Traffic lights and stop signs depend on drivers in California obeying the signals or judging traffic correctly before entering an intersection. When drivers fail to do the right things, accidents causing serious injuries and fatalities sometimes result. Roundabouts, however, have emerged as an effective method for transportation officials to improve safety at the intersections of rural highways. Roundabouts slow traffic and only require people to check to the left as they navigate the intersection. The shape of the roundabouts physically forces vehicles to slow down and reduces the severity of wrecks when they do happen.

Although roundabouts do not lower the number of intersection accidents, people in roundabout crashes generally only have minor injuries instead of catastrophic ones. For example, one state transportation department spent $1.2 million to build a roundabout at a rural intersection known for disastrous accidents. Engineers predicted that the roundabout would prevent approximately $2.5 million in costs to injured people every year by limiting the force of crashes. Transportation officials expected the roundabout to lessen injuries by 89 percent compared to the previous history at that location.

The intersection had been the scene of a fatal wreck that killed a 21-year-old woman and left her 24-year-old sister badly injured. A truck running a stop sign caused the accident. The surviving sister continues to suffer from her injuries even years later. She cannot work and must cope with memory problems and constant headaches.

An insurance settlement for a victim like this might need to take into account the long-term effects of injuries. A person confronted by a lifetime of disability or a prolonged recovery period might ask an attorney for support after the car crash. An attorney may manage the details of a lawsuit and pursue compensation for medical bills, lost income and rehabilitation.