After a car accident involving a driver making a left turn, most people tend to assume the driver making the left turn is always at fault. However, determining fault in a car accident is complex and often not straightforward. This discussion of left-hand turn accidents will outline some instances in which the turning driver bears responsibility for the accident, as well as some in which the opposite is true.

Left Turn Accidents in West Virginia

Typically, left turn accidents occur when one driver is traveling straight, and another driver makes a left turn into the path of the oncoming car. Usually, a driver turning left should yield to oncoming traffic. However, it is dependent on the intersection and the traffic laws in the area. The turning driver may not need to yield, making determining fault a bit more difficult.

Illegal Left-Hand Turns

In intersections controlled by a stoplight, a green light or flashing yellow left turn light means the driver must yield the right of way to the oncoming traffic traveling straight. If a driver rushes into the intersection in an attempt to cut off or beat out oncoming traffic, the driver has made an illegal left turn. The turning driver must accept liability for accidents that occur as the result of cutting off oncoming traffic.

Similarly, in left-hand turns from a turning lane and not controlled by a stoplight, the driver assumes that he or she may only turn if no oncoming traffic is in sight. If the driver rushes to turn and cuts off traffic, resulting in an accident, the driver is liable. The same applies if the driver simply failed to notice oncoming traffic approaching.

Legal Left-Hand Turns

Intersections controlled by a stoplight only assign the right of way to left-turning drivers with a green arrow, shown in conjunction with a red light for straight traffic and often a green arrow for opposing left-turning traffic. If a turning driver has the right of way via the green arrow, another driver may cause an accident by running the red light. In particular, if the opposing driver was speeding, drowsy, or intoxicated, which caused the running of the red light, the turning driver is not liable for the accident.

However, if a green turn arrow signifies the driver’s right of way, he or she must first check for pedestrians still in the intersection. If a driver carelessly hits a pedestrian finishing a crossing, liability may still fall on the driver. Similarly, if an opposing car is still crossing the intersection without running the red light, liability may still belong to the turning driver. In either case, however, drivers and pedestrians illegally entering the intersection once the green turn arrow appears, are likely liable for the accident if the turning driver is not reasonably able to stop.

When a driver makes a left-hand turn from a turning lane not controlled by a traffic signal, if the driver turning left has time to turn but encounters a reckless driver, liability may be on the part of the reckless driver. For example, if the oncoming driver was speeding, driving while intoxicated, or driving in a turn lane, he or she may accept liability for the accident.

Modified Comparative Negligence in West Virginia

West Virginia is a modified comparative fault state. Even if you are partially at fault for a left-turn accident, if the other driver is more than 50% at fault, you may pursue a personal injury lawsuit. However, the amount of damages you can receive depends on your percentage of fault. For example, if you were speeding and hit a left-turning driver who was trying to make a hasty turn, a jury may find you partially at fault. If your damages are $10,000 but you were 40% at fault, you will only receive $6,000 in compensation for your expenses.

To learn more about left-hand turns resulting in car accidents, talk to our West Virginia car accident attorneys. Our law firm offers free consultations to discuss your legal options. Contact us today!

Attorney Timothy Manchin established the Manchin Injury Law Group in 2011 after his law partner of more than 25 years became a West Virginia circuit court judge. His focus is on helping individual clients and entire families victimized by negligent acts.

  • Taylor Downs was easy to talk to (I do not speak the legal language well!) and was very upfront and honest about the entire process of my case. He kept me updated as the case progressed, and answered my relentless questions. The end result was a favorable settlement that I’m not sure could have been any better with anyone else. In short, go see Taylor if you have a case. Don’t be intimidated to go seek his help, he won’t blow your brains out with “legal speak”.


  • Being referred to Taylor was the best thing I could have asked for. Taylor and staff are very easy to talk to. I would highly recommend them to anyone.


  • If I ever have to go through it again I would definetly call Taylor right away. The group was so helpful through my situation and handled everything that needed to be done. They made a stressful situation a stress free situation. With Taylor you dont have to worry about one thing. Definietly would recomend to anyone.

    - TAYLOR G.

  • Efficient, knowledgeable, and friendly.


  • Taylor and Tim helped make a difficult moment in life, a little more bearable. Easy to communicate with and informative. I will absolutely recommend them to everyone.


  • Manchin Injury Law Group, Took care of me when I got into a car accident while I was pregnant. Very scary moment for a first time mom but thankfully Manchin Injury Law Group had my back and treated me great. They made me feel as if I was part of their family. My son is now 7 Months Old and very happy and healthy. I’m very thankful for them for helping me through everything and getting me what we deserved. I 100% would recommend them to anyone. If I ever have an accident again they will be my number 1 phone call!


  • The support given helped me to feel like I was included in my personal injury case every step of the way. I was informed about the entire process throughout. It was amazing how quick the turn around time was and I would definitely recommend Attorney Timothy J. Manchin to anyone!


  • Taylor and Kelly worked hard on my case so I didn’t have to. Thanks guys!


  • Excellent experience dealing with Manchin Injury Law. They were very responsive, professional and easy to talk to. I did my homework before I hired a lawyer after my accident and I am so glad I found Manchin Injury Law Group. If you are injured, give them a call!


  • Taylor and Tim helped make a difficult moment in life, a little more bearable. Easy to communicate with and informative. I will absolutely recommend them to everyone.


  • Kelly and Taylor did all the hard work so that I didn’t have to. They both cared about my circumstance and got me a nice settlement. Taylor knows what he is doing and I felt comfortable with my case in his hands.


  • Great lawyers. They helped me with a West Virginia case.


  • Such a great experience with Taylor and this firm. Thankful for their diligence and their work on our case. Thank you to all!


  • Had a easy and smooth experience with a great attorney so when you go there make sure you ask for Taylor.


  • My experience at the Manchin Injury Law Group was extremely positive, and I would recommend them to anyone who needs a compassionate and experienced lawyer on their side.


Contact Us Today

We offer a free initial consultation at our office in the Manchin Professional Building — our home since 1983 — conveniently located in Fairmont.

If you are unable to visit our firm, we can come to your home or hospital room.

Fill out the form below to get in touch!

100% privacy guarantee