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caused accident

Old 11-02-10, 08:26 AM
  #1  
JPprivate
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caused accident

I think I inadvertently caused an accident.

It happened here. I was going south on the MUP. The MUP on the left side has a pedestrian light, which I always press if I get to the intersection during a red light. So I wait to get the signal, and of course during rush hour there are always a bunch of people turning after the green left turn light switched. By that time (having a green light I am on my way across the intersection) some guy still tries to make the left turn, I suppose he saw me, and slowed down. And thats when he got hit by an oncoming car. The left turner barely moved and the oncoming car slowed down enough so that the accident wasn't bad, but still both car were damaged.

I somewhat feel bad, but I really don't know what else to do. There are always stragglers that will try to run the light in the last second, I am already trying to navigate the the right turners that come from the other side (who may or may not respect my right of way).
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Old 11-02-10, 08:38 AM
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Sounds like he was running a red. Don't feel bad. When you take risks, sometimes it doesn't work out for you/him.
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Old 11-02-10, 09:03 AM
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I understand you feel bad, but you didn't cause the accident you were just doing what you were supposed to do and therefore were involved in what happened. Be happy the guy did see you and stopped. From what you described, I don't see what you could have done to avoid this.
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Old 11-02-10, 09:08 AM
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Don't feel bad. The car that hit him probably was as much fault as the car turning left. It would have happen the same if you were a pedestrian crossing. About the only other thing you could have done was to waive him to continue through when he made eye contact. Even with that, there would have still be no gaurantee the other car will not have hit him.
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Old 11-02-10, 09:23 AM
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That's completely the left-turner's fault. He tried to make the turn despite the fact that it was red.
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Old 11-02-10, 09:24 AM
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Call the police - you were a witness!
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Old 11-02-10, 09:26 AM
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Originally Posted by colleen c View Post
About the only other thing you could have done was to waive him to continue through when he made eye contact. Even with that, there would have still be no gaurantee the other car will not have hit him.
I would NEVER do that. Once you start messing with the right of way, things go downhill fast. The rules are there for a reason and it's not a good idea to unilaterally change them. Not sure about Illinois, but in some states, if you cause an accident, you're supposed to stop and wait for police to come, even if you are not hit and are not in the wrong. I think Cali was like that when I lived there in the 80s.
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Old 11-02-10, 09:27 AM
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As others have said, you didn't cause the accident. I would be glad the guy didn't try to gun it after he ran the red - he might have hit you.
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Old 11-02-10, 09:34 AM
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Key word in this thread accident, note that you didn't say i caused a car collision.
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Old 11-02-10, 09:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Doohickie View Post
in some states, if you cause an accident, you're supposed to stop and wait for police to come, even if you are not hit and are not in the wrong.
I'm not a lawyer and haven't stayed in a Holiday Inn Express lately. But I blanche at the use of the word "cause" there which implies various tiers of additional participation bordering on guilt for which I would not doubt you have some additional stick-around mandates / liabilities in some states. I'm curious if anyone knows if there are any states where you have legal obligations are as a material witness, participant, or bystander with no independent of potential guilt?

I do think there are some moral obligations to do so as a participant in a well-ordered society. But rarely the same thing as legal. In this case, it sounds to me that you are an innocent participant and not a cause.
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Old 11-02-10, 09:48 AM
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Originally Posted by itsthewoo View Post
That's completely the left-turner's fault. He tried to make the turn despite the fact that it was red.

Uh, not necessarily. If the left-turner was already in the intersection ( delayed because of cars ahead of him, for example ) as the light turned red, most state would allow him to complete the turn on red without penalty.

The OP doesn't say, but if that's the case, it could very well be a situation of shared responsibility. The OP should have noted that the car was in that position, and not proceeded across the intersection until the car was all the way through. Having the green light does not absolve you of the responsibility of ensuring you're not contributing to a dangerous situation.

Edit: Found this on the web:

"the Oct-98 printed edition of the Illinois Driver's Manual "Rules Of The Road" says: "If you enter an intersection when the light is green, you may finish your turn even though the light turns red" (Chapter Three: Traffic Laws - Right-Of-Way)."

That being the case, the OP may very well be legally responsible for contributing to the accident if the car was already in the intersection.

Last edited by mulveyr; 11-02-10 at 09:55 AM. Reason: Added citation
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Old 11-02-10, 09:50 AM
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Clearly the left turners fault. You have to make sure street/lane/bridge you're turning on to is free. If you turn and it's not free and you have to stop in the middle of the oncoming lanes then you're legally a dummy.
You could have slowed and let him go ahead, but in the end he/she should have made sure there was no one coming.
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Old 11-02-10, 09:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Tober1 View Post
Clearly the left turners fault. You have to make sure street/lane/bridge you're turning on to is free. If you turn and it's not free and you have to stop in the middle of the oncoming lanes then you're legally a dummy.
You could have slowed and let him go ahead, but in the end he/she should have made sure there was no one coming.

Whoa, you're adding details that the OP hasn't supplied. Based on his report, it sounds to me like he took his green light as carte-blanche to proceed across the intersection, regardless of what the opposing traffic was doing. It's absolutely plausible to assume, based on the OP's post, that he entered the intersection while the left-turner still had the legal right to complete a turn.

I know it's all well and fine to assume that the biker is never in the wrong, but it really sounds like a shared-responsibility issue to me.
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Old 11-02-10, 10:01 AM
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sounds like you were not at fault but since you were a witness it also sounds like you should have provided your contact info to both parties
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Old 11-02-10, 10:05 AM
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Originally Posted by mulveyr View Post
Whoa, you're adding details that the OP hasn't supplied. Based on his report, it sounds to me like he took his green light as carte-blanche to proceed across the intersection, regardless of what the opposing traffic was doing. It's absolutely plausible to assume, based on the OP's post, that he entered the intersection while the left-turner still had the legal right to complete a turn.

I know it's all well and fine to assume that the biker is never in the wrong, but it really sounds like a shared-responsibility issue to me.
When your light is green you ARE allowed to cross the intersection. The turning car should stop if there is a pedestrian or cyclist crossing the street. Where is the 'opposing' traffic you're referring too? If you re-read the OP you'll see he had a green to cross the intersection and the driver turned left and saw there was someone crossing so he had to stop in oncoming traffic. THAT'S a screw up if you ask me.

I am never first to assume cyclists are always right. Quite the opposite. This could have been avoided if the OP just slowed down when going through the intersection and let the turner finish, but as the driver it's your responsibility to make sure the intersection is clear of pedestrians/cyclists.
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Old 11-02-10, 10:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Tober1 View Post
When your light is green you ARE allowed to cross the intersection. The turning car should stop if there is a pedestrian or cyclist crossing the street. Where is the 'opposing' traffic you're referring too? If you re-read the OP you'll see he had a green to cross the intersection and the driver turned left and saw there was someone crossing so he had to stop in oncoming traffic. THAT'S a screw up if you ask me.

I am never first to assume cyclists are always right. Quite the opposite. This could have been avoided if the OP just slowed down when going through the intersection and let the turner finish, but as the driver it's your responsibility to make sure the intersection is clear of pedestrians/cyclists.
To further clarify, the left turner could have just completed the turn, I saw her coming from the side of my eye (remember, the left turner was to my right-rear), and I slowed down, but the left turner I guess was surprised to see me and wasn't sure if I would proceed or not. That hesitation caused the accident.

But mulveyr probably has a point, I need to double and triple check for people trying to left turn even after the left turn light switch off. Problem at that intersection is that you have then all the right turners (from the opposite direction) getting ready to turn and they may or may not yield.
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Old 11-02-10, 10:40 AM
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Also the person who hit the left turner has some culpability because you shouldn't be driving faster than you can control your vehicle (basic speed law in every state) and if the turner stopped in the lane it was her responsibility not to hit him if he had right of way.
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Old 11-02-10, 10:47 AM
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Originally Posted by himespau View Post
if he had right of way.
He didn't though, right?
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Old 11-02-10, 10:49 AM
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Just so I'm visualizing this right --

JPprivate, you were going south on the MUP on the left, the left-turning car was also going south and turning east, and the car that hit her was coming north and trying to go straight.

Correct?
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Old 11-02-10, 10:52 AM
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Originally Posted by himespau View Post
Also the person who hit the left turner has some culpability because you shouldn't be driving faster than you can control your vehicle (basic speed law in every state) and if the turner stopped in the lane it was her responsibility not to hit him if he had right of way.
That's exactly right. In fact, I'd go further to say fault fully lies with that driver (the one driving straight through the intersection).

Given the additional info from the OP at this point, it does seem like Doohickie called this scenario; hesitation over who was taking right of way set up the conditions for the accident. I'm not assigning blame here; certainly everyone wants to avoid being hit, and I wasn't there to see exactly what went on when or for how long, so I've got no business talking about that. And in any case, the oncoming car should have seen the intersection as a location of potential obstruction and slowed to a controllable speed in case the turning car was delayed--for whatever reason-- in clearing the intersection.

A series of bad calls here perhaps, but thankfully not a big deal at all.
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Old 11-02-10, 11:03 AM
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Originally Posted by BarracksSi View Post
Just so I'm visualizing this right --

JPprivate, you were going south on the MUP on the left, the left-turning car was also going south and turning east, and the car that hit her was coming north and trying to go straight.

Correct?
Right! The car that hit her was going north, that's what you meant?
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Old 11-02-10, 11:14 AM
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Originally Posted by JPprivate View Post
Right! The car that hit her was going north, that's what you meant?
Yeah, exactly. Hmm... So..

I'm trying to imagine being the northbound driver. Say that I'm going along, see someone doing a left turn (what we would call a "left cross"), and I'm hoping to get through before the red light. I'd expect the left crosser to keep going, so I could go behind them.

But, at the last second, the left crosser suddenly stops. I don't want to try to swerve around, because there might be a third car in my blind spot to the left (this is assuming that I'm in the right hand lane) -- and/or the left crosser is blocking both lanes and I can't get around anyway since I'm not in a Formula 1 race car.

Yeah, that sucks. I'd bet that both drivers are frustrated with you now, too.

It also illustrates why some of us don't like MUPs mixing with regular intersections and riding through crosswalks. There wasn't much of another option for cyclists at this intersection, though.
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Old 11-02-10, 11:30 AM
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Originally Posted by slcbob View Post
I'm not a lawyer and haven't stayed in a Holiday Inn Express lately. But I blanche at the use of the word "cause" there which implies various tiers of additional participation bordering on guilt for which I would not doubt you have some additional stick-around mandates / liabilities in some states. I'm curious if anyone knows if there are any states where you have legal obligations are as a material witness, participant, or bystander with no independent of potential guilt?

I do think there are some moral obligations to do so as a participant in a well-ordered society. But rarely the same thing as legal. In this case, it sounds to me that you are an innocent participant and not a cause.
Yeah... cause isn't the right word. When I lived in L.A. I was involved in a similar situation where I had the right of way, another car ran a light and collided with a parked car to avoid me. I decided to hang around and the cop said that even though I wasn't directly involved and did no wrong, I was supposed to hang around because I was still involved with the cause of the accident in that the other car swearved to avoid me, even though I had the right to be there. It was over 20 years ago now, so I don't remember the exact statute or anything.

Of course there is virtually no way to identify a cyclist (other than eyewitness, and we all know how invisible cyclists are to motorists), so it's probably not an issue.
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Old 11-02-10, 11:38 AM
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Say that I'm going along, see someone doing a left turn (what we would call a "left cross"), and I'm hoping to get through before the red light.
Well, I'm wondering if the northbound driver actually saw the left turner or if his view was somehow blocked by the other northbound driver next to him (and a little in front of him). It went too fast to say for certain.

It also illustrates why some of us don't like MUPs mixing with regular intersections and riding through crosswalks.
Oh yea, these intersections are aweful, and there are several like that on that stretch. The MUP takes me where I need to go, and it seemed silly to me to not take it and ride on some side streets. Every now and then, I actually will see a roadie on the 4 lane road next to the MUP, and I was always wondering why somebody would choose to ride on a busy (and fast) road like that if the MUP is right there.
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Old 11-02-10, 12:23 PM
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The same situation could happen with a pedestrian walking in a crosswalk. A left-turning driver facing a circular green is watching oncoming traffic, sees a gap in the oncoming lane, accelerates, and then hits the brakes when he notices a pedestrian in the crosswalk. Or hits the pedestrian. The driver's error in this case is not confirming that both the travel lane and the crosswalk to be crossed will be clear of traffic.

It's unlikely that the driver entered the intersection lawfully on a green or yellow left-turn arrow, or he would have completed the turn through the intersection before your signal turned green. It sounds like he entered the intersection after your signal turned green. If his signal was red, he broke the law by running a red light. If his signal was circular green, he broke the law by failing to yield to through traffic before turning. You didn't cause the collision.

Last edited by sggoodri; 11-02-10 at 12:26 PM.
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