Establishing Liability in a California Left Turn Car Accident


Answer this questionnaire.

  1. Do you multitask while driving?
  2. Do you use your smartphone while driving?
  3. Do you exceed the speed limit?
  4. Do you drink and drive?

If you answered no to all 4 questions, congratulations! You’re a responsible driver. Not just that, you played your part in reducing accidents, which is sadly something few motorists do. This is evident from the numbers coming out of California. In 2022 alone, there were over 165,000 injuries and 3,500 fatalities due to traffic accidents. Following safe driving habits is crucial, especially at intersections, traffic lights, and stop signs, as they are prone to left-turn collisions.

What is a Left-Turn Collision?

Left-turn collisions happen when a vehicle attempts to take a left turn while another vehicle is traveling straight. Both drivers think they have the right of way and don’t consider stopping their vehicles, resulting in a collision. Spreading awareness about the importance of the right of way is essential, as 60% of the fatal accidents in California happened on rural roads.

Left-turn collisions have the potential to cause serious injuries and property damage. When this happens, the best course of action is to seek legal assistance for car injury settlements. Lawyers have the knowledge and expertise to get you the right compensation.

Finding liability in left-turn collisions can be tricky. This article sheds light on this complicated issue. So, whether you were injured in a left-turn accident, witnessed one, or are just curious, read on to find out how the responsible party is determined in a left-turn accident.

Here’s an excerpt from California Vehicle Code Section 21801.

The driver of a vehicle intending to turn to the left or to complete a U-turn upon a highway, or to turn left into public or private property, or an alley, shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles approaching from the opposite direction which are close enough to constitute a hazard at any time during the turning movement, and shall continue to yield the right-of-way to the approaching vehicles until the left turn or U-turn can be made with reasonable safety.”

The excerpt is pretty self-explanatory. The law states that a vehicle turning left does not have the right of way. The vehicle turning left must wait for the vehicle(s) approaching from the opposite direction to pass before making the left turn.

So, in cases like this, the driver of the car turning left will be held responsible for a left-turn collision.

However, there are some exceptions.

  1. The other driver didn’t stop at a stop sign or a red light: If the driver coming from the opposite direction broke traffic rules, i.e., jumping red lights and stop signs, then the driver coming from the opposite direction may share liability for the accident.
  2. The vehicle turning left had to stop: This is a bit complicated. If a vehicle began making a safe left turn but had to stop, slow down, or drive in another direction due to an unforeseen and unavoidable circumstances, then the vehicle turning left may share liability.
  3. The other driver was drunk: In California, it is illegal to drive while intoxicated. You may not be liable or share liability if you were involved in a left-turn collision where the other driver was drunk.
  4. The other driver was busy on their phone: Drivers busy on their smartphones have an increased risk of causing accidents. If the driver coming in the opposite direction was on their phone, then liability will be shared between the driver turning left and the driver coming in the opposite direction.

Left-turn accidents often lead to devastating consequences. Considering the fact that there were over 200,000 traffic accidents in California in 2022, drivers should be careful when taking to the roads. If you were injured in a car accident, a wise move would be to consult an experienced attorney to pursue the issue legally.

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