In contrast to many types of accidents, left turn lane crashes have the potential to be particularly dangerous. The turning vehicle may be struck by oncoming traffic, resulting in a T-bone type crash. This can often cause serious or even fatal injuries.
Making left turns is one of the most dangerous routine driving activities that we all engage in behind the wheel. The potential for accidents with left-hand turns is one reason that UPS drivers avoid almost all left turns. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, one of the top causes of accidents nationwide involves turning or cross at intersections.
While most left turn lane accidents are the fault of the driver making the turn, there are exceptions to this general rule. In some situations, another driver’s negligence — or even the design of the road itself — can make it next-to-impossible — to cross a road safely when making a left turn. Learn more about this important topic from a seasoned Philadelphia car accident attorney.
Pennsylvania Law on Left Turn Lane Accidents
In Pennsylvania, there are a number of laws that regulate when and how a driver can make a left-hand turn. First, a driver must be in the far-left lane when making a left turn. Drivers are not permitted to make left turns from the middle lane, for example, or from the right lane.
Second, drivers turning left at an intersection must yield right-of-way to drivers who are approaching from the opposite direction. If the driver making the left turn fails to do so, he or she will typically be held responsible for any resulting accident. The responsibility to yield to oncoming traffic also extends to making turns into driveways, private roads, and alleys.
Third, drivers are required to use their turn signal when making a turn. If going under 35 miles per hour, a turn signal must be used continuously for at least 100 feet before making the turn. If going over 35 miles per hour, the turn signal must be used continuously for at least 300 feet or more.
Generally, if a driver fails to follow Pennsylvania law when making a left turn, he or she may be cited for a violation — and be found responsible for any accident that occurs as a result. For example, if you make a left turn at an intersection and attempt to do so from a middle lane instead of the far-left lane, you could get a traffic citation and be deemed liable for a resulting crash.
Liability for Left Turn Crashes
As a general rule, drivers making left turns will be crossing traffic and must yield to oncoming traffic. If an accident occurs, the car making that left-hand turn will usually be at fault for this reason. However, there are exceptions to this general rule.
There are cases where a person making a left turn across traffic is not at fault for a crash. For example, consider a situation where driver A believes that it is safe to make the turn because he cannot see any vehicles approaching. In actuality, this is due to an obstructed view or poor weather. If an accident occurs, the liability may rest with the other driver — who should have been driving with caution given the conditions — or even with the city or town who designed and maintained the road.
Similarly, if a driver coming in the opposite direction is speeding, then the driver making the left-hand turn would not be liable for the accident. Pennsylvania courts have found that drivers making left turns are permitted to assume that drivers out of their line of sight will obey the speed limit. In this way, drivers who attempt to safely make a left turn but are hit by speeding drivers coming in the opposite direction will not be found responsible.
Recovering for a Left Turn Lane Accident
Crashes involving left-hand turns can often be serious, particularly if the other driver was traveling at a high rate of speed. The occupants of the car making the turn are particularly vulnerable to injuries, as their vehicle is typically moving slowly compared to the car coming in the opposite direction.
Left turn lane accident cases demonstrate the need for an experienced lawyer to represent you. An attorney who is unfamiliar with these types of cases may assume that the driver making the left turn was at fault. A more experienced advocate will be able to analyze the facts of the case to determine liability. This may allow you to file a claim against the other driver and recover money for your damages.
How a Skilled Philadelphia Car Accident Attorney Can Help
Left turn accidents may seem simple, but they may present a more complicated set of facts that require in-depth analysis. Working with an experienced lawyer can help you recover for your injuries if you have been hurt in a left-hand turn collision.
At Solnick & Associates, we have more than 30 years of combined legal experience. We exclusively represent victims of all types of accidents, working to help our clients get the compensation that they deserve. Call our office today at 215-481-9979, or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced Philadelphia car accident attorney.