(Please note: the names and locations of all parties have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the participants in this car accident/personal injury case and its proceedings.)
California Vehicle Code §21801 states in relevant part:
(a) The driver of a vehicle intending to turn to the left or to complete a U-turn upon a highway, or to turn left into public or private property, or an alley, shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles approaching from the opposite direction which are close enough to constitute a hazard at any time during the turning movement, and shall continue to yield the right-of-way to the approaching vehicles until the left turn or U-turn can be made with reasonable safety.
Even in the unlikely event that the traffic signal for Plaintiff had changed from green to yellow and then to red after Mr. Owen had entered the intersection, Defendant would still be entirely responsible for the collision and injuries. Vehicle Code §21451 states in relevant part:
(a) Any driver, including one turning, shall yield the right-of-way to other traffic and to pedestrians lawfully within the intersection or an adjacent crosswalk.
The finder of fact is likely to conclude that Mr. Owen entered the intersection lawfully, and at a reasonable speed. And that Defendant, either turning from a non-turning lane or from the left turn pocket, saw a gap in traffic created by Mr. Owen maintaining a reasonable following distance behind the vehicle in front of him, made an ill fated attempt to squeeze through this gap.
As indicated in the California Driver’s Handbook, even drivers who, unlike Defendant herein, do in fact have the right of way must not cross into oncoming traffic still legally in the intersection. Defendant is entirely unable to prove that it was more likely than not that she took reasonable precautions to determine whether the intersection was safe to enter before doing so. Looking for oncoming traffic is obviously one requirement of making any left turn, a requirement that Defendant failed to fulfill.
When asked at deposition how she knew that the traffic signal facing her was green, Defendant replied I had started my turn. This is working backward to an assumption, not evidence of any kind. What Ms. White does remember is Mr. Owen’s first words to her after the accident. To paraphrase: Didn’t you see the light? However she has no memory of what she said in response. Her lack of memory is the only consistent feature of Defendant’s testimony. (See Part 3 of 5.)
For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.