UncategorizedLeft Hand Turn Auto Accidents – Who’s at Fault?

October 8, 2013

The common understanding regarding left hand turn auto accidents is that the person making the left hand turn in front of an oncoming vehicle is the one at fault for the accident.  While that certainly may be true in the majority of auto accident scenarios of that type, that is not always the answer.

Vehicle Code § 21801 (a) provides that the driver of a vehicle turning left “shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles approaching from the opposite direction which are close enough to constitute a hazard.”  Subsection (b) of that same code section, however, states that those left hand turners who have yielded and signaled as required by the code, can then legally turn left and it is the oncoming vehicle that must then yield.

If the left hand turner has yielded, and the light turns red, he can legally complete his turn.  It is the oncoming vehicle who must stop at the red light.  There are often traffic light disputes in such cases as to whether or not the oncoming vehicle entered the intersection on a red light.  If the light was yellow, the left hand turner was duty bound to allow the intersection to clear, before completing his turn.

There are also circumstances where the act commonly referred to as “curb sneaking” may provide ammunition to the injured party in an auto accident where the oncoming vehicle struck a left hand turner after having passed on the right.  It may be argued that the oncoming vehicle was wholly or partly at fault for an unsafe lane change, or for passing on the right.  VC §§ 21658, 21754, 21755.

Auto accidents frequently occur when left hander turners cross the paths of oncoming vehicles where one or more travel lanes stop and leave a gap.  Sometimes those stopped vehicles even wave on the left hand turners.  In such circumstances, operators of vehicles intending to turn left must proceed into oncoming lanes with caution, and must only do so when it is safe.  Sesler v. Ghumman, 219 Cal. App. 3d 218 (1990); In Re Kirk, 202 Cal. App. 2d 288 (1962).

It is important to understand the intricacies of the law, and the claims that may be made on behalf of the person injured in auto accidents stemming from a left hand turning vehicle.  The laws are often times misunderstood and misapplied.  Feel free to contact Kaye Law Offices for further guidance on this, and all other personal injury inquiries.

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