If you are driving straight and another driver turns left in front of you, the driver of the other vehicle is almost always at fault for the accident. More often than not, cars traveling straight have the right of way at intersections.
The driver turning left has a legal obligation to wait until it is completely safe to make the turn. Therefore, if an accident occurs, fault is usually assigned to the driver turning left.
However, there are certain exceptions to this rule. A car accident lawyer at Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi can help if you were seriously injured in a left-turn accident. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.
When Is the Driver Turning Left NOT At Fault for an Accident?
It is a common misconception that drivers executing left turns are automatically to blame for T-bone collisions and other accidents. Although liability often does rest with the turning driver, it is important not to overlook potential exceptions.
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.
The law requires that cars turning left wait until it is completely safe to do so. As such, it can be hard to convince insurance companies and/or 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 a driver fails to stop and the car goes 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. However, the driver coming straight turned it into an unsafe situation.
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 driver turning left.
For a free legal consultation, call (201) 585-9111
How Can I Tell Who Is At Fault for a Left-Turn Accident?
Much like with rear-end accidents, the damage to the vehicles in a left-turn accident can usually give an idea of who is at fault. Police officers who respond to the scene of an accident often use the location of damage to the vehicles involved to make a preliminary determination of fault.
Damage to the driver’s side of the vehicle traveling straight generally indicates that the driver turning left was careless. However, if the front of the car that was going straight is damaged, this may signal that the vehicle’s driver was in the wrong.
Can I Sue for a Left-Turn Accident?
New Jersey is a no-fault state. As such, drivers are required to carry personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. To recover damages, you generally need to file a PIP claim with your own insurance company instead of filing suit against the at-fault driver.
You can choose to retain the full right to sue. However, most drivers don’t take this option because they have to pay higher insurance premiums. As such, fault is often not an issue in New Jersey car accidents.
In most cases you cannot sue the other driver for an accident, even if he or she commits a glaringly obvious error or behaves recklessly behind the wheel. However, there are exceptions to the no-fault rule where an injured motorist can bring a claim against the at-fault driver.
Drivers have a limited right to sue if the accident results in a serious injury or the wrongful death of someone in the car. There is significant overlap between what the law considers a serious injury and what are broadly known as catastrophic injuries.
You may be able to bring a claim against the at-fault driver if you suffer one or more of the following in a car accident:
- Severe burns
- Brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Amputation injuries
- Eye injuries and vision loss
- Loss of a fetus
Accident claims involving left turns can be complicated. It is important not to make any assumptions about who is at fault, the seriousness of your injuries, and whether you have a case.
You should contact a car accident lawyer as soon as possible to protect your rights and discuss your options for pursuing compensation. An experienced attorney can evaluate the facts of your case, collect evidence, and hire expert witnesses to provide testimony on liability and other complex issues.
Know Your Rights After a Left-Turn Accident
T-bone collisions and other crashes at intersections are sometimes more complicated than they initially appear. The driver going straight may assume the other driver was at fault only to encounter accusations that he was speeding or ran a red light. Alternatively, the driver turning left may automatically assume he was at fault without recognizing the nuances of the case.
Whether you were going straight or turning left, it is crucial to seek legal guidance if you were seriously injured or lost a loved one in a car accident. The attorneys at Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi can help you identify your options for recovering compensation and fight hard on your behalf.
Please call (201) 585-9111 today for a free consultation. Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi serves car accident victims in Fort Lee and throughout New Jersey.