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Left-turn accidents: A deadly crash scenario for motorcyclists

On Behalf of | Oct 26, 2022 | Personal Injury

It is commonly understood that riding a motorcycle is more dangerous than traveling in a car. Motorcycles are smaller and lighter than other motorized vehicles, and they offer no external protection during a crash.

However, these factors alone do not account for the disproportionate number of motorcyclist injuries and deaths in California and throughout the United States. In many cases, drivers of larger vehicles are to blame for failing to notice motorcyclists, misjudging their speed and proximity, or both. One of the deadliest and most common crash scenarios is the left-turn accident.

What are left-turn crashes?

Whether at an intersection or on an undivided highway, vehicles are allowed to make left turns across oncoming traffic. These turns are relatively safe if drivers are regulated by traffic lights and turn arrows. When they simply wait for an opening in oncoming traffic, however, the situation becomes much more dangerous.

A left-turn motorcycle accident occurs when the driver of a car or truck makes a left turn in front of an oncoming motorcyclist, leaving no time or distance to stop or swerve out of the way. The result is a forced T-bone crash that can result in catastrophic injuries or death for the motorcyclist.

Why are these crashes so common for motorcyclists?

According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 2,741 fatal motorcycle crashes involving a second vehicle in 2020. Approximately 42 percent of these fatal crashes involved a left-turning vehicle and an oncoming motorcyclist.

Why are motorcyclists so often victims of these crashes? Sadly, it is because drivers simply fail to notice them. Most people naturally pay attention to vehicles similar to their own or larger than their own. Unless drivers are specifically scanning for motorcyclists, they may fail to notice them until it is too late.

Problems can also occur even when drivers do notice bikers. Numerous studies have shown that drivers consistently misjudge how far away a motorcyclist is, how fast they are traveling or both. Many drivers assume they have plenty of time and space to make a left-hand turn, and their error in judgment has deadly consequences for the approaching motorcyclist.

Seeking compensation for yourself of a loved one

If you were seriously injured or lost someone you love in a left-turn motorcycle accident, driver negligence was likely to blame. As such, you have the right (and likely the need) to seek full and fair compensation in a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. This money can be used to help cover medical bills, lost wages, funeral and burial expenses, property damage and other losses associated with the crash.