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How Might the New Colorado Roundabout Law Affect Liability in Car Accident Claims?

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November 1, 2023 Car Accidents, Personal Injury

A new Colorado roundabout law, HB-23-1014, requires smaller vehicles to yield to larger ones in roundabout right-of-way situations. The rule went into effect October 1, 2023.

There are some details in the new procedure that raise questions about liability in the event of a car accident in a roundabout. The rule may also cause some confusion among drivers who are not familiar with the changes, possibly increasing the risk of crashes.

In the event of a roundabout car accident in Denver, reach out to a car accident lawyer for legal assistance in the case.

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What Is a Roundabout?

Colorado Roundabout Law

A roundabout is a circular road intersection designed to improve traffic flow and safety. Vehicles travel in a counterclockwise direction around a central island. Unlike traditional intersections controlled by traffic lights or stop signs, roundabouts rely on the principle of yielding to other vehicles already within the roundabout.

Key features of roundabouts include:

  • Yielding: Vehicles entering a roundabout must yield the right-of-way to those already in the circle. This promotes a continuous flow of traffic.
  • One-Way Traffic: Roundabouts are typically one-way, ensuring that all vehicles within the circle move in the same direction.
  • Safety: Roundabouts reduce the severity of accidents and traffic congestion created by traditional intersections.
  • Central Island: A landscaped or paved central island often serves as a focal point within the roundabout.
  • Pedestrian Crossings: Roundabouts typically have crosswalks and pedestrian islands to accommodate pedestrians and cyclists.
  • Signage and Road Markings: Clear signs and road markings guide drivers on how to navigate the roundabout safely.

Roundabouts minimize the risk of high-speed, right-angle collisions common at traditional intersections. They promote a smoother traffic flow and are more environmentally friendly due to reduced idling and fuel consumption.

What Is Required in the New Roundabout Rules?

According to the official website of the Colorado legislature, HB23-1014 spells out the requirements of the new roundabout law. The central focus of the bill directs drivers of smaller vehicles to yield to larger vehicles when entering, exiting, or driving in the circulatory lanes of the roundabout.

The rule clarifies vehicles that have the right-of-way include a “truck, bus, emergency vehicle, or recreational vehicle that generally has a total length of more than 35 feet or a total width of more than 10 feet.”

Additionally, the rule states that if two drivers of large vehicles enter, exit, or drive around the roundabout at the same time, the vehicle on the right must yield the right-of-way to the driver on the left.

In other words, a smaller vehicle does not have to yield to a large vehicle that is approaching the roundabout, but has not yet begun to enter it, or is not actively driving in the roundabout or exiting the roundabout.

How Do Roundabout Laws Typically Factor Into Personal Injury Claims?

How Do Roundabout Laws Typically Factor Into Personal Injury Claims

In personal injury cases involving roundabouts, you must establish liability and determine fault.

Even before the new law went into effect, common factors to consider included:

  • Right of Way: You must determine which party had the right of way within the roundabout, as established by traffic laws and signs.
  • Negligence: You must prove negligence or reckless behavior on the part of one or more parties involved in the accident.
  • Witness Testimony: Eyewitness accounts and any available surveillance footage can establish the sequence of events.
  • Vehicle Damage: Assessing the extent of damage to the vehicles involved can provide evidence of the impact’s severity.
  • Injuries: You must document and provide medical records for injuries sustained in the accident in personal injury claims.

These things are still important when pursuing a personal injury claim for a car accident that happens at a roundabout. But things are about to get a little more complicated.

How Might the New Colorado Roundabout Rule Affect Liability?

The new roundabout law, HB-23-1014, mandating that smaller vehicles yield to larger vehicles in roundabouts, introduces complexities in establishing liability for a crash.

Here are potential challenges:

  • Awareness and Understanding: Not all drivers will fully understand the new law, especially shortly after it goes into effect. This can lead to misunderstandings and incorrect assumptions about the right-of-way.
  • Enforcement and Compliance: Ensuring that drivers of smaller vehicles consistently yield to larger ones may require effective enforcement by law enforcement agencies. Inconsistencies in enforcement can create confusion.
  • Witness Testimonies: Witness accounts may need to determine what happened in a roundabout accident, and discrepancies in these accounts can complicate liability assessment.
  • Vehicle Size Determination: Accurately determining the size of the vehicles involved in an accident at the scene can present challenges. Differences in perception can affect what people think is the larger vehicle.
  • Contributory Negligence: The law may not completely absolve the drivers of smaller vehicles from their duty to drive safely. In some cases, both parties might share a degree of responsibility, complicating liability determinations.

Given these challenges, those involved in roundabout accidents need legal counsel to pursue a personal injury claim. An experienced car accident attorney can navigate the complexities of the law, gather evidence, and determine liability in accordance with the specific circumstances of the case.

Could the New Rules Increase the Risk of Car Accidents in Roundabouts?

The new roundabout law may increase the risk of crashes. If drivers do not completely understand the law’s implications, confusion and misunderstandings at roundabouts can lead to accidents.

Other concerns include:

  • Compliance: Ensuring that drivers consistently adhere to the law can present challenges, particularly during the initial implementation phase. Inconsistent compliance may increase the risk of accidents.
  • Sudden Stops: Smaller vehicles yielding to larger ones may need to make sudden stops, which can create safety issues if done incorrectly and if other drivers do not prepare for it.
  • Traffic Flow Disruption: The law may disrupt the natural flow of traffic in roundabouts, leading to congestion and a higher likelihood of rear-end collisions.
  • Misinterpretation: Drivers may misinterpret the size of other vehicles, especially in the heat of the moment, leading to incorrect yielding or right-of-way decisions.

To mitigate these concerns, authorities must undertake clear education and awareness campaigns regarding the new law. Additionally, police efforts to enforce the law and ensure compliance can reduce the risks associated with this change.

All drivers must familiarize themselves with the new law, understand their responsibilities, and exercise caution when navigating roundabouts to maintain safety for all road users.

Proceed With Caution, and Call Fuicelli & Lee Injury Lawyers

Given these potential challenges, those involved in roundabout accidents need legal counsel when pursuing a personal injury claim.

A Denver personal injury attorney can help navigate the complexities of the law, gather evidence, and determine liability in accordance with the specific circumstances of the case.

John Lee

John Lee, Car Accident Attorney

If you were in a roundabout car accident in Denver, don’t navigate this challenging journey alone. Contact Fuicelli & Lee Injury Lawyers today to secure the experienced legal representation you need. We understand the complexities of Colorado law. Let us serve as your advocate for justice and fair compensation.

Call us at (303) 444-4444 for your free consultation, or fill out the contact form on this website.

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