Who May Be Liable for a Left-Turn Car Crash?

Posted on behalf of Jeff Pitman on December 6, 2019 in Car Accidents
Updated on April 25, 2024

left-turn crash liability Left-turn accidents happen far too often. Unfortunately, these crashes often lead to serious or catastrophic injuries. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), they are a leading cause of crossing-path collisions.

Most of the time, the driver turning left is liable for the damages. However, there are exceptions when another driver could share some or all of the blame.

Were you injured in a left-turn crash? If so, you may be eligible to seek significant compensation for your medical bills and other losses.

PKSD has a history of proven results, and we are dedicated to helping injured victims. Contact our firm today to discuss your situation. You can learn if you may have legal options at no cost to you. There are also no upfront costs if we represent you, and we only get paid if we win.

Request your FREE case review today. 414-333-3333

What Causes a Left-Turn Collision?

Most left-turn car accidents happen due to negligence or human error. Too often, drivers ignore Wisconsin’s right-of-way laws in a hurry to try to beat oncoming traffic. As a result, they put themselves and others in harm’s way.

State law requires drivers who are turning left at a green light to wait until it is safe to turn. This means waiting until there is no oncoming traffic. Some intersections may have a traffic signal to indicate when the driver turning left has the right of way. However, even if there is a green arrow signal, the driver turning left still has a duty to check for traffic.

For instance, if an oncoming driver runs a red light, then the driver with the green arrow must wait for that vehicle to pass. This does not erase the red light runner’s traffic violation. However, every driver’s first duty is to take steps to avoid causing a crash.

Other reasons that a left-turn car crash may happen is because of drivers:

  • Misjudging the speed or distance of oncoming traffic
  • Traveling too fast during inclement weather
  • Turning left when something is obstructing the view of traffic
  • Failing to yield the right of way
  • Not using a turn signal – which could confuse oncoming drivers
  • Driving while distracted by texting or something else
  • Speeding
  • Miscalculating how long it will take to turn

Oncoming Traffic Has the Right of Way

Drivers turning left must always yield the right of way to oncoming traffic. This is true whether you plan to turn onto another roadway, alley or driveway or just need to make a U-turn. Oncoming traffic has the right of way and is therefore not required to slow down or stop for a left-turning driver.

Is the Driver Turning Left Always Liable for Causing a Crash?

The driver turning left is almost always liable for causing a left-turn crash. This is because the left-turning driver has a legal duty to make sure oncoming traffic is clear before proceeding. However, there are exceptions when the other driver could be at least partially at fault for causing a crash with a left-turning vehicle.

Some examples of when a left-turning motorist may not be liable for causing a crash include when:

  • The other driver was speeding – If the oncoming vehicle was speeding, it could cause the left-turning driver to misjudge the time and distance to complete the turn. In this situation, the oncoming driver may be at least partially at fault if it leads to a crash.
  • The oncoming driver ran a red light – Drivers who ignore a red light or stop sign are breaking the law. If a left-turn accident happens as a result, the driver who ran the red light or stop sign may share partial or full liability for the crash.
  • Unexpected circumstances – Sometimes an unexpected road hazard may cause a crash. For instance, if an animal darts suddenly into the road and there is no time to react.

The Burden of Proving Negligence is on the Victim

Regardless of how the left-turn crash occurs, the injured victim has the burden of proving the at-fault driver’s negligence. However, this is not an easy task, especially if you are unfamiliar with the laws or how to go about proving negligence.

Unfortunately, injured victims often hurt their claim while trying to seek compensation on their own. Having an attorney handle your case from the beginning often results in significantly more compensation for crash victims.

How is Liability Determined for a Left-Turn Crash?

Damage to the vehicles involved may help crash investigators to determine fault. The type, location and extent of crash damage often helps to provide insight about how a crash happened.

For example, say you are driving straight and another driver unexpectedly makes a left turn. In this situation, you might try to swerve to the right to avoid a collision. If you are unable to avoid the crash, your vehicle may have damage to the front left corner or side. The damage in this collision shows how you tried to avoid the collision. The other vehicle would likely have vehicle damage on its right front corner. Investigators might determine this driver was not paying attention and cut into traffic.

On occasion, the vehicle damage might indicate the driver traveling straight was partially to blame. For instance, if the damage is to the right rear corner of the turning vehicle. This damage might mean the oncoming driver was speeding or breaking some other traffic law.

Sometimes determining liability is challenging, even for experienced crash investigators. This is especially true when there are no witnesses or camera footage to shed light on events leading up to the left-turn crash. In cases like this, your attorney may consult with an accident reconstruction specialist. These experts use a scientific approach to gather evidence and clarify what happened.

Tips on Avoiding Left-Turn Accidents

Both parties are responsible for helping to prevent a crash. Fortunately, there are several ways that drivers can avoid being in a left-turn accident. Some helpful guidelines include:

  • Activate your turn signal properly to notify other traffic
  • Slow down appropriately and fully stop to check for traffic
  • Allow plenty of time and distance before attempting a turn
  • Pause at a green indicator light to watch for drivers blowing a red light
  • Watch for bicyclists, pedestrians, scooters and others
  • If another vehicle is blocking your view, wait for that driver to pass
  • If an obstruction blocks your view, consider taking another route
  • Be alert for traffic in front of you and in your blind spots
  • Turn off your turn signal after making the turn
  • Make a right turn whenever possible

Contact Our Firm to Discuss Your Situation Today

If you were injured in a left-turn accident caused by another driver’s negligence, you may be eligible to seek compensation to help you recover your losses.

Contact our law offices as soon as possible to discuss your situation and learn about your legal options. It is important to speak to an experienced lawyer as soon as possible to ensure the protection of your rights and legal interests. If you choose to hire our firm, there is nothing for you to pay up front or while we manage your case. We do not get paid unless we recover compensation for you.

Contact PKSD today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with a licensed auto accident attorney in Milwaukee.

We are here to help. No upfront fees. 414-333-3333

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