Who May Be Liable for a Crash While Making a Left Turn?
Posted on behalf of Lynch Law Firm on October 27, 2022 in Car Accident News. Updated on May 25, 2023
Left-turn accidents are often viewed as open-and-shut cases. This is because the driver making the left turn is usually at fault for violating right-of-way laws. However, there may be exceptions that can make a left-turn crash case more complex.
Below, we discuss the common causes of left-turn car accidents and how liability is determined. We also discuss how you may be able to recover compensation for your damages after a left-turn accident.
If you have questions about filing a claim, our New Jersey auto collision lawyers are prepared to help. We offer a free consultation to discuss your legal options. There are also no fees while we work on your case.
WHAT ARE THE COMMON CAUSES OF LEFT-TURN CRASHES?
Left turns are one of the leading causes of collisions that occur at intersections, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). These crashes usually occur due to one or more of the following:
- Drivers failing to yield the right-of-way
- Obstructions on the road causing visibility issues
- Left-turning drivers misjudging the distance between traffic
- Left-turning drivers miscalculating the distance across an intersection
Left-turn accidents might not always occur at a four-point intersection. They may also occur when someone is trying to turn onto one road from another. If there is no left-turning lane, another vehicle could crash into the rear of the left-turning one.
HOW IS LIABILITY DETERMINED FOR A LEFT-TURN CRASH?
Liability for any type of accident comes down to whose negligent actions caused the crash. In left-turn accident cases, a negligent action means someone most likely broke a traffic law.
As a rule, any driver attempting to make a left turn must yield to oncoming traffic.
While at a controlled intersection, left-turning drivers must yield even if the light is green. Oncoming traffic at the intersection does not stop. Except when there is a green arrow. In this case, drivers making a left turn have the right of way. However, even if there is a green arrow, drivers must yield to anyone in the crosswalk.
The rules at an uncontrolled intersection are roughly the same. Except there may be a left-turning lane the driver should merge into before the turn. When there is a designated left-turning lane, you cannot make a left from a straight traffic lane. If there is no left-turning lane, drivers behind a turning vehicle must wait for that driver to complete the turn. Impatient drivers may sometimes try to swerve around a vehicle waiting to make a turn and cause a collision. If the trailing driver was distracted, he or she might crash into the back of the turning vehicle.
There are also instances when a driver in oncoming traffic breaks a law. For example, if he or she runs a red light or stop sign at a controlled intersection. Especially if the driver ran the red light while there was a green arrow for left-turning traffic.
WHAT IF MORE THAN ONE PARTY IS LIABLE?
Sometimes two or more parties may share fault for a left-turn crash. For example, if a driver speeds up to make it through a yellow light and crashes into a car that is turning. The driver who sped up could be fined for speeding and bear at least partial fault for the collision.
Pedestrians who ignore a “do not walk” sign in a crosswalk may be held partially at fault if it leads to a left-turn collision. Cyclists sometimes also ignore traffic laws, leading to collisions with vehicles turning left.
Although drivers owe pedestrians and cyclists an elevated duty of care, there are times when a pedestrian or cyclist’s negligence may contribute to a crash.
HOW CAN I RECOVER COMPENSATION FOR MY DAMAGES?
In New Jersey, all accident victims must file a first-party insurance claim with their own Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance. Under this coverage, your medical bills should be paid no matter who caused the crash.
When your PIP benefits run out, or if you need to recover non-economic damages, you may be able to file a third-party claim with the liability insurance of the at-fault driver.
WHAT IF I AM PARTLY TO BLAME FOR THE LEFT-TURN ACCIDENT?
You may still be able to recover some compensation, even if you are partially at fault for a crash. Under New Jersey’s comparative negligence laws, injury victims who share blame for a collision are not barred from recovering compensation. However, the compensation may be reduced by the percentage of fault assigned.
After a left-turn car crash, it may often be in your best interest to work with an attorney.
The liability insurance company may put up a fight to avoid paying you compensation. And your insurance company may require you to undergo an independent medical exam before your PIP claim is paid out.
CALL THE LYNCH LAW FIRM TODAY
Whether you are filing a first or third-party insurance claim, our knowledgeable attorneys are prepared to help.
We can investigate your claim to determine who is liable for your damages and help build a strong case for compensation. There are no upfront fees while we work on your case.
The consultation is also free, so there is no risk to you.
Call (800) 518-0508 to get started.