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How To Win A Left-Turn Accident

How To Win A Left-Turn Accident

New York City intersections are known for constant surges of activity, with cars trying to get through and people trying to cross. Add in a left turn, and it’s easy to see why this maneuver is one of the most dangerous on the road.

To this end, the statistics don’t lie: Nearly 61% of all crashes at intersections involve a left-turning vehicle. This data means every time you signal to turn left, you’re entering a high-stakes gamble with your safety.

And while many drivers may be quick to assume the turning vehicle is to blame, fault in a left-turn accident isn’t always as clear-cut as you might think.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a left-turn accident, you need qualified legal representation on your side. At Schwartzapfel Lawyers, our team of award-winning attorneys comes equipped with more than (150) years of combined experience successfully helping injured New Yorkers get the financial compensation they are entitled to. Call us today at 516-342-2200 or visit us online for a free, no-obligation consultation.

Why Are Left Turns Dangerous?

Taking a left turn forces you to cross the path of oncoming traffic, throwing you into a whirlwind of risks that straight-through drivers don’t have to worry about.

You have to monitor the flow of oncoming cars, scan for pedestrians hidden from view, and watch out for traffic signals, all while juggling the mechanics of your own car. One misstep — even a slight one — can lead to disaster. Here are some of the biggest reasons why left turns can be dangerous:

  • Distracted Driving: It’s all too easy to glance down at your phone, change the radio station, or get lost in conversation just as oncoming traffic is approaching. Those few seconds of distraction can mean the difference between a safe turn and a devastating crash.
  • Failure To Yield: Drivers are obligated to yield the right of way to oncoming traffic when making a left turn. Impatience, misjudgment, or not seeing approaching cars can lead to a turning driver pulling out right into the path of an oncoming vehicle.
  • Speeding: Oncoming drivers who are speeding drastically decrease the amount of time available for someone making a left turn to judge the safe distance and maneuver successfully.
  • Misjudging Traffic: It’s surprisingly difficult to gauge the speed and distance of oncoming cars. A vehicle approaching from a few blocks away can reach the intersection much faster than we think. Add in factors like poor visibility, nighttime driving, or bad weather, and those judgment calls get even trickier.

Common causes like these speak to why left turns demand such intense focus and skill. Moreover, even the most seasoned drivers can make mistakes that put themselves and others at risk.

To learn more now at no charge, call Schwartzapfel Lawyers at 516-342-2200 or visit us online today!

What Are New York’s Right-Of-Way Laws?

Understanding New York law on the road can be confusing, but knowing the basics of right-of-way is crucial, especially after a left-turn accident. In effect, it could mean the difference between making it home safe and ending up in the hospital. To further explain, here are some of the most important right-of-way principles that every New York driver needs to understand:

Turn Signals Matter

It seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how many drivers forget this simple courtesy. Before you start your left turn, you must signal your intention at least (100) feet in advance. This gives oncoming drivers a heads-up so they can adjust their speed and avoid a potential collision.

Yielding Is a Must

When making a left turn, you must yield to oncoming traffic. It doesn’t matter if you think you have enough time or if the other driver seems far away. Until that traffic has passed, you need to wait your turn. Impatience often leads to bad decisions and dangerous accidents.

Pedestrians Rule

Remember, pedestrians usually have the right of way, especially in marked crosswalks. As such, it’s your responsibility as a driver to make sure the crosswalk is completely clear before you attempt your turn.

Note: Even if someone is jaywalking, it is likely in your interest to stop, if safe, and allow them to cross.

You Only Turn On Green

Generally, you should only make a left turn when you have either a green light or a green arrow specifically signaling a left turn. Some intersections allow left turns on a green light without an arrow, however, if traffic permits and you yield to oncoming cars. To be safe, you should look out for specific signage at each intersection.

Yellow Means Stop

Don’t try to race through an intersection as the light turns yellow. If you can safely stop without slamming on the brakes, you must do so. Trying to squeeze in that last-minute turn is a recipe for disaster.

Violating these right-of-way laws can leave you on the hook for causing an accident, even if the other driver was also at fault. This is why it’s so important to have an experienced attorney on your side if you’ve been injured in a left-turn accident.

The right legal team can make all the difference in ensuring you aren’t blamed unfairly and that you receive the maximum compensation you’re entitled to.

Who’s At Fault In A Left-Turn Accident?

If you or a loved one has been involved in a left-turn accident, you’ve probably heard the assumption that the driver making the turn must be at fault. While this is frequently true, it’s important to remember that every accident is unique, and there are situations in which the oncoming driver might be the one responsible.

When Is The Left-Turning Driver At Fault?

In many cases, the left-turning driver does bear responsibility for the collision. Here are some common scenarios where this concept applies:

  • Driving Under The Influence: Impaired driving drastically affects your judgment and reaction time. Turning left while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is not only incredibly dangerous, but it will also likely leave you solely responsible for any resulting crash.
  • Illegal Turns: A left turn must be made from the designated turning lane. Cutting across lanes, attempting a U-turn where prohibited, or turning left on a red light (without a green arrow) will likely leave you liable.
  • Failure to Yield: This is the most common cause of left-turn accidents. Misjudging distances, getting impatient, or simply not seeing an oncoming vehicle can all result in a collision that’s your responsibility.

These actions demonstrate a disregard for the rules of the road and create an extremely high risk of an accident. This is yet another example of why, if you or a loved one has been involved in a left-turn collision where any of these factors were present, it’s incredibly important to contact an experienced car accident attorney without delay.

With the help of a resourceful team like Schwartzapfel Lawyers, you can better understand the specific laws that apply to the facts of your claim; with this knowledge, you can then build a winning case to argue before the judge or jury.

When Could The Oncoming Driver Be At Fault?

While less common, certain situations exist where the blame might not entirely fall on the left-turning driver:

  • Speeding: If the oncoming driver was well above the speed limit, that greatly reduces the time you have to safely make your turn, making them at least partly responsible for the crash.
  • Running Red Lights Or Stop Signs: If the oncoming driver barrels through an intersection illegally, they could be held liable even if you also made a misjudgment on your left turn.
  • Improper Signaling: Sometimes, oncoming drivers go straight when their turn signal is on, or they might fail to signal in time to give you proper warning. This lack of clear communication can contribute to an accident.

These scenarios demonstrate that left-turn accidents aren’t always as clear-cut as they might seem. And so, even if you made a partial misjudgment, the other driver’s actions could still play a major role in the outcome of your case.

Were You Injured In A Left-Turn Accident? Contact Schwartzapfel Lawyers!

As you now know, left-turn accidents can be more complicated than you might have originally thought. As such, you shouldn’t automatically accept blame or let an insurance company minimize your damages.

Moreover, an experienced car accident attorney can help you better understand your rights, prove who was at fault, and maximize the money and benefits you’re eligible to recover.

So, please, don’t wait. When your future’s on the line, there’s too much at stake to sit around and do nothing. Instead, act now and call Schwartzapfel Lawyers at 516-342-2200 for a free consultation. No matter your situation, it will be our honor and privilege to fight for you!

DISCLAIMER: Nothing on this page should be considered legal advice. You should seek the appropriate counsel your situation requires. For more information, call 516-342-2200 now!


Schwartzapfel Lawyers, P.C. | Fighting For You

Crash Factors in Intersection-Related Crashes: An On-Scene Perspective | NHTSA

Who Has the Right of Way? | SafeMotorist

New York DMV | Chapter 5: Intersections and Turns | New York DMV

State of New York Court of Appeals | NYCourts

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