The other day, I saw a driver just blow through a stop sign at a four-way stop. Worse, she proceeded to do the same thing all the way down the avenue, running stop sign after stop sign as though they were just gentle suggestions that she could ignore. Unfortunately, this happens all to often in Colorado.

Clearly, she was consciously deciding to run these stop signs but, in my experience, it’s more common for people to run stop signs because they’re simply not paying attention. Either way, the consequences can be life-altering – for the inattentive driver and for any victims that she hits – because the injuries can be significant.

Typically, the inattentive driver misses a stop sign and runs right into traffic that is going 40 miles per hour, sometimes more. Either she gets t-boned by an unsuspecting victim or the negligent driver t-bones someone else.

Sometimes, the negligent driver comes out into traffic and clips another driver, throwing their car off balance and even causing the victim’s car to flip and roll. Either party – the negligent driver and the victim – can end up with broken wrists and ankles. Because air bags often deploy, they may also sustain broken noses and bloody lips.

Here’s a little-known fact: Women in these types of accidents who are wearing seatbelts and who have been hit by air bags often sustain broken sternums and often those injuries aren’t caught at the hospital. Even when the hospital does a chest x-ray to look for torn heart valves, they miss the broken sternum. I’m telling you, my Colorado clients report that this is one of the most awful, painful injuries that they face; they can’t even sneeze without excruciating pain!

Now, on the legal side of things, you’d think this would be a slam-dunk. Someone ran a stop sign and caused damages and injuries! Case closed, right? Nope, not always.

Sometimes the negligent driver tries to claim that she wasn’t at fault, that she didn’t run the stop sign. Then it turns into she said/he said and, sometimes, an insurance company will fight for their driver even when it’s obvious she was at fault.

Lesson? Get witnesses! (I think I’m starting to sound like a broken record on this subject, but that’s because it’s so important.) Witnesses can help you prove that the other driver came out of nowhere and that you had the right of way.

Also, take lots of photos, especially if you see that the other driver hit the brakes at the last minute and made skid marks on the road. Get shots of those skid marks.

And remember: never run a stop sign on purpose… you never know who could be watching!