Who is at fault? Case Study: Right Turn Yield

At Laskin Balma Attorneys at Law in Sacramento CA, we see all types of car accident cases. There are the normal, everyday rear end collisions. There are the rarer, but not unheard of t-bones. And we even see instances of bicyclist being hit by cars. There are some times when it is easy to tell who is at fault for a collision. A completely stationary car sitting at a red light is not going to be blamed for getting hit from behind. But sometimes circumstances are more complicated and the answer becomes “It depends.”

Here’s a fact pattern: A Chevy is navigating a right turn controlled by a yield sign in Sacramento CA. They slow and stop for oncoming traffic. The Toyota behind them doesn’t notice they’ve stopped because they are looking to the left to gauge the oncoming traffic as they navigate the right turn yield. Crash!

Whose fault is it? Right off the bat many will say it’s the Toyota’s fault because the Chevy was hit from behind, but let’s add some details. The right turn is a yield lane, but it has it’s own lane for 100 feet before it merges with a lane of oncoming traffic, plenty of time to speed up and merge with traffic. Traffic is very light at this time of day and, in fact, there is nobody in the right lanes of the through street. So you might ask yourself, why did the Chevy stop? The Chevy stopped because the Chevy always stops at a right turn yield. It’s how they were taught to drive and it’s just the way they do it. Is it the wrong way? Yes. Is it unsafe? It depends…

Even with all these facts, it’s still the Toyota’s fault because the Toyota should not look away from the Chevy while it is still close enough to hit. The basic speed law will be applied. The Toyota should have made sure the Chevy continued forward and entered traffic before turning his head to gauge the oncoming vehicles. But if I represented the Toyota, I would definitely bring up issues of comparative fault. Stopping for no reason on a roadway is just as dangerous as speeding. Violation of vehicle code section 22109, unsafe stop.

Everyone has a responsibility to everyone else on the road. You are not allowed to drive unsafely. But nobody is perfect and everybody is usually doing at least one thing wrong. Are your hands always at ten and two? Do you check all your mirrors every thirty seconds? Do you signal for every turn and every lane change?

We know nobody is perfect. And we know there are many different ways to look at a case. When a potential client calls and asks if we can help them, we never assume we know the answer right off the bat, we get as much information as we can. Time and again we find that the little details surrounding the incident is what makes or breaks the case. That’s why Laskin Balma Attorneys at Law are one of the most respected and feared firms in the Sacramento region.

Need advice? Feel you have a potential personal injury case? Contact Laskin Balma Attorneys at Law in Sacramento California today.