A car making a left turn is almost always at fault for an accident involving a car coming straight in the other direction.
Cars coming straight in the opposite direction, more often than not, have the right of way when coming through the intersection. In addition, the driver turning left has a legal obligation to wait until it is completely safe to make the turn. Therefore, if the situation becomes unsafe, fault is usually assigned to the driver turning left.
However, there are certain exceptions to this rule. Situations that could shift the burden of liability include:
- The car coming straight was speeding: If the car coming straight was driving recklessly or with excessive speed, you could argue that the other driver was liable for the accident. However, this can be a difficult exception to prove. Since the law requires that cars turning left wait until it is completely safe to do so, it can be hard to convince the court that the car coming straight was speeding enough to be at fault in the accident.
- The car coming straight ran a red light or stop sign: This exception is much easier to prove. If the car coming straight runs straight through the red light or stop sign, causing the accident, that driver is almost certainly at fault. In this instance, the driver turning left waited until it was completely safe, but the driver coming straight turned it into an unsafe situation.
- Unforeseen circumstances: In rare cases, a driver making a left turn runs into an unforeseen, dangerous situation when turning left. The turn started out as a safe maneuver, but something unexpected made it unsafe. Maybe an animal appears in the roadway, another car runs a red light, or some other sort of obstruction appears. These situations, while rare, can take some of the fault away from the left-turning driver.
Much like rear-end accidents, the damage in a left-turn accident can usually give an idea of who is at fault.
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In the state of New Jersey, an average of 1.6 people are killed daily by car accidents. In 2012, there were a total of 284,062 car accidents; the same year, there were 553 fatal car accidents that resulted in 589 deaths, according to the New Jersey State Police. There are nearly 40,000 miles of public open roads in the state, adding up to one death per 66.6 miles.
Serious car accidents can lead to a number of severe injuries, including:
- Catastrophic injuries
- Severe burns
- Brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Cuts and lacerations