Making a left turn is a leading reason for auto accidents in Chicago. Over the years, the city has implemented measures, such as enlarging speed bumps and installing bollards (plastic posts with flexible bases) along the centerline close to crosswalks. The goal is to enforce slower, 90-degree turns and prevent drivers from making turns at smaller angles that would cross lanes of oncoming traffic. It could protect crosswalk users, who often find themselves in drivers’ blind spots on those left turns. Despite the effort, left-turn accidents prevail and end up causing a lot of damage. If you sustained injuries in any such accident, you deserve to recover monetary compensation from the driver liable. Our left turn accident lawyer at Phillips Law Offices tends to work on your behalf to recover your economic and non-economic losses.
Left turn laws in Chicago
Accidents often occur at intersections when a vehicle hurriedly tries to turn left against oncoming traffic. When making these left turns, the driver must be mindful of their blind spots, oncoming traffic, bicycles/motorcycles in the roadways, and potential crosswalk pedestrians. All motorcyclists, bicyclists, pedestrians, and other drivers in that intersection risk suffering severe injuries if there is any distraction or misjudgment while turning.
One of the following three situations may occur when approaching an intersection where drivers can make left turns:
Protected left-hand turn
The driver makes a safe left turn when the traffic lights have a green arrow on the light cycle.
Unprotected left turn
Here, the driver turns left as others in oncoming traffic continue driving straight even when there is no left turn green arrow on the traffic light.
Right of way for oncoming traffic
In this case, the driver waits for other vehicles to create a safe opportunity for the left turn.
Oncoming traffic has the right of way and need not stop or slow down to allow a left-turning driver to cross. Every left-turning driver must also give pedestrians and cyclists the right of way before proceeding with their left-hand turn. If a vehicle enters a driveway or a side street without a traffic light or a sign, the motorist making a left turn must follow the same rules.
The state law of Illinois regarding left turns on roadways is precise. The driver who intends to go left must yield to all other vehicles, bicyclists, and pedestrians. In case of an illegal left turn, a police officer will issue a ticket, imposing a $75 fine and potential court costs. An improper left turn in specific cases may also result in reckless driving charges. Reckless driving offenses in Chicago are Class A misdemeanors. It will add penalties significantly and include possible jail time, depending on the severity of the accusation. Contact a left turn accident lawyer in Chicago to get the help for situation.
Injuries sustained by left turn accidents
Devastating left turn accidents can happen in a split second, turning a short, instant drive into a terrifying nightmare. Most left-turn accidents result in fatalities for the driver or passengers, severe injuries for others involved, and expensive property damage that costs a substantial amount to repair. The severity of any injuries you sustained in a left turn accident will directly depend on the circumstances of the event. However, some auto crashes are catastrophic and include the following kinds of injuries:
- Internal bleeding
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Limb loss and amputation
- Multiple fractures
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Organ damage
- Brain stem injury
- Burns and bruises
- Disfiguring scars
- Intense nerve pain
Factors contributing to left-turn crashes
When turning left, a motorist must make several decisions in a few seconds. For instance, that person has to consider the speed of approaching cars and the time before a traffic signal changes from green to red. If the driver misjudges the distance or speed of an oncoming vehicle, an accident is likely to happen. Apart from this, the following factors add to the risk of a left-turn collision:
- Distracted, intoxicated, or mentally exhausted driving
- Traffic disruptions
- Turning with an obstructed view
- Inadequate surveillance of the area
- Overspeeding when turning left at the intersection
- Drivers failing to use a turn signal
- Miscalculating the gap across the intersection
- A sudden occurrence, such as a heart attack
As already said, left turn accidents could cause fatal consequences, so it is best to take extra precautions. Always check your blind spots and the potential paths of bicycles, motorcycles, and pedestrians. Turn left only if you are sure that the roads are clear and that there is a clear passage to turn safely. Moreover, under no circumstances should you make an illegal left turn.
Determining liability in a left turn case
Contrary to most Chicago road accidents, left turns generally consider one party at fault. The person making the left turn in most situations is negligent. It is because traffic can flow freely; typically, left-hand turn drivers do not have the right of way. They have to yield to oncoming traffic and wait until the traffic gets clear before proceeding. But if the left-turning driver fails to give way, he becomes the cause of the accident and is liable for compensation.
However, not all drivers are at fault in left-turn accidents. In a few scenarios, those turning left do not behave negligently and can not be held responsible. For instance, a pedestrian crossed the street as you turned left, or the car in front of you suddenly stopped. Nevertheless, you could be partially at fault for such mishaps. If you met with a left turn accident but did not break any rule, ask your left turn accident lawyer to establish your case. In the following situations, the driver turning left is not fully accountable:
- The approaching vehicle was overspeeding.
- The oncoming auto passed through a red light.
- During the turn, something unexpected happened, causing you to slow down.
In many cases, both drivers are to blame for a left-turn collision. But, even if you were partially to blame for the accident, you could still seek compensation. Your settlement will be less based on your level of fault. For example, a car turned left in front of you as you were speeding through the intersection. The insurance company assigns you 30% of the fault because if you hadn’t been driving too fast, you might have been able to avoid the collision. You could only receive $35,000 in compensation for your injuries if you requested $50,000 in damages (70 percent of your demand).
Note that you qualify for the claim only if the other party contributed more to the accident’s causes than you did.
Seeking Left turn accident lawyer for the accident
A judge or jury may often hold a driver accountable for their negligence if they turn left in front of another car traveling the opposite way or if they turn left and hit a pedestrian or a cyclist. However, the driver who turns left might not always be at fault or liable for an accident. For instance, when a straight-moving vehicle speeds through an intersection or when a straight-moving vehicle ignores a red light. Based on your unique circumstances, a Chicago left-turn accident lawyer can assist you in determining your legal rights. Contact our well-experienced legal team of Phillips Law Offices at (312) 598-0917 to file your claim and seek recovery as soon as possible.
If a driver’s improper or illegal left turn caused severe injuries, you might have incurred losses for medical care, lost wages, property damage, anxiety, and pain and suffering. We do not want accident victims to suffer more because of this circumstance. You shouldn’t be required to cover out-of-pocket costs for injuries you sustained that were not your fault. Our left turn accident lawyer will protect your legal rights and assist you with your next steps.
Intersections are the most common spots for left-turn accidents. A red light camera or surveillance footage is most likely to be available for us to establish that the other driver was at fault. If not, we will have to rely on images, the police report, expert testimony regarding accident reconstruction, and eyewitness testimonies to demonstrate that the other driver was negligent while turning left or navigating the intersection. Eventually, we will seek reimbursement for physical, financial, and emotional stress upon you and your family.
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