Who Is at Fault in an Unprotected Left Turn Accident?

Jan 25, 2022

Left Turn Car Accident: Who’s Really to Blame?


In many cases, it’s the driver making the left turn who is determined to be primarily at fault, not the oncoming driver who hit them. However, the oncoming driver might be fully or partially at fault if they were speeding or otherwise did something illegal that led to the accident.

These car or truck crashes can get complicated, and law enforcement and insurance companies often have to analyze the evidence carefully to determine who is responsible. It’s essential to understand the factors that come into play when determining fault in an unprotected left-turn accident.

Read on to learn more about who may be held liable in these types of accidents and what you can do if you’ve been involved in one.


Understanding Left Turn Accidents


An unprotected left turn occurs when a driver turns left without the aid of traffic signals or signals from a crossing guard. These types of left turns can happen at intersections, parking lots, or driveways. They are considered one of the most dangerous maneuvers a driver can make because they involve crossing over traffic coming from the opposite direction.

Left turn accidents often happen when drivers underestimate the amount of time they have to make their turn or fail to see oncoming vehicles due to blind spots. In some cases, the driver making the left turn may also misjudge the speed of oncoming traffic, leading to a collision. However, this doesn’t mean that the driver making the left turn is always at fault in an unprotected left turn accident.


What Makes a Left Turn Collision Unprotected?


The adjective “unprotected” is used if a driver is turning left at an intersection or into a street or driveway that doesn’t have a left-turn light. This could be at a stop light where there’s no arrow, turning left into a business’s parking lot along a street, turning left into a residential neighborhood, etc.

Many Atlanta lights are now equipped with multiple potential arrow options. A green left arrow is relatively easy to interpret – you have the right of way. A red arrow means you can’t turn left, even if there is no oncoming traffic. A flashing yellow arrow is essentially an unprotected left-turn arrow – you can go if there’s no oncoming traffic or pedestrians. If you have a flashing yellow arrow and you turn in front of an oncoming vehicle, you will likely be at fault.


What If the Oncoming Driver Was Speeding?


People hit in left-turn car accidents frequently claim the oncoming driver was going way over the speed limit – and in some cases, that’s true. You might assume the car down the street is plenty far away for you to turn safely, but if that car is going twice the speed limit, it may get to you much faster than you realize.

Order of Right of Way

Left-hand turn drivers are frequently last in line for the right of way:

  1. Pedestrians always have the right of way in these scenarios – the left-turn driver must wait for walkers and cyclists to clear the street or driveway the driver is turning into
  2. Oncoming traffic – if the light is still green or there’s no stop sign, oncoming vehicles have the right of way
  3. The left-turn driver who is pulled into the intersection or waiting in the street can go after oncoming traffic is clear


What if a Pedestrian Is Illegally Crossing Against Stop Signal?


Every driver has likely experienced a situation where a pedestrian is illegally crossing a street they want to turn into. Under no circumstances do you have a legal right to turn into a pedestrian. Even if they’re crossing illegally, you’ll likely still bear the brunt of the fault.

Your insurance company may be able to successfully argue you’re not entirely responsible for the pedestrian’s injuries, but it’s unlikely the pedestrian will be determined to be solely at fault for getting hit.


Modified Comparative Negligence Doctrines


If your left-turn car crash or truck wreck case does go to trial, it’s likely the defense will make use of comparative negligence doctrines. If the insurance company can prove their policyholder wasn’t entirely at fault in a left-turn accident, the plaintiff will only receive a reduced verdict. The ultimate compensation the insurance company will have to pay the injured party will match the defendant’s fault.


Left-Turn Accident Comparative Negligence Example


An oncoming driver hits a car or truck that was turning left. It’s determined that the oncoming driver was going 15 miles over the speed limit. The left-turn driver still shouldn’t have turned in front of an oncoming car. In that scenario, a jury might decide that the left-turn driver was 75 percent at fault and the oncoming driver was 25 percent at fault.

In that case, the oncoming driver who was injured in the crash would only receive 75 percent of the verdict. If the verdict was $100,000, the injured driver would only receive $75,000.

Although the insurance company might not view that case as a win, the result is better than having to pay the full $100,000. That’s why comparative negligence strategies are particularly popular in personal injury cases, especially when the facts of the case are undisputed and the defense doesn’t have a clear path to victory.


How Personal Injury Attorneys Can Help


If you have been involved in an unprotected left-turn accident, it is important to seek the help of a personal injury attorney. They can assist you in building a solid left turn accident case and navigating the legal process to ensure that you receive fair compensation for your injuries and damages.

Some ways that attorneys may help include:

  • Investigating the accident: A skilled attorney will thoroughly investigate the accident to gather evidence and determine liability.
  • Negotiating with insurance companies: An attorney can handle negotiations with insurance companies on your behalf, ensuring you receive fair compensation.
  • Representing you in court: If necessary, an attorney can take your case to court and advocate for your rights in front of a judge or jury.
  • Calculating damages: Attorneys have experience in calculating and determining the full extent of your damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Unprotected left-turn accidents can result in serious injuries and damages, making it crucial to have a knowledgeable attorney on your side. They can help navigate the complex legal system and ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.


Have You Been Injured in an Unprotected Left-Turn Crash in Atlanta?


Left-turn accidents are particularly common, and they frequently result in serious injuries. If you were injured in a left-turn accident and you’re confident the other driver was at fault, you should strongly consider speaking with a car wreck lawyer in Atlanta.

You can expect the insurance company to spin the accident to make it seem like you share most or all the blame. Our auto accident injury lawyers at the Dressie Law Firm are familiar with insurance company negotiating strategies. We tirelessly pursue the compensation our clients need to recover after car wrecks.

Request a free case evaluation by calling 770-209-2412.