Have you ever forgotten to signal a turn? Or had to slam on your brakes when someone turning in front of you forgot to use their signal? Unfortunately, it’s pretty common for people to forget to signal their turns. It’s not always deliberate—often, people are just busy and forget. They may not realize they need to turn until it’s too late to use their signal.
Even though failure to signal turns is quite common, it’s not a good thing. Cars turning with no signal to warn others can cause serious problems, from rear-end collisions to other kinds of crashes resulting in serious injuries. If you or someone you know has been in an accident caused by a failure to signal a turn, you’re not alone. Many others have suffered through similar circumstances.
In this blog, we’ll tell you a little more about laws regarding signaling turns, what failing to signal means, and how to recover after a car accident caused by a turn signal mistake.
What Are the Laws Around Signaling Turns in Vehicles in Florida?
Florida law requires that drivers of vehicles not turn right or left without using a turn signal at least 100 feet before taking a turn. Failing to properly signal can result in a noncriminal moving violation for a driver, which requires the driver to appear before a judge.
The Florida Department of Motor Vehicles offers further guidelines for making safe turns, including:
- Don’t make last-second turns—decide early where you are going and when you need to turn.
- Move into the correct lane as soon as you can when you near the turn.
- Slow to a safe speed for making the turn.
- Look over your shoulder for bicyclists or pedestrians before completing a turn.
- Continue driving if you cannot safely make your turn due to vehicles blocking the intersection or other obstacles.
- Finish your turn in the correct lane—if you turn right, go into the right lane, if you go left, go into the left lane.
- Never make a right turn from a left lane.
- Never make a left turn from a right lane.
- Never block traffic to turn if the turn lane is too full.
If a driver cannot safely turn, they should continue driving until they can make a safe turn. Sometimes, however, drivers decide that they have to make the turn now, even if it means that they have to act unsafely. When drivers act in this manner, they can endanger others.
What Happens When I Fail To Use A Turn Signal?
In the best scenario, people will simply be irritated when you fail to use your turn signal. However, in many cases, your failure can lead to much more serious consequences.
When a driver fails to signal a turn, other drivers will often be left in a dangerous predicament. They may suddenly need to change lanes, swerve, or slam on their brakes to avoid hitting the turning vehicle. Even if they avoid hitting the turning vehicle, they may hit others in their attempt to move out of the way. They may swerve into oncoming traffic or stop so suddenly that the car behind them rear-ends them.
In the United States, drivers fail to use turn signals at least 10 percent to 35 percent of the time, if not more. While this may seem like a small percentage, it actually accounts for nearly 2 million accidents and thousands of deaths. Those who fail to use their turn signal endanger other road users.
Common accidents that result from a failure to use a turn signal include:
What Can You Do After An Accident?
There are some important steps you’ll want to take after a car accident due to someone failing to signal a turn, both to protect your health and set in place the process for your legal claim. For purposes of bringing a claim, you’ll need evidence that the other driver failed to signal a turn and that this caused the accident and your injuries.
Here are the main things you should do following an accident:
- Get as far off the roadway as possible. You don’t want to impede other traffic.
- Call an ambulance to ensure anyone who is injured gets the medical attention they need as soon as possible.
- Call the police. The police can put together an official report detailing what happened in the accident and how.
- Take photos of the scene, any injuries, and damage to your vehicles. This evidence may be important to proving your claim.
- Get statements and contact information from any eyewitnesses still on the scene.
- Exchange insurance information with the other driver(s).
- Call a personal injury lawyer to help you gather evidence and get started on a claim, if necessary.
To ensure the best case possible for yourself, make sure you hold onto any potential evidence of the accident and your injuries—medical records and bills, car repair bills, video or photo of the accident scene and/or injuries, etc. You must provide evidence like this to recover the compensation you deserve for what happened to you.
How to Prove Someone Didn’t Use Their Turn Signal
When car accidents occur, it can be very challenging to determine who was at fault and how the accident occurred. If there are eyewitnesses, it becomes a bit easier to determine what happened, but it can still be hard to prove fault.
In many states, car accident claims and any recovery you can gain from them are determined by a comparative fault rule. People who are partly at fault for an accident can still recover some damages for what they lost. However, these damages will be reduced by whatever percentage of fault they bear for the accident.
For example, if you were found to be 20 percent responsible for a crash, but the other party was 80 percent responsible, you can sue them for the damages you experienced minus 20 percent. For example, if you experienced $100,000 in damages, you could only claim $80,000 under the comparative fault rule.
Most people who fail to use their turn signal, causing an accident, will be considered at least partly responsible. In some situations, they may be almost entirely at fault, especially if they didn’t slow down when turning or cut across lanes to make the turn.
It is often difficult to prove that someone else didn’t use a turn signal. Witness statements are often the most important evidence in these accidents unless video might have caught the car and its signal or lack thereof.
And it can be difficult to gather the evidence you need to make an effective claim. If your accident occurred on an empty road with no businesses with surveillance cameras nearby, you might have a difficult time finding the evidence you need. It may be especially helpful to hire a car accident attorney in these cases. An attorney can help you gather evidence and bring the strongest claim possible.
What Types of Damages Can You Claim After an Accident Involving a Failure to Signal?
After any car accident, there are specific types of damages that you can claim from drivers who caused your crash. The other driver or their insurer can be held responsible to pay you compensation for these damages.
The main types of damages you can claim after a car accident include:
- Emotional distress. Car accidents can lead to a lot of emotional trauma, such as depression, nightmares, and more.
- Pain and suffering. This category can cover a majority of the pain and suffering you feel recovering from your injuries.
- Medical records and bills. These can cover all expenses that you incurred after the accident, from emergency room treatments and surgeries to ongoing therapy and medication.
- Loss of income. In many cases, you’ll have to take time off from work to recover from your accident and the injuries it caused, and thus will lose income.
- Loss of earning capacity. In serious situations, you may lose the ability to go back to work in the same capacity as before, leading to a loss of future earning capacity.
- Loss of consortium. Sometimes, accidents and resulting injuries can prevent a victim from enjoying intimacy with a loved one.
- Loss of life enjoyment. Serious injuries can lead to a lost ability to enjoy activities that were a meaningful part of your life.
- Property damage. In addition to your car, accidents may damage vehicles, cell phones, laptops, and other property.
To recover compensation for these damages, you must gather the right evidence. You’ll need bills and records for medical expenses, proof of lower or nonexistent pay stubs for lost income, repair receipts for property, etc. The best way to find out what damages you may be entitled to and what evidence to gather is to call a car accident lawyer, who can provide expert assistance to gather the evidence and evaluate exactly how much you deserve as compensation.
How Long Does a Car Accident Claim Take?
Recovering compensation from an at-fault driver in a car accident can be a long and challenging process. It takes a while to gather the evidence and build a strong claim.
However, the basic process is pretty similar for all car accident cases.
- You call a lawyer for a free consultation. Your lawyer learns what they can about your case and decides if they can help you.
- You retain the lawyer and meet them in-person. Your lawyer will probe deeply with you about what happened and, based on that, will explain what building your case will involve. If you agree to work together, you’ll enter into a retainer (sign a contract) at this meeting, agreeing to let your lawyer represent you.
- Your lawyer will gather evidence. They’ll take a look at your medical records, footage or photos of the accident scene, and anything else that might prove your claim.
- Your lawyer will file a claim against the at-fault party’s insurance. The claim will state what happened in the accident and what happened to you as a result.
- Both your lawyer and the other party’s lawyer will engage in discovery. Discovery is a process in which each side of a dispute may request information and evidence from one another. It may also involve taking depositions, which are essentially interviews of a party or a witness under oath.
- The lawyers will negotiate to reach a favorable settlement without going to court. They may use arbitration or mediation, depending on the circumstances.
- If your lawyer cannot settle, the case may go to court. There, each side will present its evidence and make legal arguments for why they should prevail.
- A judge or jury will decide the case and award a settlement to the deserving party.
This process can take several months or even years to play out. Get started early, not just to get the ball rolling and recover compensation as quickly as possible, but because all states have a deadline by which you must file a lawsuit in court.
Should I Hire a Lawyer?
Yes—if you’ve been in an accident caused by someone failing to signal a turn, you can do yourself a favor by hiring a lawyer. It can be hard to know what evidence to gather and, while you could try doing it on your own, you likely won’t be able to put together as strong of a case.
Car accidents cause a lot of stress to everyone involved, especially if you or your loved ones have been injured. Hiring a lawyer can help relieve some of that stress, as you can let your lawyer deal with the insurance companies and handle the technical and tedious tasks involved in bringing a claim.