We’ve all been there, sitting patiently in our car in a left turning lane, waiting for traffic to pass or the light to turn yellow so we can make our left turn. Sometimes, you can be waiting in this turning lane for quite some time until finally, there’s a little gap in traffic, or the light turns yellow. When this happens, you put your foot on the gas and go!
Unfortunately, the above scenario can sometimes become the perfect recipe for a left-across traffic accident. How?
Because drivers are heading straight through the intersection at the same time.
You’ve likely been in this situation too, where you’re approaching a light when suddenly, it turns yellow. You can either slam on your breaks or, if you are like most, put your foot on the gas, so you make it through the light in time.
Situations like these can result in an accident. But when a collision does occur, who’s at fault?
The answer is different for each case, depending on the facts of the accident.
Who’s at Fault in a Left-Across Traffic accident?
A left-across traffic turn is one of the most common yet dangerous driving scenarios Albertans face every day. The City of Edmonton completed a study that indicated that one of the top five causes of severe and fatal crashes in Edmonton between 2015 – 2019 was turning left across another vehicle’s path.
In these situations, the police automatically assume that the person at fault is the one making the left turn. But this isn’t necessarily true. Several factors determine who is at fault in an accident.
In Alberta, the law states that a driver must not turn left across the path of oncoming traffic unless the turn can be completed safely. Therefore, the vehicle heading straight has the right-of-way over a car attempting to turn left at the intersection.
Making an unsafe left turn across oncoming traffic is both illegal and dangerous. Because of this, the Courts typically assume that the left-turning driver caused the collision.
However, there are a couple of scenarios when a left-turning driver may avoid being at fault and held liable.
1. If you can show that the other driver saw that the left-turning driver was making a left turn across oncoming traffic and could have avoided the accident. This means the other driver would have had enough time to apply their breaks to avoid making an impact.
2. If you can prove that the other driver also violated a traffic safety law (such as speeding or going through a red light) which may have contributed to the collision.
In these situations, both drivers may be found at fault for the accident. The insurance companies will then try to decide to what extent each driver is liable for causing the collision and will split the liability (example: 50/50).
What to do if you are involved in a left across traffic accident?
Left-across traffic accidents are serious. If you aren’t severely injured, it’s important to do the following immediately after the accident:
1. Find Witness(es) and get their Contact Information (this is vital!).
2. Wait for police to arrive.
3. Call your insurance.
4. Share what happened from YOUR perspective to the police.
5. Contact a personal injury lawyer.
As you can see, there are many instances in which a left-turning driver may not be found entirely responsible for a collision. Most law firms will turn you away if the police consider you to be at fault in a left-across-traffic accident. Not at McGuiness Law.
We can help implement strategies that will benefit you and your family during this time, all while building a case showing how you are not solely liable for the accident.
If you ever find yourself in this situation, contact our team by calling 780-900-7941 for a free consultation.