How Is Fault Assigned in a Left-Turn Accident?

Making a left-hand turn is a dangerous endeavor that requires due diligence by the motorist making the turn. It is easy to cause an accident with a negligent left-hand turn, such as by misjudging the speed or distance of an oncoming driver and turning left in front of them. Although fault for this type of accident typically falls on the driver making the left turn, this is not always the case. Determining fault may require an investigation.

Look at the Law

Fault for any car accident usually goes to the driver or party that broke a law. Traffic laws are in place to prevent accidents and protect all road users. If a driver breaks a traffic law, no matter how minor, he or she may be to blame for a resultant accident. After a left-turn accident, the police will apply Missouri’s related laws to the situation to determine which driver was in the wrong.

Revisor of Missouri Section 304.341 states that when a driver intends to make a left turn at an intersection, he or she must approach the intersection in the far left lane. Then, the driver must make the left turn across the road in a way that does not create a traffic hazard for any other vehicle approaching from either direction. 

A driver turning left has a legal responsibility to turn only when the traffic light or rules of a four-way intersection permit the maneuver. With a green left turn arrow, for example, a driver can always make a left turn. With a circular green signal, however, the driver turning left must yield to other vehicles and pedestrians lawfully within the intersection or adjacent crosswalk (Section 304.281).

Analyze the Evidence

When the police are called to the scene of an accident or an investigator is hired to determine the cause of a crash, evidence is collected to identify how and why the collision took place. Investigators will look for marks on the road, vehicle debris, eyewitnesses, traffic or surveillance video footage, and any other types of evidence that may point to who is at fault. 

In an accident where one driver was turning left, such as a T-bone collision at an intersection, investigators will focus on whether the turning driver had the legal right to turn. They can analyze whether the light was green at the time that the driver made the turn, for example, and if the turning driver should have yielded the right-of-way to oncoming traffic.

Reconstruct the Crash

Accident reconstruction is a tool that investigators often use to recreate exactly how a car crash happened. It can allow investigators and insurance companies to determine which driver was in the wrong or breaking a law leading up to the collision. Accident reconstruction may require assistance from experts, such as traffic pattern experts and professionals who understand the mechanics of a car crash. Many crash reconstructionists look at the property damage of both vehicles and compare it to eyewitness accounts to recreate what happened.

Determine Liability 

Once all available evidence has been analyzed, investigators can paint a picture of how the left-turn accident must have happened, why it happened and how it could have been avoided. This can determine the identity of the at-fault or liable party. While the driver turning left is more often than not deemed responsible for this type of crash, there are exceptions. If the oncoming driver ran a red light, for example, he or she can be held responsible.

If you get involved in a left-turn accident in Missouri, contact a car accident lawyer for legal assistance with the claims process. An insurance company may try to blame you for the crash – especially if you were the driver turning left. You may need a Kansas City injury lawyer to help you file a claim and prove that the other driver is at fault.