Determining Who is at Fault in a Left Turn Motorcycle Crash
Under California Vehicle Code § 21801 (a) The driver of a vehicle intending to turn to the left or to complete a U-turn . . . shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles approaching from the opposite direction which are close enough to constitute a hazard at any time during the turning movement, and shall continue to yield the right-of-way to the approaching vehicles until the left turn or U-turn can be made with reasonable safety.
According to California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) a “hazard” exists if: “any approaching vehicle is so near or is approaching so fast that a reasonably careful person would realize that there is a danger of a collision [or accident].”
In other words, the driver who is attempting to make a left turn must ensure that no oncoming vehicles are close enough to be a hazard before he or she proceeds across each lane the driver of a vehicle will yield the right of way, until the turn may be made with reasonable safety.
Determining Fault in a Left Turn Motorcycle Accident
Before we dive into determining fault in a left turn motorcycle collision, it is important to understand the term “Negligence“, which is a term used to characterize conduct that creates an unreasonable risk of harm to others. In order to prove negligence you must prove:
- The defendant owed a duty toward the plaintiff (i.e. reasonable care for other’s safety)
- The defendant failed to act in a reasonable way, or breached its duty (for example, a driver was reckless, drunk, ran a stop sign, or was speeding)
- The defendant’s breach was the actual cause of another’s injuries
- The defendant’s breach was the proximate cause of the injuries (the defendant should have known that the breach would cause injury)
- The plaintiff suffered actual injuries, for which he or she may claim damages
In theory both a rider and the motorist can potentially be partially responsible for causing the left turn collision. For instance under the comparative negligence theory a party may contribute to an act of negligence or be comparatively negligent for his or her own injuries. However, it is important to remember that recovery for damages will be reduced by the percentage of fault associated with that matter. For instance, if you were found 20% at fault for causing the accident, your settlement and or judgement will be reduced by 20% of the entire dollar amount settled or awarded.
There are several problems with this. First off, even if there is a traffic collision report, stating that the driver of the car was at fault, the traffic collision report is hearsay. As a matter of fact, it cannot get admitted as evidence to prove the dynamics of the motorcycle accident. Also, the insurance company also doesn’t have to consider this as proof of fault.
The insurance company attorneys not having to consider the traffic accident report, will begin placing blame on the innocent victim. They might claim, the rider wasn’t being inattentive. Or they may say you weren’t riding at a safe speed during the collision. Then again, they might claim the rider should have yielded.
The Endless Insurance Company Excuses. They can also claim the motorcyclist was not wearing bright enough clothing or anything else. Hence they may argue the motorcyclist at fault instead of the insured auto driver. So besides being worried about getting your bike fixed and custom motorcycle parts, now you have to PROVE it was not your fault.
Negligence determines who was at fault and their degree of the blame. Both a rider and the motorist can be partially responsible. The biker can still recover money. Some of these accidents take place due to the motorcyclist passing a larger vehicle in the same travel lane. In fact, that could have obscured him from an oncoming vehicle turning left.
The other motorist usually fails to have enough reaction time to complete the left turn safely. This makes the car into a wall of steel, ejecting the rider from their bike. The rider may have been reckless. So starting a motorcycle lawsuit is not always the answer. A unique factor to consider remains that most insurance companies refuse to pay money after a rider gets smacked down.
Their attorneys do what they can to backup the despicable insurance company. Their goal is to reduce the liability of their insured driver. So this means they can pay less to the innocent or injured victim. As a matter of fact, it becomes a windfall to the large corporation. And they treated the rider like a stooge.
When a motorcycle collides at a high rate of speed, the insurance company will try to place complete or at least partial fault on the motorcyclist. They will say improving rider safety could become strengthened. That way the cyclist can be more attentive, etc. Also, this remains why the rider needs the experienced motorcycle accident lawyer. Someone must fight for their rights. Only a pro can prove liability after a collision.
Typical scenarios include:
- A rider is passing a vehicle that had blocked him from view
- The rider driving towards an intersection
A rider overtaking the biker and cuts left in from on him, sideswiping the rider, etc.
- Let’s face it; motorcycles have a low, narrow nomenclature. Many motorists simply don’t see the bike until it is too late. Situational awareness on the open road is a key factor in avoidance of vehicle accidents. Many drivers traversing down the highway are inattentive. This egregious behavior makes the offending motorists liable for the rider’s torment and costs of convalescence.
Experienced and inexperienced riders must be ready to deal with every roadside contingency in as little as microseconds. Motorcycle accidents normally occur blue and are totally unpredictable. Only sturdy boots, helmets and other gear reduce harm. But when coupled with training and muscle memory it can prevent harm.
How to Make a Correct Left-Hand Turn.
At the outset, a car operator needs to not be a jerk and pay attention. This elementary action will save lives and on trips to the courthouse. Below is a checklist for all road users. Also, it should help riders and other motorists understand the rules of the road. That way maybe they can exercise some basic civility too.
Always utilize your turn signal when approaching the turn. Slow the vehicle down and give yourself time to scan the road at least 70 or so feet in front of yourself.
Don’t jump lanes. Assure that you are actually in the correct lane and don’t make unsafe, last minute lane changes when approaching the turn.
Exercise extreme care when at the intersection. Stay idle until safe to move. You must have optimum situational awareness before turning.
The law requires that you give the right of way to pedestrians and oncoming traffic.
- Negotiate the turn by staying right of the center line divider, and don’t jump lanes. Stay in your same predesignated lane. This means stay in the inner lane. The outside lane is designated for motorists who are negotiating right-hand turns.
- Always look left and right and in both rear view mirrors immediately before making the maneuver.
- Do not speed, especially at a four-way intersection. You may not have enough time to slow and avoid a head on hazard as you head towards the lights.
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