Liability for Crashes Caused by Not Using Turn Signals

Posted on behalf of James Lynch on October 11, 2023  in Car Accident News. Updated on November 3, 2023

stock image of a left-turn signal on a car dashboardTurn signals are one of the easiest ways to help prevent a serious crash. Despite only having to flick a switch, however, studies show that many drivers fail to signal properly or do not use their turn signal at all. Who is liable if negligence for a crash is caused by not using a turn signal in New Jersey?

Improper turn signal use, or a failure to signal, is illegal in the Garden State. Drivers who fail to signal are often the liable party if that negligence leads to a crash. Lynch Lawyers, PC explains more about turn signal use, including proper use under NJ law. We also discuss evidence that could help prove liability if failing to signal leads to a crash.

Injured in a crash caused by a driver who failed to signal? Lynch Lawyers, PC is ready to help. Find out if you have legal options by requesting a free case review with one of our knowledgable New Jersey car crash lawyers.

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How Does New Jersey Law Define Proper Turn Signal Use?

In New Jersey, the laws are both strict and specific. Vehicles need to be in the correct position to signal before stopping, turning or starting.

Specifically, the law says motorists must move their vehicles to the correct position on the road as required in NJ Rev Stat 39:4-123 before attempting to:

  • Start or back up a vehicle
  • Pull into a private or commercial driveway
  • Turn a vehicle from the road
  • Change lanes – either right or left

So, for instance, if you are either approaching or making a right turn, you must move your vehicle as close as reasonably possible to the right-hand side, curb or edge of the road.

For left-hand turns, where you position your vehicle depends on whether you are driving on a road where traffic flows in both directions or on other roads, such as a one-way street.

Regardless of what type of turn you are making, you must begin signaling continuously not less than 100 feet from where you are making the turn. Before you even begin to signal, you must check to ensure there is a sufficient gap in the traffic to allow you to safely complete your turn or change lanes.

Is Failing to Signal Illegal in New Jersey?

It is illegal to fail to signal in New Jersey. Even first-time offenders can expect to face legal consequences.

What Are the Penalties in NJ for Failing to Signal?

New Jersey is serious about requiring its drivers to use their turn signals. If you break the law and are caught, you can expect to get a ticket, face fines of up to $85, and be assessed two points on your driver’s license.

It is important to mention that these points are registered as “insurance eligibility points.” What this means is that they will cause your insurance premiums to increase.

Who May Be Liable for a NJ Crash Caused by Failing to Signal?

All drivers owe a legal duty of care to take reasonable steps to avoid a crash. When turning, this legal duty means properly using your turn signal.

What Is Considered Proper Use of a Turn Signal?

Proper use of a turn signal means signaling when you are at least 100 feet away from your left or right-hand turn. If you are changing lanes on a highway, you should check that traffic is clear and then signal for a minimum of five seconds before changing lanes.

Flicking your turn signal on while changing lanes or turning is not considered proper use as it does not give other motorists and road users enough time to slow down or react.

Who Can Be Liable if a Crash Occurs Due to Improper or Non-Use of a Turn Signal?

Typically, the driver who fails to signal may be liable for the damages if that negligence leads to a crash. However, in some situations, other parties may share some liability as well. For instance, if a driver was signaling to change lanes and the driver in the destination lane sped up to try to block that merging vehicle.

Failing to signal can lead to multiple types of collisions. Here are some common crashes caused by improper turn signal use and who may be liable for the damages.

Rear-Ending a Vehicle Making a Turn in Front of You

If the driver of a vehicle in front of you fails to signal they are making a turn, you may be unable to stop in time to avoid a rear-end collision. While the driver in front of you may be partially liable for failing to signal, you may share some liability if you were following that vehicle too closely.

Sideswipe Crash While Merging and Changing Lanes

Drivers who fail to signal properly when changing lanes may startle another driver in the destination lane, causing them to swerve. If there is a lot of traffic, a swerving driver could end up sideswiping other vehicles in nearby lanes.

T-Bone Crash

If a vehicle is making a left turn at an intersection, does not signal and also fails to yield to oncoming traffic, it could cause a serious T-bone crash. Sometimes, this type of crash may occur if the turning driver has the right of way and an oncoming vehicle runs a red light.

Crashes With Pedestrians and Other Vulnerable Road Users

Just like for drivers of other vehicles, turn signals help alert pedestrians, cyclists and other vulnerable road users when it is safe to cross the road. Drivers who fail to signal could end up crashing into one of these vulnerable road users.

Evidence That May Help To Prove Improper Turn Signal Use Caused a Crash

It can be challenging to prove that a crash was caused by a driver who either failed to signal or improperly used his or her turn signal. However, some evidence that may help could include:

  • Credible witness testimony
  • Surveillance or dashcam video footage
  • Police report documentation

Injured in a Crash By a Driver Who Failed To Use a Turn Signal?

When drivers breach their legal duty of care by not using their turn signal or improperly using their turn signal, it can lead to a dangerous crash. Proving negligence for these crashes can be challenging, however. This is why you should strongly consider seeking legal help.

At Lynch Lawyers, PC, we have the staff and resources to fully investigate your crash, gather strong evidence on your behalf and negotiate for full and fair compensation.

There is no cost for your initial consultation and no upfront costs or fees if we represent you. Learn more about how we level the legal playing field on your behalf. We are here to help. Call anytime, night or day, to get started.

Experienced Lawyers. Proven Results. (800) 518-0508

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