Determining Fault for a Left-Turn Accident

Posted on behalf of Pfeifer Morgan & Stesiak

on January 7, 2020

. Updated on March 23, 2022


Left Turn Traffic signalSince drivers making left turns are required to yield to oncoming traffic, they are often presumed to be at fault. However, there are times when this may not be the case and determining fault may be a bit more complicated.

If you were injured in a left-turn collision, our experienced South Bend car accident attorneys at Pfeifer, Morgan & Stesiak are prepared to help. We are prepared to investigate your accident, gather evidence and seek fair compensation for your injuries. Our initial consultation is completely free, so there is no risk in contacting us to get answers to your legal questions.

Common Causes of Left-Turn Car Accidents

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 36 percent of auto accidents occur at intersections. Nearly 500,000 of these collisions involve drivers turning left. According to the NHTSA, the most common causes of left-turn car accidents include:

  • Failure to yield the right-of-way
  • Obstructed view while turning
  • Driving into blind spots
  • Failure to signal
  • Misjudgment of the other driver’s speed
  • Miscalculation of the distance across the intersection

Additionally, many accidents are caused by vehicles speeding up through a yellow light to avoid the red light or simply running a red light.

How Investigators May Establish Liability

Indiana is a fault insurance state, which means that the party who is liable for the accident is responsible for the damages. Typically, those costs will be paid for by at-fault motorist’s insurance provider. Therefore, accident investigators will need to determine liability for the crash.

One common way to establish liability is to review traffic laws that may have applied and see if any were violated. One or both drivers may have violated traffic laws that caused the accident. Some common traffic violations that may result in a left-turn accident include:

  • Speeding
  • Driving in a distracted or impaired state
  • Running a traffic light
  • Failing to yield
  • Following too closely

In left-turn accidents, the driver turning left is often presumed negligent because the other driver typically has the right-of-way. So, when an accident happens, it is assumed that the driver turning did so without enough space and time to make the turn.

However, the turning driver may be able to overcome this presumption by proving the other driver sped up after the light turned yellow, ran a red light or violated another traffic law.

Investigators may also review the police report that was prepared, which is why it is so important to report the accident.

How Indiana’s Laws for Left-Hand Turns Apply

Certain laws apply to drivers making a left turn, and when investigators look into the cause of a crash, they will look to see if any of those laws were ignored. Generally, a motorist turning left only has the right-of-way if there is a green arrow at the traffic light.

Laws for turning left require drivers to:

  • Activate their turn signals indicating their intention to turn left at least 200 hundred feet from the turn
  • Reduce their speed when approaching and crossing an intersection
  • Yield the right-of-way to a vehicle that is either approaching the intersection or so close to it that turning would constitute an immediate hazard. After yielding, the vehicle may make the left turn and other vehicles approaching the intersection from oncoming traffic must then yield the right-of-way to the vehicle turning left.

Partial Fault for a Left-Turn Crash

Under Indiana’s comparative fault system, a car accident victim can still pursue compensation for injuries even if he or she was partially responsible for the accident if he or she was less than 51 percent responsible. However, the final award of damages will be reduced by his or her percentage of fault for the crash.

For example, in an accident where an injured driver shared 10 percent of the liability for a crash, and the other driver was 90 percent at fault, the injured victim can still recover damages. However, if that same injured victim was awarded $10,000 in damages, his or her final compensation award would be 10 percent less, or $9,000.

Contact an Experienced Lawyer to Learn More

If you were injured in a left-turn accident and liability is contested, the experienced attorneys at Pfeifer, Morgan & Stesiak are prepared to help. We are familiar with various factors that can cause left-turn crashes, and we have the resources to conduct a thorough investigation to determine which factors may have been involved in your situation.

Contact us today to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation. (574) 444-0741

Pfeifer, Morgan & Stesiak

Serious Attorneys for Serious Cases