Who is Liable in a U-Turn Accident?
It is easy to miss a cross street or turn when you are driving, particularly when you are in an unfamiliar area. You may want to make a U-turn so you can double back and get to where you need to go. U-turns require a lot of space and making this type of turn across many lanes of traffic or narrow areas can be dangerous.
The injuries sustained in U-turn accidents are very serious and generally speaking, the driver that made the risky maneuver is usually considered liable. There are exceptions though, so it is important to speak to a New York City car accident lawyer who can advise on your case.
Why are U-Turns So Dangerous?
U-turns are always dangerous to make, regardless where you are making one. In New York City though, the streets are extremely congested. To make a U-turn, you need to reduce your speed and turn in the opposite direction, which can cause a fatal accident. If the drivers behind you do not have time to brake, they could hit the rear-end of your vehicle, which can cause a chain reaction that results in a multi-vehicle accident.
T-bone accidents are also much more likely to occur when a driver makes a U-turn. These occur when another driver slams into the vehicle making the U-turn. A sideswipe accident can also occur if the driver making the U-turn drifts into the lane of oncoming traffic.
Sometimes, pedestrians and cyclists are crossing the road in the other direction when a driver makes a U-turn. Carelessly crashing into them when making a U-turn can cause some of the most serious injuries, even fatalities.
Are U-Turns Legal in New York?
U-turns are legal in New York, as long as they are not made in areas that prohibit them. The safest time to make a U-turn is when a glowing green arrow is showing on the traffic signal and indicates that you can turn left. When doing so, it is still crucial that you yield the right-of-way to other traffic. You should also always check traffic in both directions to ensure the way is clear.
In New York, it is against the law to make a U-turn in the following areas:
- New York City business districts
- School zones
- Any area that has signage indicating that U-turns are not allowed
- Limited-access expressways
Any time a driver makes a U-turn in one of the above areas and causes an accident, they will likely be found civilly liable for the crash.
Determining Liability for U-Turns
In most accident cases, the driver that made a U-turn is considered the negligent party and as such, is held liable for paying damages. However, there are exceptions to this. To determine fault, many questions have to be answered, such as:
- How did the driver execute the U-turn?
- Did the driver take reasonable care and yield the right-of-way to other drivers?
- Was the area in which the U-turn was made a prohibited area?
- Were any of the drivers involved in the crash speeding, texting, or otherwise driving in a reckless manner?
- Were any of the motorists involved impaired while they were driving?
The above issues, and more, must be carefully examined before liability can be determined in a U-turn accident. If you have been the victim or have made a U-turn and become hurt, it is important to have an experienced car accident lawyer review the specific facts of your case.
Shared Fault in U-Turn Accidents
It is not uncommon for more than one driver to be found at fault for a crash. Any driver involved in the accident could be found to have made mistakes that caused injury or fatality.
New York follows a pure comparative fault law. This means that anyone hurt in an accident can file a claim for compensation, even if they contributed to the accident. Under the pure model of this law, even if it is found that you were 99 percent at fault for the accident, you could still file a claim to recover your losses. Any damages you are awarded are reduced by your same percentage of fault.
For example, you may have been hurt by a driver that was making a U-turn in a prohibited area, but you were also speeding at the time. A jury may determine that you were 20 percent at fault for the accident, and that you deserve $50,000 in damages. Twenty percent of $50,000 is $10,000, so you would ultimately receive $40,000. Medical care alone can cost tens of thousands of dollars in New York City and so, it is always advised that you speak to a personal injury lawyer who can help you file a claim.
How to Make a U-Turn Safely
The streets of New York are chaotic, and an accident can occur at any time. When making U-turns, keep the following tips in mind to ensure you make it safely:
- Only make a U-turn when absolutely necessary.
- Look for signage prohibiting U-turns in a certain area before making one.
- Never try to make a U-turn on curved roads or in other areas where it is difficult to see approaching vehicles.
- Use signals to indicate that you are reducing your speed and check both directions before making the turn.
- Use extra caution when attempting to make a U-turn in poor weather conditions, such as rain or snow.
Our Car Accident Lawyers in New York City Can Help After Injury
If you or someone you love has been hurt in a U-turn accident, our New York City car accident lawyers can advise on your case. At Silberstein, Awad & Miklos, P.C., our attorneys have the necessary experience with U-turn accidents to determine who was at fault and will hold them accountable for paying the full damages you are entitled to. Call us now at 1-877-ASK4SAM or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.