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Personal Injury Attorney In California

Who is at Fault in a Left Turn or Intersection Accident? 

Posted on October 6, 2022

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 50 percent of the combined total of injurious and fatal crashes occur at intersections, usually due to dangerous left turns. Also known as red light accidents, these types of car accidents are particularly dangerous because of the greater likelihood of getting hit by additional cars that are also trying to cross the intersection. 

A left turn accident is much more likely to occur than a right turn accident because the left turning driver has to cross in front of other cars and several lanes of traffic. In fact, drivers are more likely to be injured due to a red light-running related crash than any other type of accident, and half the people killed in these accidents are not even violating the law – they are passengers, pedestrians, cyclists, or other motorists.

If you were T-boned or rear-ended in a car accident, then you may be entitled to damages for your medical bills, lost wages, and car damage. The King Law Firm has helped victims of intersection accidents in the greater Los Angeles area get the compensation they deserve in personal injury claims. Call us today at 805-448-4306.

Why do accidents occur at intersections?

One of the most dangerous aspects of operating a vehicle is making left-hand turns. Left turns at a traffic light require different judgment calls to be made on the part of the left turning driver and the driver traveling straight through the intersection. In many cases, both drivers have a green light, but they still need to maintain a safe distance from the car ahead in anticipation of unforeseen circumstances.

An analysis of intersection accidents overseen by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration uncovered that intersection collisions are almost 335 times as likely to have “turned with obstructed view” as a critical reason for the accident occurring, compared to non-intersection-related crashes. 

Large intersection accident with multiple vehicles

Distracted driving can cause a car accident, especially at traffic lights. Drivers who are traveling straight and not paying attention because they are looking at their phone or are drunk are at greater risk of driving through stop signs and causing car accidents. Other common reasons for an accident at a stop sign or red light include: 

  • Following too closely
  • Failure to yield right of way
  • Obstructed views
  • Inclement weather
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI)

Another leading cause of intersection accidents includes running a red light or a stop sign. According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), every 20 minutes, a driver runs a red light. Sometimes intersection accidents are caused by aggressive drivers who do not slow down even though the car in front of them is slowing down for a yellow light. Aggressive drivers who want to run the light can be held responsible for injuries and damages resulting from hitting the vehicle in front of them.

What is the most common accident at an intersection?

Intersection accidents occur when a left-hand turning driver does not yield right of way to oncoming traffic and turns at the wrong time. Usually, the driver making a left-hand turn is considered the at-fault driver. 

Rear-end collisions are the most common type of intersection accident, and distracted driving is one of the most common reasons why these occur. Usually, one driver is stopped at a stop sign or a red light when another hits them from behind after misjudging the distance between the vehicles. Rear-end car accidents also occur when both vehicles are stopped but, the rear driver gets distracted and lifts their foot off the brake. Rear-end collisions can result in damage to the bumpers of both vehicles, whiplash, seat belt injuries like internal bleeding, paralysis, headaches, and facial bruises or fractures.

What are common accidents that occur at intersections?

T-boning is another type of intersection accident that results from left-hand turn accidents. These occur when left turning drivers crash into the side of oncoming vehicles. These accidents get their name from the T-shape the two cars make at the point of impact. The top cause of T-bone accidents is bad judgment, like when a driver makes a dangerous left turn because they think the other car will stop at a yellow traffic light.

Intersection collisions are also caused by drivers disregarding traffic signals or traffic laws. The car that is traveling straight is usually going at a faster speed than the driver turning left, who may have been stopped before making the turn. T-bone accidents are tragic because they are preventable and cause catastrophic injuries like broken ribs, concussions, and deep cuts. 

What does it mean to be struck at an intersection?

Being hit at an intersection makes both the driver and their passengers vulnerable to serious injuries because of the side impact of the crash. The sudden thrusting of the head from side to side can lead to serious brain injuries, and the impact can break bones. A victim of an intersection accident will have to file a personal injury claim and collect evidence. They may have to undergo interviews with the insurance company. It is very stressful to be struck at an intersection.

Working with a skilled and experienced attorney can alleviate much of the stress of filing your left turn accident claim. Our law firm is determined to provide left-turn accident victims the compassionate advocacy they need to obtain compensation for their injuries, such as:

2 vehicle accident on an intersection

No matter what type of car accident you are involved in, these are some of the important steps that you need to take to reduce your liability:

  • Call 911 immediately after the accident
  • Check on everyone involved in the accident, including pedestrians and passengers in other vehicles
  • Take pictures at the scene of the accident that include close-up shots of the damage, street signs (including visible speed limit signs), where the cars ended up once they stopped moving, and any other factors that could have contributed to your accident. 
  • Do not apologize for the car accident or admit fault. Do not lie to the officer when they ask you for statement.
  • Go to the nearest emergency room and be assessed for injuries. If paramedics arrive, then accept their help.
  • Contact one of our personal injury lawyers so we can get started on your case.

Who is at fault in a left-turn accident in California?

It can be very difficult to prove how fast oncoming traffic is traveling. However, if your attorney’s investigation proves that the other driver was traveling significantly faster than the speed limit, then the driver making the left-hand turn is not likely to be held liable. 

When determining fault, each driver shares a percentage of responsibility for the traffic accident due to comparative negligence laws. Call us today to schedule your free case evaluation to learn more about how you can recover damages in a personal injury claim if you are partially to blame for the car accident. For example, if you were eating behind the wheel at the time of the accident, then the insurance company may argue that you share fault.

Some of the privileges of the attorney-client relationship include confidentiality, regular communication about your case, and access to our resources. Your attorney from the King Law Firm will expose the at-fault driver by reviewing the police report, talking to witnesses, and visiting the site of the accident. We will make requests to receive photographic and video evidence from traffic cameras, which need to be done within 20-30 days before the footage is deleted. We leave no stone unturned when investigating your accident.

What are the risks of making a left turn?

Making a left turn is stressful. A left turn requires you to cross in front of oncoming traffic and over one or more lanes. Unfortunately, that presents many opportunities to be injured in a car accident.

Sometimes you have an impatient driver behind you honking their horn, putting pressure on you to make the turn. Some traffic lights are just long and irritating, so drivers who pass through those intersections frequently may be more prone to showing aggressive behaviors. 

Is a left turning driver always at fault in California?

When an accident occurs, drivers making left-hand turns are usually presumed negligent because they do not have right of way, which means that they must wait for other vehicles coming from the opposite direction to pass before making a left turn. The turning driver has the burden of proof and must provide evidence that shows the other driver’s fault.

Official Code of Georgia Annotated Title 51, Chapter 11, Section 7 says that if a driver who collides with another vehicle could have avoided an auto accident had they taken reasonable care, then the other driver is not entitled to damages. Here are some situations when the driver turning left driver may not be found liable, and the other driver is held liable instead:

  • When an oncoming driver goes through a stop sign or red traffic light without stopping, even though the left-hand driver had the right of way
  • When a distracted driver in an oncoming vehicle doesn’t see the left-turning driver and thus does not prevent an accident
  • If an unforeseen circumstance occurs, such as an animal or child running into the road, then a driver turning left may not be held liable
Left Turn accident

How do you know if it’s an unprotected left turn?

A green arrow indicates that left-hand turns are protected. An unprotected left turn happens at an intersection where turning left is allowed, but there is no left turn green arrow at any point in the light cycle. That means that if you have a green light at an intersection, then oncoming cars have the right of way, and you will need to wait until there is a clear and safe break in traffic before making the turn.

What should I bring to my free case evaluation?

The King Law Firm is ready to answer your questions, help you gather evidence, and treat you with the compassion you deserve after being in a car accident. We suggest that you bring the following to your first meeting with us:

  • Information on when and where the accident occurred
  • The crash report generated by the responding police officer after the accident happened
  • Pictures from the scene of the accident
  • A journal with your recollection of what happened that also chronicles your symptoms and healing
  • Your medical records

We can collect evidence to prove who is responsible for the accident. Then we can negotiate with the insurance adjuster and explain how the accident has affected your life, so you are compensated for your pain and suffering. We do not stop until you get the settlement you deserve from the party responsible for the accident.

We Help Victims Of Intersection Accidents

Call 805-448-4306 to speak to one of the personal injury lawyers at The King Law Firm if you suffered serious injuries in a left-hand turn accident. Although the statute of limitations in California is two years from the date of the accident, we recommend that you contact us within two weeks of your accident, especially if we need to gather evidence before it is deleted from traffic cameras. We also want to be sure that you do not say or do anything that will jeopardize your case that the insurance company can twist in their favor. 

We are a boutique firm in Southern California that gives personalized attention to each client. We advise them of their rights under the law and what damages they are entitled to. The legal world can be overwhelming, but we take a hands-on approach to helping our clients recover emotionally and financially. We have your back, and we look out for you every step of the way. If you need help navigating the legal system after being involved in a left turn accident, then call us right now.


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