Determining Liability for Left-Turn Accidents in California

Left turn arrowLeft-turn collisions are some of the most common types of motor vehicle accidents. Turning left is one of the most dangerous maneuvers drivers make because they are cutting across traffic heading in a different direction. If drivers are not cautious, they can hit an oncoming car and suffer serious or even life-threatening injuries.

Sometimes, determining who should be held liable for the damages caused by a left-turn accident may be complicated. A thorough investigation may be required, which is why victims of these crashes need an attorney with the resources and experience to help prove the other driver should be held liable for the crash.

Our Sacramento auto accident lawyers are prepared to help you through every step of the legal process, pursuing maximum compensation for medical bills, lost wages and other damages. The consultation is free and there are no fees while we work on your claim.

Below, we discuss some of the factors that should be considered when determining liability for these types of collisions.


Left turns are dangerous because you do not have the right of way and are cutting across oncoming traffic that is often moving at 35 or 40 miles per hour or even faster. Oncoming drivers have the right of way and the driver making the left turn does not.

Left turns are also dangerous because your view of traffic may be obstructed, such as by drivers turning left on the other side of the intersection.

In California, the law specifies that drivers attempting a left-hand turn must yield to oncoming traffic except in certain circumstances. When you are making a U-turn, you are also required to yield to drivers who are attempting to turn right.

Drivers need to be sure they have enough time to get through the intersection without obstructing traffic. Drivers who are traveling through the intersection in the opposite direction are following the rules of the road, provided they are not speeding, distracted or attempting to change lanes in the middle of the intersection. That is why left-turning drivers are often found at fault for crashes.


There are some situations where an oncoming driver may be held partially responsible for a crash. Even though oncoming drivers have the right of way, they are still required to obey other traffic laws and avoid reckless driving.

For example, oncoming drivers may bear some fault for a left-turn crash if they were doing any of the following things:

  • Speeding
  • Distracted driving
  • Impaired driving
  • Running a red light/stop sign

There are also some unforeseen circumstances that may affect how liability is determined in a left-turn accident. For example, there may have been pedestrians in a crosswalk or other obstructions on the road that may have prevented a left-turning driver from completing the maneuver.

If you were the victim in the crash, but it was caused by the negligence of an oncoming driver, you need experienced legal help to validate your case. For example, you need an attorney who knows how to gather evidence that the oncoming driver was speeding or distracted.

Investigating this situation can be complicated and you need an attorney with the resources and knowledge to build a strong case as you seek full compensation for your damages.


In some situations, the fault may be assigned to multiple parties, including the left-turning driver and an on-coming vehicle. When this occurs, your compensation award may be reduced by your percentage of fault, as stated in California’s pure comparative negligence law.

For example, if you are found to have been 10 percent at fault for a left turn crash and you seek $100,000 in compensation, your recovery would be reduced by $10,000.


If you were injured in a left-turn accident, it would be in your best interest to speak to one of our experienced attorneys about your case as soon as possible.

For decades, our attorneys have been helping crash victims recover compensation for their damages. We do not charge you anything up front or while we work on your case, so there is no risk to you.

Call us today to schedule a free consultation: (916) 777-7777.