Traffic Attorney : Left Hand Turns


A traffic attorney must investigate who was at fault in a crash. One thing he looks at is whether one driver was turning. And, if so, what type of turn was he making. When you make a left-hand turn, you’ll be driving across oncoming traffic. This makes a left-hand turn far more dangerous than a right-hand turn.

The law imposes a special duty on someone making a left-hand turn. If you make a left-hand turn, you have to yield to any car approaching from the opposite direction. Accordingly, if there is a collision between a driver making a left-hand turn, and one proceeding straight in the opposite direction, the left-hand turner will generally be at fault.

But what if a driver making a left-hand turn hits an oncoming pedestrian. Can the pedestrian’s accident attorney argue that the driver violated the left-hand turn law? The law only speaks about an oncoming vehicle, not a pedestrian.

I would argue that, if an oncoming driver is entitled to the law’s protection, so much the more so should be an oncoming pedestrian. Pedestrians are obviously much more vulnerable than someone inside of a car. However, to my knowledge, the issue has never been decided by any court in New Jersey yet. In the meantime, any traffic attorney representing a pedestrian hit by a driver turning left should make the argument.

Of course, there may also be other laws that apply in any given situation. If you ever drive out-of-state, consult a lawyer there. Each state has different rules.

You can read the actual jury charge here that New Jersey judges use for left-hand turn situations.

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