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November 22, 2021

Left-Turn Accident: Who’s at Fault?

Improperly executed turns are the cause of many motor vehicle accidents. In many cases, the driver of the vehicle that made the turn is the one found to be at fault for left-turn accidents. Sometimes, however, the other driver, a malfunctioning traffic light, or a vehicle parts manufacturer may be responsible for these types of collisions. A Reno car accident lawyer can review the police reports, photos and videos of the crash scene, dashcam or surveillance camera footage, and witness statements to help determine who should be held liable for injuries caused by left-turn accidents.

Who Has the Right of Way When a Driver Is Making a Left Turn?

Normally, unless a driver has a green arrow apparent on a traffic light, whoever is making a left-hand turn at a green light is required to yield to any oncoming vehicles and may only proceed with the turn when it is safe to do so.

If there is no green arrow, the driver making the left turn onto a road or alleyway, or making a U-turn, must yield to any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction which is within the intersection or so close to the intersection as to cause an immediate hazard.

Instances When the Driver Turning Left May Not Be at Fault

A car accident lawyer in Reno, NV might also see a variety of instances in which the driver who is turning left may not be at fault. These include, but are not limited to:

#1. If another driver who is driving in a reckless manner speed through an intersection where another vehicle is turning left, and a left-turn accident occurs, this reckless driver may be fully or partially responsible for the accident. Witnesses may be able to testify to the reckless speeding incident to help demonstrate the wrongdoer’s role in the crash.

#2. If the other vehicle runs through a solid red light and crashes into another vehicle that is making a left turn, the driver who ran the red light is guilty of violating a traffic law and may be held liable for causing the accident.

#3. If a malfunctioning traffic signal causes a left-turn accident, the entity responsible for maintaining the traffic light could be held liable for the victim’s injuries.

#4. If the brakes, steering system, or other vehicle parts fail and a left-turn accident occurs, the vehicle manufacturer may be liable for damages caused by the accident.

Documenting the Crash Scene Can Help Determine Fault for a Left-Turn Accident

Documenting the crash scene and property damage to both vehicles can help a Reno car accident lawyer and investigators determine who is at fault for a left-turn accident. It is important to capture photos and videos of dents and other vehicle damage from various angles, skid marks in the roadway, traffic lights, the position of both vehicles, and anything else that may help the injury attorney and the investigators piece together what happened. In some cases, surveillance cameras at area businesses or residences may prove useful as well.

How to Avoid Left-Turn Accidents

Understanding how to safely make left-handed turns can help motorists avoid collisions that cause injuries and deaths. To reduce the risk of a left-turn accident, motorists should:

  • Turn on their blinker approximately 100 feet before reaching the intersection
  • Slow down, or come to a complete stop if necessary, before proceeding with the turn
  • Scan the intersection to ensure that the pathway is clear of oncoming traffic, including pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists
  • Yield to oncoming traffic unless the traffic signal is displaying a green arrow, indicating that they have the right of way
  • Avoid crossing over into other traffic lanes when making the maneuver

Approximately 96% of left-turn accidents are attributed to negligent drivers that fail to properly yield. By taking a few precautions when making left-hand turns, avoiding driving distractions, and observing the behaviors of other drivers, motorists in Reno can significantly reduce their risk of getting into a collision.

Mr. Osborne is a seasoned trial lawyer with more than thirty years of litigation experience representing those injured in car accidents, by medical malpractice, or other forms of negligence. He is a member of the Nevada Justice Association and the Multi-Million Dollar Forum.

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