Dangerous Left Turns and Motorcycle Crashes
Motorcyclists are often unfairly stereotyped as renegades who break the law speeding and driving while intoxicated. Statistics paint a different picture: the vast majority of motorcycle riders are completely sober and traveling less than 30 miles per hour at the time of a collision. Most motorcycle accidents occur at intersections where cars are making left hand turns and motorcyclists are traveling straight.
California is one of the few tort states still in existence. Unlike “No Fault” law, our laws dictate that someone must be determined liable in a crash – and the at-fault party must pay for accident-related damages. Therefore, insurance companies and legal defense teams will fight to prove the victim is at fault in some way to escape liability. That’s why if you or a loved one were hurt in a motorcycle accident, you still need an experienced motorcycle accident attorney to represent your case.
The Salamati Law Firm offers free consultations for Los Angeles accident victims at (213) 817-8888.
How unsafe left turns cause motorcycle accidents
There are many situations leading up to left turn motorcycle accidents:
- Drivers pull out of a driveway or street, without taking time to really look
- Riders pass a vehicle, blocking the motorcycle from the driver’s view
- A driver overtakes the motorcycle, cutting left to make a sudden turn and sideswiping the biker
- A rider travels straight through a green or yellow light, while the turning driver speeds to beat the light
Driving straight through a four-way intersection is the most dangerous situation for motorcycle drivers. Crashes occur almost equally on rural and urban thoroughfares. In almost half of these accidents, the other driver’s view is obstructed by oncoming headlights, the sun’s glare, or other vehicles. Distraction plays a role for many other collisions, with drivers admitting they “never saw the motorcycle coming.”
Of course, ignorance is no excuse to dodge liability. California Vehicle Code § 21801 is pretty clear about right-of-way. Negligence can be established by arguing that the other driver failed to exercise the care that another reasonable driver would have taken in his or her situation. Contributing factors to negligence may include: speeding, failure to yield, distracted driving, loss of vehicle control, traveling erratically given the weather, fatigued driving, failure to obey traffic laws and signals, improper vehicle maintenance, or failure to signal. Our veteran personal injury attorneys are experts in reviewing the facts surrounding a case to identify any possible negligence that may bolster your case.
How to avoid left turn collisions
The Times Union recommends the following safety tips for bikers to avoid left hand turn motorcycle accidents:
- If you are a novice rider, use a standard style bike that is easier to control.
- Wear a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration-approved helmet, jacket with padding, pants, and boots.
- Ensure your lights and exhaust system work properly before departing.
The most important safety tip for drivers of cars, SUVs and trucks is that they avoid distracted driving — texting, drinking coffee, eating breakfast, tinkering with the radio, or adjusting hair/makeup – as looking down or away for just a second is often a factor in collisions with motorcycles. At intersections, drivers should look both ways twice because motorcycles aren’t always seen or heard until it’s too late.
Left turn accident statistics
- Left hand turn accidents account for 42 percent of fatal car/motorcycle crashes – Insurance Information Institute
- 36 percent of these accidents involve a car making a left-hand turn in front of a motorcycle – NHTSA
- In general, 1 percent of all cross-path crashes involve left turns, compared to 5.7 percent right turns – NHTSA
- Two-thirds of multiple vehicle accidents involved car drivers violating a motorcyclist’s right-of-way – Hurt Report
- Left hand turns are three times as likely to cause a fatal crash with pedestrians – NYC Pedestrian Safety Report
Left hand turn motorcycle accidents: who is at fault?
The fact is: Car drivers are largely responsible for motorcycle accidents. The University of South Florida found that, over a 10 year period, vehicle drivers were responsible for 60 percent of crashes involving motorcycles. The real work of proving liability goes beyond pointing to a few statistics, of course. The Salamati Firm has a vast network of accident reconstruction experts, motorcycle safety instructors, driver education teachers, medical doctors, and others who can establish liability and build a compelling case.
In a motorcycle accident lawsuit, the plaintiff can be:
- An injured motorcycle driver
- The spouse of an injured and/or deceased motorcycle driver
- The children of an injured and/or deceased motorcycle driver
Damages awarded in these cases often include:
- Past, present and future medical expenses
- Lost income and loss of future earning capacity
- Home modification related expenses to accommodate disability
- Emotional pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium and companionship (for spouse)
- Loss of guidance and support (for children)
- Funeral expenses and wrongful death
- Legal expenses
Dangerous left turn motorcycle crash? Speak with a lawyer today
The Salamati Firm has an impressive track record of big wins for our motorcycle driving clientele. Here are a few:
- $2 million settlement when a car failed to yield right-of-way, causing a mild traumatic brain injury
- $1.185 million settlement when a truck cut off a Harley rider, causing a traumatic brain injury
- $200,000 settlement for a crash that fractured a motorcycle rider’s leg, necessitating surgery
All legal counsel is free of charge unless we take on your case – AND WIN. You have nothing to lose by calling (213) 817-8888 to have all your questions answered by one of our Los Angeles motorcycle accident lawyers.
Left turn motorcycle accident collisions: resources
- USC Traffic Safety Center – The Hurt Report http://isddc.dot.gov/OLPFiles/NHTSA/013695.pdf
- Florida Sun Sentinel – Car drivers cause most crashes with motorcycles, study finds http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2013-03-09/news/fl-finding-fault-in-motorcycle-crashes-20130309_1_motorcycle-crashes-chanyoung-lee-motorcycle-riders
- Times Union – It’s ‘left-turn’ accident season for motorcyclists http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/It-s-left-turn-accident-season-for-motorcyclists-4585021.php
- Washington Post – The Case For Almost Never Turning Left While Driving https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/innovations/wp/2014/04/09/the-case-for-almost-never-turning-left-while-driving/
- NHTSA – Crash Avoidance Data http://www.nhtsa.gov/DOT/NHTSA/NRD/Multimedia/PDFs/Crash%20Avoidance/2003/DOTHS809423.pdf
- NYC.gov – Pedestrian Safety Report http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/pedestrians/pedsafetyreport.shtml