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Auto Accidents: Determining Fault in Left Turn Accidents

Sep 8, 2018 | Accidents

Car Accidents: Determining Fault in Left Turn Accidents

Car accident claims involving left turn in California often involve numerous factors in determining fault or liability. Under California Vehicle Code § 21801 (a) The driver of a vehicle intending to turn to the left or to complete a U-turn . . . shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles approaching from the opposite direction which are close enough to constitute a hazard at any time during the turning movement, and shall continue to yield the right-of-way to the approaching vehicles until the left turn or U-turn can be made with reasonable safety. Vehicle Code 21801 (a) also applies to left turn motorcycle accidents.

Accordingly, California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) outlines a “hazard” exists if: “any approaching vehicle is so near or is approaching so fast that a reasonably careful person would realize that there is a danger of a collision [or accident].”

In other words, the driver who is attempting to make a left turn must ensure that no oncoming vehicles are close enough to be a hazard before he or she proceeds across each lane the driver of a vehicle will yield the right of way, until the turn may be made with reasonable safety.

Location of Property Damage Can Help Determine Which Driver was at Fault in an Auto Accident

The location of the property damage to the vehicles involved in an accident can help determine how the accident may have occurred, as well as which driver was at fault. Below is an example of determining fault in left turn accidents by assessing property damage.

You’re Driving Straight and Someone Made a Left Turn in Front of You

The you’re driving straight and someone made a left turn in front of you scenarios, often times the driver going straight will attempt to swerve to the right to avoid a collision. In this instance, if the damage is located on your left front corner or left front side, that can indicate that you tried to avoid the accident by swerving away. Finally, if the property damage to the other vehicle is located to the right front corner, this likely evidences that the other driver was not paying attention and disregarded and or cut off oncoming traffic.

However, if the property damage to the turning car is to the right rear corner, that is evidence that it may have been the fault of the driver going straight and likely may have not been paying attention.

Left Turn Auto Accidents: Making a Reasonable Right of Way Yield Prior to Turning

While, every driver is required to yield before making a left, if the person hanging the left made a reasonable right of way yield before turning. Therefore, approaching on-coming traffic then can not speed up, run a red light, or otherwise allow the left turning driver to pass safely. It should be noted that the further the left turning car gets across the oncoming traffic lane, the more likely the driver that is going straight will be found at least partially at fault for not slowing down, and attempting to avoid the collision.

Negligence: Proving Fault in a Left Turn Auto Accident

The term “Negligence” is a term used to characterize conduct that creates an unreasonable risk of harm to others. In order to prove negligence you must prove:


  • The defendant owed a duty toward the plaintiff (i.e. reasonable care for other’s safety)
  • The defendant failed to act in a reasonable way, or breached its duty (for example, a driver was reckless, drunk, ran a stop sign, or was speeding)
  • The defendant’s breach was the actual cause of another’s injuries
  • The defendant’s breach was the proximate cause of the injuries (the defendant should have known that the breach would cause injury)
  • The plaintiff suffered actual injuries, for which he or she may claim damages


In theory both drivers can potentially be partially responsible for causing the left turn collision. For instance under the comparative negligence theory a party may contribute to an act of negligence or be comparatively negligent for his or her own injuries.

Comparative Negligence Auto Accidents Claims in California

Recovery for damages in comparative negligence auto accident claims are reduced by the percentage of fault of each party. If you were found 30% at fault for causing the left turn accident, your settlement and or judgement will be reduced by 30% of the entire dollar amount settled or awarded.

If you are in need of legal assistance, our Glendale auto accident attorneys at KAASS LAW can help you through every step of the way.

Hire a Los Angeles Accident Accident Lawyer

We provide 24/7 auto accident accident hotline available for victims involved in various accidents including truck accidents, pedestrian accidents, accidents with government vehicle, and more. Our auto accident attorneys in Glendale, CA, charge our clients’ zero upfront legal fees. You pay nothing until and unless we successfully secure a settlement or judgement. Our attorneys speak English, Spanish, Russian, Armenian, and French.

How Location of Property Damage Can Help in Determining Which Driver was at Fault in Left Turn Auto Accident Video



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