As a driver, you do your best to follow the rules of the road and operate your vehicle safely. However, even the most cautious drivers can find themselves involved in an auto accident from time to time. One of the most common types of collisions is a right-hand turn crash, in which one vehicle is making a right turn and strikes another vehicle, pedestrian or cyclist. In these situations, it can be difficult to determine who is at fault and liable for damages. There are several factors to consider when assessing blame in a right-hand turn collision, including traffic controls like traffic lights or stop signs, right-of-way rules, and any unsafe driving behaviors. If you have been in an accident involving a right-hand turn, it is important to understand how fault may be assigned so you can pursue fair compensation. Contact a Texas Car Accident Lawyer to get started.
Understanding Right-Hand Turn Collisions in Texas
In Texas, right-hand turn collisions can be complex to determine fault. As the driver executing the turn, you have a duty to yield to oncoming traffic and ensure the turn can be made safely. However, the other driver also has a responsibility to operate their vehicle in a safe manner.
When turning right at an intersection, you must come to a complete stop, check for oncoming vehicles and pedestrians, and proceed only when clear. Failure to come to a complete stop or properly check traffic before turning can make you predominantly at fault. The other driver must also follow all traffic laws, including obeying the speed limit and exercising reasonable care. Speeding, distracted driving or other reckless behavior may assign more fault to the other driver.
In some cases, both drivers may share a percentage of fault. For example, if you failed to see the other vehicle due to sun glare but the other driver was also speeding at the time of impact. Insurance companies and courts will examine the specifics of the collision to determine fault based on traffic laws and the reasonable actions of "similarly situated" drivers. They consider factors like traffic controls, visibility, and road conditions in addition to the drivers’ actions.
The at-fault determination has significant implications, as it decides which insurance policy will cover damages and injuries. In Texas, the percentage of fault assigned to each driver proportionally impacts how much each insurance company contributes. If found predominantly at fault, you may face increased premiums, loss of safe driver discounts or in severe cases, policy cancelation. Consulting with a personal injury attorney can help protect your rights and determine avenues for compensation.
Common Causes of Right-Turn Accidents
Common causes of right-turn accidents typically involve negligence or reckless behavior by one or more drivers. As a pedestrian or motorist, being aware of these factors can help you avoid or mitigate collision risks.
Inattentiveness and Distraction
Driver distraction or inattentiveness are frequent contributors to right-turn crashes. When turning right at an intersection, a driver must check for oncoming traffic, as well as pedestrians in the crosswalk and other vehicles or cyclists. Failure to properly scan the surroundings and check blind spots before turning can easily lead to a collision. Using a cell phone, adjusting the radio or navigation system, or attending to passengers are common distractions that take a driver's eyes and focus off the road.
Aggressive or Impatient Driving
Drivers in a hurry may make abrupt or forceful right turns without properly yielding to others. Aggressive acceleration or turning at excessive speed reduces the time available to identify and avoid potential hazards or conflicts. Always signal your intent to turn, check for other road users, and make wide, controlled turns at an appropriate speed.
Failure to Yield Right-of-Way
Right-turning drivers must yield to vehicles and pedestrians that have the right-of-way before turning. This includes oncoming traffic that has a green light, as well as pedestrians in a crosswalk. Failure to recognize others who have right-of-way and proceeding to turn illegally can easily result in a collision for which the turning driver would typically be found at fault.
Obeying all traffic laws regarding right turns, maintaining awareness, patience and caution are the keys to avoiding liability and preventing these types of accidents. Drive safely!
Determining Liability in a Right-Turn Crash
When a collision occurs due to a vehicle making a right turn, determining who is at fault can be complicated. Several factors must be considered to establish liability in a right-turn accident.
The driver making the right turn must yield to vehicles and pedestrians in the intersection. If the turning driver fails to yield to oncoming traffic or pedestrians legally crossing the intersection and a crash results, the turning driver would typically be found primarily liable for the collision. The turning driver has a duty to ensure the intersection is clear before proceeding with the turn.
However, the driver traveling straight through the intersection also has a duty to exercise reasonable care. If that driver is speeding or otherwise driving recklessly and is unable to stop in time to avoid hitting a vehicle that is making a proper right turn, some liability may be shared. Shared liability may also be found if visibility was obstructed for either driver by factors like buildings, foliage, or weather conditions.
In some states, a driver making a right turn on red must come to a complete stop before turning and yield to vehicles and pedestrians. If a driver fails to come to a complete stop before turning right on red and causes an accident, that driver would normally be considered primarily at fault. However, if the driver with the right of way was also negligent in some way, liability may be shared between the parties.
As with any auto accident, the specific details of how the crash occurred are critical in determining liability. By evaluating factors like traffic signals, signs, weather conditions, and the actions of each driver, investigators can establish fault and liability in a right-turn collision. Consulting with a personal injury attorney can help determine the best course of action if you have been involved in an accident due to another driver's right turn.
Proving Fault in a Right-Turn Collision Case
To prove fault in a right-turn collision case, you must first determine which party failed to exercise reasonable care and caution. The liable party is typically the one who did not follow the rules of the road or failed to properly signal before changing direction.
The driver making a right turn must yield the right-of-way to vehicles and pedestrians proceeding straight through the intersection. If the at-fault driver turned right in front of oncoming traffic and caused a crash, they can likely be held responsible. The at-fault driver should have waited until the way was clear before turning.
Failure to Signal
Drivers are required by law to signal their intent to turn for at least 100 feet before changing direction. If the at-fault driver failed to signal before turning right, the other driver would not have had sufficient warning to avoid a collision. The at-fault driver's negligence in failing to signal can be used to establish fault.
Speeding or Reckless Driving
If the at-fault driver was speeding, driving aggressively or otherwise operating their vehicle in a reckless manner before attempting a right turn, they may be liable for any resulting accident. Reckless or negligent driving that contributes to a crash can help prove fault.
Drivers have a duty to keep a proper lookout for hazards, vehicles and pedestrians around them. If the at-fault driver failed to check their mirrors and blind spots before turning right, they can be found at fault for a resulting collision. Failure to maintain a proper lookout is a form of negligence.
In some situations, both drivers may share a percentage of fault. But to recover damages, you must be able to show that the other party was primarily responsible due to their failure to exercise reasonable care and caution on the road. Proving fault in a right-turn collision case requires determining which driver did not follow the rules of the road and failed in their duty to drive safely.
What to Do After a Texas Right-Turn Accident
After being involved in a right-turn collision in Texas, there are several steps you should take.
Stop Immediately and Call for Help
Pull over and stop your vehicle as soon as it is safe to do so. Activate your hazard lights and call 911 for emergency assistance. Remain at the scene of the accident until the authorities arrive.
Once you have ensured everyone's safety, exchange information with the other driver(s) involved, including names, contact details, driver's license numbers, vehicle registration data, and insurance details. Take pictures of the vehicles involved, including license plate numbers. Get the contact information of any witnesses as well.
Report the Accident
File an official police report with the responding officers. Be cooperative and provide an honest account of the events. Ask for a copy of the police report for your insurance claim. You will also need to notify your auto insurance provider about the accident as soon as possible.
Seek Medical Attention
Even if there are no obvious injuries at the scene, it is best to get checked out by a doctor. Adrenaline and shock can mask pain from injuries, and some symptoms may appear later. Getting prompt medical care will also provide documentation for any personal injury claims.
Consult with an Attorney
If there are any disputes over who is at fault in the accident or if you have suffered severe injuries, it is advisable to discuss your case with a personal injury attorney. They can investigate the details of your accident, deal with insurance companies on your behalf and pursue compensation for your damages.
Following these steps after a right-turn accident will help ensure your safety, protect your legal rights, and facilitate a smooth claims process. Staying calm and taking the appropriate actions can make a difficult situation easier to navigate.
Right-Turn Accident FAQ
If you were involved in a right-hand turn accident in Texas, you likely have questions about who is responsible. Here are some frequently asked questions regarding fault in right-turn collisions:
Who is typically at fault in a right-turn accident?
The driver making the right-hand turn is usually considered primarily at fault in an accident involving a right turn. According to Texas traffic laws, drivers must yield the right of way to oncoming traffic and pedestrians when turning right. Failure to properly yield often results in the turning driver being found predominantly negligent in a right-turn collision.
What if the other driver was speeding or not paying attention?
Even if the other driver was speeding or distracted, the turning driver typically bears most of the fault. While the other driver's actions may have contributed to the accident, the turning driver still has a duty to ensure the way is clear before turning. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, the turning driver will usually be assigned the majority of blame in an accident report and subsequent insurance claim.
What evidence is needed to prove fault in a right-turn case?
Evidence that may be used to establish fault in a right-turn collision includes:
- Police accident report and witness statements indicating the turning driver failed to yield
- Dash cam or surveillance footage showing the turning driver turned in front of oncoming traffic
- Damage to the vehicles showing the turning driver hit the side of the other vehicle
- Location of impact on the vehicles demonstrating the turning driver pulled into the path of the other driver
By following the rules of the road and exercising caution, many right-turn accidents can be avoided altogether. However, when they do occur, it is important to understand how fault is determined in order to pursue compensation for injuries and damages. Consulting with an experienced car accident attorney in Texas can help you get the answers and advice you need regarding your specific situation.
As you can see, determining fault in a left-hand turn collision can be complicated. There are many factors to consider regarding traffic laws, signals, and vehicle positioning. The key is to remain calm and gather as much information as possible from all parties involved, including contact details of any witnesses. Call the police to properly document the scene, then contact a personal injury attorney to review the details of your case. Call Fletcher Law today. They have the experience and expertise to conduct a thorough investigation, determine who is at fault, and pursue fair compensation so you can focus on recovering from your injuries. Though it may feel overwhelming, you do have legal options and there are professionals ready to help guide you through the process.