Law

Dangers of the turn lane: First in time = right of way?

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Turn lanes are some of the most misunderstood traffic lanes. Not many people know how early is too early to get into a turn lane and who has the right of way to it. This is so misunderstood that many car accidents are caused because of the confusion on who has the right of way.

Today we will focus on who has the right of way when you turn into the turn lane ahead of other traffic and another car in front of you wants to turn into the turn lane and crashes into you. Who is at fault for this situation?

A number of driving rules come into play in this situation: When can you be in a turn lane? What can you use the turn lane for? Who has the right of way once you establish yourself in the lane?

The law on turn lanes:

RCW 46.61.290(3)(c) Upon a roadway where a center lane has been provided by distinctive pavement markings for the use of vehicles turning left from either direction, no vehicles may turn left from any other lane. A vehicle shall not be driven in this center lane for the purpose of overtaking or passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction. No vehicle may travel further than three hundred feet within the lane. A signal, either electric or manual, for indicating a left turn movement, shall be made at least one hundred feet before the actual left turn movement is made.

The law on changing lanes:

RCW 46.61.305 (1) No person shall turn a vehicle or move right or left upon a roadway unless and until such movement can be made with reasonable safety nor without giving an appropriate signal in the manner hereinafter provided. (2) A signal of intention to turn or move right or left when required shall be given continuously during not less than the last one hundred feet traveled by the vehicle before turning.

Conclusion: 

If you have established yourself in a turn lane by giving proper notice and are within 300 feet of your turn, you have the right to the turn lane as being first established in the lane even though a car in front of you wants to be in the lane as well. The earliest you can change lanes into a turn lane is 300 feet before your turn or the length of a football field. Additionally, just because a car is in front of you doesn’t mean they have the right of way into the turn lane. A car that has fully established itself in the lane legally has the right of way to that lane. A signal of lane change must be made at least 100 feet before the turn to give adequate notice to those around you.

Speeding and illegal lane changes can come into play to say otherwise on this one. If you have been injured in a car accident, contact your Seattle personal injury lawyer today for a free consultation. We are paid out of the settlement making it so anyone can afford to hire us.

Andrew CherinDangers of the turn lane: First in time = right of way?
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Can you wear headphones with a chord connected to your phone while driving?

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We have all seen the person driving while wearing earbuds with a physical chord attached to their phone. Have you ever wondered if that was illegal? Does this qualify under the new handsfree requirement law for driving and using your phone in Seattle? No, it is illegal. You can only wear headphones that are approved as hands free headphones for the new driving law. These are paired with your phone via bluetooth.

What is somewhat misleading is the fact that you can wear blue tooth enabled headphones and listen to your iphone podcast or music but you cannot wear chorded headphones even though they both function basically the same. I guess the reasoning behind this is that the chord could cause a driving hazard, which could cause a car accident.

Looking further, the listening device must only cover one ear according to WAC 204-10-045

If you are caught wearing headphones with chords, you will most likely be pulled over and fined $124.

RCW 46.37.480

(2) No person shall operate any motor vehicle on a public highway while wearing any headset or earphones connected to any electronic device capable of receiving a radio broadcast or playing a sound recording for the purpose of transmitting a sound to the human auditory senses and which headset or earphones muffle or exclude other sounds. This subsection does not apply to students and instructors participating in a Washington state motorcycle safety program.

(3) This section does not apply to authorized emergency vehicles, motorcyclists wearing a helmet with built-in headsets or earphones as approved by the Washington state patrol, or motorists using hands-free, wireless communications systems, as approved by the equipment section of the Washington state patrol.
Andrew CherinCan you wear headphones with a chord connected to your phone while driving?
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How far is too far in a left turn lane?

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How far can I go in a left turn lane that is in the center dividing two lanes of traffic in each direction for the purpose of turning left before it is illegal? We have all seen them around. We have all wondered how far can I travel in them to overtake traffic.

How far can you go in a turn lane to make a turn? If you are planning on taking a left turn into a business in a turn lane, you cannot use this lane unless the business you are turning into is less than 300 feet away or about the length of a football field. This is not very far.

Can I travel in a turn lane to overtake traffic? No, you cannot enter a turn lane in order to overtake or pass other cars going in the same direction. Turn lanes depicted like this are for left turns only.

What happens if you cause a car accident while driving in a turn lane too far? If you are in a turn lane for more than 300 feet or your destination from when you entered the turn lane was more than 300 feet away, you are potentially at fault for a car accident that you cause. However, the other vehicles around you must have also acted reasonably in their assumption that there is no traffic in the center lane and they took precautions to enter the turn lane safely.

Therefore, if you want to get into a left turn lane to take a left, you should make sure that where you want to take a left turn at is less than 300 feet away. 300 feet away is about 6 seconds of travel for a car going 35 mph, about 5 seconds for a car traveling 40mph, and about 4 seconds for a car traveling 45 to 50mph.

The law-

RCW 46.61.290(3)(c) Upon a roadway where a center lane has been provided by distinctive pavement markings for the use of vehicles turning left from either direction, no vehicles may turn left from any other lane. A vehicle shall not be driven in this center lane for the purpose of overtaking or passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction. No vehicle may travel further than three hundred feet within the lane. A signal, either electric or manual, for indicating a left turn movement, shall be made at least one hundred feet before the actual left turn movement is made.

 

Andrew CherinHow far is too far in a left turn lane?
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Do you have to yield to buses signaling they are merging in Seattle?

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Everyone has seen a bus signaling that they are re-entering traffic but what are the rules? Do they have special rights that other cars do not because they are a bus? Some bus drivers will force their way into traffic making close calls with drivers making it seem like they believe they have the right of way over cars behind them. Do they?
Actually, buses do have more rights than other cars. When a bus signals it is re-entering the flow of traffic from a stop, the drivers behind the bus going the same direction must yield to the bus re-entering traffic. This does not mean that a bus has the right of way to move over into your lane of travel and move wherever they want. This code applies to re-entering the flow of traffic not moving around the flow of traffic.
Why give buses the right of way? The law was written to allow buses to move around faster. It is hard for a bus to stop and then re-enter traffic if traffic is congested and no one is letting them merge back in. Buses are large and carry a large amount of people so they may not be able to see every car around them. Also, they are seen as 20-40 people on the bus that would represent 20-40 cars had they not taken the bus so that saves travel time for others in cars and alleve traffic congestion.
Who is at fault if a bus merges quickly with no warning or time for other drivers to yield? Buses may not force themselves into traffic if another car could not avoid them. The bus would be at fault for merging into a car if the car could not have yielded to the bus. This could be the case where a bus signals and merges at the same time without giving time for others to recognize the bus is signaling and causes a car accident. The bus driver and city of Seattle would be liable for any resulting injuries due to the bus driver’s negligence.
What is the penalty for failing to let a bus in? Seattle traffic tickets are issued at $124 for drivers who fail to yield the right of way to a bus re-entering the flow of traffic from a stop. Additionally, the driver of the car would be at fault if they caused a car accident if they failed to yield the right of way to a bus re-entering traffic. However, the bus may be seen at fault if the bus driver did not give enough warning to the driver, causing the car accident injury case.
The Law:

A. The driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to a transit vehicle traveling in the same direction that has signalled and is re-entering the traffic flow.

B. This section shall not operate to relieve the driver of a transit vehicle from the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of all persons using the street or alley.

C. For purposes of this section, “transit vehicle” means a motor vehicle, street car, train, or trolley which is owned or operated by a city, county, county transportation authority, a public benefit area, or the state, and which is used to carry passengers on a regular schedule. (RCW 46.04.355; 69.50.435(5), (6)).

Andrew CherinDo you have to yield to buses signaling they are merging in Seattle?
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Do you have to stop at private parking lot stop signs?

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Have you ever wondered if those stop signs in Westwood Village in West Seattle or the mall at Northgate or Bellevue are enforceable? What would happen if you drove right through one? Well, those stops signs within the mall grounds are not technically enforceable. That means that a police officer cannot stop you and give you a ticket for running a stop sign.

What if you run a stop sign and cause a car accident in a mall or private parking lot? If you get into an accident by running a stop sign in a mall, it is grounds for liability. This means if you ran a stop sign in the mall, another person would reasonably believe that you were going to stop. If they had the right of way, you are at fault for running the stop sign.

What if you are driving fast on the private parking lot? Police officers may stop and ticket a driver if there is suspicion of DUI, the vehicle is being driven recklessly, or other criminal acts are being committed law. Traffic tickets in general are not enforced but these acts are.

What if you run the stop sign leaving the mall? While the stop sign may not be enforceable, RCW 46.61.365 states that you shall stop prior to driving onto the sidewalk area leaving the private road and yield the right of way to other vehicles. This would be a traffic offense at this point.

RCW 46.61.365

The driver of a vehicle within a business or residence district emerging from an alley, driveway or building shall stop such vehicle immediately prior to driving onto a sidewalk or onto the sidewalk area extending across any alleyway or driveway, and shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian as may be necessary to avoid collision, and upon entering the roadway shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles approaching on said roadway.
Andrew CherinDo you have to stop at private parking lot stop signs?
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Failure to Signal is Asking for a Car Accident?

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I have a pet peeve, people that don’t signal. It is so frustrating to be driving in my lane when all of a sudden someone changes into the lane in front of me without signaling or while sitting behind someone at a stop light, they decide they are turning while I want to go straight leaving me waiting for them to turn when I would have been in the other lane had I known they were going to turn.

Failure to signal is a big danger to those around you and yourself. When someone fails to signal, they are basically saying F*** you to everyone around them and that you don’t matter. People who do not signal are endangering themselves and those around them by not allowing others to know what you are about to do. If you are going through an intersection and then all of a sudden slam on your brakes to make a turn without signaling, you are increasing the chances that someone behind you is going to slam into your back and cause a car accident.

People are not mind readers. When someone doesn’t signal, those around them only can assume one thing: you are going to continue straight and within your lane. Any deviation from your lane without signaling is against the law and can make you at fault for a rear end car accident if someone hits you.

Did you know that almost 10% of car accidents across the country are caused by failure to signal or lane changing accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that approximately 533,000, or 9% of all motor vehicle accidents, are lane changing and merging accidents. Additionally, 200 of these accidents result in fatalities.

The most common causes of merging or lane changing car accidents are:

  • Improper look out
  • Distracted driving including cell phone use, eating, and reading
  • Driver fatigue
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Driving drowsy
  • Low visibility due to weather including fog, rain, heavy rain and snow

How far in front of your turn must you signal? You must signal 100 feet at a minimum before your turn. The reason behind giving a signal is to let other know your intention so that they can make proper steps to slow down or move into another lane. It is to protect you and others. 100 feet traveled in a car

What’s the fine? $124 fine.

RCW 46.61.305

(1) No person shall turn a vehicle or move right or left upon a roadway unless and until such movement can be made with reasonable safety nor without giving an appropriate signal in the manner hereinafter provided.
(2) A signal of intention to turn or move right or left when required shall be given continuously during not less than the last one hundred feet traveled by the vehicle before turning.
(3) No person shall stop or suddenly decrease the speed of a vehicle without first giving an appropriate signal in the manner provided herein to the driver of any vehicle immediately to the rear when there is opportunity to give such signal.
(4) The signals provided for in RCW 46.61.310 subsection (2), shall not be flashed on one side only on a disabled vehicle, flashed as a courtesy or “do pass” signal to operators of other vehicles approaching from the rear, nor be flashed on one side only of a parked vehicle except as may be necessary for compliance with this section.
(Emphasis added)
If you have been injured in a Seattle car accident, give Andrew Cherin, attorney at law a call today for a free consultation. Seattle personal injury lawyers give free consultations. Seattle personal injury lawyers are paid out of the settlement so everyone can afford to hire one but you cannot afford not to.
Andrew CherinFailure to Signal is Asking for a Car Accident?
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Seattle Pot Holes and Bike Accidents

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Who is at fault if you hit and crash in one of the many potholes around Seattle on a bike? 

While many people may say that someone should have seen a pothole and got out of the way, some times it is impossible to see a pothole on the street depending on the conditions, depth of the pothole, and how many other people are on the road.

Seattle is becoming notorious for not filling potholes in quickly enough. I am sure you will encounter a pothole on the next drive you take after reading this blog. Whether it is because the city has too many potholes to deal with, they are lazy, or they don’t have time to get to them, the city is responsible for filling pot holes and making sure people are safe on the roads.

The city of Seattle is responsible for filling potholes on city streets and some other roads as well. If a bicyclist is injured because they run into a pothole, the city is responsible for the resulting injuries including bicycle replacement, medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If there are permanent injuries, the city is also responsible for future lost wages, future medical bills, and other damages resulting from the fall.

If you are injured by a fall due to a pothole in Seattle, you need to hurry to preserve your case. Generally, there is a three year statute of limitations for personal injury cases in Seattle, Washington. This means that you have three years to file a lawsuit or settle a case against the city of Seattle. In addition to this, the city has a notice requirement that states that you must give them 60 days advance notice before filing a lawsuit against the city, in accordance with RCW 4.96.020. This means you must fill out a claim form on Seattle’s municipal website and mail it in to them following the directions on the website.

If you are injured in a bike accident on a Seattle street, it is best to contact a Seattle personal injury lawyer to figure out your rights and compensation possibly owed to you. Most offer free consultations and are paid out of the settlement. This means that everyone can afford a personal injury lawyer, but you cannot afford to not hire one.

 

Andrew CherinSeattle Pot Holes and Bike Accidents
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Duty to Seek Treatment ASAP?

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Many people who are injured in car accidents, especially men, try to tough out their injuries. The reason can be anything from not having enough time to go to a chiropractor, massage therapist, physical therapist, etc. to not wanting to “cause problems” for the other person. However, insurance companies are increasingly trying to crack down on people that wait three to five months start chiropractic or physical therapy following a car accident and denying their relatedness of such. While there are some good arguments to stop insurance companies from making these arguments, why not get the treatment needed immediately so not to create this possible complication.

If you wait too long to get treatment, the insurance company may have a good argument for denying the treatment – to a certain degree. This is because there is law in Washington State that requires a victim of a car accident injury case to get treatment within a reasonable amount of time as a reasonable person would so as to not make their injuries worse. However, this does not mean that the insurance company is completely off the hook for covering these medical bills but it does mean that it may be reduced to a certain degree.

Example: Let’s suppose the following: If someone who is injured in a car accident would have gone to a chiropractor right after the car accident, they would have been able to be healed within 6 months with massage and physical therapy. The insurance company will be responsible for 100% of the treatment because the person injury in the car accident mitigated their damages.

Now let’s say that if they wait to start chiropractic, PT, and massage three months after the car accident, their injuries will have gotten so bad to the point where they need an extra three months or nine months to heal. In this second scenario, the insurance company will have a good case that those extra three months of treatment are not coverable because the person injured in the car accident waited too long to get healed without a valid excuse. However, the question will come down to would a reasonable person have sought medical treatment when the person did in this case – within three months of the car accident.

This rule not only applies to medical treatment, but also to lost wages. Would a reasonable person have sought jobs they could have applied for given their injuries and situation. Would they have gotten a job so not to lose their house. A victim of a car accident has a duty to mitigate their damages as much as reasonably possible.

Washington State Pattern Jury Instruction 33.01 lays out the argument that the insurance company can make. However, they must also prove that a reasonable person would have sought medical treatment and thus the delay in getting medical treatment was the proximate cause of the now more complicated treatment and not the car accident. Proximate cause means sufficiently related to a legally recognizable injury to be held to be the cause of that injury.

If the court finds a duty to mitigate was not followed, the court may apportion what percentage of the medical damages the car accident injury victim was partially at fault for based on comparative fault rules in Washington State, which does not bar recovery if someone was partially at fault but merely just takes off their percentage from 100%. This means if someone was found to have been 10% at fault for worsening their symptoms and treatment for not getting treatment within a reasonable time, they would only recover 90% of their total personal injury award instead of 100%.

Conclusion: Get the therapy you need as soon as possible in order to avoid complications and delays in getting your personal injury car accident case settled as soon as you are 100% back to normal or as close as possible.

Andrew CherinDuty to Seek Treatment ASAP?
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Why the Seattle new distracted driving law is not over reaching

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A lot of social media posts lately have been highlighting the fact that the new Washington State Distracted Driver Law makes it illegal to eat or drink food while driving, which is a secondary offense under the law. A secondary offense means that you cannot be pulled over for eating or drinking while driving unless you are speeding, run a red light, or do some other traffic violation first – which probably is a good thing to get fined for because eating or drinking while speeding is not a good thing and eating or drinking may have been the distracting reason why someone ran a red light.

The eating and drinking part of the law has created a lot of hoopla because news media outlets have misleading posted screen shots of the law stating eating and drinking is now illegal without also indicating it is actually a secondary offense in addition to another traffic fine.

Here is what the law actually says: Senate Bill 5289 Section 3:

(1)(a) It is a traffic infraction to drive dangerously distracted. Any driver who commits this infraction must be assessed a base penalty of thirty dollars.

(b) Enforcement of the infraction of driving dangerously distracted may be accomplished only as a secondary action when a driver of a motor vehicle has been detained for a suspected violation of a separate traffic infraction or an equivalent local ordinance.  

(c) For the purposes of this section, “dangerously distracted” means a person who engages in any activity not related to the actual operation of a motor vehicle in a manner that interferes with the safe operation of such motor vehicle on any highway.

As a Seattle personal injury lawyer representing people injured in car accidents, I have found that a rising number of car accidents are caused because of distracted driving. Additionally, these accidents are often some of the most devastating car accidents. If you are distracted by food or drinks while driving and cause a car accident, your stupidity should get you another fine. If you drive safely focusing on the road and drive correctly without being distracted and causing a car accident or traffic offense, you can drink your coffee and eat food without worry of being pulled over. However, if you are swerving because you are looking down at your spilled drink on your shirt, you deserve a fine.

The distracted driving law is a gigantic improvement in prior law in an effort to combat rising distracted driving because of people on their phone while they are driving and not worrying about others around them. How many times have you seen someone on their phone driving extremely slow and causing backups or swerving from lane to lane on the freeway? Too much! The new laws in place should prevent a lot of car accidents because of people being selfish and thinking about something other than the fast moving killing machine that they are driving.

Andrew CherinWhy the Seattle new distracted driving law is not over reaching
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Can you cross on a counting down blinking hand?

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Seattle is one of the worst cities for controlling pedestrians crossing the street, which has led to some of the worst traffic in a city. While there appears to be many routes out of the city, you will almost certainly be caught in only one car making a light during rush hour due to pedestrians continually crossing all intersections even when the hand is blinking stop. Many car accidents and traffic jams are caused by pedestrians darting in front of traffic.

 

Can a pedestrian cross the street in Seattle with a blinking or steady don’t walk sign or hand?

According to RCW 46.61.060 states that pedestrians may not enter the roadway when there is a blinking hand or do not walk sign. This means that anyone that enters the roadway when the hand signal is counting down is violating the law and jay walking.

Is the countdown the time you have to cross the street and if you make it you are not jaywalking?

The countdown is not the amount of time you have to cross the street. You cannot jump into the crosswalk and run across in time and be considered to be in compliance with the law. If you start crossing the street after the do not cross sign or hand starts to blink and countdown, you are in violation of the law. You legally cannot start crossing the street no matter if you can make it in time or not if the hand is blinking and the countdown has begun.

Who is at fault if you accidentally hit a pedestrian that runs into the street without notice to you?

Pedestrians generally have the right of way in cross walks and at unmarked cross walks. Cars have a duty to be mindful of people darting into the street and stop if possible to avoid hitting another car or person, according to RCW 46.61.245. However, pedestrians do not have the right of way to just run into the street without looking at traffic no matter if it is a cross walk or not. RCW 46.61.235(2) – No pedestrian or bicycle shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk, run, or otherwise move into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impossible for the driver to stop.

If you are injured in a car accident or hit by a car as a pedestrian, you have a lot more rights than may appear. You may have a case for personal injury damages even if the police report states that you are at fault. Preserve your rights and your case now by contacting a Seattle personal injury lawyer for your car accident injury case immediately.

Andrew CherinCan you cross on a counting down blinking hand?
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