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Why Are Left-Turn Crashes So Common and Who is Usually at Fault?

Aug 24, 2020 | Auto Accidents

signs for left turn on stop lights

Left turns are some of the most dangerous traffic maneuvers you can make. You are cutting across traffic heading in the opposite direction. When you are turning right you can speed up and potentially prevent being hit from behind. However, when you are turning left, speeding up may still not get you out of the way of a potential collision.

If you hit a car that was turning left or were hit while turning left, you may be eligible for compensation for your damages. As fault is complicated, it is important to contact a licensed lawyer if you think the accident was the other driver’s fault.

Left-Turn Crash Statistics

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), left turns occur in approximately 22.2 percent of collisions. A study by CNN found left turns are three times as likely to kill pedestrians than right turns.

Research like this emphasizes the need to be extra cautious when making a left turn. In fact, if there is a way to avoid the left turn, or at least turn at an intersection with a green arrow instead of a green light, you may want to do it. If you are unsure if you have enough time to make it through the intersection before the approaching vehicles, maybe wait for traffic to clear more.

Fault for a Left-Turn Collision

There are some general rules that apply to liability for a left-turn crash. First and foremost, traffic heading in the other direction has the right of way. You must wait for traffic to clear before making the turn. This means the driver turning left is generally at fault for the collision.

Virginia state law says drivers turning left in an intersection, alley, private road, or driveway must yield to vehicles approaching from the other direction if they are so close as to constitute a hazard.

However, there may be exceptions to this general rule. For example, if you had a green arrow and approaching traffic had a red light, you had the right of way. If a collision occurs, it is likely to be the other driver’s fault.

If you can prove the other driver was speeding, he or she may be partially at fault for the crash, and our Richmond car accident lawyers may be able to pursue compensation on your behalf. However, partial fault would not help your claim, as Virginia follows a harsh contributory negligence rule. If you are at fault for the accident in any way, you are barred from seeking compensation. Even if the accident was entirely the fault of the other driver, you would need to prove he or she was speeding.

Although rare, it is possible an animal could dart out into the road. If this happens, you may delay the turn, causing a collision with an approaching vehicle. In these situations, the other driver may be at fault. However, in Virginia, you cannot obtain compensation unless the other driver is 100 percent at fault.

Fault for a Left-Turn Crash with a Pedestrian

Under Virginia law, you have a duty to yield to pedestrians who are in crosswalks, whether they are marked or not. That said, pedestrians are prohibited from interfering with the orderly passage of vehicles in a way that is malicious or careless. Pedestrians must be responsible when crossing the street.

If you were turning left and a pedestrian ran out into the road in your path, the pedestrian may be at fault for the crash. That said, always keep watch for pedestrians to prevent an accident, as these accidents often cause severe injuries or even death. If you are even slightly to blame for a pedestrian crash, you will be ineligible for compensation, whether from the insurance company or a lawsuit.

Need Legal Help? Call Today to Discuss Your Claim

Geoff McDonald and Associates has recovered hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation on behalf of personal injury victims. The initial consultation comes with no obligation to take legal action and there are no upfront fees for hiring our firm.

If you think you may have a valid case, call our firm today to schedule your free legal consultation. We are here to answer your questions and determine if we may be able to help you.

Our CEO and President Attorney Geoff McDonald is a member of The National Trial Lawyers Association: Top 100.

Geoff McDonald and Associates: 866-369-9051.

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