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Crashed Car

  DETERMINATION OF LIABILITY FOR  
  CAUSING MOTOR VEHICLE COLLISIONS  

In ascertaining which vehicle caused a collision, rules of the road apply to each situation regardless of weather conditions, incident location being on a public or private property or which vehicle was the impactor. A vehicle owner’s insurance carrier of the at-fault party will pay for damages which resulted from the crash under the applicable liability, medical expense, uninsured, underinsured and collision policies. Insurance companies, personal injury and defense attorneys, and eventually judges and civil juries analyze the photos, videos, witness and participants’ statements, responding police officers’ reports and at times engage accident reconstruction experts to establish and apportion the drivers’ liability for violation rules of the road. Collision analysis illustrations:

 

Left Turn at Intersections or Roads. The driver of the vehicle making a left turn is at fault in a collision with a vehicle traveling in the opposite direction If the traffic light color was either green or yellow for both vehicles.

 

Viable Defense Argument: the oncoming car entered the intersection on red light as proven by incident witnesses, or videos recorded by the vehicle’s dashboard, streetlight’s or adjacent buildings’ cameras.

 

Unviable Defenses:

  • The car had barely turned into the oncoming car’s lane, or

  • The turning car had stopped moving at the time of the collision, or

  • That the oncoming vehicle driver was speeding.

 

The greater share of the fault is placed on the driver making a left turn at any intersection or roadway but a “percentage of fault” of about 10 and 30 percent could be allocated to the going-straight car driver because:

  • The driver still could possibly avoid or minimize the collision impact by braking or veering around the turning vehicle.

 

Backing on a roadway. The driver of a backing vehicle is at fault in causing a collision with a pedestrian, or a parked or moving vehicle standing or moving behind the backing vehicle. It is not a defense that driver could not see at all or in time a car, bicyclist or a pedestrian which were positioned behind the backing vehicle.

 

Liability allocation in rear-end collisions. The driver of the vehicle that hits the rear end of moving or standing motor vehicle is at fault for causing the collision.

 

If a vehicle “A” strikes the rear end of the front car and then strikes it again because of the impact by the behind car B (or C if C caused a chain of collisions), then the injury compensation for the front car driver and passengers should be allocated between A and B (or A and C) cars.

 

Pseudo defenses which do not exonerate the driver of striking car, but may lower the driver’s share of the fault in causing the crash:

  • The front car suddenly braked, or

  • Changed lanes and suddenly stopped, or

  • Its brake or turn lights were not functioning at the time of impact. 

  • If a vehicle is pushed into another vehicle, then the pushed car’s driver is not at fault in the second crash.

  • The driver of a vehicle which initiated a chain of sequential collisions would be responsible for injuries and damages of other participants in that accident.

  • That driver’s liability may be reduced if there was a preceding collision between the chain-collision vehicles. 

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Leaving a Parking Spot.

  • A driver of the car leaving a street parking spot is at fault for causing a collision with the vehicles moving in the adjacent lane. 

  • The same rule applies to parking lot accidents where the driver leaving the parking space is at fault in causing a collision with a car moving down the aisle between the parked cars.

  • A viable defense to improper driving claims is to show that another vehicle was traveling in the aisle or street in the direction being opposite to the marked arrow or posted sign directions.

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Changing Lanes. Drivers of vehicles changing the traffic lanes are at fault for causing collisions with

  • The vehicles moving or standing in the adjacent lanes regardless of

  • Noticing them in the sideview or rearview mirrors, their speed, or previous lane change.

Stop Signs. The driver of vehicle passing the stop sign, immediately prior to the collision with a vehicle moving in a cross traffic, bears the majority of fault in causing that collision. 

 

Pseudo defenses. It is not a defense that:

  • The vehicle was stopped before the crash, or

  • Has barely encroached the cross-traffic lane, or

  • The driver’s view was obstructed, or

  • The stopped vehicles’ drivers gestured to move across the traffic lanes.

  • At the intersection with “4-way” stop signs, the driver of the last car to enter the intersection is at fault in precipitating a collision with the first-to-enter car.

 

Adverse Weather Conditions is not a defense in causing a collision:

  • The driver of a vehicle, which skidded on ice patch, wet road surface or

  • Oil puddle on the roadway due to inclement weather conditions,

  • Is at fault for causing the crash with another vehicle or pedestrian.

 

Right turn. A driver of a car making a right turn from one of the inner lanes is at fault in causing a collision with the vehicle moving in the “right” curb lane or in cross-traffic.

 

Swerving on Roadway.

The driver of a vehicle swerving into or slightly encroaching the oncoming traffic lane

  • To avoid hitting a pedestrian stepping into its path will not bear majority of fault

  • In the collision with the oncoming vehicle.

If the oncoming car veers to the side to avoid the collision and thus strikes a third-party car, then the encroaching car and veering away car would be both liable for the third-party car damages and occupants’ injuries.

 

Flares. The driver of a disabled car may bear the responsibility for the collision with another vehicle if the driver did not put out the flares and a warning cone / sign behind the disabled vehicle in a traffic lane.

 

Intoxicated and unlicensed driver. A driver operating a vehicle without a valid driver license, or who

  • Was intoxicated, sick or under influence of drugs,

  • Is not liable in causing a collision if that driver did not violate the rules of the road

  • At the time of the accident.

The unlicensed and intoxicated driver may have violated criminal or other laws, but this would not affect the determination of who was at fault in causing the crash. 

 

Pedestrians. Drivers must yield to pedestrians (and bicyclists) walking in the marked and unmarked crosswalks, particularly children, or obviously intoxicated and blind people walking on the roadways.

 

Defenses: Drivers may not be liable in knocking down a pedestrian who suddenly stepped off the curb into the traffic lane or ran across the roadways.

 

Pedestrians are not always right in collision situations because:

  • Pedestrians should not hitchhike in the lanes, stand in the middle of the road, jaywalk, or

  • Cross the roadways not on green light or not within the designated areas.

 

Opening A Parked Car’s Door into Traffic. A driver or vehicle occupant who suddenly opened the door, which was then struck by a bicyclist or another car moving in the adjacent traffic lane, is at fault for causing such a collision.

  • Driver or vehicle occupant standing by the vehicle’s opened door while positioning to sit down into the seat

  • Would not be liable in the collision with another vehicle moving near the parked car prior to striking the opened door and the standing driver.

 

Ramp. Vehicles traveling on a highway ramp must yield the right of way to the vehicles traveling on that highway even if the “Yield” sign is not posted on that ramp.

  • But if the collision took place on the ramp roadway, then the driver of a vehicle crossing the ramp roadway (trying to shorten its exit from the highway or for other reasons) would be liable for that collision.

 

Uncontrolled Intersection. A driver of the vehicle, which approached that intersection on the right side of another vehicle moving in cross traffic, will win the collision liability contest if

  • There is no traffic light, “stop” sign, or any other traffic controlling device at the street / highway intersection.

 

Exiting Alley/Driveway. A driver of the vehicle exiting an alley, gas station, parking lot, or private property driveway:

  • Is at fault for colliding with vehicles traveling in cross traffic in either direction. 

  • This rule applies even when one or more drivers have stopped in cross traffic to allow

    • The car leaving the parking lot to turn onto the main street, and

    • Even when the driver’s view of traffic in all lanes is obstructed.

 

Evidence Inadmissible at Personal Injury Trial. At trial of a personal injury claim, the court will not admit into evidence:

  • Alcohol consumption, like drinking and time spent at a bar, if the driver was not intoxicated 

  • Bicyclist’s failure to wear a helmet

  • Driver’s failure to fasten a seat belt

  • Passenger’s failure to warn the driver of impending collision

 

Emergency Vehicles. Police cars in pursuit of transgressors or fire department vehicles responding to emergency situations may violate the rules of the road,

  • Provided that these vehicles turn on the flashing lights and sirens.

 

Agricultural / Construction Vehicles. Such vehicles must follow brake and turn light signals and follow the rules of the road like all other vehicles.

 

Hit-and-run Collision and Uninsured Driver. To obtain compensation for injuries sustained in collisions with vehicles driven by an uninsured (vehicle is not insured) or unidentified driver (in a hit-and-run accident):

  • An injured claimant must not be at fault in such collisions and

  • A physical contact of the individual-claimant (a pedestrian or bicyclist having an auto insurance policy) or victim’s impacted vehicle with an object by the collision impulse must be proven in pursuit of the claim for damages.  

 

Unconscious Driver. A driver, who passed out because of a heart attack, epileptic fit or diabetic coma and caused an accident, will be responsible for other crash participants’ injuries and damages arising from this accident.

 

Pseudo Defenses in Vehicle Crashes. The determination of who is at fault in a collision is based on the participants’ actions which caused this collision.

  • A vehicle’s undiscovered defects which caused the vehicle malfunction at the time of the accident, do not excuse the car driver / owner as the vehicle maintenance is

  • Within their realm of responsibility / duty to maintain the vehicle in good order.

  • Another vehicle came out of nowhere.

 

Passengers in a vehicle involved in a motor vehicle crash are not at fault in causing that crash and, therefore, may pursue their damages claim against all drivers of moving vehicles. But an injured passenger’s compensation for damages is reduced proportionally to his/her vehicle driver’s percentage of fault in causing a vehicle collision. Accident caused aggravation of a pre-existing condition of vehicle occupants is compensable like a new injury.

 

If a child was knocked down by a vehicle, the driver is not at fault for causing that collision if:

  • A child runs out into the street so suddenly that the driver cannot stop or

  • Maneuver the vehicle to avoid collision with and injury to the child.

  • The driver was travelling at a reasonable and safe speed, obeying all rules of the road.

 

Parents’ responsibility and vigilance tips for keeping children safe on the streets:

  • Watch your children constantly, especially when they are playing near the roads

  • Hold your child’s hand while walking along or crossing the street

  • Talk to / teach your child about stopping and looking both ways before crossing

  • Do not let the kids play without an adult’s supervision particularly at dusk

  • Do not let them ride a bike not equipped with light reflectors

 

Child’s contributory negligence depends on child’ s age:

  • 7-year-old or younger: incapable of being negligent

  • 7-14 years old: presumed to be incapable of negligence but may be contributorily negligent

 

The child is deemed capable of understanding the risks of his actions, if

  • Child’s conduct did not conform to that of a reasonably prudent child of the same age, intelligence, maturity, and experience

  • 14-year-old and older: may be contributorily negligent as an adult

 

Parents may be partially liable for their child’s injuries. The parents have a statutory duty to properly instruct their child as to the laws pertaining to the operation of a bicycle.  Moon v. Thompson, 469 N.E.2d 365, 366 (Ill.App.1 Dist. (1984). 625 ILCS 5/11-1501 (b): “The parent of any child and the guardian of any ward shall not authorize or knowingly permit any such child or ward to violate any of the provisions of this Code.” Therefore, in case of a child knockdown by a vehicle, parents may be partially liable for negligent supervision of their child’s activities and crash-caused injuries.

 

Specific rules each vehicle driver must comply with:

  • When traffic control signals are not in place or not in operation: Stop and yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian is upon the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling, or when the pedestrian is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the roadway as to be in danger. 625 ILCS 5/11-1002(a).​

  • When vehicles approach from the rear of the stopped vehicle: Not overtake and pass a vehicle, which was stopped at a marked or at any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection to permit a pedestrian to cross the roadway. 625 ILCS 5/11-1002(d).

  • Exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian, or any person operating a bicycle or other device propelled by human power and

  • Give warning by sounding the horn when necessary and

  • Exercise proper precaution upon observing any child or any obviously confused, incapacitated, or intoxicated person. 625 ILCS 5/11-1003.1. This rule applies notwithstanding other provisions of the state Code or any local ordinance.

  • Yield right-of-way to pedestrians whenever stop signs or flashing red signals are in place at an intersection or at a plainly marked crosswalk between intersections. 625 ILCS 5/11-1002(e).

  • Stop and yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian is upon the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling, or when the pedestrian is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the roadway as to be in danger. 625 ILCS 5/11-1002.5.

  • This rule applies to school zones when school children are present on a school day (from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and a potential hazard exists because of the close proximity of the motorized traffic and when traffic control signals are not in place or not in operation.

  • Yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian with clearly visible disabilities. 625 ILCS 5/11-1004.

  • Yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian on a sidewalk. 625 ILCS 5/11-1008.

 

MOTORISTS ARE REQUIRED TO:

  • Drive defensively and in case of an accident

  • Take pictures / record video of all objects, scene of the event, visible injuries, as well as

  • Take witnesses’ names and phones, call police and file incident reports as soon as possible

  • Preserve evidence like diary, audio/ video/ photos, medical records, investigative reports, witness statements

  • To protect the motorists’ and their passengers’ legal rights. 

 

Consider dart-out child’s unpredictable behavior such as:

  •  Ignoring the signal to walk at an intersection

  •  Entering traffic and disrupt the flow

  •  Failing to use marked crosswalks

  •  Darting in front of a vehicle

  • Looking into their iPads, texting or talking on cell phones while walking

  • Running onto roadways after a ball, playing tag, or crossing to an ice cream truck.

  • Avoid a collision with a running child

  • Be extra cautious around schools, playgrounds, parks, and places that children frequent

  • Slow down near or at the crosswalks in residential areas

 

Anticipate children’s crossing the road by noticing:

  • Posted cautionary signs – “child crossings”

  • Stopped Ice cream trucks

  • Speed limit reduction due to schools’ children possible crossing / presence

  • Stopped school bus’s flashing lights

  • Recreational parks sidewalks and playgrounds

  • Residential streets with apartment buildings

  • Children are riding bikes or playing games on the street

 

In case of a child /pedestrian accident:

  • Call the police + ambulance immediately

  • Not leave the scene of an accident prior to information exchange and police arrival

  • Cover the injured victim with a blanket

  • Set our flares and warning signs

  • Raise the hood of the car

  • Take pictures of the scene of the occurrence, vehicles, and drivers

  • Gather names and phone numbers of all witnesses

  • Do not make any self-incriminating statements to drivers and insurers

  • Exchange the drivers’ insurance, telephone number and license information

  • Call Parad firm to get a free advice

 

Vehicle drivers and occupants should consult with personal injury attorneys to protect their legal rights to recovery of their pain and suffering, past and anticipated future disability, loss of earnings and medical bills, and other damages

© 2023, Parad Law Offices, P.C.

Disclaimer: The publisher and the author give no legal or other professional advice by this publication and disclaim any liability, loss or damages, which may arise from the use of the information stated herein. No attorney-client relationship shall be established by this publication.

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