Left Turn Accidents: Who is Responsible?

left turn accident in Montgomery

You sit at an intersection waiting to make a left turn. You wait for a while, knowing you don’t have the right of way. Hopefully, before too long, traffic clears, and you can make your left turn safely into the left-hand lane of the new flow of traffic.

But the reality is left turns present a very real driving danger and cause more collisions than right-hand turns.  Whether you are on a motorcycle, in a truck, car, or a bicycle, a collision with an oncoming vehicle will likely result in serious injury and even death because the turning driver is basically making himself vulnerable to oncoming traffic.

Couple that with the fact that many drivers accelerate into the left-hand turn, and many accelerate as they approach an intersection, increasing the possibility of a serious collision. 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports up to 40 percent of the estimated five million crashes that occurred in the U.S. in 2008, happened at an intersection.

That’s why there are clear rules on how to share the road.

In the case of injuries, it is almost always assumed that the driver who made the left-hand turn is at-fault, therefore liable for the accident. However, it is not necessarily the fault of the left-hand turn driver.  

Causes of Left-Turn Accidents

At an intersection, the oncoming vehicle driver must exhibit safe driving practices as should the driver making the turn.  Both should prepare for the intersection by paying additional attention to their circumstances.

A left-turn accident can happen at an intersection due to several situations:

Beating the light – Trying to rush ahead of the light may lead to a left-turn collision whether it is the oncoming vehicle or the turning one.

Speeding – Again either car traveling too fast for conditions may reduce the options one has when trying to avoid an imminent collision.

Not Paying Attention – The driver is on his cellphone therefore not paying attention to the conditions at the intersection at a time when heightened attention is required.

Drugs or Alcohol – Either driver could be impaired on alcohol, drugs, or prescription medication.

Pulling into the intersection – A driver may opt to pull ahead when someone behind him beeps regardless of whether it is safe to advance into oncoming traffic.

Bad Weather – This may create a hazard when road conditions and visibility are reduced.

No Turn Signal – Alabama law states one must use a turn signal when making a left-hand turn.

Left-Hand Turn- Who is Responsible?

The question then becomes who is liable in a left-turn collision?

Neither driver is expected to speed and try to run a red light. Drivers turning are expected to yield to oncoming traffic as those going straight have the right of way.

According to Alabama Code Title 32 (Section 32-5A-133) any driver who intends to make a left-hand turn must carefully approach the intersection in the extreme left-hand lane. Upon making the turn, it becomes the driver’s duty of care to continue in the left-hand lane of the new direction carefully merging into traffic. 

Under Title 32, the left turn signal should be continuous and before the last 100 feet before the turn. If the driver fails to signal, that will count against him as he could be considered the at-fault driver.

Yielding to pedestrians in a crosswalk is the law and it is common sense since the pedestrian is far more vulnerable than the driver. Failure to do so could also result in the driver being considered the at-fault driver.

Your Left-Turn Accident Attorney

Any left-hand turn driver will be suspected of being the negligent party even if you do follow the law, but especially if serious injuries or death results. However, if the oncoming vehicle was speeding and driving recklessly, he too will share in some of the responsibility for the accident and injuries.

If you have been injured in an intersection where a left-hand turn was involved, understand you may be entitled to file a claim against the at-fault party to seek compensation for your losses. 

In Alabama, the state’s pure contributory negligence doctrine may reduce your ability to recover if you contributed to the left-turn accident. This a time when you need an advocate to help you fight.

Chip Nix has decades of experience representing the injured in an intersection collision. Let him put his expertise to work for you. Schedule a complimentary consultation in our Montgomery office at (334) 203-6669.

With the coronavirus pandemic going on, there are a lot more bikers and pedestrians who are out trying to get exercise while they are working from home. If you were seriously injured after being struck by a left turn driver while on a bike or on foot, you may be entitled to significant compensation. Contact Mr. Nix right away to discuss your legal rights and options.

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