A left-turn accident occurs when a driver fails to yield while turning left and hits straight-going traffic, also known as a T-shaped accident. When the front of a car hits the side of another car, forming a “T” shape at the point of impact, this is commonly known as a T-bone accident. Left-turn or T-shaped accidents can be devastating due to the type of impact in which a left-turning vehicle hits the middle of straight-going traffic. According to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), left turns are the number one event at intersections, accounting for nearly 1 in 4 intersection accidents.
If drivers are turning left, they should allow all oncoming traffic to pass through the intersection before turning. Unfortunately, drivers don’t always give way to passing vehicles or pedestrians. Failure to yield to passing traffic in the event of an accident puts the driver making the left turn at fault.
Who is responsible for the accident caused by the car turning left?
In left-turn accidents, the left-turn driver is most often found to be at fault. Most states have laws requiring those making a left turn to yield to oncoming traffic. Left-turn accidents often occur when through traffic has the right of way, whether at intersections with lights or other signals. Typically, drivers turning left wait for straight traffic to break in order to be able to turn left.
In some cases, the driver who turned left did have the right, and the driver who went straight through the intersection was at fault. For example, when a left-turning driver has a green arrow, or when a straight-going driver does not stop at a four-way stop or traffic light, but exits the intersection ahead of a driver they should have stopped to turn left. This usually happens when the driver is distracted or doesn’t understand the right-of-way rules.
Collided with a car trying to overtake from the left
Usually, when left-turning drivers collide, it’s because they didn’t pay attention or miscalculated when they turned. However, when a driver turns left and a vehicle behind tries to overtake from the left, the vehicle turning left may not be at fault. These accidents occur when a left-turning vehicle collides with a vehicle attempting to overtake on the left as they are about to turn. If drivers use their turn signals and slow down to turn left, attempting to pass them on the left is very dangerous and may even be considered negligent or reckless driving.
This happens most often when there are no traffic lights, no passing lanes or designated turning lanes on the road. For example, when drivers try to overtake another vehicle on a country road, they don’t realize that the vehicle they’re overtaking is preparing to turn left. If a driver collides with a vehicle trying to pass them while making a left turn, both drivers could be responsible for the accident.
T-bone when turning left – common injury
The effects of a T-bone accident can be serious, even fatal. Of course, any accident can result in injury, but T-bone accidents are especially dangerous because the force of the impact can cause the body to move in ways it is not designed to move. While seat belts definitely help, the impact of the T-bone on a left turn can cause all kinds of injuries. In a frontal crash, seat belts and airbags protect occupants from the force of the impact. Seatbelts and airbags offer some protection when hit from the side, but not effectively against occupants. In addition to the type of collision, the vehicle is generally traveling or accelerating faster than a rear-end or side-on collision. The doors shrank inward, the glass shattered, and the occupants of the car were crushed.
Left-turn accidents can result in a variety of serious injuries, including
soft tissue injury
traumatic brain injury
hip and leg injuries
Knee, ankle and foot injuries
All of these injuries can be very painful and even debilitating. In addition to physical harm, mental and emotional trauma can also be severe. Physical and emotional trauma can lead to high medical bills, unemployment and permanent disability. Accident victims may be temporarily unable to work, or in severe cases may never be able to work.
Why is it dangerous to turn left?
While it’s potentially dangerous any time we get into a car, left turns are especially dangerous. Left turns are considered one of the more dangerous traffic maneuvers due to a number of factors:
Left turns require drivers to cross at least one lane
Drivers must factor in multiple variables into their turn times, including the speed of oncoming traffic, the distance they need to traverse, and how long it must take them to complete the turn safely
Drivers turning left may have limited vision or visual obstructions such as other vehicles making it difficult to see oncoming traffic
A left turn requires drivers to be aware of traffic coming from three different directions
Oncoming traffic can be choppy and erratic due to the condition of other drivers on the road
Drivers often turn left while accelerating to cross the road faster, putting vehicles and pedestrians at higher risk
What to do if you are injured in a left turn collision
Because of the increased risk of injury from left-turn collisions, insurers are prepared to crack down hard on left-turn claims or allow injured parties to settle quickly—often before accident victims even know the extent of their injuries.
If you have been injured in an accident involving a left turn, we always recommend that you contact an experienced personal injury attorney to ensure you are properly represented and compensated. Consultations are free, and a personal injury attorney will help you determine if you have a case. If you do, they will ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive the care necessary to recover from your injury. Insurance companies work hard to pressure victims to settle sooner, knowing that it could save them a lot of money that can later be used to reimburse victims for ongoing medical care, lost wages, or other expenses.
Hiring a lawyer is especially important if you are a left-turning driver and were not at fault in the accident. These situations can be tricky, and often the default is that the driver who turns left is at fault, even though that may not be the case.