allow children at your house to play inside or in the back yard, assuming your yard is fenced in and away from a street. Allowing them to play near a street should be avoided at all costs.

Teach children to wait for you at the playground and not on the side of the street

Children who wait for parents near the street to be picked up after school are putting themselves in another unnecessary risk situation. It may take more effort on your part to park the car and walk to the child on the playground or after school spot, but it is well worth keeping them safe.

Children that are young may run to you or a family member’s car when they see you because they are excited to see you so do not let them take this risk. Arrange with your child for a meeting place where you will get out of your car and come to them. That way they can walk hand in hand to your car across a street if necessary.

Meeting them on the playground can add extra play time and fresh air – perfect for children and adults as well. It can be a chance for you to wind down from work and relax or get some exercise.

If your child is playing outside or near a gate to get outside, always monitor them

Children like to find ways to push the boundaries of parents. It may be difficult but you should monitor your children regularly when they are playing outside or near areas where they could get outside to a street with cars. Even if your spouse is outside and they want to go find them, someone should always have an eye on the child so they do not get into the street or behind your spouse’s car when they are back up.

Andrew Cherin5 Tips for Keeping Children Safe Around Cars
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Red Right Turn Arrows in Seattle Confuse Everyone

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The city of Seattle is notoriously bad at all things related to traffic. There is so much poor planning on the part of the department of transportation in Seattle and Washington that it is no surprise that we are one of the worst cities for traffic in the US, number 6 in the US according to US News in 2015.

What adds to the traffic is poor street sign design and implementation. Most people see red turn arrows and think that they cannot turn in the direction of the arrow when it is red. I was just sitting behind someone in traffic today that had a red turn arrow and mistakenly believed that they could not turn right on red. I let her know that she could turn right by honking my horn a couple of times, the polite thing to do, right?

Contrary to common belief, you can turn right on a red turn arrow. A red turn arrow is treated like a normal red light stop light. You must stop at the light and then proceed to make your turn if traffic is clear.

The only time where you are not allowed to turn right on a red turn arrow is when there is another sign that states no turn on red.

Here is the law in Washington State on red turn arrows:

Washington State RCW 46.61.055(3)(c)​ Vehicle operators facing a steady red arrow indication may not enter the intersection control area to make the movement indicated by such arrow, and unless entering the intersection control area to make such other movement as is permitted by other indications shown at the same time, shall stop at a clearly marked stop line, but if none, before entering a crosswalk on the near side of the intersection control area, or if none, then before entering the intersection control area and shall remain standing until an indication to make the movement indicated by such arrow is shown.However, the vehicle operators facing a steady red arrow indication may, after stopping proceed to make a right turn from a one-way or two-way street into a two-way street or into a one-way street carrying traffic in the direction of the right turn; or a left turn from a one-way street or two-way street into a one-way street carrying traffic in the direction of the left turn; unless a sign posted by competent authority prohibits such movement. Vehicle operators planning to make such turns shall remain stopped to allow other vehicles lawfully within or approaching the intersection control area to complete their movements. Vehicle operators planning to make such turns shall also remain stopped for pedestrians who are lawfully within the intersection control area as required by RCW 46.61.235(1).

Why then put a red turn signal stop sign if it acts exactly like another red light? To confuse people? I think the reasoning behind placing in the red turn arrow was to let people know you can only turn right in this lane. However, this just confuses people more and causes traffic to bottle neck up.

If you are injured in a car accident by someone turning into your car, you need a Seattle personal injury lawyer. Call today for a free consultation to see how a car accident injury lawyer can help you out. (206) 850-6716

Andrew CherinRed Right Turn Arrows in Seattle Confuse Everyone
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Seattle Passenger in a car accident, whose fault?

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If you are injured in a Seattle car accident while riding as a passenger, you have many options for recovery but probably have many questions.

Who is at fault for the car accident and whose insurance can I go after?

Determining who is at fault for the car accident is the first step to determining who will pay for your injuries. If your driver is at fault for the car accident, you can go after their insurance policy to pay for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering – even if they are related to you.

This is a good benefit that some people do not take advantage of because of fear that the family member or friend will have to pay this amount. This could not be further from the truth. The insurance company may pay you $10,000 or more and the family member or friend will not have to pay a penny of this amount. The worst that could happen is if their insurance premiums go up a few dollars per month, in most situations.

If another car is at fault, passengers injured in a car accident can go after the person that hit their driver’s car directly. Passengers are entitled to pain and suffering, medical bill compensation, and lost wages, among other possible damages. People that are responsible for your injuries will not pay for your medical bills up front, unless you are going after the driver of your car and they have PIP insurance. However, it is a good idea to not settle your case until you are fully healed. This means that you must find another way to pay for your medical bills right now until you are healed.

Who will pay for the passenger’s medical bills now though?

Personal injury protection (PIP) is an auto insurance policy that pays for medical bills and lost wages while you are awaiting a settlement from the responsible party. PIP is available to passengers under the driver of the car’s auto policy if the driver has paid for PIP insurance. Additionally, you can use your own auto insurance policy PIP to cover your injuries if there is no other PIP available to you or you have exhausted it all from the other policy.

Another option to cover your medical bills right now is your own medical insurance. Medical insurance will deny the claim at first unless they know no other medical coverage is available to pay for your bills. Medical insurance generally doesn’t cover massage bills and usually has limited chiropractic allowance.

A third option is to pay on a lien to medical providers. Most physical therapists, chiropractors, and massage therapists will allow you to pay them back out of the settlement. However, most if not all of these places will require you to have a personal injury lawyer representing you to accept this arrangement so that they can guarantee through the car accident injury lawyer that they are paid.

How long will it take to get a good settlement?

Contrary to some thinking, hiring a personal injury lawyer does not mean filing a lawsuit in most cases. In fact, most cases can be settled within 2-3 months of an injured person being discharged from treatment and feeling 100% again.

Additionally, hiring a Seattle personal injury lawyer is not super costly and in most instances gets you more money than you could on your own even after a lawyer’s fee is taken account of. Seattle car accident injury lawyers are paid out of the settlement so you never have to pay them out of pocket. Call today for a free consultation.

Andrew CherinSeattle Passenger in a car accident, whose fault?
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Seattle School Zone Times and Safety

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There is not greater cause than to keep our children safe as they learn to integrate into our society and learn the dangers of society. School zone safety mechanisms are such causes.

We make 20 mph speed limits in school zones so people can safely stop when an unexpected child runs out into the middle of the street because they were chasing a ball, running to their parents, or playing tag. Children in grade school, especially, are learning basic life skills and may not be aware of the true dangers of walking or running around busy school streets.

Seattle has so many school zones that you may miss them if you are driving in an area that you are not familiar with. This could lead to a $234 ticket by camera or by police officer, if you are driving over 20mph while the flashing lights are on or children are present.

For the 2017-2018 school year, Seattle school districts changed some of the usual hours for schools. Instead of grade schools starting at 9am and going until 3pm, most grade schools are now starting at 7:55am and going until 2:25pm. However, on Wednesdays, schools have early releases at 1:10. This means that the school zones will go on earlier and you may be caught unaware if you are not careful.

Most Seattle middle schools and high schools changed from 7:45am starts and going until 2:15pm to 8:55-3:45 and getting out at 2:30 on early dismissal Wednesdays. For a complete list of school schedules, check out the Seattle school districts site here.

The reason for the change in times was because of studies showing that younger children are wide awake early in the morning while teenagers and other young adults need more sleep in the morning.

According to the Seattle school districts website, School zone cameras and flashing warning signals generally start 40 minutes before a school starts and lasts until about 10 minutes after school is to start. Additionally, the school zone cameras and warning signals start 10 minutes before school gets out and ends 30 minutes after school ends.

No one wants to see their child or anyone else’s child hit by a car. There is no more of a horrific scene than to see your young, innocent loved one struck by a car. Car accidents are devastating events that are easily preventable with care and attention for those around you. Drive safely and anticipate others. Drive slow in school zones for your children and other children’s safety and well being.

Andrew CherinSeattle School Zone Times and Safety
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Seattle Car Accident Injury Case with Pemco

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If you are injured in a car accident with someone who has Pemco insurance, here are some things you should know before settling your case.

Pemco is in the business of making money.

They are not in the business of handing out money they don’t have to. If you are injured in a car accident and representing yourself, you are going to be fighting an uphill battle. They have the money and you have not experience negotiating about how much an injury case is worth. Therefore, they are only going to offer and pay you what they want to pay you, not what you deserve.

Pemco is only going to pay for your medical bills once you settle with them.

This can be problematic for people that do not have a lawyer and do not have PIP insurance. PIP insurance is an auto policy that you can purchase that will pay for your medical bills while you wait to settle your case with Pemco.

What can you do if Pemco is not paying for your medical bills?

Pemco will generally only offer to pay for your bills right now if you qualify for their PIP insurance under the defendant’s policy. Generally, the only way you can qualify for their PIP insurance is if you were hit by their insured while riding a bike, walking across a street, or as a passenger of their insured. You can use your PIP insurance, medical insurance, or pay back your medical providers on a lien out of the settlement.

Do not settle your car accident injury case with Pemco until you are fully healed or the extent of your injuries are known.

Pemco will pressure you into settling your case early by telling you that they will not pay anything more so you better take the money they are offering now even though you are not done with your medical treatment. Tell them you do not want to talk to them until you are fully healed. In Washington State, you have three (3) years to settle your case so there is generally a lot of time to heal after a car accident and not feel pressured to settle by Pemco.

How much is your case worth against Pemco in a car accident in Seattle?

Generally, you are entitled to pain and suffering, medical bill compensation, and lost wages, among other things. The best way to maximize the value of your case against Pemco is to hire a Seattle car accident injury lawyer. Hiring a lawyer does not mean that you will have to file a lawsuit, contrary to many beliefs. It does mean maximizing your case value by have an lawyer who only negotiates car accident injury settlements, negotiate your settlement and lower your medical bills.

Hiring a Seattle personal injury lawyer is easy and costs you nothing.

Personal injury lawyers are paid out of the settlement and studies show that people that hire a car accident injury lawyer for their case put twice as much money in their pocket as those who do not hire a lawyer and try to settle on their own, even after lawyers fees are taken out.

Andrew CherinSeattle Car Accident Injury Case with Pemco
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What to do after being injured in a car accident?

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If you have been injured in a Seattle area car accident, you can quickly become overwhelmed with paper work from your insurance company and the defendants insurance company. You may have a lot of questions such as: Who should repair your car? Who should pay for your medical bills? Whose claim number should you use to give to your chiropractor or physical therapist?

Who should repair your car?

Generally, you can go with the defendant’s insurance company to repair your car and you will generally be treated fairly. However, there are a couple conditions for this statement. If your car has minimal damage, you may want to consider having your own insurance company cover the damages to your car.

The reason for this is because you do not want the other company to get the advantage of seeing your car when you can’t see their car’s damage, which may show much more than the damage to your car. Bumpers are solid and made to absorb impact but front ends of car are generally not as well protected, so your car may show little to no damage while their car shows a lot, which can be misleading showing a low impact. Low impact cases will limit the value of your case without a lawyer.

Another reason, is if your car is fairly new with very little mileage on it. If your car has very little mileage and is less than one year old, you are entitled to a diminished value claim which can be worth a few thousand dollars. You will want to have an attorney representing you for this portion of your case if you have a new car.

What claim number should you give your medical providers?

You should never give the defendant’s claim number to your chiropractor, physical therapists, etc. This gives the defendant insurance company and early view of your case and may increase phone calls pressuring you to settle your case. Only give your PIP claim number or medical insurance information to your medical providers.

Who should pay for your medical bills?

The defendant’s insurance company will pay for your medical bills, eventually. However, they will not pay for your medical bills up front unless you are hit by a car as a pedestrian, bicyclist, or were riding passenger in a car that was at fault for a collision. You must wait until you are fully healed and then the defendant’s insurance will settle with you for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering in one lump sum. They will never pay for you medical bills as you go and your bills will be sent to collections.

Who pays your medical bills right now then?

You have a couple of options to pay for your medical bills including your auto insurance policy persona injury protection plan, medical insurance, or pay them back on a lien basis out of the settlement.

Personal injury protection is an auto insurance policy that you can elect to have or not. Generally, it is $10,000 but some people elect to pay a little more for higher limits. Personal injury protection will cover your medical bills and lost wages. You do not need to have a referral from a medical doctor to see a physical therapist, chiropractor, etc., when using PIP, although it may help with your overall case.

Chiropractors can refer you to physical therapists, take x-rays, refer out for MRI’s, and refer you out to specialists. This is why starting with a chiropractor can be an excellent first stop to start your healing process after a car accident.

Medical insurance can be used for your car accident injury case to pay for medical bills right now while you are waiting to settle your case. Medical insurance often covers large hospital bills and other doctors’ appointments. However, medical insurance is not taken by some chiropractors. Additionally, most insurance plans do not include massage therapy or acupuncture, two types of therapy that really help people injured in car accidents heal faster.

Medical liens are a good option for those who do not have personal injury protection on their auto policy nor have medical insurance that is accepted by chiropractors, physical therapists, massage therapists, etc. Most medical providers will allow you to obtain medical treatment on a lien basis as long as you have an attorney representing you for your car accident injury case. The medical providers will want you and your attorney to sign a lien that guarantees payment out of the settlement.

If you have any questions about your car accident injury case, please do not hesitate to reach out to me for a free consultation (206) 850-6716 or andrew@lawcherin.com. Hiring a personal injury lawyer does not mean filing a lawsuit but does mean maximizing the value of your case. Most cases do not need to go to trial but can be settled outside of court and usually within a couple months of you completing your treatment.

Andrew CherinWhat to do after being injured in a car accident?
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Can honking your horn get you a ticket?

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The other day my wife told me that she saw a Facebook post from a local mom’s group that someone had gotten a ticket from Seattle police for honking at someone to move on a green light. I was somewhat surprised that the person was given a ticket, as I am sure you are as well. The Facebook group said that you are only allowed to honk in emergency situations.

The law in Seattle for honking your horn is found in RCW 46.37.380. It states that the driver of a motor vehicle shall when reasonably necessary to insure safe operation give audible warning with his or her horn but shall not otherwise use such horn when upon a highway.

Since the law states that you can use your horn when reasonably necessary to insure safe operation of driving it is up to someone’s interpretation whether you were using it to make someone safe. Therefore, the judge could review the infraction and determine whether someone was acting reasonably when they honked their horn at another person who was not going on a green light. The person’s argument could be that because the light was green, they would fear that someone may rear end them if they do not start moving soon.

The law does not state that it has to be an emergency, it only states that honking the horn will insure safe operation of the car. What is safe operation of the car? Safe operation of the car could be anything, really. It could be to warn someone not to turn into them that may not see you in their blind spot in order to avoid a car accident. It could be to make someone aware of you that is trying to turn right in front of you.

What it is not, however, is something that is from road rage. You cannot honk at someone because they cut you off for incessant amount of time. One honk warning them that they might hit you should be ok. Blaring on the horn is not ok after that point. This probably also means that you cannot honk at your friend to come out of the house because you are here. Basically, you cannot honk your horn for anything other than to warn or make other drivers aware of what you are doing or what they are doing to keep each other safe, seems like a reasonable interpretation of the statute.

 

 

Andrew CherinCan honking your horn get you a ticket?
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Common Courtesy Wave Could Lead to Trouble

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The other day a man was driving his car trying to turn left across traffic. A woman stopped to let him across because traffic was congested She motioned him to come through the intersection but another car came flying up in the lane next to her and hit the guy trying to turn left. Who is at fault for a situation like this?

Obviously the driver who was taking a left has to yield for oncoming traffic so he is liable at first glance, but what about the woman who signaled him across? Shouldn’t she take some blame by so adamantly waving him across in a way saying, “traffic is clear buddy, you better hurry up and take my nice gesture”? Or should the guy be 100% liable as he should have gone slow and checked the next lane? What if he couldn’t see very far down the next lane?

In general, the person waving another person through an intersection has no duty to the other driver to keep them safe from harm but only to make sure they do not hit the other person. However, once the driver signals to the other driver to come through their intersection, this person may be undertaking a duty to the driver they waved through the intersection.

The case would hinge on how much of a duty the court viewed the woman who signaled the man through the intersection has by the wave. If the wave was an emphatic one that made it appear that there was no more traffic and the coast is clear, a court may find the woman has undertaken a duty to act reasonable with the safety of another driver she has now signaled. However, if the court found that the wave was just a signal to the other driver she is letting him through but not that there is more traffic coming, this could alleviate her responsibility for the car accident.

The moral of the story is to be extra careful when waving cars through an intersection when you do not have control over drivers that are behind you and lanes that are next to you. You may be at fault for waving someone through an intersection or into traffic that you otherwise would not have been.

Andrew CherinCommon Courtesy Wave Could Lead to Trouble
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