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A friend just got in a collision at a four-way stop turning left. That friend has insisted that they came to a full and complete stop. Nolo seems to indicate that the general rule is that it's always the left-turn'ers fault, but they don't address four-way stops. What is the liability at a four-way stop.

Her car was hit on the passenger's side. The other car was hit on the front left bumper. The other car could have simply stopped and waited for the turn to complete.

Here is a picture of the intersection. She was leaving the parking lot, on the right at this camera angle, turning left. The other car had a stop sign, and hit her. She claims she stopped and had the right of way though.

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The angle from which both cars where heading. The route from the right is the parking log, and from the left would be the vehicle driving straight.

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The angle from which the car the car that hit my friend was heading as she was heading straight. She claims she stopped at the stop sign.

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    Which state was this? – abelenky Dec 6 '17 at 22:38
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    It was in Texas – Evan Carroll Dec 6 '17 at 22:39
  • Can you give us the intersection? I'd like to get a better look at it. – mkennedy Dec 7 '17 at 3:56
  • @mkennedy updated with more views. – Evan Carroll Dec 7 '17 at 20:04
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The relevant rule in Texas (which is somewhat atypical compared to other states) is to come to a complete stop, then proceed only "when the intersection can be safely entered." Texas Transportation Code Sec. 545.151. So, generally speaking, someone who enters the intersection, after coming to a full stop, when it is not safe to do so because someone else is in the intersection, is the one at fault (although, it is certainly possible that more than one car could enter an intersection when it wasn't safe to do so).

It isn't entirely clear from the facts presented in the question who is at fault, since the key question of who entered the intersection when it could not be safely entered isn't entirely clear from the facts presented in the question.

Also traffic law liability would not necessarily imply civil liability for damages, particularly if both parties were actually at fault, even if only one was cited with a traffic ticket.

There are other parts of the Texas Transportation Code which one might expect to apply, that do not:

[U]nder Texas law, drivers turning left must yield to traffic from the opposite direction. (Transportation Code, Sec. 545.152) That rule doesn't specify any particular type of intersection, and it does apply to four-way stops. But it's obviously meant to prevent collisions when the oncoming driver is not required to stop. . . . when two vehicles are at angles to each other, the one on the right goes first. But in Texas, that's true only when there are no stop signs, yield signs or signal lights.

Texas also does not have a "first-come, first-go" rule, even though many people incorrectly believe that it does, because the effect of the rule that it does have is similar to a "first-come, first-go" rule in many, but not all, circumstances.

  • "But in Texas, that's true only when there are no stop signs, yield signs or signal lights." Seems to conflict with drivers having to yield when turning left at an intersection. What kind of facts would help make this determination when all parties insist they stopped and entered lawfully. – Evan Carroll Dec 7 '17 at 20:07
  • @EvanCarroll The "have to yield when turning left at an intersection rule" isn't the rule in Texas that applies to four way stops. Of course, people frequently insist that they acted lawfully all the time even when they didn't, this is why reality is harder than hypotheticals. Each party has to refrain from entering the intersection at all at any time that it is unsafe to do so. If all people claim to have entered lawfully, and yet the collide, one or both of them necessarily entering the intersection when it was unsafe, and one or both of them are at fault. – ohwilleke Dec 7 '17 at 21:46
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In the event that there are four cars waiting at the same stop sign, the car who moves into the intersection first after stopping has the right of way. The right of way is then passed to the driver's right and continues in the circle until the intersection is clear.

  • While this makes sense, and is commonly done, it isn't actually the state of the law in Texas as indicated in my answer. – ohwilleke Dec 7 '17 at 21:41

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