Left hand turn car accidents are one of the most common types of auto accidents in Pennsylvania which result in serious injuries. Basically, these accidents happen when a driver turns left into oncoming traffic and hits another car. The point of impact varies. Oftentimes, the impact is the front or side (t-bone) of the oncoming car. When the latter occurs, the driver of the oncoming car is often seriously injured. Shoulder injuries, spinal injuries and head injuries occur.
In most cases of a left hand turn car accident, fault lies solely with the driver who attempted to turn left so long as the traffic signals, if any, allowed oncoming traffic to continue. For example, Driver A is waiting at a traffic light to turn left. He does not see Driver B, who has a green light, enter the intersection. Driver A drives directly into the path of Driver B causing a collision. Clearly, Driver A is at fault.
In some cases, a driver navigating a left turn might not be at fault, such as when the intersection is controlled by a four way stop sign, and the driver coming from the opposite direction violated a traffic law.
For instance, Driver A is approaching an intersection that is controlled by stop signs for all lanes of travel. Driver A signals to turn left and begins to do so after she stops at the stop sign. Driver B is approaching the intersection but is looking down at his phone and fails to stop at the stop sign. He drives right into the path of Driver A as she is navigating the turn. Here, Driver B would be liable for causing the accident.
Pennsylvania’s Vehicle Code Laws – Intersections
Pennsylvania Vehicle Code, Chapter 33 lays out the rules of the road. Below are three of the most common traffic laws which come into play when assessing fault in a left hand turn accident case.
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Section 3321. Vehicle approaching or entering intersection.
Per Section 3321, vehicles on the right have the right-of-way when two vehicles are approaching an intersection from different highways at the same time. Drivers on the left are required to yield to drivers on the right. Section 3321 provides:
(a) General rule.–When two vehicles approach or enter an intersection from different highways at approximately the same time, the driver of the vehicle on the left shall yield the right-of-way to the vehicle on the right.
(b) Exception.–The right-of-way rule established in subsection (a) is not applicable:
(1) on through highways, where the traffic on the through highway shall have the right-of-way;
(2) on limited-access highways, where the traffic on the limited-access highway shall have the right-of-way;
(3) in traffic circles, where the traffic in the traffic circle shall have the right-of-way; and
(4) as otherwise provided in this part.
Section 3322. Vehicle turning left.
Per Section 3322, drivers who are turning left at an intersection or into an alley, private street or driveway must yield to any drivers approaching from the opposite direction. Section 3322 provides:
The driver of a vehicle intending to turn left within an intersection or into an alley, private road or driveway shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction which is so close as to constitute a hazard.
Section 3324. Vehicle entering or crossing roadway.
Drivers entering a road from anywhere other than another road are required to yield to all drivers approaching from either direction. This applies to drivers exiting driveways, parking lots, etc. (any place other than another roadway). Section 3324 provides:
The driver of a vehicle about to enter or cross a roadway from any place other than another roadway shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles approaching on the roadway to be entered or crossed.
Drivers or passengers who are injured in a left hand turn accident may be able to obtain financial compensation for their injuries, if another party was at fault for causing the accident. For most Pennsylvania residents, personal injury protection (PIP) coverage will kick in and pick up medical bills and lost wages up to the amount purchased ($5,000 minimum required in PA). An injured party may be able to seek compensation from an at-fault party for any monetary losses incurred after PIP is exhausted.
Pennsylvania auto accident injury law is highly complex due to Pennsylvania’s limited tort versus full tort law. Depending on the type of auto insurance policy covering the driver/passenger and the circumstances of the accident itself, financial compensation for pain and suffering may be available.
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Our personal injury lawyers handle all types of car accidents including car, truck and pedestrian accidents. Contact our Philadelphia car accident injury lawyers today for a free consultation. (866) 641-0806
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