Picture this: You’re driving through an intersection where you have the green light. Just as you are about to cross through the intersection, a driver in the opposite direction makes a left turn, colliding with you. This unfortunate scenario is all too common with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reporting that left turns cause approximately 53% of cross-path crashes.
But who is at fault in the case of a car accident after left turns? The car accident attorneys of Regan Zambri Long PLLC explain.
Depending on the traffic light at the time of the collision, the left turn may be an unprotected left turn or a protected left turn. An unprotected left turn is one where there is no green left-turn arrow in the present light cycle, but drivers can turn left so long as they yield the right of way to oncoming traffic and wait for a safe opening between cars to turn.
A protected left turn is one where there is a green arrow, meaning the driver turning left had the right of way.
In the case of there not being a traffic light–such as turning into a driveway, parking lot, side street, etc., the driver turning left must abide by traffic laws, meaning they must yield to oncoming traffic, must wait for all cyclists and pedestrians to cross, etc. Then, when it is safe to do so, they can turn.
Often, the driver turning left will be given blame at the scene of the accident, even if it’s not clear if they were truly at fault. This is often because of the right of way laws in place in most states including Washington, DC, Virginia, and Maryland.
However, determining fault can be complicated. While there are ways to show that perhaps the left-turning driver did have the arrow and therefore had the right of way, in the case where there are no traffic lights, and it’s one driver’s word against another, this can be difficult to prove.
This is where having a car accident attorney to represent you becomes critical. A car accident attorney can help determine who was at fault in the car accident after a left turn by:
While most often the driver turning left will be blamed for a car accident, there are exceptions to this.
There may be cases where the driver going straight was driving well above the speed limit, driving recklessly, etc. Unfortunately, without witnesses or traffic footage, this can be difficult to prove. However, a car accident lawyer can help you by calling upon car accident recreation experts to determine if the other driver’s speed was a factor in the collision.
The Car Driving Straight Ran a Red Light
If the other driver was not obeying the law and ran a red light or didn’t stop at a stop sign, this may be easier to prove. In these situations, the driver turning left likely had the right away and was collided with by the at-fault driver.
We often see distracted driving as the main cause of car accidents. In fact, in 2020, 3,142 people died in distracted driving car accidents. In these cases, both drivers may share in some of the fault if the driver turning left was not in the right away–or turned when it was not safe to do so, but reckless driving was at play.
Your state’s laws on fault and shared negligence will ultimately determine what you can recover in these situations.
There are situations where the driver turning left is at fault for the collision. Commonly, drivers turning left when there is no traffic arrow signaling them to go, may misjudge the space or have a limited view of oncoming traffic, and collide with the oncoming vehicle.
Other cases may include the driver turning left being distracted or not having full control of the vehicle, resulting in a collision. Or simply, a traffic violation like not utilizing a turn signal can cause a car accident.
In some cases, both drivers may share in the liability of the car accident involving a left turn. Cases like speeding, distracted driving, etc. may show that while one driver was the catalyst in the collision, both drivers were not in control of their vehicles.
Further, in cases where there may be more than one vehicle involved in a left-turn car accident such as a multi-vehicle accident, there may be even more liable parties in the accident.
In these cases where two or more drivers share fault, each driver may be assigned a percentage of fault. Then, depending on your state’s negligence laws, the damages you can collect will be adjusted by the amount of fault you hold.
Whether you are the driver who was turning left, or a driver who was collided with while crossing through an intersection, the DC, Maryland, and Virginia car accident attorneys of Regan Zambri Long can guide you through the fault process in left-turn car accidents.
A car accident attorney can help you by:
If you are injured in a left-turn car accident as a result of the negligence of another driver, you may be entitled to compensation for your property damage and resulting injuries.
A car accident attorney can help you seek compensation for:
Be mindful that the statute of limitations for your state’s car accident claims begin after the accident. The time to act is now.
If you or a loved one were injured or killed as a result of a left-turn car accident, the car accident lawyers of Regan Zambri Long are here for you. We have decades of experience representing car accident victims in Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia. Let us do the same for you.
For a no-obligation, free consultation, contact the car accident attorneys of Regan Zambri Long at 202-960-4596 or by connecting with us online.