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When is the left-turning driver not at fault for an accident?

On Behalf of | May 30, 2024 | Auto Accidents

In most cases, the driver attempting to make a left turn across oncoming traffic is considered at fault if an accident occurs. This is because New Jersey traffic laws place a duty on left-turning drivers to yield the right-of-way to oncoming vehicles going straight. 

However, there are specific scenarios in which the driver traveling straight might bear responsibility for a left-turn collision. Knowing these exceptions is important for helping protect your legal rights after a left-turn accident.

When the straight driver runs a red light

If the left-turning driver had a green arrow or circular green signal giving them the right of way and the straight driver blatantly ran their red light, the straight driver would likely bear full responsibility. Left-turning drivers are not expected to anticipate that oncoming traffic will unlawfully enter the intersection against the light.  

When the straight driver is speeding

Drivers are mandated to obey the New Jersey posted speed limit to maintain favorable conditions. If the straight driver exceeded the limit or was driving too fast for weather or road conditions, this could shift fault to them in a collision with a left-turning vehicle with the green arrow.

When there is obstructed visibility at the intersection

Intersections with poor visibility due to objects, structures, terrain or improper road design may give the left-turning motorist a valid reason for not seeing the oncoming vehicle. If factors outside their control truly obstructed their view, the straight driver may hold a greater share of fault.  

If you were involved in a left turn accident and believe the other party may have been at fault, do not simply accept liability without investigating. Seeking legal guidance can help ensure your legal rights are protected and that you obtain optimum compensation.