Determining Liability for a Left-Turn Car Accident

Posted on behalf of Peter T. Nicholl in Car Accidents Published on August 7, 2020 and updated on March 7, 2022.

left turn indicatorMaking a left turn is one of the most dangerous maneuvers a driver can make on the road. He or she must yield to oncoming traffic at an intersection. This is why drivers turning left are often presumed to be at fault in a crash. However, there are certain situations when determining liability in these cases is not so straightforward.

If you have been injured in a left-turn car accident, our Maryland car accident lawyers are here to help. We know what it takes to investigate an accident, gather evidence and pursue fair compensation in a claim. An initial consultation is completely free and confidential with no obligation to retain our services.

Why Left-Turn Car Accidents Often Happen

According to the Maryland Department of Transportation, more than half of all accidents involve vehicles turning left and crossing the path of oncoming traffic. In Baltimore, about 5,000 left-turn crashes are reported every year. The majority of these accidents happen at intersections when the driver is making a left turn and are often caused by:

  • Misjudging the speed of oncoming traffic approaching
  • Trying to beat the light or other approaching vehicles
  • Failing to yield the right-of-way
  • Miscalculating the distance across the intersection
  • Failing to signal before turning
  • Having an obstructed view while turning

Even if a driver has the right-of-way, but he or she sees another vehicle begin to make a left turn, it is important to always yield to that vehicle rather than risk getting into an accident.

When a Driver Not Turning Left May Be at Fault

In most situations, when a car accident happens at an intersection, the driver making the left turn is usually responsible. However, there are instances when the other driver may be at fault, such as:

  • When the driver turning left has a green arrow, giving him or her the right-of-way
  • When the driver coming from the opposite direction runs a red light or stop sign
  • When the driver approaching the intersection was excessively speeding
  • When the traffic light at an intersection is not working properly
  • When the driver turning left is rear-ended, causing his or her vehicle to obstruct the intersection

Determining Liability in a Left-Turn Car Accident

Maryland is an at-fault state, which means that the driver who is found liable for the car accident is responsible for damages. Generally, these costs will be paid by the at-fault driver’s insurance company.

An experienced lawyer could help determine liability in a left-turn car accident by reviewing state traffic laws to see whether the driver made an illegal left turn. Under Maryland Transportation Code §21-601, drivers who make left turns must approach the intersection in the extreme left lane to traffic moving in the same direction. When the driver leaves the intersection, he or she must follow the flow of traffic.

The driver must abide by traffic lights at an intersection. If the driver turns left on red and hits another driver, he or she is clearly liable for the crash. Left turns at a red light are only legal in certain situations, such as when the driver is turning left from a one-way street to another.

Drivers who turn left at an intersection must also yield the right-of-way to any vehicles approaching from the opposite direction in accordance with Maryland Transportation Code §21-402.

State traffic laws are a great starting point to determine whether the driver who made the left turn or the driver who was approaching the intersection is liable for the crash. You cannot always assume that the driver who turned left is to blame.

Many other factors must be considered, including the speeds of the drivers and whether any of the drivers involved were distracted or intoxicated.

Reach Out for Legal Help Today

If you have been involved in a left-turn crash, reach out to The Law Offices of Peter T. Nicholl as soon as possible. A member of our legal team is ready to provide a free consultation and discuss the legal options available to you. We have the knowledge and resources to help prove negligence and show that the other driver was at fault for the damages done to you.

There is no risk in calling us to learn more about your rights and no obligation to hire our firm. We work on a contingency fee basis, which means that we do not get paid unless you obtain compensation.

Zero Cost Consultations. Ph: 410-244-7005.