left turn and straight arrow traffic lightsThere are many variables in a car accident that make it impossible to say for certain that a driver making a left turn when a crash occurs is always the responsible party under Virginia law. A left-turn car accident is often called a “no-doubt liability” claim because in nearly every case the driver making the left turn will be at fault—but there are exceptions. 

Determining Fault in a Left-Turn Crash

Because the driver making a left turn at an intersection is required to yield the right-of-way to oncoming traffic, when a collision occurs, it is often the fault of the left-turning driver. Whether the turning driver failed to yield because they thought they could beat the oncoming car or because they didn't see the approaching car, they will almost always be found at fault if there is a crash.

The three most notable exceptions to this near-automatic ruling of fault in Virginia are the following: 

  1. The driver traveling straight was speeding. If the left-turning driver made a reasonable assumption that they had time to make the turn, but the oncoming car was speeding and got to the intersection sooner than they should have, the oncoming driver could be found to be at fault. 
  2. The driver traveling straight ran a red light while the left-turn driver had the right of way. If the left-turning driver has a green arrow, but the oncoming car runs a red light to get through the intersection, the turning driver would not be found at fault.
  3. The left-turn driver had a clear path when he or she began the turn, but something caused a delay in the maneuver. For example, if the turning driver had plenty of time to make the left, but a pedestrian stepped out into their path and they had to stop in the path of an oncoming car, the resulting crash would not be the turning driver's fault.

Proving the other driver was speeding or ran a red light will rely mainly on police reports, traffic citations, and witness statements. Fortunately, this type of evidence is usually fairly easy to collect after a car accident, but it will take the help of a Front Royal personal injury attorney to help make sure you are able to show that as the left-turning driver, you were not at fault. 

The third exception is the most difficult to prove because the basic Virginia traffic laws state a left-turning driver must ensure the path is clear before starting the turn. However, if an obstacle entered your path unexpectedly or if your car suddenly stopped mid-intersection, it would be a difficult case to place you at fault for these circumstances. 

If you were the left-turning driver in a car accident and are fighting to prove the other driver was at fault for your accident, let a Northern Virginia auto accident attorney help prepare your case. 

Get Help From a Virginia Auto Accident Injury Attorney 

Virginia’s contributory negligence laws make it extremely difficult to file a successful car accident claim without the help of a personal injury attorney. If there is any suspicion that your own negligence caused the accident and your injuries, you may risk losing your chance at a fair settlement. 

If you are the victim of someone else’s negligence or carelessness, whether in a car accident or some other type of accident, you have certain rights guaranteed by law. Dulaney, Lauer & Thomas is a Front Royal law firm with attorneys available to help those who have been involved in Northern Virginia accidents and suffered a serious injury.

Call 1-540-636-7100 to speak with an experienced lawyer today about your auto accident claim.

Carl N. Lauer
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Representing injured persons in Virginia. Workers' Compensation Claims.

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Working with Andrew and his team has been--without exception--one of the most pleasant, productive, and professional experiences of my adult life. I was seriously injured in an accident in July, 2018, in Virginia. I was driving a company vehicle that was registered in Maryland, for a company that was based in Wisconsin. And I live in New Jersey, where my personal vehicles are insured. The several jurisdictions involved presented a very unique case that demanded an experienced and nuanced strategy. I found Andrew Thomas (of Dulaney, Lauer, & Thomas) through some online research. And it is noteworthy that Andrew has worked the other side of the aisle--he used to work with insurance companies. Andrew took on my case with the assurance that he would work it with no less energy than he does each of his cases. At each turn, and with each question I had, Andrew and Paralegal Misty kept me informed, returned my calls, provided detailed explanations, and kept me feeling like I was in the loop and there was an eventual end to our journey. Nearly five years after the accident, we settled out of court for a significant sum in recognition of my personal injuries. The settlement was much more than I had expected. And without Andrew & Misty, I am sure the award would have been much less. If you are looking for professionalism, knowledge, dedication, answerability, responsiveness, integrity, and human-level communication from a personal injury attorney--look no further. You have found him. Thank you, Andrew and Misty. Gary Daley
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