When you think about a motor vehicle accident, what type comes first to your mind? One caused by a speeding driver? One caused by someone driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs? One caused by someone driving while distracted? While it’s true that all of these bad driving behaviors cause accidents, so does failure to yield.
Failure To Yield Definition
Failure to yield is a right-of-way violation. Specifically, it’s what happens when a motorist doesn’t allow another vehicle or person to proceed ahead of him, even though they have the legal right to do so.
Where Failure To Yield Violations Most Frequently Occur
The most common places where failure to yield violations occur include the following:
- At intersections
- At stop signs or traffic signals
- In left-hand turn lanes
- In right-hand turn lanes that allow turning on a red light
- In crosswalks
- In entrance or exit merge lanes on a highway or freeway
- In traffic circles
People Most At Risk
You face the highest risk of sustaining injuries in a failure to yield accident if you are one of the following:
- Pedestrian, especially if age 65 or older
Failure To Yield Fatality Statistics
While failure to yield accidents often result in fender benders and other minor damage to other vehicles and their passengers, they can also cause fatal crashes, especially when a speeding driver ignores a stop light or sign, barrels through an intersection, and broadsides a vehicle lawfully traveling in a perpendicular direction. Then serious injuries, or even death, can result.
In fact, failure to yield was one of the leading causes of fatalities in 2019. According to Driving-Tests.org, an organization that prepares people to take their state’s written driving test, the top five bad behaviors by passenger car drivers that resulted in a fatal crash consisted of the following:
- Speeding – 16.6%
- Impairment – 15.1%
- Failure to yield – 8.4%
- Careless driving – 6.6%
- Distracted driving – 6.3%
For large truck drivers, the same five categories held true, but their rankings differed as follows:
- Speeding – 7.6%
- Distracted driving – 5.3%
- Impairment – 4.7%
- Failure to yield – 4.6%
- Careless driving – 4.4%
The Insurance Information Institute saw things somewhat differently the same year. Their 2019 fatal accident statistics listed the causes as follows:
- Speeding – 8,746 drivers (17%)
- DUI/DWI – 5,164 drivers (10%)
- Failure to yield – 3,663 (8%)
- Failure to stay in the proper lane) the III lumped categories 3 and 4 together, for a total of 7,100 drivers (14%)
- Careless driving – 3,302 drivers (6.5%)
Regardless of whose statistics you believe, the fact remains that failure to yield accidents are no laughing matter, especially if you’re walking or riding your bicycle when you become the victim of one.
Assuming you survive being hit by a driver who fails to yield to you when you have the right-of-way, common catastrophic injuries include the following:
- Traumatic brain injury that could leave you disabled for the rest of your life
- Spinal cord injury that could leave you a paralyzed paraplegic or quadriplegic
- Crush injury that could leave you missing a leg or arm due to amputation
- Broken or fractured bones
- Internal organ damage
Common injuries of a less serious, but nevertheless painful, nature include the following:
- Strains and sprains
- Cuts and lacerations
- Soft tissue injuries
Each state passes its own laws regarding personal injury and a victim’s right to file a lawsuit against the negligent party responsible for an accident, and therefore the victim’s injuries. This section deals with what Massachusetts law has to say on these issues to give you an idea of what you can expect.
Massachusetts is a no-fault auto accident state. This means that no matter who caused the accident, you must file a claim with your own auto insurance company before you can file a lawsuit against the driver who caused your injuries. The compulsory Personal Injury Protection coverage you’re required to have in order to legally drive in Massachusetts pays your accident-related medical expenses and up to 75% of your lost wages. The maximum payment you can receive under PIP, however, is $8,000.
Statute of Limitations
Assuming that your accident-related medical and other expenses exceed $8,000, the Massachusetts Statute of Limitations gives you three years from the date of your accident in which to file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver who failed to yield. With rare exceptions, if you miss this filing deadline, you likely will be precluded from bringing such a lawsuit or obtaining any compensation whatsoever from the other driver.
The exceptions to the 3-year statute of limitations consist of the following:
- If you were a minor under the age of 18, at the time of the accident, the SOL does not begin to run until you reach age 18.
- If you were “incapacitated by reason of mental illness” at the time of the accident, the SOL does not begin to run until your competence has been restored.
- If the other driver moves to a state other than Massachusetts after the accident, the SOL “stays” or “tolls,” that is, stops running, during his or her absence.
- If the other driver fraudulently conceals his or her responsibility and liability for your injuries, the SOL likewise stays or tolls for whatever time period that such fraud or concealment continues.
Massachusetts is also a contributory negligence state. What this means for you as a failure to yield accident victim is that if a judge, jury or other authority establishes that your own negligence contributed to the accident that resulted in your injuries, any damages you receive in settlement of your lawsuit or that the jury awards you in a full-blown personal injury trial will be reduced by the percentage of negligence attributed to you.
Thus, for example, if the jury awards you $100,000 in damages, but finds that you were 10% responsible for the accident, your $100,000 damage award will shrink by 10%, resulting in an adjusted damage award of $90,000.
Speaking of damages, your lawsuit will seek compensation for two types of damages: economic and noneconomic.
Economic damages consist of the actual monetary losses you suffer, both now and in the future, due to your injuries. Examples include the following:
- Hospital expenses
- Rehabilitation expenses
- Physical therapy expenses
- Prescription drugs
- Follow-up doctor and therapy appointments
- Loss of income
Notice that pain and suffering are not part of your economic damages. That is because they are subjective in nature and therefore make up part of your noneconomic damages. Other examples include the following:
- Your mental and emotional “fall out” from your accident and injuries, such as PTSD, nightmares, flashbacks, etc.
- Your difficulty adjusting to your new normal life if your injuries resulted in your need to use a wheelchair, prosthesis or white cane to get around from place to place
- Your distress over being unable to fully function the way you did prior to your accident
- Your loss of the joie de vie that was once your hallmark
Virtually all personal injury lawsuits proceed under the theory of negligence. Under this theory, you don’t claim that the defendant deliberately or maliciously injured you, but rather that he or she committed a negligent act or failure to act that caused your injuries.
Consequently, in order to win your lawsuit, you will need to prove all of the four elements of negligence:
- That the defendant owed you a legal duty of care
- That he or she breached that duty
- That because of the defendant’s breach of his or her duty, you suffered injury
- That the defendant’s breach was the proximate, i.e., most direct or important, cause of your injury
Choosing Your Lawyer
If all of the above seems complicated and confusing, that’s because personal injury laws are some of the most complex laws that any legislature passes. This is why your wisest course of action after a negligent driver fails to yield to you and instead hits you is to contact Jason Stone Injury Lawyers as soon as possible. Our team of exceptionally knowledgeable and experienced attorneys practices only personal law, and we’ve been successfully doing so for decades.
We are proud to give you our unique Stone Cold Guarantee®, our 10-point guarantee that assures you that, among other things, we will begin working on your case within 24 hours of the time you call us.
If you hesitate to contact a lawyer because you fear you’ll have to make multiple court appearances, don’t be. Jason Stone’s team is known for aggressively negotiating with insurance companies, and we successfully settle the majority of our cases, some for multi-millions of dollars. If, however, the insurance company representing the defendant in your case is particularly recalcitrant and your case has not been settled in six months, we give you the choice of proceeding to litigation.
Either way, we guide you through the entire process, updating you on the status of your case every two weeks during settlement negotiations. In addition, one of our representatives is available to speak with you and answer your questions 24/7.
Finally, we get paid only after you get paid. That’s the Jason Stone way! So contact us today. Your initial consultation is free, and there’s no obligation, just information®.