Colorado Left Turn Laws
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Dangerous and far too common in the United States, car accidents may be caused by a variety of reasons. Left-hand turns are among the most dangerous maneuvers performed while driving; they are especially dangerous due to the fact that a driver must turn perpendicular to oncoming lanes of traffic and cross in front of them. If a driver fails to properly check to make sure they can safely perform a left turn, an accident may occur, often resulting in serious injuries from the force of a vehicle striking the side of the vehicle head-on.
If you have been injured in an accident caused by a vehicle improperly making a left turn, contact an experienced Colorado accident attorney from Zinda Law Group as soon as possible at (800) 863-5312. The initial consultation is free, and if we are not able to win your case, you will not owe us anything.
LEFT TURN CAR ACCIDENTS
Turning left is one of the most common causes of car accidents throughout the United States each year. Indeed, about 22% of the approximately 6 million car crashes nationwide each year are caused by left-hand turns. To put this statistic into perspective, only about 1% of crashes annually involve vehicles turning right. What makes left turns so dangerous is the fact that in order to turn left, drivers must cross the oncoming flow of traffic.
A driver seeking to turn left needs to have an unobstructed view of approaching traffic to be sure there are no oncoming vehicles nearby that present an immediate hazard before they attempt to turn. Turning on a hill or near a curve can be especially dangerous, as the driver seeking to turn may have a limited view of oncoming traffic. Often, drivers may adequately check for oncoming cars, but misjudge the speed of the oncoming vehicles; this results in the driver turning even though it may not be safe to do so, resulting in an accident.
Colorado Law Regarding Left Turns
Colorado, like other states, has various laws that govern how drivers must behave while driving, and these laws set forth how or when drivers can legally execute a proper left turn in Colorado. Failing to comply with applicable laws governing left turns or failing to yield the right-of-way may result in the turning driver being held liable for any resulting car accident and the injuries suffered by passengers in the driver’s vehicle or in the other vehicle.
Colorado Revised Statutes § 42-4-702
This statute requires that drivers wishing to perform a left turn within an intersection or into a private road, an alley, or a driveway must yield the right-of-way to any vehicle that may be approaching from the opposite direction if it is already within the intersection or if the oncoming vehicle is close enough that it would present an immediate hazard if the driver were to turn left at that moment. The statute also provides that any driver who violates this statute will be guilty of a class A traffic infraction. Furthermore, any evidence of breaching this statute could also be used by your Colorado car accident lawyer to prove the other driver’s liability.
Colorado Revised Statutes § 42-4-901
C.R.S. § 42-4-901 provides that any driver wishing to perform a left turn must approach the turn in the most left-hand lane lawfully available to drivers traveling in the direction of the driver. Whenever practicable, the driver shall make the left turn to the left or to the center of the intersection in order to perform the left turn while moving in the same direction as other vehicles already traveling in the same direction on the roadway being entered by the turning driver after making the left turn. As with C.R.S. § 42-4-702, any driver who violates this statute will be guilty of a class A traffic infraction, but evidence of such infraction may also help your attorney prove the driver’s liability for causing your accident.
Together, these two statutes set out the proper manner under Colorado law for drivers to safely execute a left turn. A driver who fails to comply with these statutes may be liable for an accident that results from any such failure to comply. If another driver collides with a vehicle making a left turn, the vehicle traveling with the flow of traffic is generally considered to have been an immediate hazard that should have been recognized by the driver.
As a result, the driver making the left hand turn likely had an obligation to yield the right-of-way, and failed to do so, resulting in the accident. In many cases, your Colorado car accident attorney may be able to use the driver’s violation of either or both of these statutes to hold the turning driver liable through “negligence per se,” which allows your lawyer to satisfy the requirement of proving negligence by simply proving the driver violated a law intended to avoid the specific danger caused by such violation.
One-Way Left Turns on Red
In Colorado, drivers are sometimes permitted to make a left turn when the red light is red, but a driver may only do so if the driver is turning from a one-way road onto another one-way road. Beyond this requirement, drivers should also always remain aware of any signage posted on the red light or nearby that may still prohibit any such left turns on red.
Can I Sue If I Am A Passenger In the Vehicle Making the Left Turn?
If you are a passenger in a vehicle making a left turn that is involved in a collision, you may still be able to seek compensation for any injuries or damages you suffered. The driver of the vehicle making the left turn is liable in most cases; as a result, any passengers in the liable driver’s vehicle who may have been injured can generally pursue a personal injury claim against the driver in a similar manner to anyone who was in the other vehicle and was injured in the accident. Like other car accident victims, these passengers will generally need an injury lawyer in Colorado to prove the driver was negligent in turning left and caused the accident, and their lawyer may also be able to take advantage of the legal doctrine of negligence per se by proving the driver violated Colorado’s left turn laws.
When may a driver turning left not Be Liable For An Accident?
In most accidents involving a driver making a left turn, the turning driver will be liable, but there are some situations where this may not be the case. If a driver is in a left turn lane with a traffic signal and has a green turn arrow, the turning driver will have the right-of-way. If another driver fails to heed this traffic signal and crashes into the driver making the legal left-hand turn, then the driver who failed to heed the traffic signal will generally be liable rather than the driver turning left. However, the turning driver may need the help of an experienced Colorado accident attorney to avoid liability and then to prove the other driver’s fault for the accident.
A common example of a driver making a legal left turn and clearly not being liable for an accident is when another driver may proceed into the section after ignoring the red light while the adjacent lane with traffic coming from the opposite direction has a green, left turn arrow. When an accident occurs in this situation, the driver who entered the intersection after ignoring the red light may have been driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, speeding, or simply have failed to pay attention. In this situation, it will generally be easily proven that the driver turning left was not liable and that the driver who ignored the red light and struck the turning driver should be liable for any resulting injuries or damages.
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Every car accident has the risk of causing serious or catastrophic injuries or even death. However, car accidents caused by drivers turning left when it is not safe to do so present especially significant dangers of serious injuries, especially to occupants of a vehicle that may strike the side of the turning vehicle head-on. Unfortunately, these turns are one of the most common causes of car accidents across the United States, and in Colorado it is no different; any driver who fails to correctly execute a left-hand turn or fails to properly understand applicable right-of-way laws may be liable for any resulting car accidents.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident involving left-hand turns, you should contact the skilled team of Colorado accident lawyers at Zinda Law Group as soon as possible. While each accident is unique, your Zinda Law Group attorney may help you better understand your legal options after your accident based on the unique facts and circumstances of your car crash. Our attorneys have years of experience helping other car accident victims, including those who were injured in accidents involving left-hand turns, and they will use this experience and understanding of Colorado’s left turn laws to help you pursue compensation for any injuries or damages you suffered as a result of the accident.
Meetings with attorneys are available by appointment only.