Lawyers and road users alike appear to sometimes mistake the meaning of the ARS 28-772 Law which states: “The driver of a vehicle within an intersection intending to turn to the left shall yield the right-of-way to a vehicle that is approaching from the opposite direction and that is within the intersection or so close to the intersection as to constitute an immediate hazard.”
Understanding ARS 28-772
Seems simple enough but this statute is often misunderstood and even incorrectly applied in cases of vehicular accidents. You may not turn left at an intersection if there is any chance whatsoever that a vehicle coming straight through the intersection may collide with you, even if they go through the intersection against a red light or stop sign. As the left turner, it is your responsibility to ensure that there is no possible hazard from a car coming from the opposite direction before your turn.
In most cases of accidents where one person is turning left and one is going straight, the left turner will bear some or all of the blame for the incident. Often, even before further investigation takes place, it is assumed that the person turning left is at fault and the burden of proof will lie on that driver to prove innocence of lack of culpability.
Determining Fault With Left-Turning Vehicles
Proving that the other person ran a red light or was speeding or came through the intersection illegally resulting in the accident can be quite difficult to do. For the driver going straight, all they need to do is prove that the other person was turning left and that there was a hazard from the opposite direction resulting in the accident, which means the accident is already proof of fault on the behalf of the person turning left.
The amount of fault can be further processed by witnesses to the accident. For example, if they observed issues such as the driver who was going straight drove through a red traffic light, was speeding, entered the intersection illegally as in a manner that was not observable to the driver turning left, or other issues that put some or all of the blame on to the driver going straight through the intersection.
Police Citations at the Scene of the Accident
When a police officer is called to the scene of a traffic accident where one driver was going straight and one was turning left, they generally issue the citation against the left turner first before any further investigation is undertaken. Fortunately, in civil cases, tickets issued at the scene are not admissible in court, so even if you received a ticket at the accident, you will not be called upon to defend against the ticket during the civil matter.
Whether you were at fault for the accident or not, there needs to be far more evidence as to what happened at the scene before blame can be ascertained. In a civil case, both parties will try to establish the guilt of the other party involved in the claim and both insurance companies will generally deny their clients guilt in the commission of the vehicular accident. Further evidence will need to be brought to bear such as drug and alcohol testing if this was done on scene or shortly afterwards, witness testimony and even street cameras that may offer insight in to the cause of the accident.
How ARS 28-772 is Acknowledged in a Court of Law
This law appears simple when you look at the wording of it, but when it comes to pleading your case in court; it may be a lot more complicated that one driver goes straight and one turning left and the left turner automatically being at fault. In cases such as these, it is often better to seek legal council from a skilled car accident lawyer that has experience dealing with the ARS 28-772 law. They will have more insight on the law and how much culpability you would be expected to bear based on your evidence or lack thereof.
If you are involved in an accident where the ARS 28-772 law may come in to play and you are able to function adequately, try and get witness details, take photos and gather any other evidence possible. Where you are involved in a serious accident and are unable to do this at the time, you may need to rely on a experienced car accident attorney that is able to gather as much evidence as possible after the fact in order to try and win your case.
Even if you have to bear some of the responsibility, this can range anywhere from 1% to 100% responsibility depending on all the factors involved. Most people involved in a vehicular accident, especially a serious one, would generally prefer not to have to carry the full burden of responsibility for damages to vehicles, property, persons and any other possible extra costs if it is not absolutely necessary.
How JacksonWhite Can Help
If you feel that you are not guilty or should not be held responsible for your part in the accident due to specific circumstances, speak with our experienced Phoenix personal injury attorney for a free case review. We have helped hundreds of car accident victims all over the state of Arizona and are experienced in defending or prosecuting based on the ARS 28-772 law.
When you are involved in an accident as a left turning driver, you may be cited for failure to yield, even if you did stop, check and only drive when you believed it safe and the other driver was guilty of other offenses which actually resulted in the accident. If you have sufficient evidence to back up your claims, you have a good chance of not being held liable or only being partially liable.
If you have no evidence of wrong doing on the behalf of the other driver, you will most likely be held as fully responsible for the incident based on the ARS 28-772 law. A good personal injury lawyer will be able to advise your rights, what evidence would be needed, how likely it will be to achieve this and what your chances are in a court of law of winning a car accident lawsuit against the other driver.
Call our Personal Injury team at (480) 467-4392 to discuss your case today.