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Left Hand Turn Failure to Yield Accident Attorneys in California

Because of traffic congestion, it can be difficult to drive in Los Angeles and other parts of California. One particularly challenging aspect of driving in the metro area involves left-hand turns. It can be especially difficult to make a left-hand turn at an intersection that does not have a left-turn arrow, and these types of turns result in many accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, left-hand turns are common causes of traffic accidents. Out of the collisions that occur in intersections, 61% happen when someone is turning left while only 3.1% happen when people are turning right. Many other accidents occur when people turn left onto a highway from a side road and fail to yield to oncoming traffic. When these types of accidents occur, the left-turning drivers may be liable to pay damages when they fail to yield the right of way to oncoming vehicles.

Why left-hand turns are dangerous

There are several reasons why left-hand turns are dangerous. When drivers turn left without left-turn signals, they are required to make judgments about the speed of oncoming cars, whether other drivers will adhere to traffic safety rules, and how much more time remains on green or yellow traffic lights. They also tend to be more dangerous than right-hand turns because there is a wider radius involved with a left-hand turn, and drivers tend to speed up as they are turning left. The combination of the wider radius and the acceleration involved with left-hand turns makes them riskier for pedestrians. Turning left also disrupts the traffic flow and demands more effort than turning right. Some drivers fail to use their signals when they turn left. Drivers who intend to turn left on multi-lane roads will need to cross one or more traffic lanes to get to the left-turn lanes.

When drivers are turning left, they have to look for vehicles that could come from three directions. Drivers who are proceeding straight through an intersection might speed up in an attempt to make it through before someone completes a left turn. In some cases, there may be a visual obstruction that prevents the left-turning driver from seeing vehicles in the oncoming traffic lanes. Finally, turning left requires drivers to make multiple mental assessments that require good decision-making and quick thinking.

Laws about left-hand turns in California

Drivers who attempt to turn left in California are required to yield to oncoming vehicles and to make certain that they have enough room to complete their turns without disrupting the flow of traffic. Some laws govern drivers who are intending to turn left onto a highway and drivers who are intending to turn left from a highway onto a side road, private property, or an alley.

Under Cal. Veh. Code § 22100, how drivers must turn left or right is defined. When drivers turn right, they are supposed to do so as close to the right-hand curb or edge of the road as possible. When they turn left, the drivers are supposed to do so from the furthest left-hand lane that is available for turning left. When left-turning drivers turn left, they are supposed to turn into a lane that is legally available for them to enter. People who make improper left-hand turns under this section are subject to fines of $238.

Under Cal. Veh. Code § 21801(a), drivers who are turning left or who complete u-turns on roads in California are required to yield the right of way to any vehicle that is approaching from the opposite direction that could present a danger at any point during the turn, and they must continue to yield until it is reasonably safe to turn left or to complete the U-turn maneuver. However, under (b), after a driver has signaled his or her intention to turn left and has yielded the right of way until it is reasonably safe to turn, other drivers who approach the intersection must then yield to the left-turning driver until he or she finishes executing the turn.

Since drivers who are turning left are required to yield the right of way, left-turning drivers will normally be held liable in most accident cases. However, there are some exceptions to this general rule.

When liability might shift from the left-turning driver to the other driver

There are a few situations in which the left-turning driver might not be at fault in a collision. For example, when the driver that was traveling through the intersection was speeding, that driver may be at fault. Another example occurs when the driver that is passing through an intersection runs a stop sign or red light, colliding with the left-turning driver. A third example of when the other driver might be at fault is when he or she is driving while distracted and fails to notice a left-turning driver. Some examples of distractions that can lead to accidents with drivers who are turning left include the following:

  • Text messaging
  • Talking on cell phones
  • Talking to passengers
  • Checking emails
  • Eating
  • Grooming
  • Reading
  • Playing games
  • Adjusting the radio or other devices
  • Using GPS systems
  • Watching videos
  • Using earbuds to listen to programs

Some accidents happen because of circumstances that cause the left-turning driver to slow unexpectedly. For example, if a motorist runs a red light and causes the left-turning driver to suddenly stop, the driver who ran the red light may be liable if the sudden stop causes a motorist behind the left-turning driver to collide into the turning vehicle.

How left turns should be executed

Drivers should drive into the left-turn lane or as close to the centerline as possible to make a safe left-hand turn. They should engage their left-turn signals around 100 feet before where they will turn. They should slow down and look over their shoulders before they reach the line. They should look both ways and only begin the turn when they are certain that it is safe to proceed. When they turn, they should make certain to turn into the correct lane without cutting through the lane of the vehicles that are traveling in the opposite direction.

Why getting legal help is important

While left-turning drivers are often deemed to be at fault in causing accidents, there are situations in which other drivers may be liable. This means that accidents involving left-turning drivers may not be as straightforward as some people think. An experienced attorney can work with accident reconstruction experts and investigators to gather evidence that shows what led to the collision. By doing so, an attorney might convince the insurance company that it should settle for a reasonable amount of compensation instead of risking a jury trial. An attorney can also handle the claim for his or her clients so that they can try to recover from their injuries instead of having to deal with the insurance company.

If you have been the victim of an accident that was caused by a left-turning driver in Los Angeles, you should retain a personal injury attorney who is experienced in handling auto accident claims. A lawyer at the law firm of Steven M. Sweat, Personal Injury Lawyers APC can review what happened in your case and provide you with an honest evaluation of the merits of your claim. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation by calling 310-592-0445.

Client Reviews
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I have known Steven for some time now and when his services were required he jumped in and took control of my cases. I had two and they were handled with the utmost professionalism and courtesy. He went the extra mile regardless of the bumps in the road. I can not see me using any other attorney and I would recommend him to any of my family and friends. Josie A.
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Steven was vital during our most trying time. He was referred by a friend after an accident that involved a family member. While he was critical and lying in the hospital, Steven was kind, patient and knowledgeable about what we were going through. Following our loss, Steven became a tough and aggressive negotiator and made sure that we receive a huge compensation. I would refer Steven in fact, this happened 2 years ago and I still speak highly of his service. Cheryl S.
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Mr. Sweat is a pitbull in the courtroom as well as settlement negotiations - You can't have a better equipped attorney in your corner! It is a pleasure working as colleagues together on numerous cases. He can get the job done. Jonathan K.
★★★★★
Because of Steven Sweat, my medical support was taken care of. Plus, I had more money to spare for my other bills. Steven is not only an excellent personal injury lawyer, providing the best legal advice, but also a professional lawyer who goes beyond his call of duty just to help his clients! He stood up for me and helped me get through the process. I would definitely recommend. I couldn't think of any better lawyer than him. MiraJane C.
★★★★★
I must tell anyone, if you need a great attorney, Steve sweat is the guy! I had an awful car accident and had no idea where to turn. He had so much to deal with because my accident was a 4 car pile up. Not to mention all the other cars were behind me and they were not wanting to settle in any way! He never stopped working for me and had my best interest at heart! Audra W.