Who Is At Fault For Yellow Light Accident In OR?

Contrary to what you have been taught, or what you actually do when driving, a yellow light does not mean speed up. In reality, most people understand that a yellow light means that you need to slow down. However, yellow light crashes are not uncommon in Oregon. Determining liability in the aftermath of a yellow light crash can be complicated.

Who is at-fault in a yellow light crash?

Here, we want to examine some common ways that yellow light crashes occur in Oregon, as well as which party could be at fault.

Fault in a Yellow Light Crash

First, it is important to point out that no two crashes are exactly alike. In many cases, there is going to be more than one party at fault for a crash. Here, we want to examine a few ways that yellow light crashes occur and how fault could be assigned in these incidents.

A left-turn yellow light crash

When a driver is attempting to make a left-hand turn at a light, they will only have the right-of-way if they have a green arrow that allows them to proceed. In any other circumstance, the left-hand turn driver needs to wait until oncoming traffic is non-existent or far enough away so that they can make the turn safely.

If a left-hand turn driver is in an intersection when the light turns from green to yellow, they need to wait until oncoming traffic has passed and/or stopped before proceeding out of the intersection. If the driver making the left-hand turn on a yellow light strikes another vehicle because they failed to yield, they will likely be at-fault for the incident. However, another driver may share some or all of the fault if:

  • The driver was operating significantly over the speed limit when the crash occurred.
  • The car driving straight did not stop when the light turned red and proceeded through the intersection.
  • The driver making the left-hand turn began their turn when it was safe to do so, but an unexpected circumstance forced them to slow, stop, or swerve.

Rear-Ended at a Yellow Light

If you are approaching a yellow light and are slowing down or have already stopped, and are struck from behind, then the driver who struck you will likely be at-fault for the crash. In general, a driver who strikes someone from behind will likely be found to be at fault.

Why is that the case?

You may wonder why a driver who strikes someone from behind is usually at fault. This is because it is the responsibility of every driver to leave enough distance between their vehicle and the vehicle in front of them to react if driving conditions change. So, if a driver is behind another driver who has unexpectedly slowed or stopped due to a yellow light, they should have enough distance and time to react and slow down as well. If they strike the other driver, even if the other driver slowed or stopped unreasonably, the rear driver will still likely carry most of the fault.

Comparative Fault in Oregon

Oregon operates under a comparative negligence system, which means that more than one driver can share fault for a crash. Any driver can collect compensation for a crash so long as they are 51% or less at-fault for the crash. However, the total amount of compensation a person recovers will be reduced based on their percentage of fault for the incident. Contact our Portland car accident lawyers today.