What is the Right of Way, and Who Has it in a Left Turn Accident?

Posted: July 30, 2022

Right of Way Laws

Left TurnIn general, New York State’s right of way laws establish which vehicle or pedestrian may proceed before the next in a particular situation. Thus, according to the Department of Motor Vehicles, right of way laws determine “who goes first and who must wait under certain conditions.” The Department of Motor Vehicles adds that these laws help resolve traffic conflicts in cases where traffic signs or pavement markings cannot.  

Right of way laws aim to provide a safe and orderly flow of vehicle and pedestrian traffic, especially at intersections. A great deal of  accidents that occur at intersections tend to involve left turns, which often require motorists to cross the oncoming lane of traffic.   

Left Turns and the Right of Way

In New York, the general rule is that drivers making left-hand turns must yield the right of way to traffic approaching from the opposite direction when it is “within the intersection or so close as to constitute an immediate hazard.” That is, a motorist seeking to turn left may have to wait some time, or refrain from turning, before executing a left turn across the oncoming lane of traffic.   

A driver who causes an accident by violating this law may be liable for resulting injuries. In fact, if the injured innocent party can establish that the motorist turning left did so in violation of the Vehicle and Traffic Law, that may give rise to a case of negligence per se 

Left-Turn Drivers May Not Always Be Responsible for an Accident

Left-turning vehicles are not always 100-percent responsible in intersection cases. For instance, the driver executing a left-hand turn may not be totally responsible where the other driver’s negligence caused or contributed to the accident by, for example, driving well over the speed limit. New York is a comparative fault state, so both drivers can share fault. If both drivers share fault, the injured person’s bodily injury recovery can be reduced in proportion with the injured person’s fault.  

Further, a left-turning vehicle which turns left in violation of the Vehicle and Traffic Law may have a defense where the statutory violation was somehow caused by a sudden and unforeseen occurrence. For instance, this may occur where an unexpected medical condition renders a left-turning motorist unable to properly operate the vehicle, resulting in an accident. This is known as a sudden medical emergency, and an experienced car accident attorney can assess the validity of this affirmative defense.  

Were You Injured in a Left Turn Accident?

If you were injured in a left turn accident and are seeking legal help, give us a call today at (844) 444-4444, or submit a form online. Our car accident attorneys have the knowledge and experience to help you get maximum compensation.     

Related Blog Articles
Our Achievements
We are proud to announce that William Mattar was named one of 2021’s Best Companies to Work for in New York. As a firm focused on helping people, we understand that this starts with how we treat each other. We’re happy to be recognized for creating such a notably positive work environment!

Start a Free Case Evaluation

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.