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Personal Injury Law: Who is at Fault in Left Turn Accidents

Grossman Law Offices – In 2017, there were 55 fatal accidents in Fresno. Thousands of others were injured, and some of those collisions were left turn accidents.

Road rules differ in different jurisdictions, being regulated by the states and municipalities through their respective traffic codes. Most of these are based at least in part on the Uniform Vehicle Code, but there are variations from state to state .

Most people assume that a driver making a left turn is always responsible for a left turn accident. But this isn’t always the case. Although the turning driver could be at-fault, the other driver might be to blame. Learn more about liability in left turn collisions and find out what it means for your case.

Why is the Turning Driver Usually Liable?

There’s some truth to the myth that a left turning driver is always responsible for the accident. This is because drivers who are turning need to yield to other vehicles. If a driver turns and hits oncoming traffic, they are failing to yield. They have the responsibility of yielding to other cars, pedestrians, and cyclists.

The major exception to the failure to yield law is for drivers who are turning at a green arrow. If there is a green turn signal, they have the right of way. An oncoming car would have ignored a traffic light, which would make them liable.

When the police arrive on the scene of an accident, they are likely to ticket the driver who was turning. But this does not mean the driver is the only one responsible for the accident. It’s possible that there are other circumstances and the other driver has some culpability.

What are the Exceptions?

There are some exceptions to left turn liability. For instance, a turning driver might not be at-fault if the other driver was significantly speeding. This can be difficult to prove, as witnesses can only guess how fast the driver was going. Furthermore, the speeding driver may not admit to driving too fast.

Another exception is when the other driver did not yield to a red light or stop sign. Their failure to yield puts the blame on their shoulders. Typically, this is easier to prove than speeding. You might have witnesses or traffic camera evidence.

In some cases, the other driver isn’t responsible, but a third-party is. An unexpected incident, like debris in the road, could cause the turning driver to slow down or stop. 

Shared Fault

Even if you are partially liable for the left-turn accident, you could still hold the other driver responsible for your damages. In California, there is a comparative fault law. One driver can hold the other accountable for a collision even if they share some blame.

You can file a personal injury claim against the other driver if you experienced injuries and if they acted negligently. For example, the other driver may have been guilty of drunk driving. Their negligent behavior means you have a chance at filing a claim against them.

There is one important detail regarding comparative fault. You cannot receive the full amount of damages if you share fault. If you are 20% at-fault, you will only be awarded 80% of the damages. It might not be everything, but it’s better than nothing. 

Working with an Attorney 

It is obvious that if you need to know more about accident liability then an attorney is going to be necessary, particularly when the issue of liability is not one that is black and white. Determination of fault can rest on a number of factors.

Car accident lawyers can tell you more about California car accident law. Furthermore, they can guide you as you seek compensation. They can help you negotiate with the insurance company or file a personal injury claim. Either way, you have a chance at getting the money you need to recover.

Grossman Law Offices are personal injury lawyers based in Fresno, California. Denis Grossman has two decades of legal experience and has been admitted to the bar of two states: New York (1997) and California (2004).

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