What Are Washington State’s Right of Way Laws?

| Blog

Right-of-way laws clarify to motorists and pedestrians who has the right to drive through or cross an intersection first. Without these rules, law and order would break down as motorists hit the gas whenever they wanted to, without regard for other people on the road. The number of accidents would dramatically increase.

Unfortunately, too many motorists either don’t know the right-of-way laws or choose not to follow them. The results are injured motorists and pedestrians—sometimes fatally. If you were hurt in an accident, you deserve compensation. Negligent or reckless motorists should pay compensation to injured victims to cover their medical care and car repairs, at a minimum. Premier Law Group is an established personal injury firm in Seattle representing the rights of accident victims like you. Please contact a pedestrian intersection accident lawyer at our firm to schedule a consultation.

A minimalist graphic showcasing a pedestrian confidently stepping onto a crosswalk, with a car stopped at a respectful distance before it. The scene is stripped of unnecessary details, focusing on the critical message of pedestrian priority at crosswalks, in accordance with Washington State's right-of-way laws. The color scheme is simple yet appealing, with soft contrasts emphasizing the importance of yielding to pedestrians. This clean, uncluttered design symbolizes the law's intent to protect pedestrians, conveying its clarity and simplicity effectively.

Right of Way Laws for Motorists at Intersections

All drivers on the road should remember the following:

  • A motorist turning left must yield to all oncoming traffic and pedestrians.
  • When there is no stop sign, a driver must yield to any vehicle already in the intersection and to traffic coming from the right.
  • At a four-way top, the first vehicle to stop can go through the intersection first.
  • When two cars arrive at the same time to an intersection, a motorist must yield the right of way to the vehicle on their right.
  • You must yield to any train on the roadway.
  • You must yield to any pedestrian already in the crosswalk, as well as those on the sidewalk
  • Motorists must yield to cyclists in crosswalks and sidewalks.

Always exercise the utmost caution. Some pedestrians or motorists might not be aware of the rules. For example, if you arrive at a four-way intersection, proceed carefully, even if it’s obvious you arrived there first. Another motorist might plow through even though they must yield. Defensive driving is a must!

Rules for Pedestrians at Intersections

These rules are critical for pedestrians, who can easily suffer horrifying injuries in a collision. Remember the following:

  • Pedestrians in a crosswalk have the right of way, whether the crosswalk is marked or not.
  • When a pedestrian is on a driver’s half of the road, the driver must stop.
  • Pedestrians must obey traffic signals and control devices, such as “Do Not Walk” signs.
  • A pedestrian should never jump into traffic so closely to a vehicle that it is impossible for the motorist to stop.

If a loved one was struck and killed, please contact Premier Law Group. A wrongful death attorney at our firm can review the facts and determine whether you have a valid legal claim. Unfortunately, some drivers are not above laying blame for the wreck on the pedestrian. We must gather as much evidence as we can to show how the accident happened and how the driver is truly at fault.

Emergency Vehicles & Right of Way Laws

Emergency vehicles like ambulances and fire trucks are a common sight in Washington. They must get to their destination as fast as possible, so the law gives them priority. Motorists should understand the rules:

  • When an emergency vehicle is approaching with lights on, they have the right of way, regardless of the direction they are traveling.
  • Motorists should pull over to the side of the road until the emergency vehicle is clear of them.
  • If you are at an intersection, then pull over as soon as you can so you do not block the intersection.

How the Right of Way Laws Impact Car Accident Cases in Washington State

Any motorist out on the road must use reasonable care while driving. At a minimum, they should yield correctly. When they fail to, accident victims will end up in the hospital with disabling injuries and emotional distress.

Contact a traffic injury lawyer at our firm to find out more about whether you can sue. We have brought successful cases against negligent drivers for refusing to yield or for driving while fatigued and distracted. Some right of way violations stem from a person falling asleep or looking at their phone and not knowing they are even approaching an intersection. We can help. Let’s discuss possible compensation for your damages, like medical bills and pain and suffering.

Free Consultation for Traffic Accidents in Washington State

Premier Law Group is proud to represent the Seattle community in all car-related accidents. To learn more, reach out by phone or email. We have helped hundreds of people obtain financial settlements, and we are eager to learn more about your accident. Call us to speak with a member of our team.