Left turn accidents are pretty common on roadways, especially in the congested parts of California’s cities. In most cases, the driver at fault is the one was making the left turn. This is because the car driving straight typically has the right of way. But establishing left turn collision isn’t always so cut and dry.
Who Is at Fault for a Left Turn Accident?
Left turn collision fault is usually determined by the location of damage on the vehicles. While either driver can be held accountable for the crash, there are a few situations where one driver might be found more liable.
Making a Left Turn in Front of Another Car
Most left turn collisions occur when one motorist is going straight and another driver makes a left turn in front. This often causes the car going straight to swerve out of the way. If the damage to the non-turning motorist was on the left side or front corner of their vehicle, this can serve as evidence that they tried to avoid the collision.
If the damage to the turning vehicle is at the rear right corner, this may be evidence that the driver going straight wasn’t paying attention to traffic and may have caused the accident.
Yielding the Right of Way Prior to Turning
While motorists who are turning left must yield to other drivers, they are only responsible for yielding a reasonable right of way. A car that is going straight and runs a red light or is speeding — and subsequently hits a car trying to make a left turn — could be at least partially at fault for the accident.
In some situations, the car driving straight could be cleared of liability if there were circumstances that made it difficult for them to obey traffic laws. For example, if the traffic light was malfunctioning or there was another anomaly, like an animal crossing the road, the straight-driving car might be able to argue for reduced fault if they are able to prove their claim.
What Should I Do After a Left Turn Accident?
After a left turn collision, you will want to get a copy of the police report for the accident. Officers usually write down their opinions of fault, or will at least note the actions and condition of other motorists. Taking the time to interview accident witnesses and taking photographs of any damage to vehicles could strengthen your case. An experienced car accident lawyer may be able to get access to an intersection’s traffic camera to review the photo and video footage.
California’s Comparative Negligence System
Car accident cases are based on the concept of negligence. The law distributes left turn collision fault based on who was more negligent in the accident. California has a comparative negligence system, which assigns each party a degree of fault after an accident.
This percentage corresponds to a reduction in any received claims. For example, if you were deemed to be 30% responsible for a left turn collision, any settlement or judgment will be reduced by 30%. This means drivers who were almost totally responsible for an accident still could recover settlement money.
There are a few ways you can prove negligence in a car accident:
- Defendant owed reasonable care for the safety of another
- Defendant did not act reasonably. This might be a driver who was speeding, driving recklessly, or ran a red light before getting into a crash
- Defendant knew their recklessness would cause injury
- If a plaintiff suffered any injuries and is eligible to recover damages
Learn More About Establishing Left Turn Collision Fault
Whether you were hit by a car turning left, or you were the driver who was turning left, an experienced Orange County car accident attorney can help you establish liability. It’s important to have expert legal counsel to prove that you were not at fault, and to receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries. At Russell & Lazarus APC, we can guide you through the claims process, help you collect evidence, and develop a comprehensive legal strategy. Call us today to learn more about our services.