I was traveling in the lane next to the curb and was hit by a car that was turning left. The impact caused me to jump the curb and I hit a pole. The drivers in the two lanes to my left had stopped to allow the other car to turn left. Do I bear any fault for the accident?
Short answer: you may. It will depend on all the facts. What is certain: the insurance company for the left-turning car will try to get a discount on what they owe you by tagging you with some fault (referred to as “comparative negligence”) for the car accident.
The applicable California Vehicle Code is Section 21801(a), which states: “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.”
If a left-turning driver sees that the drivers of oncoming cars stop to allow the left-turning driver to turn, the left-turning driver may begin his or her left-turn, and then collide with an oncoming car traveling in the curb lane.
The insurance company for the left-turning driver will contend that the driver in the curb lane is partially at fault because that driver saw that vehicles in the lane or lanes to his or her left had stopped, and should have realized that a car was turning left ahead.
The two important questions which will determine where you bear any degree of fault are:
- How long had you been in the curb lane? If you had swooped into the curb lane just before the impact to try to get around cars ahead of you that were slowing or had stopped, that increases liability on you.
- What was your speed as you approached the point of impact? The faster your speed, then potentially the more liability on you.
BOTTOM LINE: the insurance adjuster for the left-turning driver will put some degree of fault on you. If you were injured in the car crash, you should seek the advice of a personal injury attorney. You should not give a statement to the insurance company before talking to an attorney.