Determining Fault in a Left Turn Car Accident in Maryland

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Turning left is one of the most hazardous maneuvers drivers make on the roads of Maryland. Given that a left-hand turn often involves a judgment call made in a split second, determining fault in a left turn car accident in Maryland is seldom straightforward.

Many drivers dislike left turns. While right turns are usually straightforward, left turns often involve crossing the path of oncoming traffic. Drivers misjudge speeds and sometimes don’t even see smaller vehicles. Left turns in Baltimore, Anne Arundel County or Prince George’s County are fraught with danger.  

Drivers who make left turns are among the most common causes of intersection wrecks in Maryland. Maryland car accident lawyer Randolph Rice writes about determining fault in a left turn accident.

How Common Are Left Turn Accidents in Maryland?

According to the Maryland Department of Transportation, more than half of all accidents in which vehicles cross the path of other traffic, involve a left turn. Nationally, more than a fifth of all accidents include a car turning left. That equates to about 480,000 wrecks a year in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The Maryland Department of Transportation noted about 5,000 crashes every year in Baltimore involve a vehicle making a left turn. Every year, car, truck, and motorcycle accidents in Baltimore leave about 9,000 people hurt.

Why Are Left Turns so Dangerous?

Left turns are dangerous because the driver who is making a turn faces many potential distractions including lights, traffic signals and the actions of nearby drivers. At a busy intersection at peak times, the driver making the turn is under a lot of pressure not to hold up traffic. Left turns are risky because:

  • Most drivers accelerate going into a left turn. The wider turning radius of the turn and the acceleration puts pedestrians at risk.
  • Left-hand turns disrupt the traffic flow
  • Left-hand turns usually demand more mental effort than right turns.
  • Drivers can get confused about using the correct turn lane.
  • Drivers usually have to cross at least one lane of ongoing traffic.
  • Cars can potentially come from several directions at an intersection;
  • Your view may be obstructed by high sided trucks, buses or other vehicles;
  • The drivers traveling straight may race to get through the intersection before you turn.

Some of the most dangerous intersections for left turns in Baltimore include:

  • The intersection of Reisterstown Road and Gwynns Falls Parkway.
  • Jones Falls Expressway and Northern Parkway
  • West Cold Spring Lane and Jones Falls Expressway.

Drivers typically make left turns across oncoming traffic. They may have a green light but must yield to oncoming traffic unless they turn on a green arrow. Although left-turn crashes often occur at low speeds, injuries are often at odds with how fast cars are going. These crashes are usually T-bone or broadside crashes. Drivers and passengers are protected by just a few inches of metal. They often sustain serious internal injuries or fractures.  An Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) report found side-impact accidents cause a quarter of passenger vehicle occupant deaths.

Given the severity of injuries associated with left-turn crashes it’s important to recover as much money as possible for your pain and suffering, lost wages, and hospital bills. However, determining fault in a left turn car accident in Maryland is critical. If a driver is distracted during a left turn there is a strong chance you can get injured and may need a Maryland distracted driving accident lawyer.

Factors in Determining Fault in a Left Turn Car Accident in Maryland

You can’t automatically assume the driver who turned left was to blame for a crash in Maryland. An injury lawyer will look at Maryland’s traffic laws to see if the driver made a prohibited left turn. Under MD Transportation Code § 21-601 drivers who turn left must “approach the intersection… in the extreme left-hand lane lawfully available to traffic moving in the same direction.” When the driver leaves the intersection, he or she must continue to follow the flow of traffic. If the intersection has a traffic light, the driver must abide by the light. A driver who turns left on red and hits another car is clearly liable for an accident.

Left turns on red are legal in Maryland in certain circumstances, namely, the turn takes the driver from a one-way street to another. A driver must yield the right of way.

The issue of the right of way is addressed in MD Transportation Code § 21-402. Drivers who turn left at an intersection, driveway, alley, or a private road, must “shall yield the right-of-way to any other vehicle that is approaching from the opposite direction.”

You must yield the right of way to any vehicle “in the intersection or so near to it as to be an immediate danger.”

State laws are an important starting point in determining fault in a left turn car accident in Maryland. They can determine whether the car that made the turn or the driver on the highway was to blame for a crash. The driver of the vehicle that hits the other is not necessarily to blame. Our Maryland motorcycle accident lawyers help many riders who suffer horrific injuries when they hit a car making a left turn. The driver making the turn often fails to even see the rider until it’s too late. 

Other important factors include the speeds of the drivers and whether any of the parties were distracted or drunk when the crash took place.

Ask A Maryland Lawyer About Determining Fault in a Left Turn Car Accident in Maryland

Determining fault in a left turn car accident in Maryland can be difficult. You may have suffered terrible injuries but the insurance company for the other driver is telling you, you were totally or partially to blame. Hiring a Maryland personal injury attorney can be the difference between winning a compensation settlement or losing out. At the Law Offices of Randolph Rice, we will fight the insurance company. It may be necessary to file a lawsuit and take your case to the courtroom. Nothing in this blog constitutes legal advice. Contact us at (410) 431-0911 for a free and confidential consultation today.

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