Who is at fault for an accident if one driver is turning right and one is turning left onto the same road?

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It depends on many factors, such as which driver had the right of way and whether any drivers were disobeying other traffic laws at the time of collision. To determine who was liable for your accident, consider the following situations:

Who is liable for an accident when the left turning driver had a green left turn signal?

When the driver turning left is doing so in compliance with a green left turn arrow, that driver has right of way. RCW § 46.61.050 requires drivers of all vehicles, bicyclists, and pedestrians to obey any and all official traffic control devices. This means that if a driver made a right on red against a driver turning left on green, s/he will be liable for violating traffic laws and causing an accident.

Note: This does not, however, allow the left-turning driver to plow into the right-turning driver. A left turning driver must yield to a driver who is already in the intersection or who cannot stop in time per RCW § 46.61.055. If a driver turning right, on red or green, is mid-turn, the left-turning driver must wait until s/he has 100 percent clearance before making the turn.

Who is liable if the left turning driver had a green light, but no turn arrow?

RCW § 46.61.185 provides that a left turning driver must yield right of way to any vehicle that is coming from the opposite direction, especially if that oncoming vehicle is already in, approaching the intersection, or clearly plans to turn right.

This means that if both parties have a solid green light, the driver turning right will have the right of way. However, the right-turning driver should always check for left-turning drivers before entering the intersection. And in no situation should the right-turning driver begin a turn if s/he sees the left-turning driver beginning to turn.

Who is liable if the left-turning driver had a red light or stop sign?

Of course, if the left-turning driver ran a red light or stop sign, s/he would be at fault (per a violation of RCW § 46.61.050). If the left turning driver came to full stop at the stop sign, and then proceeded as legally required, s/he would not be at fault.

If both drivers at a four- or two-way stop began the turn at the same time, fault would depend on which driver arrived first. For example, if the right-turning driver arrived at the stop before the left-turning driver, s/he would have the right of way to turn.

Can both drivers be at fault for an accident?

Yes. It is possible for both drivers to be at fault in an accident. For example, if a left turning driver saw the right-turning driver approach the intersection and turned anyway, s/he would be at-fault. However, if the right-turning driver turned even though the left-turning driver’s intentions were clear, s/he might share liability.

Both drivers might also share liability if both disobeyed traffic laws such as running a red light, or if both were distracted or intoxicated at the time of collision.

Where can I get help with my accident?

As you can see, when both drivers are making turns at the time of the accident, things can get complicated. You can count on the insurance companies to deny any liability and accuse the other driver of being at fault. And because the law can be murky and has many exceptions, these claims can be difficult to prove.

You do not want to handle this type of accident claim on your own. The Kirkland car accident lawyers at Max Meyers Law PLLC will evaluate your claim, and fight the insurance company to get you everything you deserve. If the insurer is disputing liability, we will work with accident reconstruction experts to determine which party had the right of way during your collision.

Call us today at (425) 399-7000 to schedule your free consultation and discuss your case.

Max Meyers
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Max is a Kirkland personal injury attorney handling cases in Seattle, King County & surrounding in WA State.