WPI70.02Right of Way—Uncontrolled Intersection
Washington Practice Series TMWashington Pattern Jury Instructions--Civil
6 Wash. Prac., Wash. Pattern Jury Instr. Civ. WPI 70.02 (6th ed.)
Washington Practice Series TM
Washington Pattern Jury Instructions--Civil
December 2017 Update
Part VIII. Motor Vehicles
Chapter 70. Motor Vehicles
WPI 70.02 Right of Way—Uncontrolled Intersection
A statute provides that when two vehicles approach or enter an intersection from different streets or roadways at approximately the same time, the driver of the vehicle on the left shall yield the right of way to the vehicle on the right. This right of way, however, is not absolute but relative, and the duty to exercise ordinary care to avoid collisions at intersections rests upon both drivers. The primary duty, however, rests upon the driver on the left, which duty must be performed with reasonable regard to the maintenance of a fair margin of safety at all times.
NOTE ON USE
Use this instruction in cases involving uncontrolled intersections. Use WPI 60.03, Violation of Statute, Ordinance, Administrative Rule, or Internal Governmental Policy—Evidence of Negligence, with this instruction.
The statute applies when two vehicles approach or enter the intersection from different highways at approximately the same time.
If a collision occurs within an intersection, the statute applies as a matter of law. Chavers v. Ohad, 59 Wn.2d 646, 369 P.2d 831 (1962); Zorich v. Billingsley, 52 Wn.2d 138, 324 P.2d 255 (1958) (discussing earlier version of the statute). Even if the actual collision occurred outside the bounds of the intersection, the driver on the left is liable if he or she failed to yield the right of way with reasonable regard to maintaining a fair margin of safety. Tobias v. Rainwater, 71 Wn.2d 845, 431 P.2d 156 (1967); Milne v. City of Seattle, 20 Wn.2d 30, 145 P.2d 888 (1944); Rutger v. Walken, 19 Wn.2d 681, 143 P.2d 866 (1943).
The favored driver is entitled to rely on the disfavored driver's yielding the right of way at an uncontrolled intersection until the favored driver reaches that point at which a reasonable person exercising reasonable care would realize that the disfavored driver is not going to yield. Whitchurch v. McBride, 63 Wn.App. 272, 818 P.2d 622 (1991); Maxwell v. Piper, 92 Wn.App. 471, 963 P.2d 941 (1998). When a disfavored driver seeks to recover from a favored driver for damages suffered in an accident at an uncontrolled intersection, the evidence produced at trial must be sufficient to support a finding that the favored driver's negligent conduct was a cause in fact of the accident. The evidence is sufficient only if it supports a reasonable inference as to approximately where the favored driver was when, in the exercise of reasonable care, he or she should have realized that the disfavored driver was not going to yield. If there is no evidence showing the approximate location of that point, the reasonable person's conduct cannot be compared with the favored driver's and the disfavored driver has not borne the burden of producing evidence sufficient to support a finding that the accident would not have happened but for the favored driver's negligence. Whitchurch v. McBride, supra.
[Current as of October 2010.]
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