Who’s At Fault in a Roundabout Car Accident in Louisiana?

by: Sonja Bradley

Roundabouts are widespread across the country and in Louisiana. When used in the manner designed, traffic circles are safe and efficient. However, many drivers are unaccustomed to driving in roundabouts and cause car wrecks. When car accidents happen in roundabouts its essential to know who’s at fault for the wreck.

Once a car has entered the roundabout, it has the right of way. The driver without the right-of-way is typically at fault for a wreck in a roundabout.

If you are the driver with the right of way, you likely are not at fault for causing the car wreck. However, because there are a variety of reasons for car accidents in roundabouts, we will look at the legal obligations in more detail.

Why is it important to determine who’s at fault?

Determining fault is vital in a car wreck because fault establishes liability, that is: who made the mistake that led to the accident. The party liable for an accident is responsible for paying the other persons’ damages caused by the wreck.

When a car wreck happens in a roundabout, just like other accidents, it’s essential to gather information to support your position.

Parties in a car accident often disagree about who is at fault for the wreck. So take steps to ensure your version of the events is established. Accident reports, witness statements, and pictures can be used to prove your case.

Police Reports

Call the police as soon as practicable after an accident. The officer sent to investigate the wreck fills out a standard accident report. In the form, he notes the traffic conditions, time the accident occurred, weather conditions, and other details crucial to the wreck.

Other responsibilities of the investigating officer include noting the conditions of the drivers, take witness statements, and documenting their names, addresses, and telephone numbers.

Request the name of the investigating officer, the law enforcement agency he represents, and the report number. The information is needed for you to request a copy of his report. After you receive a copy of the report, review it for any errors, and request an amendment if you find mistakes in the report.

Witness Statements

Independent witnesses are often the pillars to determining fault in a car accident. After a wreck, speak to as many people as possible at the scene. Find out who saw the accident and collect their name, telephone number, and address.

The investigating officer should have the witnesses’ names, telephone numbers, and addresses on the accident report. Still, they don’t always do what they are should, so you need to get the information as well.

Even when an officer gets witness information, it not always written legibly or doesn’t accurately memorialize their account. You may have to contact the witnesses to confirm their honest recollection of the facts surrounding the accident. If the witness supports your position, volunteer to draft the account and ask them to sign it.

take photographs

Almost everyone has a camera on their phone, so take advantage and take pictures of the accident site. Include photos of the cars involved in the accident, the drivers, and witnesses.

In roundabout accidents, pictures can tell your story, where the cars were located, the severity of the damages, and assist in determining who is at fault for causing the wreck. The photographs are often your best evidence in proving your case.

Who’s at fault for a rear-end car wreck in a Roundabout?

The car in the traffic circle has the right away; however, what happens in a rear-end accident. The following vehicle is presumed at fault in accidents. The presumption of guilt can be overcome in some instances but not likely when traveling in a roundabout.

Cars in a roundabout are responsible for maintaining a safe distance between themselves and the vehicle in front of them. In traffic circles, the gaps between cars are shortened to only a few feet from one another.

If the driver of the following vehicle is not paying attention, traveling too closely, or speeding it likely won’t have time to brake if the car ahead slows down suddenly. The following car is typically at fault for causing a rear-end collision in a roundabout.

Who has the right of way in a roundabout?

The rules of the road establish which party has the legal duty to grant a ‘right of way’ to other road users. But just because another driver should give way to you doesn’t give you the absolute right to crash into them if they don’t.

All users of roundabouts should be alert, patient, and considerate. The purpose of a traffic circle is to keep the flow of traffic moving. However, don’t believe you have ‘right of way’ and you are impervious or at a reduced risk of being in a crash.

Vehicles, including bicycles, already in the roundabout have the right of way in a traffic circle. Cars approaching a roundabout must give way to any person already established in the traffic circle regardless of which direction they are coming from.

In roundabouts with multi-lanes, a driver should be aware of which lane will get them to their destination before they enter the traffic circle. If they start to exit at the wrong spot and attempt to swerve back into the roundabout, they could cause a wreck. If a driver causes a rear-end accident when swerving back into a traffic circle, they are likely at fault.

Traffic approaching from your right has priority unless directed otherwise by signs, road markings, or traffic lights. Pay attention to road markings, which may allow you to enter the roundabout without giving way.

If so, move forward with caution and still look to the right before joining. Note that drivers in roundabouts often don’t signal at all or signal incorrectly.

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development provides a PDF pamphlet with diagrams and rules applicable to roundabouts. You can access the rules by clicking on their links.

What happens if you miss your exit on a roundabout?

If you miss your exit, you should indicate with your blinker you are continuing right and go all the way around the traffic circle. When you see your exit put on your blinker indicating you are leaving the roundabout.

Roundabout car wreck claims.

One of the most common places traffic accidents occur are either in or approaching roundabouts. Approaching and driving in a roundabout takes awareness of not only your positioning but also the location of other cars.

Accidents in traffic circles are typically due to drivers getting in the wrong lane for the exit that they want and end up cutting across and running into other drivers.

If you have been in a roundabout accident and suffered an injury, as a result, contact our office. Roundabout claims are often complicated because liability is not clear. We can help navigate your claim to a successful resolution.

Have You Been Injured In A Car Accident?

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, call our office and speak to Sonja Bradley. She is a lawyer experienced in car wreck cases. You can call our office directly at (225) 686-8006 to schedule your free consultation.

Sonja Bradley J.D., Sonja received her undergraduate degree from Southeastern Louisiana University and a Juris Doctorate from Loyola University School of Law. Sonja is a member of the Louisiana State Bar Association and the 21st JDC Bar Association. She has 21 years of legal experience.