Who May Be At Fault for a Four-Way-Stop Crash

Posted on behalf of Jeff Pitman on January 23, 2023 in Car Accidents
Updated on April 24, 2024

four-way stop sign in wooded areaFour-way stops can be chaotic, even more so if a crash occurs. Aggressive drivers may often ignore the right-of-way laws at these “all-way” intersections and go through when they really should stop. Timid or inexperienced drivers, on the other hand, may wait too long to go. These and other situations commonly cause confusion at a four-way stop and may also lead to a crash.

PKSD discusses four-way stop intersections, including who has the right of way in Wisconsin and when a driver may be to blame for a crash.

Injured by a driver who failed to yield the right of way? If so, you do not have to handle the insurance company or navigate the legal process on your own. Contact our law offices to discuss your situation and learn about your legal options.

Request your FREE case review. 414-333-3333

What is a Four-Way Stop?

A four-way stop is an intersection that is controlled at all four corners with a stop sign. This means that no matter what direction traffic is coming from, no vehicle can drive through that type of intersection without first coming to a complete stop.

After stopping, drivers are then required to yield to the driver with the right of way.

Who Has the Right of Way at a Four-Way Stop?

Although the right-of-way rules at a four-way stop may sound simple, many drivers still seem unsure when they approach this type of intersection. Here is some additional information that may help to make the rules more clear.

Once drivers stop their car, they are ready to determine who has the right of way. This depends on when each driver got to the intersection and what they intend to do (or where they intend to go) next.

These rules designate which drivers have the right of way and when:

First to Arrive, First to Drive

After stopping, the first driver to get to the intersection has the right of way and may proceed when clear.

Two or More Drivers Arrive at the Same Time

If two or more drivers arrive at the same time, then the driver on your right gets to go first.

You and Driver Across From You Are Both Going Straight

If you and the other driver are both going straight, then you can both proceed. However, if one of you is turning, then the driver going straight always has the right of way.

Always Signal When Turning

Using your turn signal alerts other drivers of your intentions, which can help to avoid a collision.

Both You and the Vehicle Across From You Are Turning

If you are turning left and the vehicle coming towards you from across the intersection is also turning left (meaning your vehicles are turning in opposite directions), you can proceed at the same time. If, however, you are turning left and the vehicle coming towards you is turning right (you are both going in the same direction), then the driver turning right has the right of way. Again, right has the right of way.

How is Fault Determined for a Crash at a Four-Way Stop?

The at-fault party in a four-way stop crash will likely be the driver who failed to yield the right of way. However, it may sometimes be difficult to determine which driver failed to yield and who had the right of way. To figure this out, crash investigators will need to examine the accident scene and other evidence to make this determination.

Police at the scene will make a point to speak to each driver to get a statement about what happened. After being involved in a collision, drivers often feel shaken or confused. Remember, it is fine to take a minute to collect your thoughts before giving any statement. Think through some questions about what happened right before the collision, such as:

  • Was anyone at the intersection before you got there?
  • Do you remember whether it was you or another driver who had the right of way?
  • Did multiple vehicles get to the intersection at the same time?
  • Was there someone else who failed to yield or drove through the intersection without stopping?

Thinking through these questions can help you to remember what events may have led up to the crash. Do not ramble on with unimportant details. However, you should be honest and keep it simple. A crash investigation will happen no matter what you tell the officer.

In addition to driver statements, there is other evidence that may help investigators assess fault. Crash debris, damage to vehicles, video footage, if available, and witness statements may all help. When multiple vehicles are involved, it may sometimes be necessary to bring in an accident reconstruction specialist for additional help.

What Kinds of Crashes May Happen at a Four-Way Stop?

Four-way stop traffic incidents often lead to a T-bone crash – also known as a broadside or side-impact collision. Victims may often suffer severe or life-threatening damages, including traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), neck injuries and spinal cord damage. The faster a driver was going at impact, the more severe a victim’s injuries are likely to be.

How Can You Avoid Being in a Crash at a Four-Way Stop?

To begin with, no matter how long you have been driving, it is important to stay informed about traffic laws. Sometimes they change or may get updated. Drivers cannot avoid liability because they did not know the law.

The biggest key to preventing a collision at a four-way stop, however, is to to remain alert and watch out for other vehicles. Be aware that some drivers may totally ignore the law and go through the intersection without stopping or yielding the right of way. You can usually tell by watching other vehicles. Drivers who do not intend to stop are not likely to slow down. Always watch for these types of drivers before you proceed, even if you have the right of way.

Why Seek Legal Help After a Four-Way Stop Crash

Four-way stop collisions are often complex. There may be multiple cars and drivers involved, and it may also be difficult to determine liability. Having a licensed attorney who also has extensive experience can greatly benefit you if you need to seek compensation.

If a negligent driver causes you harm, our collision attorneys in Milwaukee are knowledgeable and prepared to help. If you have a claim and choose our firm to represent you, there are no upfront costs to pay. We do not even collect our fees unless we win your case.

Experienced Lawyers. Proven Results. 414-333-3333

Back to top