How Can You Avoid a Left-Hand Turn Accident?

When you are at an intersection a left hand turn might seem like a simple maneuver. However a left hand turn can lead to one of the most dangerous types of car accidents. An accident caused by a left hand turncan lead to severe injuries and complex legal disputes over liability, leading to mountains of medical bills and a long and arduous legal process. In this article we aim to help you understand the dynamics of these car accidents, and what you as a driver can do to help avoid these perilous situations.

The Perils of Left-Hand Turns

A left-hand turn requires a driver to cross the path of oncoming traffic, which inherently increases the risk of a collision. Making a left hand turn requires judging the speed and distance of oncoming vehicles, which can be difficult on its own, but coupled with the urgency felt when making a turn, can lead to critical misjudgments. Additional factors can affect your turn as well including, obstructions of your view, distractions (like your cell phone), or a misinterpretation of another driver’s intentions. These factors can all complicate these turns and lead to potential life threatening accidents. 

Importance of Yielding on Left-Hand Turns

If you are planning to take a left hand turn, yielding the right of way can be crucial to your safety. While you may get a green turning light at some intersections, traffic laws generally dictate that the driver making a left hand turn must yield to any oncoming traffic that is close enough or fast approaching and poses an immediate hazard. This rule is founded in the principle of providing unimpeded traffic flow to vehicles traveling in a through lane, while still providing the opportunity for you to make a turn if the opportunity arises. Remember to take your time when making a left hand turn. Taking a turn when not properly yielding to traffic can greatly increase the likelihood of getting into an accident, as well as placing you at fault for the collision.

How Liability is Determined in Left-Hand Turn Accidents

Determining liability in left-hand turn accidents usually hinges on establishing which party had the right-of-way. In most jurisdictions, the law is clear that the driver making the left turn holds the responsibility to wait until it is safe to complete the turn. This is based on the premise that making a left turn is a maneuver that brings a car into the path of oncoming traffic, which is otherwise proceeding straight through an intersection.

Here are key points that an insurance company considers when determining liability:

  • Traffic Signals: Whether the turning driver adhered to traffic signals or signs which may dictate additional rules at specific intersections.
  • Oncoming Traffic: Whether the oncoming driver was exceeding the speed limit or engaged in erratic driving, which might shift some degree of fault.
  • Witness Statements and Camera Footage: These can provide crucial evidence about the circumstances surrounding the accident, such as road conditions, traffic, and driver behavior immediately before the collision. 

Contributory and Comparative Negligence

Some states follow a contributory negligence rule, where if a driver contributed to the accident in any way, then they might be barred from recovering damages. Other states use a comparative negligence approach, where an individual’s ability to claim damages is reduced by their percentage of fault in causing the accident. Here in Utah we abide by a comparative negligence rule with a 50% threshold of fault. This means that if an insurance company finds you to be at fault for 50% of the damages then your right to recover damages from the accident is waived.

What Should You Do If You Were In a Left Hand Turn Accident

If you are involved in a left-hand turn accident consider the following steps to take:

  • Seek Medical Treatment: Even if you do not feel injured after an accident it is still crucial to seek a medical evaluation. Some injuries can go unnoticed and if they are left untreated they can worsen. Pursuing medical attention can help reveal any injuries that you have suffered from, and your doctor will be able to create a treatment plan to help get you started on the road to recovery. 
  • Gather Evidence: If it is safe to do so, take as many pictures and videos of the accident scene as possible. This can prove as extremely important evidence in an insurance claim, and can help illustrate the severity of the accident. Make sure that you gather any witnesses contact information, as well as the other driver’s contact information and description of the vehicle they were driving.
  • Contact a Utah Car Accident Lawyer: Seeking prompt legal advice can help you protect your rights after a car accident. A Utah car accident lawyer will be able to help analyze the accident facts, gather evidence, and represent your interests throughout negotiations with an insurance company. Establishing liability on your own can be difficult, especially in a left hand turn case, but a Salt Lake Car accident lawyer will be able to dispute any liability arguments and get you the compensation you deserve.

A left hand turn can lead to a car accident with significant and sometimes life threatening injuries. These accidents can come with their fair share of complex liability issues and they can be incredibly difficult to handle on your own. So before you take your next left turn, remember to be patient and wait until it’s safe. Being 30 seconds late is better than getting into a potential accident, and if you or someone you know has been injured in a left hand turn accident contact the car accident lawyers at LifeLaw Personal Injury. Our team of Utah’s best car accident lawyers will help you through every step of the legal process, making sure you feel heard. At LifeLaw, client communication is of the utmost importance to us and we take pride in being able to give you the best experience possible. To experience the best client communication possible contact us today for a free consultation, and to discuss your options.