My Left Turn

Home » Legally Speaking Posts » My Left Turn

Q: Driving westbound, I needed to make a left turn.  At the intersection, I crossed into the opposite lane.  Before proceeding south, I stopped to allow a woman to cross the street into which I was turning.  When I stopped, it was clear on my original street: the eastbound car that soon would hit me was stopped at a traffic light maybe about 200 feet or 300 feet away.  But “it’s coming at us”, my mother-in-law soon screamed.  You guessed it: just as I was about to exit the intersection, that car struck the passenger side of mine.

A third driver was behind the car that hit me.  He says that, as the other car approached the intersection, I made a left turn that was swift and abrupt, and struck the other car.  He says that less than one second passed between when he saw me turn and the collision.  The police accident report, too, says that I failed to yield the right-of-way to oncoming traffic.  I was charged with violating Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1141 and pleaded guilty.  My friend says that this means that I was ‘negligent per se’ and don’t have a case.

A: Sounds like your friend is not a lawyer: you may well still have a case.  As you probably know, section 1141 requires the driver of a vehicle intending to turn to the left to yield the right of way to any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction which is so close to the intersection as to constitute an ‘immediate hazard’.  Nevertheless, even if you violated the statute, quite possibly the other driver was at fault, too.

In New York, the law evaluates the comparative fault of the parties.  Suppose, for example, that the other car was speeding and that, at a proper speed, the driver could have avoided this tragedy.  In that case, you certainly appear to have an argument for at least some recovery from the other driver.

By: Scott Baron,
Attorney at Law Advertorial

The law responds to changed conditions; exceptions and variations abound. Here, the information is general; always seek out competent counsel. This article shall not be construed as legal advice.

Copyright © 2018-2020 Scott Baron & Associates, P.C. All rights reserved. 159-49 Cross Bay Boulevard, Howard Beach, New York 11414 1750 Central Park Ave, Yonkers, NY 10710 718-738-9800, 914-337-9800, 1-866-927-4878