Making a left turn is far more dangerous than making a right turn. This because turning left often involves yielding the right-of-way to oncoming vehicles. Left-turn car accidents often occur because one driver misjudged the speed or the distance of an approaching driver or simply ignored the rules of the road. However, not all left-turn accidents are the fault of the driver who is turning left. For example, a motorist who was lawfully turning left may have been struck by another motorist who failed to stop for a traffic light.
While left-turn collisions can seem to be straightforward cases in which the turning driver is negligent, insurance companies for these motorists will likely find other reasons to claim that another driver was at fault. You should not have to argue about liability when you know another driver caused your crash.
If you suffered catastrophic injuries or your loved one was killed in a left-turn crash in Columbia, Lexington, or a surrounding area of South Carolina, get legal help right away. The Jeffcoat Firm will fight for all of the compensation you are entitled to receive. You can have our lawyers review your case when you call or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.
What Are Left-Hand-Turn Laws in South Carolina?
South Carolina Code § 56-5-2120(b) establishes that any driver intending to turn left must approach the turn in the lawfully available extreme left-hand lane. The turn must be made to the left of the center of the intersection to leave the area open to traffic moving in the same direction as the vehicles on the roadway which is being entered.
When a special lane for making left turns is indicated by official traffic-control devices, South Carolina Code § 56-5-2120(d) provides that the left turn cannot be made from any other lane. A vehicle cannot be driven in that lane except when preparing for or making a left turn or preparing for or making a lawful U-turn.
Under South Carolina Code § 56-5-1900(b), a vehicle cannot be driven in the center lane when a roadway is divided into three lanes for two-way movement of traffic except when a driver is overtaking and passing another vehicle traveling in the same direction or in preparation for making a left turn.
It is important to keep those laws in mind when determining who is responsible for a left-hand turn crash. If a driver violates those laws and causes an accident, it may establish negligence as a matter of law, or negligence per se.
Who Can Be Liable for a Left-Hand Turn Crash?
In most cases, the car that is turning left is responsible because the driver did not yield the right of way. This is primarily a default liability rule, but exceptions exist. For instance, a turning driver may have been struck by another motorist who violated a different traffic law. Certain violations such as speeding may be more difficult to prove than others.
Defective traffic signals serve as another possible cause of left-hand turn accidents. For instance, a driver may have lawfully turned left following a green arrow at the same time oncoming traffic also had a green light. The municipality responsible for maintaining the traffic-control devices could be liable in such cases.
The driver who committed a left turn that caused an accident will generally be liable for all damages stemming from a crash. The points of impact in these accidents usually make clear how the collisions occurred. Still, insurance companies will still try to find any way possible to minimize their potential liability. For this reason, you should avoid discussing your accident with an insurance company representative until you speak with a lawyer first.
You can bet that any conversation with an insurance company representative will be recorded. The adjuster will try to get you to admit to some form of negligence. Any acknowledgement of fault (admitting that you might have been speeding, for example) could be enough for an insurance company to claim that you were at fault and, therefore, deserve nothing for your injuries.
Do not jeopardize your right to recover compensation. Instead, contact an attorney before speaking with others about the accident.
Some insurance companies will try to offer victims settlements to quickly resolve their cases. These settlement offers are often for significantly less than what victims are entitled to receive. Do not accept any money until you have first discussed your injuries and the impact of the accident on your life with an experienced lawyer. You may discover that your case is worth much more than what the insurance company has offered you.
What Should You Do After a Left-Hand Turn Crash?
If possible, you should take the following steps if you have been hurt in a left-turn accident:
Contact authorities quickly to report your accident. A police report can be extremely valuable later on. Additionally, the negligent motorist may also be issued a citation by an officer, which could serve as evidence of negligence.
Take pictures of the crash scene before the wreckage is removed. You should try to get photographs of all vehicles and people involved in the left-turn crash. You should also take photos of traffic lights, lane markings, skid marks, debris and other potential evidence at the scene.
Look for witnesses to the collision. Ask them for their names and phone numbers, as they could potentially give sworn written statements or testify if there is any dispute about liability.
Seek medical care immediately. Even if you do not believe that you were hurt, you should still go to a hospital to be sure that you did not suffer an injury that might involve delayed symptoms.
Contact an attorney before you speak to any insurance company about your accident. Again, you should refuse to make any recorded statement or accept any settlement offer until you have legal representation.
Get Help from an Experienced South Carolina Car Accident Attorney
If you suffered serious injuries, or if your loved one was killed in a left-turn accident in South Carolina, The Jeffcoat Firm wants to help you. We have the experience, skill and resources to negotiate with the other driver’s insurance company and pursue a full and fair settlement for your case. If the insurance company challenges liability and/or damages, we will not be afraid to take your case to trial and fight for you in court.
The Jeffcoat Firm represents clients on a contingency fee basis. So, you will not need to worry about paying us anything unless we recover compensation for you. Contact us to schedule your free consultation with a knowledgeable member of our legal team today.