Right turns are generally not as dangerous as left turns. During a right turn, you are turning with the flow of traffic instead of crossing in front of oncoming traffic like you do when making a left turn. Drivers who make left turns are often crossing multiple lanes of traffic. Drivers who are making right turns often only need to worry about one lane of traffic.
However, right turns are still dangerous, both for the drivers making these turns and for oncoming traffic. Liability for right-turn crashes may not be as straightforward as many people may assume. While the driver turning right is often at fault, sometimes oncoming drivers are partially or even fully to blame.
Below, our Lafayette-based vehicle accident attorneys discuss liability for right-turn collisions and why victims should strongly consider working with a licensed attorney when seeking compensation. There are many aspects to the legal process, and if you go it alone, details will likely get missed and it may be much harder to recover full compensation.
Galloway Jefcoat is ready to help. Call (337) 984-8020 today.
Causes of Right-Turn Car Crashes
Right turn crashes happen for a variety of reasons.
Turning on a Red Light
Many right-turn car accidents happen when a driver is making a right turn on a red light. The driver does not have the right of way, so he or she needs to wait until there is enough space to make the turn. Sometimes drivers make the turn without having enough space and an oncoming driver does not have enough time to slow down or change lanes to avoid a collision.
Turning onto a Highway Overpass
Sometimes crashes happen when drivers turn right on a highway overpass. It can be difficult to get a clear view of oncoming traffic because of other cars or other obstructions. Sometimes drivers decide to make the turn even though they do not have a clear view of oncoming traffic.
Crashes With Pedestrians or Bicyclists
Some right-turn crashes involve pedestrians or bicyclists. The right-turning driver may hit a pedestrian or bicyclist in the crosswalk. The right-turning driver may have been so focused on checking for oncoming traffic that he or she pulled into the crosswalk at the same time a pedestrian or bicyclist was attempting to cross.
Turning on a Green Light
There are also right-turn crashes that happen on green lights. The right-turning driver has the right of way, but a crash happens because an oncoming driver ran a red light, or because a U-turning driver did not yield to the right-turning driver.
Determining Fault for a Right-Turn Crash
The most important question is who had the right of way. The driver who did not have the right of way is likely to be assigned all or most of the fault for the accident.
If a driver makes a right turn on a red light and crashes into an oncoming driver, the turning driver is likely to be the one at fault. You are only allowed to turn right on a red light after cautiously entering the intersection, unless there is a sign prohibiting right turns on red lights.
However, there can be mitigating factors. If the oncoming driver was speeding, he or she might be partially at fault.
Sometimes an oncoming driver changed into the lane the other driver was turning into. Changing lanes in the middle of an intersection is illegal, so that could make the oncoming driver partially at fault.
If the oncoming driver was driving with his or her headlights off at night, the oncoming driver might bear most of the fault for the crash. The turning driver could argue he or she could not see the oncoming driver. The oncoming driver would not be able to defend their headlights being off because they were broken. Drivers should not go out onto the road if their car is not safe to drive.
There may be times the turning driver could argue the oncoming driver had enough time to slow down or change lanes to avoid a collision. Sometimes this may be true, and the crash may have happened because the oncoming driver was distracted or going through a bout of road rage.
If the crash involves a bicyclist or pedestrian who was in a crosswalk, the turning driver may not have come to a complete stop before entering the crosswalk. This is against the law in Louisiana.
Although pedestrians and bicyclists need to watch for cars, drivers also need to be careful. Typically, drivers bear most of the fault for a crash with a pedestrian or bicyclist. There may be mitigating factors, such as if a pedestrian ran out into the intersection even though it was not safe to do so.
Louisiana law requires drivers to stop and yield to pedestrians and bicyclists who are legally in a crosswalk, even if they have a green light.
What Happens When Fault is Shared?
If you share fault for a right-turn crash, your compensation award will be reduced in proportion to your percentage of fault. In other words, if you are 10 percent at fault, your compensation award will be reduced by 10 percent. That means you can still seek compensation if you are partially to blame.
It is important to discuss the situation with a licensed attorney. The insurance company may say you are partially at fault, but they may assign you more fault than you deserve.
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Unsure if you need help from an attorney after a car crash?
There are many benefits to hiring an attorney to guide you through the legal process after an auto accident. Often, crash victims who have an attorney obtain more compensation than those who do not. The insurance company usually does not offer fair compensation at first. You need an experienced attorney to negotiate to get the insurance company to offer more compensation.
Our services come with no upfront costs and the initial consultation is free of charge.
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