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Left Turn Collisions

According to the United States Secretary of Transportation, the number of automobile fatalities are on the downswing, while the number of motorcycle fatalities are on the upswing. Although afforded the same rights and privileges on the road, motorcyclists often fall victim to the inability of many drivers to gauge the size, speed and distance of an oncoming motorcycle when compared to their intuition involving other motor vehicles. Back in 2008, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NTSA) determined that 36% of motorists were turning, or crossing an intersection just before a collision.

Facts About Motorcycle Accident Injuries

The Hurt Report, led by Professor Hurt, and commissioned by the NHTSA in 1976, conducted studies of motorcycle collisions. The report was the most comprehensive study of motorcyclist injuries up to that time. In the course of their investigation, researchers discovered that most common motorcycle accidents occurred at intersections where a motorcyclist was riding straight through and was struck by another vehicle attempting to turn left in front of the motorcycle. Another frequent occurrence was found to be instances where a motorist driving straight through an intersection, sped up to beat a changing traffic signal and collided with a motorcyclist making a left turn. While the motorist is somewhat protected by the front of their vehicle, a motorcyclist is exposed and vulnerable to the full brunt of the collision. Left turn collisions often result in the gravest of motorcyclist injuries, typically resulting in catastrophic injuries, and often, a loss of life.

Negligence and Vicarious Liability

As a rule, a motorist has an obligation to extend a duty of reasonable care to other motorists. To fulfill one’s duty to exercise reasonable care, New Hampshire law requires motorists to drive as safely as any reasonable person would while in the same situation, while observing all rules of the road and factoring in weather conditions. Therefore, although a “reasonable person” may feel it is acceptable to drive 10 miles per hour over the speed limit, if a driver’s failure to observe the speed limit is the cause of an accident, he/she will be found to be negligent under New Hampshire law even if other people drive faster than the law allows.

New Hampshire law clearly requires motorists to pay very close attention to determine whether they can safely make a left hand turn before doing so. Failure to pay close attention can have catastrophic consequences—particularly for motorcyclists—and, if the lack of attention causes an accident, the driver will be found to have been negligent and responsible for all damages caused by his or her negligence.

If a driver is operating a vehicle while in the course of his or her employment and, due to negligence, causes an accident, New Hampshire law imposes what is called “vicarious liability” on the driver’s employer. Vicarious liability, in a nutshell, means that the employer will be responsible for payment of damages caused by its employee. For that reason, almost all employers have insurance to cover their employees while driving in the course of their employment. One of the first questions we ask when representing clients who have been involved in an accident while operating a motorcycle is whether the other driver was working at the time and whether there is insurance coverage available through his/her employer to pay for our clients’ injuries.

Because some drivers use their own vehicles in the course of their employment, it may not be obvious at first glance that their employer may be responsible for your injuries. As such, it is necessary to carefully investigate this issue and, if it is determined that the other driver was working at the time of the accident, put the employer and the employer’s insurance company on notice of your claim.

Experience You Can Trust

If you have been injured in left turn collision while on a motorcycle, it is wise to discuss your case with a knowledgeable New Hampshire motorcycle accident lawyer to protect your rights and interests. We work closely with experts in accident reconstruction and private investigators to piece together evidence of how an accident happened and who was at fault. This can be particularly important in cases where the other driver is claiming that he/she did not see you before making a left hand turn or that you were operating above the speed limit. If you have been seriously injured due to driver taking a left hand turn in front of you, contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 800.804.2004 or via our online form today to schedule your free initial consultation.