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The City-Dwellers Guide to Navigating Suburban Roundabouts

By Keith Stachowiak on March 8, 2016 // Leave a Comment

milwaukee-car-accident-attorneys-roundabouts-advice.jpgWhile it’s not surprising to see roundabouts popping up around the city and throughout neighboring suburbs, it doesn’t mean we have to like them. Sure, it means the flow of traffic is continuous and it eliminates the need for stoplights, but throw an inexperienced driver into the mix, and you’ve got big trouble.

Common questions our team of Milwaukee car accident attorneys often hear, include:

Have no fear. As Milwaukee car accident attorneys, we know the ins and outs of driving safety and what you need to know to stay safe on Wisconsin's roadways. Take a look at the city-dwellers guide to roundabouts, vehicle control law and tips to improve your driving know-how.

How to Properly Navigate A Roundabout

We’ve all been there, sitting at a roundabout and waiting our turn only to get honked at, sped past, or cut off. With recent laws passed on the correct way to navigate a roundabout, here is the short version of what you need to know:

  1. Let the vehicle on the left go first. If two large vehicles or a combination of vehicles approach a roundabout at the same time, the vehicle on the right must yield the right-of-way to the vehicle on the left.
  2. Large trucks and vehicles have rights. If a large vehicle approaches a roundabout, it has the right to deviate from the lane in which it is driving to safety approach or drive through a roundabout. What does that mean for you? If you cause an accident squeezing around a truck, or cutting in front of a large vehicle, you will be at fault.
  3. Small cars must yield to large vehicles – at all times. This is a recent change in the law, for vehicles that are either over 40 feet long, or 10 feet wide, which allows the larger vehicles to occupy more than one lane, to the extent necessary to drive through a roundabout. The driver of a small vehicle must yield the right-of-way to any large vehicle or combination of vehicles when they are approaching or driving through a roundabout at approximately the same time or close enough to potentially create a collision. What does that mean for you? Don’t try to speed in front of a large vehicle, and let the larger vehicles get off if they need to get off.

So as you hit the road this weekend for the suburbs, remember these simple roundabout rules to make sure you don’t get into an accident that’s ultimately your fault.

Also, consider the following rules when it comes to accident fault. What should you know if you lose control of your vehicle?

What Happens If You Lose Control Of Your Vehicle and Injure Someone?

If you lose control of your vehicle and cause injury to another, you are almost certainly at fault.

Every driver has a responsibility, imposed by law, to keep their vehicle under proper management and control, so that when a danger appears, a driver may stop the vehicle, reduce speed, change course, or take other proper means to avoid injury or damage. However, there are several exceptions to this general rule.

It’s Not Your Fault Not When An Unexpected Emergency Arises

If a driver confronts a sudden and unexpected emergency, that was not created or contributed by their own negligence, a jury may find that person not financially responsible for causing injuries. This is a rare situation, where a person encounters a bad situation that was unforeseeable, then they may be excused if they make a choice that a reasonably prudent person might make if placed in the same situation.

Example: Watch Out For Ice

One common example of the sudden emergency doctrine can apply when a driver hits a completely unforeseeable and unexpected patch of ice. It is extremely rare that a driver would not have some indication that there is a potential for ice, but it has happened.

In a case reported by the Wisconsin Court of Appeals called Fisher v. Zhurbas, 2000 WI App 214, the defendant driver hit a patch of unexpected ice on an overpass, spun out, knocked out a guardrail and went down an embankment. Moments later, the plaintiff’s vehicle hit the same patch of ice, and since there was no guard rail in place, also went down the same embankment. The plaintiff sued the defendant for knocking out the guardrail, claiming it made his accident worse. The court went through the testimony, including testimony from the investigating sheriff, that a driver approaching the overpass would not be able to see the ice until it was too late. The sheriff indicated in the police report that he did not think this accident was avoidable.

Example: Sudden and Unexpected Medical Condition

Another example of a party being relieved of fault is if a driver has a sudden and unexpected medical condition that prevents him from operating a vehicle safely. The legal doctrine is typically called “illness without forewarning.” The doctrine provides that if a driver, through sudden illness or loss of consciousness, commits an act or omits a precaution which would otherwise be negligent, may be found not negligent. However, if the illness or loss of consciousness should have reasonably been foreseen, or was preceded by some type of warning of a medical problem, the doctrine does not apply.

Typically, if you lose control of your vehicle and cause injury to another, you are going to be at fault. However, these extremely rare instances provide an exception to that normal rule.

As you hit the suburban roads this weekend, be confident that you are armed with the knowledge to navigate both roundabouts and fault, the right way.

At Murphy & Prachthauser we are  one of Milwaukee's premier auto accident law firms who practice the law the way it should be practiced – motivated and equipped to do our best for you. We take pride in being good lawyers who help people. 

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