Yesterday when I gave my tips about how to minimize injuries in a rear-end collision, I forgot to mention a few things. First, to recap,yesterday I recommended waiting to turn left with your front wheels straight rather than turned left. This can avoid a flip-over in the event of a hard-impact rear-end collision. But what I did not mention was that this also prevents a second danger — getting pushed into on-coming traffic, where you can get hit head-on by an on-coming car. That’s a double wammy — a rear-end followed by a head-on. Doesn’t get much worse.
Here’s something else I forgot to mention: A few years ago we handled a Central New York motor vehicle accident case where a client was stopped at a red light waiting to turn left with his left signal on. He got rear-ended hard, and, because he had turned his steering wheel left in anticipation of his turn, he got pushed into the oncoming lane, where his front-seat passenger (his wife) got killed by the impact.
Now if you were an insurance defense attorney representing the driver of the vehicle that rear-ended our client at a red light, what would you do? Would you concede that your client was fully responsible for the accident? Sure, you or I or any normal human being would do that, but not an insurance defense lawyer. They are not normal. They feel compelled to raise any argument, no matter how ridiculous or frivolous, in order to placate the hand that feeds them, that is, the insurance company.
This insurance defense lawyer argued that our client-driver was partly responsible for the death of his wife-passenger and for his own injuries for having turned the steering wheel to the left in anticipation of his left hand turn. That lawyer claimed that our client was negligent in doing so, never mind that the turned steering wheel would have done no harm at all had his client simply obeyed the motor vehicle traffic laws and had been looking in front of him as he was required to do by law.
Fortunately, in responding to the insurance defense lawyer’s arguments, we found several New York cases to support our position that turning the steering the wheel in anticipation of a left-hand turn does not amount to negligence. The Court ruled that the rear-ending driver was fully responsible, and our client-driver not responsible at all, for the accident and injuries.
Even though turning your wheel while waiting to turn left is not “negligent”, it is not the best practice. Be smart. Wait with the wheels straight.
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Michael G. Bersani, Esq.
Central NY Personal Injury Lawyer Michaels & Smolak, P.C.