Many dangerous traffic accidents are caused by motorists who fail to yield the right-of-way appropriately when they make left turns and cross the course of oncoming traffic. These failure-to-yield accidents are as dangerous as they are common, and the associated traffic accident claims tend to be quite complicated. If another driver’s failure to yield the right-of-way leaves you injured, you are not alone – an experienced South Carolina traffic accident attorney can help.
When you are traveling straight ahead through an intersection where you have a green light or where there is no stop sign or traffic light impeding your forward travel, you have the right of way. In such a situation, it’s natural to proceed at a safe speed, without undue concern that another vehicle will cross your path out of nowhere. However, when you’re behind the wheel, being prepared for the unexpected is always well advised (you never know what another driver will do, and your safety is paramount). Unfortunately, however, not every motorist with whom you share the road observes the rules of the road or takes safety seriously enough, and unsafe left turns are often the result. Consider the following common reasons for making errant left turns that fail to yield the right-of-way appropriately:
- The at-fault driver was in a hurry and thought they could make it.
- The at-fault driver misjudged the oncoming motorist’s speed.
- The at-fault driver simply did not see the oncoming vehicle.
In other words, driver negligence is at the core of accidents involving left-turn accidents in which the at-fault driver failed to yield the right-of-way.
While every failure-to-yield accident is unique to the circumstances involved, the at-fault driver’s decision to make an unsafe left turn in the first place often comes down to one of the following basic categories of driver negligence:
- Distraction – When a motorist is distracted by anything other than driving safely (especially when engaging in a maneuver as inherently risky as taking a left turn), it significantly increases the danger involved and makes spotting an oncoming vehicle or accurately gauging its speed that much less likely.
- Impairment – The physical, cognitive, and sensory impairments experienced by drunk drivers make them far more likely to be involved in dangerous accidents involving a failure to yield the right-of-way.
- Exhaustion – Because drowsy drivers can experience impairments that are similar to those experienced by drunk drivers, they are no better prepared to take safe left turns.
- Excess speed – When motorists drive too fast, they decrease the amount of time they have to react safely to whatever they encounter (including determining if it’s safe to take a left turn), and they increase the risk that they’ll cause dangerous accidents.
- Aggression – Aggression behind the wheel tends to embolden motorists to take whatever risks they feel like taking, including crossing oncoming traffic at will.
South Carolina laws address the issue of left turns very clearly. When a motorist intends to make a left turn in an intersection or into a driveway, private road, or alley, they must yield the right-of-way to any oncoming vehicle that is within the intersection (or crossing space) or that is so close to it that making a left turn amounts to an immediate risk.
Further, the South Carolina Driver’s License Manual makes two important points.
When a motorist wants to make a left after entering an intersection, the right-of-way must be yielded to oncoming traffic and to anyone who is already in the intersection. Further, the left must be executed when no oncoming vehicle is close enough to make the turn dangerous.
When a motorist wants to make a left turn after stopping at a traffic light, they must yield to traffic on the opposite side of the traffic light. Attempting to turn left prior to oncoming traffic picking up speed and moving through the intersection is not legal.
While the law is clear when it comes to ensuring you have the right-of-way prior to proceeding, this does not mean that the insurance company involved will not fight your claim. Be on the lookout for excuses of the following kind regarding the negligent driver’s decision to make a left turn that caused you to be injured:
- You must have been speeding because the insurance company’s policyholder (the at-fault driver) didn’t see you coming.
- You bear fault because you should have slowed appropriately in reaction to the at-fault driver turning in front of you when you were greenlighted to go.
- You bear fault because you didn’t swerve in time to miss the at-fault driver who turned in front of you when they shouldn’t have.
- You bear fault because you did swerve in an attempt to avoid the at-fault driver who turned in front of you when they shouldn’t have.
The insurance company can say what it will about your fault in the matter, but asserting such does not make it so. In fact, the law ultimately decides where fault lies, and as mentioned, there are clear laws on the books related to yielding the right-of-way. Additionally, even if you do share a portion of the fault – such as if you were speeding somewhat – you can seek compensation for the percentage of fault for which the other driver is responsible (as long as you are not more than 50 percent at fault).
If a driver failed to yield the right-of-way to you when they should have and caused you to be injured when they made a left in front of you, the trusted traffic accident attorneys at McCravy Law in South Carolina have the experience, skill, and legal knowhow to help. Your claim is important, so please don’t hesitate to reach out and contact or call us at 864-388-9100 for more information today.