Skip to Content
Car Accident Baltimore

Left Turn Accidents in Baltimore

Left turn accidents in Baltimore, Maryland, are a significant concern for drivers navigating the city’s busy streets. Making a left turn requires precise timing and judgment, and even a momentary miscalculation can lead to severe consequences. These accidents are common because they involve crossing oncoming traffic, which presents numerous opportunities for misjudgment and collision.

Due to Baltimore’s dense traffic and frequent intersections, drivers making left turns are particularly vulnerable to accidents. Turning left requires accurately assessing the speed and distance of oncoming vehicles, a task that can be incredibly challenging during rush hour or in poor visibility conditions. As a result, left-turn accidents are among the most frequent types of collisions in Baltimore, often leading to significant damage and injury.

Maryland law typically places the burden of fault on the driver making the left turn when it comes to liability in left-turn accidents. This is because left-turning drivers must yield to oncoming traffic and ensure the intersection is clear before proceeding. Failure to do so can result in a collision, for which the left-turning driver is usually held responsible. This rule applies at intersections and when turning into driveways, alleys, and private roads.

However, there are exceptions to this general rule. For example, if the oncoming driver was speeding or ran a red light, they might be liable for the accident. Additionally, if a left-turning driver has a green arrow signal, they have the right of way, and any oncoming traffic must yield. These nuances underscore the importance of understanding Maryland’s traffic laws and the specifics of each accident scenario.

Given the high stakes involved, drivers in Baltimore must exercise extreme caution when making left turns. Being aware of the traffic around you, waiting for a clear gap in oncoming vehicles, and diligently following traffic signals can help reduce the risk of left-turn accidents. Moreover, a clear understanding of the circumstances and legal requirements can be critical in determining fault and securing fair compensation for any damages or injuries incurred in an accident.

In this comprehensive guide by Baltimore car accident lawyer John Leppler’s injury law firm we address all the most frequently asked questions about left-turn car crashes in Baltimore.

How Often Do Left-Turn Accidents Happen in Baltimore, Maryland?

Left-turn accidents are a significant issue in Baltimore, Maryland, contributing to nearly 25% of all crashes at intersections. These accidents are prevalent at intersections, where the convergence of multiple roads creates numerous opportunities for conflict and collision. Turning left involves crossing oncoming traffic, which increases the likelihood of accidents due to misjudgment and miscommunication between drivers.

Several factors contribute to the high incidence of left-turn accidents. One of the primary causes is inadequate surveillance by drivers, who may fail to properly check for oncoming traffic or pedestrians before making the turn. Additionally, drivers often make false assumptions about the actions of others on the road, leading to dangerous situations where they turn without realizing an oncoming vehicle is approaching.

Misjudgment of the gap between vehicles and the speed of oncoming traffic is another common cause, as drivers might incorrectly estimate the time they have to complete the turn safely. Obstructed views, whether due to other vehicles, buildings, or foliage, further complicate the task of turning left and increase the risk of accidents.

Statistics by the NHTSA highlight the critical reasons behind these crashes. In vehicles making left turns, drivers—regardless of sex—were significantly more likely to be observed with essential reasons such as inadequate surveillance, false assumptions of other drivers’ actions, misjudgments of gaps or speeds, and turns made with obstructed views. These factors collectively underscore the complexity and danger of executing left turns, especially in busy urban areas like Baltimore.

Crashes at intersections are particularly prevalent because these locations involve a mix of movements—left turns, right turns, and crossing over—each presenting potential conflicts. The National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey, which analyzed crash data from 2005 to 2007, found that critical pre-crash events and driver behavior significantly influence the likelihood of accidents at intersections. Factors such as the type of traffic control device, the driver’s age and sex, and atmospheric conditions all play a role in these crash scenarios.

In essence, left-turn accidents in Baltimore are a frequent and severe concern, responsible for a substantial portion of intersection-related crashes. The combination of inadequate surveillance, misjudgment, and obstructed views contributes to the high incidence of these accidents. Understanding these factors can help drivers take more cautious and informed actions when making left turns, ultimately reducing the risk of collisions.

What Makes Left-Turn Accidents in Baltimore So Dangerous

Left-turn accidents in Baltimore are among the most dangerous types of collisions on the road. Making a left turn is not only one of the top five driving phobias in the U.S. but also accounts for a disproportionate number of traffic accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 53.1% of crossing-path crashes involve left turns, whereas only 5.7% involve right turns. This stark contrast highlights the inherent risks of left turns, particularly at intersections where traffic converges from multiple directions, significantly increasing the potential for accidents.

Intersections controlled by traffic signals present a specific danger for left-turn accidents. NHTSA crash statistics reveal that about 69% of crashes at these intersections are classified as “Left Turn Across Path/Opposite Direction” (LTACP/OD). This type of accident is especially difficult due to several factors that make the maneuver inherently risky.

One major issue is limited visibility. Drivers making left turns often have their view obstructed by other vehicles, buildings, or natural barriers, which can lead to poor judgment calls. Additionally, the pressure from impatient drivers behind them can cause some to make premature turns, increasing the likelihood of a collision.

Human error in judging the speed and distance of oncoming traffic further exacerbates the danger. Miscalculations can result in the turning vehicle being struck by an oncoming car traveling at high speed, often leading to severe injuries or fatalities.

The nature of left-turn accidents makes them particularly hazardous. These collisions frequently result in T-bone accidents, where the front of the oncoming vehicle crashes into the side of the turning vehicle. Such impacts are severe because they directly hit the passenger side, which offers less protection than the front or rear of the car. In 2019, T-bone accidents accounted for 23% of all accident fatalities, underscoring the lethality of these types of crashes.

Beyond the danger to drivers and passengers, left turns also pose significant risks to pedestrians and bicyclists. Statistics show that pedestrian accidents and bicycle accidents occur by left-turning vehicles at over three times the rate compared to those hit by right-turning cars. The complex dynamics of left turns, which require drivers to monitor oncoming traffic, pedestrians, and cyclists simultaneously, contribute to this increased risk.

Making the Right Choice

Failure to Yield Car Accidents in Baltimore, Maryland

Failure-to-yield car accidents in Baltimore pose a significant risk as drivers must adhere to traffic laws and yield the right-of-way to avoid serious collisions. When drivers neglect or refuse to yield, they can cause severe accidents, leading to costly medical bills, lost income, and significant physical and emotional trauma for victims. These accidents frequently occur at intersections, where drivers run red lights or stop signs, leading to collisions with motorists who have the right-of-way. Poorly timed left turns in front of oncoming traffic also commonly result in failure-to-yield accidents.

Several factors contribute to these accidents. Distracted driving, such as texting or eating, diverts attention from the road. Driving under the influence impairs judgment and reaction time, while fatigue affects a driver’s ability to make quick decisions. Speeding reduces the time available to react to oncoming traffic, and failure to check blind spots can result in collisions with nearby vehicles or pedestrians. Inexperienced drivers are also more likely to fail to yield due to a lack of familiarity with traffic laws and scenarios.

Failure-to-yield accidents can lead to severe injuries, including head and neck injuries, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and amputations. Victims may also have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) due to the traumatic nature of the accident.

If you are injured in a failure-to-yield accident, you may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and other related costs. Proving liability involves gathering evidence such as police reports, crash scene photos, witness statements, and expert testimony. An experienced attorney can help build a strong case and advocate for fair compensation.

Maryland’s Left-Turn Laws

In Maryland, traffic laws regarding left turns are straightforward but crucial for ensuring road safety. According to Maryland Statute §21-402, drivers making a left-hand turn must yield the right-of-way to all oncoming traffic unless they have a green turn arrow at an intersection.

This means that without a green arrow, left-turning vehicles must always wait for a clear and safe opportunity to turn, ensuring they do not interfere with oncoming vehicles, pedestrians, or cyclists.

Despite the clarity of this law, liability in left-turn accidents can be complex due to Maryland’s contributory negligence rule. Under this rule, if a driver is even partially at fault for an accident, they cannot recover any damages.

For example, if a driver is found to be 10% at fault for an accident while the other party is 90% at fault, the contributory negligence rule bars the less-at-fault party from pursuing damages. However, in practice, juries often circumvent this rule by assigning full blame to one party, thus allowing the injured party to seek compensation.

The “right of way” concept is central to understanding left-turn laws. Drivers must proceed cautiously and yield to nearly anyone or anything they might hit while turning left. This applies not only at intersections but also when turning into driveways, alleys, or from public and private roads, as outlined in Statute §21-601. Merely looking in the direction of oncoming traffic is insufficient; drivers must ensure the way is clear before proceeding.

Several scenarios illustrate how liability may be determined in left-turn accidents. If a left-turning driver is hit by another vehicle that runs a red light, the latter would typically be at fault. Similarly, the rear driver would generally be liable if a vehicle strikes a left-turning car from behind. However, if a driver swerves into the left-turning vehicle’s lane and causes a collision, the swerving driver might be held responsible. In all cases, the left-turning driver must have acted cautiously and yielded appropriately to avoid liability.

Proving Liability in Left Turn Accidents in Baltimore, Maryland

Proving liability in left-turn accidents in Baltimore, Maryland, often hinges on the specific details of the crash, particularly the point of impact on the vehicles involved. Typically, if the car making the left turn is hit at the front, the driver of that car is likely to be deemed at fault. This indicates that they turned into oncoming traffic without sufficient clearance. Conversely, if the left-turning car is struck towards the rear, the fault may lie with the other driver, often due to excessive speeding or failure to stop in time.

There are exceptions where the driver not making the left turn could be at fault. For instance, if the left-turning driver has a green arrow, they have the right-of-way, making any oncoming vehicle that collides with them responsible for the crash. Similarly, if the other driver ran a red light or stop sign or was excessively speeding, they could be held liable. Issues like malfunctioning traffic signals or a driver rear-ending the left-turning vehicle and pushing it into oncoming traffic also shift the blame away from the left-turning driver.

Maryland’s contributory negligence law complicates these cases. This law states that if the injured party is even 1% at fault, they cannot recover any damages. Therefore, establishing that the left-turning driver had no fault whatsoever is crucial for them to claim compensation. Evidence such as witness statements, traffic camera footage, and expert testimony can be pivotal in demonstrating the other driver’s fault.

As we mentioned, state traffic laws are vital in these assessments. Under Maryland Transportation Code §21-402, drivers making left turns must yield to oncoming traffic unless they have a green arrow. Additionally, Maryland Transportation Code §21-601 mandates that drivers approach the intersection in the extreme left lane and follow traffic flow when turning. Any deviation from these regulations can be used to establish liability.

Ultimately, proving fault in left-turn accidents requires a comprehensive investigation of all factors, including vehicle speeds, driver behavior, and adherence to traffic laws. An experienced attorney can thoroughly review these elements to build a strong case for determining liability and ensuring that the responsible party is held accountable.

Challenges in Proving Contributory Negligence in Left-Turn Accidents in Baltimore

Proving contributory negligence in left-turn accidents in Baltimore can be exceptionally challenging due to the stringent requirements for evidence and witness testimony. Maryland’s contributory negligence rule states that if a driver is even 1% at fault for an accident, they cannot recover any damages. This rule significantly complicates the process for plaintiffs who must demonstrate that the other driver was also at fault.

The reality is that witnesses typically notice the accident only after it happens, making it rare to find someone who saw the events leading up to the crash in detail. Even if such a witness exists, convincing them to provide a statement or testify can be another hurdle.

This difficulty in gathering reliable and timely witness testimony often limits the practical impact of the contributory negligence rule. Plaintiffs face the daunting task of substantiating their claims with clear, compelling evidence to shift any blame onto the other driver.

Without this evidence, the default assumption typically places the fault squarely on the driver making the left turn. Thus, while the contributory negligence rule is a significant legal standard, its application in left-turn accident cases is frequently mitigated by the inherent challenges in proving shared fault.

For more information on Maryland negligence laws, reach out Leppler Injury Law today, we offer free consultations.

What If I’m The Passenger in the Left-Turning Car That Got Hit?

If you’re a passenger in a left-turning car that gets into an accident, you have the right to seek compensation for your injuries. This often involves making a claim against the driver of the vehicle you’re in, which can be awkward if the driver is a family member or friend. However, it’s essential to prioritize your medical and financial needs.

If you’re in a taxi or ride-share vehicle like Uber or Lyft, both the driver’s insurance and the ride-share company’s insurance might cover your damages. These companies typically provide passenger coverage, including medical and related costs.

Consulting a qualified attorney is crucial to navigating this complex situation. An experienced lawyer can help you understand your rights, manage claims with insurance companies, and ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. Prioritizing your recovery and addressing financial burdens should be your primary focus.

Knowledgeable Auto Accident Attorney in Baltimore, Maryland

Navigating the complexities of car accidents requires expert guidance, and John Leppler, a seasoned personal injury attorney in Baltimore, Maryland, specializes in assisting Baltimore residents with their legal needs. With a commitment to transparent, straightforward communication, John ensures that his clients understand their options and feel supported throughout the legal process. John is available 24/7 to address any concerns or inquiries, prioritizes client satisfaction, and strives to provide professional and friendly legal assistance.

Don’t let the intricacies of the legal system discourage you from seeking the help you need. Whether you’re dealing with insurance negotiations or pursuing compensation for your injuries, John Leppler offers the expertise and dedication required to advocate for your rights effectively. Contact Leppler Injury Law today to schedule a free consultation and take the first step toward achieving the justice and compensation you deserve.