Left Turn Accidents: Who is Liable?
Statistics from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that the vast majority of crashes that occur while a vehicle is turning or going through an intersection involve a left turn driver. This most likely comes as little surprise, as most of us realize that making a left turn is riskier than turning right. What most people probably do not know is that making left turns is so dangerous that the world’s largest private ground courier structures its routes to avoid them as much as possible.
That’s right. UPS told CNN a few years ago that its routes favor right hand turns at all times – “unless a left is unavoidable.” There are two primary reasons that the company does this; left-hand turns are unsafe and wasteful in countries like the US where we drive on the right side of the road.
With far more accidents resulting from turning left than turning right, a company like UPS (with thousands of vehicles on the road every day) can save countless lives and millions of dollars each year in insurance premiums by having a policy of avoiding left turns. In addition, the company says that this policy reduces the average route by 6 to 8 miles and saves approximately 10 million gallons of fuel each year.
Why is Turning Left So Dangerous?
We know intuitively that turning left is riskier than turning right, and we also know that avoiding left turns is important enough for a company like UPS to restructure all their routes. Here are some of the specific reasons why this is the case:
- When you make a left turn, you are crossing an intersection in front of oncoming vehicle traffic.
- It can be more difficult to judge the amount of acceleration needed to complete the turn while avoiding a collision with a vehicle coming from the other direction.
- Left turn drivers sometimes forget to use their turn signals, which means other motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians may not be aware of their intentions.
- With larger vehicles, such as SUVs, vans, and full-size pickup trucks, their view may be more obstructed when turning left, which might cause them to miss something important – like a pedestrian trying to cross the road.
Who is Liable for a Left Turn Accident?
When a left turn accident occurs, there is often an assumption that the driver who is turning left is the one at fault. This is true of many left turn crashes, but it is not always the case. Other motorists and various third parties could be at fault or at least share some of the blame in certain circumstances. Here are some examples:
- A collision occurs when a left turn driver has a green arrow, but an oncoming vehicle runs the red light.
- The vehicle crossing the intersection from the other direction causes a crash by going over the speed limit.
- The driver of the other vehicle was distracted by a text message they were reading, and they failed to see the car that was turning left.
- The driver of the other vehicle was legally intoxicated at the time of the crash.
- The vehicle turning left failed to accelerate as needed to complete the turn because of a faulty vehicle part or negligent maintenance.
Following the accident, a comprehensive investigation would be needed to determine the exact cause of the crash and which factors contributed to it. In some instances, both drivers could be partially at fault, and in such cases, Florida’s comparative negligence laws may apply. Florida uses a pure comparative negligence standard, meaning an injured party can recover damages if they are partially or even mostly at fault for the underlying accident.
Depending on the circumstances, a third party could be to blame for the accident as well – for example, the maker of a faulty vehicle or vehicle part. When this is the case, it may be possible to bring a product liability claim against the manufacturer, distributor, or any other party within the product’s supply chain.
Injured in a Left Turn Accident in Pensacola? Speak with an Experienced Auto Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one got hurt in a left turn accident in Florida, you may be entitled to compensation. Before talking with anyone from the insurance company, it makes sense to at least speak with a skilled and knowledgeable personal injury lawyer to have your case assessed and be informed of your legal rights and options.
If the accident occurred in the Pensacola area, contact Whibbs, Stone, & Barnett for assistance. Message us online or call our office today at 1-888-219-4561 for a free consultation with one of our attorneys. We look forward to serving you!