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Left-Turn Accidents: Who is At Fault?

Experienced drivers know the importance of yielding to oncoming traffic before making a left turn. Ignoring this basic principal can lead to "t-bone" collisions that inflict serious bodily injuries.

However, identifying the at-fault party in left-turn accidents is not always straightforward. The complexities of determining liability in these scenarios makes it particularly important to retain a skilled car accident attorney if you have suffered injuries in such a collision.

Factors Contributing to Left-Turn Accidents

Several issues can lead to left-turn accidents, including:

  • Failing to yield to oncoming traffic

  • Driving under the influence

  • Distractions while driving

  • Speeding

  • Not signaling before turning

  • Making a turn with an obstructed view

  • Misjudging the speed or distance of an oncoming vehicle

Determining Fault in Left-Turn Collisions

In most left-turn accidents, the turning driver is usually held liable due to their duty to wait for a clear path. This is due to California Vehicle Code Section 21801(a), which provides that when making a left turn or U-turn at an intersection or into an alley or driveway, the driver must yield the right-of-way to all vehicles approaching from the opposite direction which are close enough to constitute a hazard during the time the turn is made.

However, there are situations where the driver that was going straight might share fault or even bear full responsibility—if they were speeding, for example, or if they ran a red light. Impaired driving, fatigue, or distracted driving on their part could also shift blame away from the turning driver.

Without evidence to the contrary, the driver who made the turn in front of oncoming traffic is typically found at fault. This highlights the necessity of involving a Los Angeles car accident lawyer to accurately determine liability.

Proving Fault in Left-Turn Accidents

Proving fault in left-turn accidents, particularly when another party is entirely to blame, is a complex process. This emphasizes the need to consult with a car accident lawyer in Los Angeles. A skilled personal injury attorney will use resources like accident reconstruction experts to determine liability through a detailed analysis of police reports, witness statements, and the examination of the accident scene.

Preventing Left-Turn Accidents

Reducing the risk of left-turn accidents involves adhering to safe driving practices:

  • Always signal your intentions well in advance.

  • Check all directions thoroughly, more than once.

  • Adopt defensive driving habits, anticipating potential errors by others.

  • Obey speed limits and adjust your speed based on conditions.

  • Ensure you have a clear view before turning, especially in poor weather.

  • Be prepared to stop if needed to avoid an accident, demonstrating a proactive approach to safety.


Left-turn accidents pose a significant challenge in terms of potential injuries and the complexity of determining fault. While drivers must exercise caution to prevent such incidents, the complexities involved in attributing fault underscore the vital role of a skilled personal injury lawyer. For those impacted, seeking the guidance of a skilled Los Angeles car accident attorney is crucial for navigating any personal injury claim.


If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto accident, contact Phillips & Associates at (818) 348-9515 for a free consultation today. You will immediately be put in touch with John Phillips or Patrick DiFilippo, who can help determine whether you have a case and advise you on the best course of action moving forward.


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