From the moment you get behind a wheel, you’re responsible for following any and all state and local traffic laws. While smudging the lines with some laws may seem harmless, they can still have legal repercussions. Such is the case with stop signs. Failing to abide by these red octagons can not only leave you with a hefty penalty, but it can put others at risk.
What is considered running a stop sign?
Florida Statute 316.123 designates that every driver of a vehicle approaching a stop intersection indicated by a stop sign shall come to a complete stop at a clearly marked stop line or crosswalk — if no stop line is indicated. When a car fails to stop or stop completely — also known as a rolling stop — then the car can be considered to have run the stop sign. Additionally, if there is no crosswalk or stop line, the car will need to stop before the intersection, or it will be considered running a stop sign.
Stop signs can be located wherever there is an intersection, including a four-way intersection. In those situations, the right-of-way rotates clockwise, and anyone who doesn’t stop to wait their turn can also be considered running a stop sign.
Cause of Stop Sign Car Accidents
If you or another driver run through a stop sign, then a car accident may occur. Running a stop sign can happen for many reasons, including:
- The driver is in a hurry
- The driver is distracted while driving
- There are poor weather conditions
- The stop sign isn’t clearly visible or has been vandalized
- The driver is drunk and misjudged where they need to stop
Penalties for Stop Sign Accidents
Failing to stop at a stop sign can result in a ticket for $70 – $200. But, if the stop sign was located in a school or construction zone, these fines can increase sharply. If you are caught running a stop sign — regardless if doing so causes an accident — you can expect at least three points to be added to your driver’s license. Points may cause your insurance rate to increase. If you receive too many points in a short amount of time, then your license can be suspended.
If running a stop sign results in a car accident and other drivers are involved, additional penalties may occur — including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and punitive damages. If the accident caused a fatality, additional legal action may be determined in court.
Determining Fault for Stop Sign Car Accidents
Florida is a comparative negligence state. This means that even if you were not the one who ran a stop sign, you may still be found at fault. If you’ve been involved in a stop sign car accident, you or your lawyer have a chance to gather evidence during a phase called discovery. This is when you’ll request sworn statements or any documentation of the accident. This includes:
1. Your Testimony
Any party involved in the accident can provide their account of the events — either in a deposition or at trial. This includes you. But, you should only provide information for which you have firsthand knowledge. Speculation is inadmissible. You also need to be careful about what you say. Contradicting yourself could be used to put your credibility in doubt.
2. Witness Testimony
Witness testimony includes anyone who was present at the scene of the accident and who saw it happen firsthand. It cannot be someone who heard the accident happen. But, there are exceptions to what a witness hears, which can be admitted into evidence as exceptions to hearsay — such as “Watch out! That Jeep is running that stop sign!” That’s because this is a statement being made as a reaction.
3. Surveillance Video
Video may include red light cameras or surveillance from nearby businesses or homes. But, it’s crucial to get this type of recording as quickly as possible, as some video surveillance can be taped over in a short amount of time or is routinely erased. In order to preserve it, your attorney should send a written request to the city, commercial establishment, or homeowner.
4. Police Officer Testimony
Even if there’s a police report documenting the accident, it is considered hearsay (an out-of-court statement offered for its truth). Therefore, it is inadmissible as evidence. If you subpoena the police officer who showed up at the scene, they can testify in court about details they remember from the incident.
5. Accident Reconstruction Expert
Reconstruction experts contain experience in engineering, the mechanics of motor vehicles, roadside safety, maintenance of traffic, and forensics — among other specialties. If the parties don’t remember all of the details or offer contradicting testimony, an accident reconstruction expert can provide the missing information.
Call Clark Law if You’ve Been in a Car Accident in Tampa Bay
Determining who’s at fault for an accident will depend on many factors. This is why it’s imperative to talk to an attorney as soon as possible, so that all of them can be taken into account before you accept any settlement offer.
Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney/client relationship.