How is Liability for a U-Turn Accident Determined?

u-turn signalA U-turn is one of the most dangerous maneuvers one can make in traffic. When making a U-turn, drivers must ensure the road is clear. Heavy traffic and miscalculation can result in a serious accident.

Determining who is liable for a U-turn crash may be complicated since there are several factors to consider. Our Sacramento-area car crash attorneys are prepared to review your claim during a free consultation. We can discuss the legal options that may be available to you.

There are no fees while we work on your case. You only pay us if we successfully recover compensation for you.

Are U-Turns Always Legal in California?

The California vehicle code has various restrictions on U-turns. Generally, a U-turn can be legally made:

  • In a residential area only if there are no other vehicles within 200 feet
  • When traffic lights or signs control any approaching traffic in a residential area
  • At an intersection that has a green light or arrow to control traffic flow, unless otherwise prohibited
  • On highways where there is an opening provided for U-turns in the center divider

A U-turn is illegal when it is attempted at or on a:

  • Railroad crossing
  • Divided highway if there is a curb, strip of turf, or two sets of double yellow lines
  • One-way street

Drivers must have a clear view of at least 200 feet in both directions before attempting a U-turn. The driver must also have adequate space to maneuver his or her vehicle without causing a collision.

It is important to note that in any area where a traffic sign specifies that U-turns are not permissible, making one would be illegal.

Who Had the Right-of-Way?

When determining liability for a U-turn crash, establishing who had the right-of-way is important. Drivers attempting a U-turn are legally obligated to yield the right of way to:

  • Oncoming traffic
  • Pedestrians in the crosswalk
  • Cyclists in the bike lane
  • Right-turning vehicles

If the driver attempting the U-turn fails to adhere to these right-of-way laws, he or she is most likely going to be liable for damages if a collision occurs. This is usually the most common scenario for U-turn accidents.

However, there are some instances when the U-turning driver is not the liable party or may only bear partial fault.

U-Turn Accidents Involving Pedestrians

If a pedestrian is attempting to cross when he or she has a “do not walk” sign, liability may fall on that person. While the U-turning driver is expected to react in a manner that would prevent a collision, he or she may not have enough time.

If the pedestrian’s negligent actions are proven to be the main cause of the collision, he or she could be fully liable. One example of this is if the pedestrian ran across the street without paying attention to traffic or if he or she was texting and walking.

U-Turn Accidents Involving Cyclists

Traffic laws for cyclists are often not followed as closely as they should be. This means that some cyclists often ride through traffic lights when they should stop with the rest of traffic.

If a driver attempting a U-turn on a green arrow collides with someone on a bicycle, the cyclist may be liable for damages because he or she should have stopped at the red light.

Rear-End Collisions While Attempting a U-Turn

Drivers attempting a U-turn often must wait for a larger gap in traffic because once they successfully manage the maneuver, they will be in the same lane as oncoming vehicles. This often makes drivers waiting behind them impatient. Especially if the driver is attempting the U-turn during peak hours when traffic is heavier. An impatient driver may get too close and hit the accelerator before the U-turning vehicle is out of the way.

If the rear driver crashes into the back of the U-turning vehicle, he or she could be liable for damages.

U-Turn Accidents Involving Drivers Who Break Traffic Laws

A collision between a U-turning driver and a driver that ran a red light, was speeding or broke some other traffic law is another possible scenario. In this case the driver who broke the law would be liable for damages that occur.

Call a Licensed Attorney for Legal Assistance

If you were injured due to the negligent actions of another driver, our licensed attorneys are prepared to help. We offer a free legal consultation to discuss your claim. There are also no fees while we work on your case.

If you have questions, you do not need to wait to seek help. The insurance company will already be working against you, so you need an experienced advocate on your side.

Call 916-777-7777 to get started.