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WPI 70.02.01 Right of Way - Left Turn

Since automobiles have to share roads and highways with other automobiles, pedestrians and bicyclists there has to be an established “right to go first” or “right of way” which establishes priority on who gets to go and who has to wait. Stop signs, traffic lights and other signal provide information to motorists on what is expected. However, not every intersection is clearly marked with signage and motorists must use their best judgment.

Washington state statute, WPI 70.02.01 “Right of Way – Left Turn” provides that a driver intending to turn to the left within an intersection shall yield the right of way to any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction which is within the intersection or so close thereto as to constitute an immediate hazard. The right of way, however, is not absolute but relative, and the duty to exercise care to avoid collisions at intersections rests upon both drivers. The driver turning left needs to alert oncoming traffic by means of a turn signal of his/her intention. The driver also must wait before turning left until there is a breach in the traffic.  The primary duty rests with the driver turning to the left which duty must be performed with reasonable regard to the maintenance of a fair margin of safety at all times.

If the oncoming driver wrongfully, negligently, or unlawfully operates the vehicle in such a manner that it would deceive a reasonably careful driver making a left turn, so as to cause that driver to proceed forward on the assumption that there was a fair margin of safety, and if the driver turning left is in fact so deceived, then the right-of-way rule would not apply in favor of the oncoming driver.

Motor vehicle accidents involving cars turning left and not yielding the right of way often result in T-bone or broadside accidents. These types of accidents can result in serious injuries or even death. Sometimes these accidents are caused by drivers who are driving under the influence and misjudge the distance between their vehicle and oncoming cars. Other times they are caused by motorists who are exceeding the speed limit and disregarding the flow of traffic or by motorists who are distracted while using a cell phone or driving aggressively.

If you were broad-sided in a car accident

If you have been involved in a broadside or T-boned accident caused by a person making an illegal left hand turn, you may be eligible for compensation for damages that you received. If the other driver was cited by the police, then your case will be very strong. Eye witnesses to the motor vehicle accident can also be extremely valuable. Your personal injury attorney can obtain a copy of the police report to help in your case.

You should seek medical treatment for your injuries and have your physician or the Emergency Room document your injuries. Your medical record and chart notes will establish your degree or injury. The negligent party may be required to pay for your medical costs, your lost wages if you have to stay out of work and for your pain and suffering.

With the help of The Farber Law Group, a Washington law firm experienced and knowledgeable in handling auto accident cases, you may be able to recover the full amount of your damages. Please contact us for more information and to schedule a free consultation.

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