call toll-free (925) 835-7500
Free Case Evaluation

Liability in Left Turn Intersection Accidents

If you are in an intersection accident, the question of liability will likely come down to who had the right of way. If the intersection is controlled by lights, the lights control who has the right to go and who is at fault. If the intersection is controlled by stop signs, the first party there gets to go first. If you arrive at the same time, the person to the left goes first.But what happens when you re turning left at an intersection where your street is not controlled by lights or stop signs? The most obvious rule is this: If there is any doubt about whether you can make it through the turn without causing an accident, then just wait. The law on this is the same: you are obligated to wait until you can safely complete the turn. California Vehicle Code Section 21801(a) provides:

The driver of a vehicle intending to turn to the left or to complete a U-turn upon a highway, or to turn left into public or private property, or an alley, 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.

In addition to watching for oncoming traffic, you have to make sure that there are no pedestrians or bicyclists crossing the street where you intend to turn. It does you no good to avoid one impact only to rush through the intersection and strike a pedestrian or bicyclist. For a list of Oakland's most dangerous intersections, click here.

Pete Clancy is a personal injury attorney in Oakland and has been named a 2010 Rising Star by Northern California SuperLawyers Magazine.