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Intersection Accidents: Who’s At Fault and What Do Victims Need to Know?

May 28, 2019

Intersection crashes usually happen quickly and without warning. You’re stopped at a light, and someone smashes into your vehicle’s rear end. Or, you’re driving through an intersection, and someone tears through a red light and violently t-bones your vehicle.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, 50% of all traffic injuries occur at an intersection. Because many intersection crashes involve speeding and running red lights, the injuries are often quite serious. If you’ve been the victim of an intersection crash, it’s important to speak to a car accident attorney to better understand your rights and how filing a personal injury lawsuit can help you get compensation for your injuries.

In this article, we’ll discuss common types and causes of intersection collisions, how to determine who’s at fault, common injuries you may experience, and what to do after a crash.

Common Types and Causes of Intersection Crashes

It’s important to understand the common impact types and factors involved in intersection crashes.

Rear-End Accidents

Rear-end collisions are usually the result of sudden braking at a light or a driver’s inattention. While some rear-end accidents are mild fender benders, others cause catastrophic injuries.

Side Impact Collisions

Compared to rear-end accidents, Side-impact collisions are often far more dangerous as they typically involve higher speeds and more forceful impacts.

Head-On Collisions

While rarer, head-on collisions can occur at intersections. For example, vehicles may hit each other head-on when a car fails to yield the right of way and turns left into another vehicle that’s going straight.

RELATED CLIENT STORY: A Truck Accident Victim Gets the Help She Needs: Tamara’s Story

Although weather, traffic light malfunctions, and defective vehicles do cause intersection crashes, most of them involve human error. Common causes and factors involved in intersection crashes include:

  • Running red lights or other traffic control devices
  • Failing to yield the right of way
  • Sudden braking
  • Speeding
  • Inattention and distracted driving
  • Improper turns
  • Drunk and drugged driving
  • Driver fatigue
  • Improper vehicle maintenance

Sometimes, multiple factors are involved. In these cases, you’ll need an experienced injury lawyer’s help to prove the other driver’s negligence.

Determining and Proving Fault in an Intersection Collision

Most car accident claims involve negligence, or when someone violates a duty of care and causes your injuries. Sometimes determining fault is a simple matter. Some intersections have traffic cameras that can help prove that the negligent driver ran a red light, turned improperly, or rear-ended you after you had braked or stopped appropriately. Witnesses can also attest to blatantly negligent acts if there are no traffic cameras.

“According to the Federal Highway Administration, 50% of all traffic injuries occur at an intersection. Because many intersection crashes involve speeding and running red lights, the injuries are often quite serious.”

However, sometimes the situation is more complex, and determining fault requires further investigation or even an accident reconstruction expert.

Proving Fault if the Negligent Driver Blames You

Unlike some states, Alabama applies a strict contributory negligence rule. If you are even 1% at fault for the crash, you cannot get compensation for your injuries. Therefore, it’s not uncommon for at-fault drivers and their insurance companies to try to shift blame to the victims.

So how do you prove fault if the other driver tries to blame you for the collision? Video evidence and witness testimony can help, but are not always available or convincing enough to prove negligence on their own. Other steps you can take to prove fault include:

    • Taking pictures of the crash scene and the vehicles’ damage.
    • Noting the exact time of the crash; you may be able to compare this to the traffic light’s programming and prove the other driver ran a red.
    • Looking for contradictory statements made by the at-fault driver.
    • Consulting with accident reconstruction experts.

RELATED ARTICLE: How to Prove Fault During an Accident

Proving Fault When Multiple Parties Are to Blame

Sometimes, multiple parties cause an intersection accident. For example, if someone rear-ends you because of a brake defect or improper brake maintenance job, the manufacturer or mechanic may also be at fault. Or, multiple drivers may make mistakes that contribute to a crash.

Proving fault in these types of cases typically requires an attorney investigation. Your lawyer may investigate the vehicle’s defects, maintenance records, and each of the driver’s conduct before and during the crash.

Common Injuries Sustained in Intersection Crashes

You should always seek medical treatment after a car crash, even if you do not believe your injuries are serious. Visit your doctor if you are experiencing any back, neck, or shoulder pain after an intersection crash, since they may be signs of a more serious issue. While injuries vary, here are a few common injuries in intersection crashes:

  • Whiplash and other neck injuries
  • Back and spine injuries
  • Shoulder and arm injuries
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • Soft tissue damage, such as lacerations and contusions
  • Sprains and strains
  • Fractured or broken bones

In addition to taking care of yourself and your health, seeking medical treatment after a crash is important for creating a strong personal injury claim. Medical records are essential to a strong personal injury claim, since they can help document your condition immediately after a crash, track the progression of your injuries, and clarify your damages.

RELATED ARTICLE: Securing Your Medical Records: Your Rights

What Should I Do After an Intersection Crash?

If you’ve been in an intersection crash, there are six steps you should take immediately following your collision:

  1. Call 911 and report the crash to the police.
  2. Collect evidence, such as pictures and the names of eyewitnesses.
  3. Seek medical treatment.
  4. Contact a personal injury lawyer.
  5. Notify the insurance company of your injuries and claims.
  6. File a personal injury lawsuit.

Working with a personal injury attorney can take a lot of the stress off your shoulders, giving you time to relax and concentrate on your recovery. A lawyer can help you negotiate with the insurance companies, compile evidence and medical bills that support your claims, and help you understand your legal options.

RELATED ARTICLE: What Is My Alabama Personal Injury Claim Worth?

Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys: Fighting for Gulf Coast Accident Victims

Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys’ accident and injury lawyers have experience handling intersection crashes throughout Alabama and Mississippi. Using careful research, thorough investigations, and aggressive legal advocacy, we fight to help our clients get the justice and compensation they deserve after an intersection accident.

If you’ve been the victim of a car accident that wasn’t your fault, call 251-888-8888 or complete our simple online form to schedule a free consultation today.


Intersection Safety. (2018, October). U.S. Department of Transportation – Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved from

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.



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