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Liability for a Crash Caused by Failure to Signal

Posted on behalf of Goldberg Finnegan, LLC on Apr 13, 2021 in Car Accidents

front of car with turn signal onTurn signals are simple tools designed to help prevent accidents. When used correctly, they notify other drivers of your intention to turn or change lanes. Yet despite how easy it is to use a turn signal to help lower the risk of a crash, turn signal misuse or nonuse are leading causes of car crashes in the U.S.

In fact, a study from the Society of Automotive Engineers found failure to use a signal is a factor in more than two million crashes each year.

If you get injured in a crash because a driver neglected to signal, you may be eligible to recover compensation from that driver’s insurance policy. Goldberg Finnegan may be able to help, and there are no upfront costs for our services.

What Does Maryland Law Say About the Use of Turn Signals?

Drivers are required to use a turn signal to notify others on the road of their intent to make a left or right turn at an intersection or into a driveway, place of business or parking lot. 

State law and the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration’s Maryland Driver’s Manual give the following guidance on using a turn signal before turning:

  • Look for and follow traffic signs that direct when you can and cannot turn – make sure not to turn the wrong way onto a one-way road
  • Check behind, beside and around you for drivers, cyclists and others to make sure it is safe to proceed
  • Plan to make your turn to give others around you time to safely respond
  • Activate the appropriate turn signal continuously from a minimum of the last 100 feet traveled by the vehicle and until your turn completes
  • Adjust your speed for the approaching turn after activating your turn signal, not before

The Maryland Driver’s Manual also discusses turn signal use in the following situations:

Passing

Estimate the amount of time and space you need to pass a vehicle without placing others on the road in danger. When safe, activate your signal to inform other driver about your intentions. Taking both space and speed into consideration, activate your signal when it is safe to return to your original lane.

U-turns

If U-turns are allowed, come to a full and complete stop to yield for approaching traffic. Activate your left turn signal and wait until it is clear for you to turn, proceeding into the outside lane of traffic.

Making Lane Changes

Although a bill was introduced in the Maryland House (MD HB702) in 2020 that would have required motorists to activate their turn signals when changing lanes, it did not become a law. Therefore, while properly signaling to indicate your intention to change lanes could help to prevent a collision, Maryland does not require drivers to do so.

Maryland’s unsafe lane change law does, however, state that vehicles may not change lanes until a driver has made sure it is safe to proceed.

How Insurance Companies May View an Accident Involving Signal Misuse

Millions of car crashes happen each year because of drivers not properly using their turn signals, and in many cases not using them at all.

Turn signals allow drivers to easily notify other drivers, pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists of their intent to leave a roadway or make a turn. However, if a driver does not signal until the last second or does not signal at all, there may not be time enough for other drivers to react. If a crash occurs because a driver did not signal, or signal properly, he or she may bear fault if a crash happens.

However, it is difficult to know exactly how insurance companies may view a crash caused by signal misuse. Insurance companies are likely to analyze things on a case-by-case basis.

Here are some situations that may lead to a crash, along with an explanation of how the insurance company may assign fault:

Driver Signaled in One Direction, Turned in the Opposite

If a driver signals his or her intention to turn in one direction, but then turns in the opposite direction, it could cause a serious collision. In this scenario, it is likely the who misused the turn signal would be liable for any resulting damages that occur.

Driver Makes a Turn, But Does Not Signal

There are many different situations where a crash may occur because a driver turned without activating his or her turn signal. If you were tailgating this driver, you may be partially to blame, even though the other driver did not use a turn signal. If you were distracted, you may also be held partially liable.

The Driver Signaled, But Did Not Turn

It is common for drivers to put their signal on and then forget about it or change their mind about making a turn. However, it is important to realize that other motorists around you may think you are intending to turn and respond accordingly. This may lead to a crash if one driver believes it is safe to enter a roadway, thinking the signaling driver is turning off it.

Despite the misuse of a signal, it may be difficult to establish the signaling driver was solely at fault. Although the signaling driver ended up not turning, the other driver is still required to control his or her vehicle.  As such, the insurance company will likely argue the other vehicle had a duty to maintain a safe distance for entering a roadway.

Need Legal Help? Call Our Firm 24/7 to Schedule a Free Case Review

If you were injured because another driver failed to use his or her turn signal, it is important to contact an attorney to learn about your potential legal options. There is no cost or obligation with a free case review with a licensed attorney from Goldberg Finnegan. We are here to answer your questions about the legal process.

Our Silver Spring car accident lawyers have been representing Maryland crash victims for decades. During that time, we have recovered more than $130 million in compensation for our clients. We are prepared to work hard for a maximum recovery on your behalf and we charge nothing up front or while we represent you.

Call today to find out how our team of experienced lawyers may be able to help. We are available to take your call 24/7.

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