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Who Is At Fault in a Right-Hand Turn Car Accident?

Legally reviewed by: Miriam Domer January 4, 2024
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In most cases, the motorist who makes the right-hand turn at a red light or yellow light is found at fault for a resulting accident.

Drivers making right turns have the duty to yield to oncoming vehicles before turning into moving traffic.

If you’ve been involved in a right-hand turn accident and want to seek compensation from the at-fault driver, there are several aspects you’ll need to prove to insurance companies.

Working with an experienced personal injury attorney or car accident lawyer is the best way to prove these elements and get the compensation you deserve. LegalFinders is here to help you find the most equipped legal representation for your unique case.

Male hands holding steering wheel turning to the right

About Fault In Right Hand Turn Car Accidents

The most common person found at fault in a right-hand turn car accident is the driver who made the right turn and collided with an oncoming car. Right turns can be made at traffic signals, such as at a green light, or traffic signs like a stop sign.

The driver who is at the traffic sign or signal does not have the right of way when compared to oncoming drivers already on the road. This means they must fully assess the situation and determine if turning at that time is the safest option.

There are times when another driver may share some of the fault with the turning driver.

In fault states where the level of fault impacts the amount of compensation a person is eligible for, you must be found 50% or less at fault.

In no-fault states, you’ll file an insurance claim with your own provider to receive compensation regardless of who caused the accident.

Right Turn Accident Statistics

There are a few statistics available related directly to accidents involving right turns.

The following are some to consider as they relate to right-turn car accident cases:

  • A higher speed limit often results in a more severe accident.
  • Male motorists have a higher chance of being involved in a right-turn crash at a traffic light or signal.
  • Some inclement weather, like snow, can reduce the severity of a right-turn crash.
  • The adoption of laws that allow motorists to make right turns on red has increased right-hand turn crashes by 18%.
  • These laws also increased pedestrian crashes by an estimated 60% and bicycle crashes by an estimated 100% at signalized intersections.

Legal Options For Victims of Right Turn Accidents

There are a few primary legal options for those who have been involved but are not found at fault in a right turn accident. These options may include:

Filing a Car Accident Claim

The first and most common option to take after being involved in a right-turn car crash is to file an auto accident claim with your or the other driver’s insurance provider. This is something your car accident attorney can help you do.

When filing a claim, you’ll need several pieces of evidence. This evidence often includes:

  • An accident report or police report
  • Images of the crash, which can be taken with your cell phone immediately following the accident
  • Any turn signals or signs that were at the accident scene
  • Contact information of all parties involved, including insurance information
  • Proof of any medical care received for injuries sustained in the accident

Once you submit your claim, an insurance adjuster will review the information and evidence and typically put together a settlement offer to compensate you for losses and damages.

Filing a Wrongful Death Claim

If a loved one was killed in the accident, you may choose to file a wrongful death claim. This is typically done through the use of a personal injury lawyer, who can walk you through the steps and represent your case with insurance and in court.

The point of a wrongful death case is to seek compensation for losses associated with your loved one’s death. These losses may include pain and suffering, medical bills, and funeral expenses.

What Causes Right-Hand Turn Car Accidents?

There are several factors that can ultimately contribute to or result in a right-hand turn auto accident. Some of the most commonly seen include:

Failure to Yield

A failure to yield to oncoming traffic at a right-hand turn is a direct violation of the rules of the road and can quickly cause an accident.

Drivers must come to a complete stop at the right-hand turn, assess the situation, then make the turn when it is safe. This is true for both right- and left-turning drivers.

Speeding

Another common contributor to right-hand turn car accidents is speeding. This is true for both oncoming traffic and for the person making the turn.

Speeding can reduce a person’s ability to slow down when necessary and prevent a crash. For example, if an oncoming driver is speeding while changing lanes, they may not be able to stop or slow down in time for a driver making a right-hand or left-hand turn.

Failure to Check Blind Spots

If a driver does not check their blind spots before making a left turn or right turn at a traffic signal or stop, they may not see an oncoming car. This can result in a crash with a vehicle coming from either the same or opposite direction as the turning driver.

Driver Distraction

Making turns into oncoming traffic while distracted is incredibly dangerous and can quickly result in an auto collision. Distraction can lower your ability to clearly assess the situation and reduce your ability to stop a turn in time to prevent an accident.

Drunk Driving

Another cause of right-turn accidents is when the driver is impaired by drugs or alcohol. These substances can reduce your ability to make sound decisions and decrease your processing and reaction time.

Common Injuries In Right Turn Accidents

Whether you or other accident victims experience serious injuries will largely depend on how fast the vehicles were going at the time of the crash and where your vehicle was hit.

Common injuries seen in right-turn accidents include:

  • Broken bones
  • Fractures
  • Cuts and lacerations
  • Whiplash
  • Back and neck injuries
  • Concussions
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries

If you suffered severe injuries in the accident, you may want to work with your law firm to determine if an injury case is the best option for seeking compensation.

National Right Turn Traffic Laws

There are several right-turn traffic laws enforced nationally regardless of which state you live in. These laws include:

Right Turn on Red (RTOR)

The Right Turn on Red, or RTOR, law allows motor vehicles to make a right-hand turn at a red traffic signal after coming to a complete stop and determining it is safe.

Drivers must yield to cross-street traffic and pedestrians. Failure to do so can result in an accident as well as a fine.

Part-Time Right Turn on Red

A component of RTOR that is sometimes enforced is part-time right turn on red. This is when, during certain periods of the day, right turns are made illegal to reduce possible accidents. Part-time RTOR is most often seen during busier periods such as rush hour.

No Turn on Red

Some traffic signal areas will prohibit turning on red entirely due to the heavy volume of traffic, pedestrians, or both. This means that making a right turn while the traffic signal is red is illegal.

Penalties For Failing to Yield During a Right Turn

The specific penalties a motorist will encounter for failing to yield during a right turn will depend on their location and the state they are in. For example, in Florida, failure to yield before turning can cost you up to $500 in fines.

Other common penalties for failing to yield include traffic tickets and traffic citations.

Damages In Right-Hand Turn Accident Claims

The damages experienced in right-hand turn accidents are often similar to those in other types of car crashes.

The exact damages depend on several factors, including how fast the vehicles were going at the time of the crash, how many cars were involved, and where the vehicles were hit.

Examples of damages that may be seen in right-hand turn accident claims include:

  • Property damage
  • Personal injuries
  • Wrongful death
  • Pain and suffering
  • Medical expenses and bills
  • Loss of wages
  • Loss of consortium

Your attorney can help you determine which damages apply to your case and help you best prove them when filing an auto accident claim.

Factors In Right Turn Crash Cases

There are several factors that play a role in the outcome of a right-turn crash case. Some of these include:

Level of Fault

Which driver was at fault for a right-hand turn car accident isn’t always immediately obvious. However, this will need to be determined when filing a claim or case.

In most instances, the motorist who made the right-hand turn is at fault for the accident. Your attorney can help you determine whether you had any fault in the accident before going to court.

Presence of Negligence

The percentage of negligence an at-fault driver has is also an important component in an auto accident case. While the driver may have caused the accident, they may not have been acting in a negligent manner.

For example, if the motorist experienced car issues, such as faulty brakes, which resulted in the crash, their negligence level would be much lower than someone who was drunk driving.

Poor Signage

If traffic signage is not clearly visible or faulty, this could also result in a right-hand turn car accident. In this case, none of the drivers involved may be found at fault, or they may only hold a small percentage of fault.

Strength of Evidence

Another important factor that can significantly impact a right-hand turn car accident case is the strength of the evidence proving who was at fault. Without strong evidential support, it can be hard to determine who should be held liable for the crash.

Examples of evidence that may be used in your case include:

  • Police reports
  • Photographs of injuries and all damaged vehicles involved
  • Photographs of the location of the accident
  • Witness statements
  • Traffic video evidence

How Can A Right Turn Car Accident Lawyer Help?

A right-turn car accident attorney can help you every step of the way throughout the claims and potentially court process. It’s especially important to have solid legal advice when your case is more complex.

Examples of ways your attorney can provide assistance throughout this process include:

  • Independent investigation of your case: The insurance adjuster will perform an investigation on behalf of the insurance company. But having someone on your side investigate can ensure the insurance company doesn’t try to minimize damages or cut corners.
  • Personalized case evaluation: While you can find information pertaining to right-turn car accidents, every case is different. An auto accident attorney can offer you specific advice unique to your case.
  • Legal representation: Your car accident lawyer can represent you throughout both the claims and court process and ensure your rights are upheld and you receive the compensation you deserve.

Find Help With Your Right Turn Car Accident Claim

If you’ve been involved in a right-turn car accident caused by another driver and aren’t sure what your next steps should be, reach out to LegalFinders.

We’d be happy to help you find a qualified and experienced car accident attorney in your area who has specific knowledge related to your unique case.

Right Turn Accident FAQs

The following are a few frequently asked questions related to right-turn accidents.

How Do You Determine Who Is At Fault In A Right Turn Car Accident?

In most cases, the motorist who turns right is at fault. This is because oncoming traffic has the right of way, while the right-turning driver has the duty to yield.

If you’re unsure who was at fault in your accident involving a right turn, your attorney can help you determine the at-fault party.

Can You Sue For Damages In A Right Turn Car Accident?

Yes, if you are not found at fault and did not portray negligence in the right-turn car accident, you can sue for damages you incurred as a result.

However, most car accident cases are settled outside of court either through an accident claim or a mediator.

Do You Need A Lawyer For A Right Turn Car Accident Claim?

While there is no rule stating you must have a lawyer for a right-turn car accident claim, an attorney can significantly help support your case and better the chances of the outcome.

Article Sources

International Journal of Transportation Science and Technology. “Contributing factors to right-turn crash severity at signalized intersections: An application of econometric modeling.” Retrieved from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2046043023000072

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. “Right-turn-on-red laws and motor vehicle crashes: a review of the literature.” Retrieved from: https://www.iihs.org/topics/bibliography/ref/714

U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration. “Signs and Signals.” Retrieved from: https://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/saferjourney1/library/countermeasures/44.htm

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