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A friend called me this morning because she had witnessed a horrible Denver car accident. (That’s the kind of call a Denver personal injury attorney gets from his friends!) She was shaken up, describing it as “so violent” and that it “looked like one of the cars exploded.”
Now, this sounds like it could be a rare, extraordinary type of accident but it wasn’t. In fact, I learned that it was caused by one of the most common mistakes that drivers make: left-hand turns in front of oncoming traffic.
My friend described the accident like this: A southbound car on Colorado Boulevard was in the left-hand turn lane and decided to turn left onto 8th Avenue. A northbound car slammed into the turning car and then veered off and hit a nearby bus stop. The car that made the risky left-hand turn in front of oncoming traffic “exploded” from the impact. Car parts, glass and liquids scattered across the intersection. Luckily, it appeared as though everyone walked away from the accident and no one was hurt at the bus stop.
I have just one reaction to this: If you’re in a left-hand turn lane and you’re thinking, “I can probably make it,” don’t turn!
Let’s face it: we all sit at those left-hand-turn intersections, the green light teasing us, making us feel like we “should” go. We think about the people in the cars behind us who also want to make the light. We think about how long it will take for the light to cycle through another time… and we inch out farther and farther. Suddenly, you’re in a pickle. You have put yourself into a dangerous situation. You’re sitting in the middle of an intersection where oncoming cars may not even see you.
So, the light turns yellow and you dash for it. And Colorado drivers are notorious for pushing through a yellow light, so just as you’re making a risky left-hand turn, another driver is gunning it to make it through the intersection… ka-pow! Exploding cars.
We see this type of accident all the time. In my office alone, we see at least 10 to 20 car accidents like this each year. In the majority of cases, the person making the left-hand turn is found to be at fault.
Sadly, the injuries from this kind of accident are usually pretty bad for both drivers. For the driver who was going straight (usually the victim), it’s the equivalent of hitting a wall. We see lots of broken wrists and broken ankles, as well as much more severe injuries.
While left-hand turns may be more risky than right-hand turns, there are a few simple rules that you can follow to avoid an accident:
What should you do if someone turns left in front of you and you hit them? Assuming you are not too hurt, you need to gather witnesses and take pictures! Witnesses can corroborate that you had the green light and that the person making the left-hand turn shouldn’t have gone. Pictures of the accident scene will help your personal injury attorney to put together a better case for you and may even trigger some questions that lead to a better settlement.
But again, I can’t urge you enough to not be the driver who causes a car accident like this. If you aren’t sure you can make the turn, DON’T TURN!
If you have any questions about this article, please contact me at (303) 388-5304.
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