There are many factors to consider when determining who is at fault for a car accident and how the victim can recover compensation for their damages. When left-hand turns are involved, this usually means the driver turning left is generally found accountable and liable because they must yield to all traffic that is moving through the path.
More than 36 percent of all automobile accidents occur at intersections, and thousands of accidents result from unsafe left-hand turns each year. Because of this, proper safety and right-of-way precautions must be taken whenever a left-hand turn is attempted in order to reduce the risk of accident and injury.
According to the California Driver Handbook, drivers must exercise extreme discretion when attempting a left-hand turn. A left-hand turn must be performed when no oncoming traffic is present (or is far enough away to reasonably complete the turn in time) and when no pedestrians or cyclists are occupying a crosswalk.
Exceptions to Left-Hand Turning Rule
The difficulty of obtaining compensation with a left turn collision is that proving the other driver is at fault or partially responsible for the accident. Because of the caution that must be taken, only extreme or special circumstances are typically considered by a jury panel or judge in these situations on behalf of the person that was turning.
There are a few exceptions to the left-turn liability rule, however, and the driver turning left may be deemed not at fault in the following instances:
- The car driving straight was driving significantly over the speed limit when going through the intersection. This may occur if the light was changing yellow as the driver approached the intersection, or could be a result of careless or reckless behavior (such as driving drunk or while using a cell phone).
- The car that is driving straight ran a red light or stop sign. If a car runs a red light or stop sign, they will typically be held responsible for any accident occurring as a result because they should not have been in the intersection at the time the accident occurred.
- Unforeseen circumstances resulted in the accident. If the left-turning driver begins making a turn when it is safe to proceed, but must slow down or stop suddenly due to an unforeseen circumstance (such as an animal in the road, another car runs a red light or some other form of obstruction occurs), the other driver may be found liable for the accident.
Remaining Safe on the Road
In the chaos immediately following a car accident, minimizing the amount of damage caused should be a priority to all parties involved. If you are involved in a car accident, the following actions should be taken as soon as possible:
- Contact emergency personnel immediately to notify them of the crash (especially if injury or fatality has occurred);
- Move out of the direct path of traffic (if possible);
- Assess the physical status of both yourself and others involved in the accident. If first aid is required and is able to be performed, do so as necessary;
- While waiting for emergency personnel to arrive, exchange insurance and contact information with all parties involved in the accident. This is critical to filing a claim against the individual(s) who may be responsible;
- Using your phone or a camera, photograph the scene of the accident in detail to use as evidence in your claim. This is especially important in proving the amount of damages you are entitled to as part of your claim;
- Gather the contact information of anyone who witnessed the accident, but may not have been directly involved. This may be helpful in proving the validity of your insurance claim should it be disputed in any way;
- While the period immediately following a car accident can seem like a tumultuous blur due to stress, medical bills and the possible death of a loved one, it is also important to retain a seasoned personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.
Contact a Trusted Lawyer for Help Today
Because the turning driver is often blamed for any accident resulting from a left-hand turn, proving your innocence and recovering damages for your accident may be difficult to do on your own. The Law Offices of Freeman & Freeman has helped numerous drivers recover compensation for injuries sustained in car accidents for more than fifty years.
Whether you are the driver who was turning or the driver going straight, proving your innocence and recovering compensation for your car accident injuries is our number one priority. For more information or to discuss the details of your claim, contact us today for a free consultation.