Who’s at Fault in a Left-Hand Turn Accident
Driving a vehicle is an everyday activity for most people. While it can feel like we’re on autopilot when getting behind the wheel, we’re actually making decisions and adjustments every second to keep ourselves, our passengers and other vehicles safe. However, even for the most experienced driver, there’s one maneuver that is the most dangerous in Arkansas: left-hand turns.
These accidents are not only dangerous, they’re extremely common. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), close to half of the 5.8 million car crashes in the U.S. are intersection-related and the majority of those are the result of making a left turn. In addition, a study by New York City transportation planners found that left turns were three times as likely to cause a deadly crash involving a pedestrian.
In Arkansas, left-hand turn accidents occur at virtually every major intersection across the state. From Hot Springs to Fayetteville, Little Rock to Jonesboro and everywhere in between, left-hand turn accidents have claimed the lives of numerous Arkansas drivers.
Why Are Left-Hand Turns Dangerous?
Left-hand turns are dangerous because of the many factors a driver must take into account before making the turn. The driver is assessing many variables, and the slightest distraction or miscalculation can be deadly. Left-hand turns are made dangerous because:
- The vehicle making the turn is crossing the opposite lane and disrupting the flow of traffic
- The driver is watching for pedestrians and bicyclists in the crosswalk
- The driver is gauging the speed and distance of oncoming cars
In addition to your own driving, a left-hand turn requires that you be vigilant of the movement of oncoming vehicles and pedestrians.
Illegal Left-Hand Turns
Sadly, many left-hand turn accidents are caused by drivers who are making illegal left-hand turns. In almost every case, the driver making a left-hand turn is going to be blamed for the accident. That’s because the driver making a left-hand turn only has the right-of-way when they’re proceeding on a left-turn green arrow. All other left-hand turn drivers must wait for the intersection to be clear before proceeding through it. This includes waiting for pedestrians and cyclists to safely cross – even if there is not a crosswalk.
If a driver is making a left-hand turn at an intersection without a light, they must use the same caution. Oncoming traffic always has the right of way and other drivers are not required to slow down or stop to let the left-hand turn driver pass. If there is a “no left-turn sign” present, then drivers must not make left turns at that intersection even when it is clear of traffic.
Legal Left-Hand Turns
There are some situations, however, when the driver making the left-hand turn would not be responsible for the accident. Some of those include:
- Oncoming driver was intoxicated at the time of the crash
- Oncoming driver was distracted by cell phone use
- Oncoming driver did not have a valid license or was driving on a suspended license
- Oncoming driver did not stop at a red light or stop sign
- Oncoming vehicle was speeding excessively (often difficult to prove)
In some of these cases, the oncoming driver may be liable for the accident or for a portion of the accident. If they’re deemed partially at-fault, then they may owe some compensation for the crash and the injuries that were suffered. After all, Arkansas is a modified comparative fault state. For example: if the oncoming driver was intoxicated at the time of the accident, but you turned left into them, you may be deemed 30% responsible for the accident, while the other driver may be deemed 70% liable. If the damages in the case are $100,000, then you would receive 70% of the total award.
Proving fault in a left-hand turn accident can be difficult. Without a proper investigation, you may be assigned fault mistakenly. As such, police reports can be invaluable after a crash. The officer on the scene will speak to eyewitnesses and review the damage to make a determination of who is to blame. This can go a long way towards helping you and your attorney collect the money you need from the “at-fault” driver’s insurance company.
Unfortunately, sometimes these police reports are not always accurate. If you believe that you have been assigned blame for an accident you did not cause, it is important to speak to an experienced Arkansas car accident lawyer immediately. Your lawyer will need to perform a thorough investigation of the accident to build a case establishing clear liability. This may include:
- Taking photos of the accident scene
- Taking photos of car damage
- Speaking to eyewitnesses
- Reviewing any black box data
- Reviewing cell phone records
- Observing intersection camera video
- Using accident recreation specialists
Left-Hand Turn Accidents Require the Right Lawyer
What you do after an accident will have a significant impact on your ability to collect the money you need. Without a lawyer on your side, you may be stuck paying for the accident and for injuries you did not cause. An experienced and skilled car accident attorney can help you establish liability and build a case that is designed to obtain maximum compensation. In fact, some studies have shown that accident victims with legal representation can recover up to 300% more compensation that those without a lawyer. Without a lawyer, you are at the mercy of insurance adjusters who could deny your insurance claim without a proper and thorough investigation into the causes of the accident itself.
At Rainwater, Holt & Sexton, our Arkansas car accident attorneys have been helping injured car accident victims for decades. We’ve consistently fought insurance companies so that injured victims are able to recover the money they need – and deserve. We know the tricks insurance companies will use to reduce your settlement and we use this knowledge to fight for you.
We’re There When You Need Us
If you’ve been injured in a car accident in Arkansas, we can help. With seven offices conveniently located throughout Arkansas and Tennessee—Little Rock, Springdale, Conway, Hot Springs, Jacksonville, Bryant, and Memphis—our auto accident lawyers are easily accessible from the moment you are injured. Contact Rainwater, Holt & Sexton Injury Lawyers today. Fill out a free contact request form, which only takes a minute, or simply dial (800) 767-4815 and we can get to work protecting you during this difficult time.