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 standard 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 common, it’s not good. Cars turning with no signal to warn others can cause serious problems, from rear-end collisions to other 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.
This blog will 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 signal correctly can result in a noncriminal moving violation for a driver, which requires the driver to appear before a judge.
Florida Statute § 316.155 defines legal requirements for turn signals.
The statute provides five rules:
- No person can turn a motor vehicle from a direct course or move right or left upon a highway unless and until their movement can be performed with reasonable safety, and even then, only after they give an appropriate signal, in the event any other motor vehicle could be affected by the movement.
- A signal of driver intention to turn right or left has to be given continuously during not less than the final 100 feet traveled by a motor vehicle before turning, except that a signal by hand or arm need does not need to be given continuously by a bicyclist if their hand is necessary for the control or operation of the bicycle.
- No person can stop or suddenly decrease the speed of a motor vehicle without first giving an appropriate signal to any driver of a motor vehicle immediately to the rear when there is an opportunity to give such a signal.
- The signals provided for in Florida Statute § 316.156, relating to signals by hand and arm or signal lamps, should be used to indicate an intention to turn, overtake, or pass a vehicle and cannot, except as provided in Florida Statute § 316.2397, relating to certain lights prohibited and exceptions, be flashed on only one side on a parked or disabled vehicle, flashed as a courtesy, or a so-called “do pass” signal to operators of other motor vehicles approaching from the rear.
- A violation of Florida Statute § 316.155 is a noncriminal traffic infraction, punishable as a moving violation as provided in Chapter 318.
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 possible 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 to make the turn immediately, even if it means 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 be irritated when you fail to use your turn signal. However, your failure can lead to much more severe consequences in many cases.
When a driver fails to signal a turn, other drivers will often find themselves 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 accounts for nearly 2 million accidents and thousands of deaths. Those who fail to use their turn signal endanger other road users.
A Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) study found that drivers neglect to use their signals when changing lanes or do not turn signals off 48 percent of the time and fail to signal when making a turn 25 percent of the time. The results effectively translate to 2 billion times a day drivers fail to use signals or 750 billion times annually.
To illustrate how many accidents this causes, SAE data indicates turn signal neglect was responsible for up to two million accidents per year.
Improper usage of turn signals thus causes more collisions than those resulting from distracted drivers, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports caused more than 3,100 people to lose their lives and another 424,000 injured in crashes in a recent year.
Some of the most common scenarios for which it becomes crucial to use turn signals include:
- When You Merge Lanes – All drivers should use turn signals to indicate their attempts to change lanes while merging on major highways or other city streets.
- When You Turn – Whatever type of road you are on, all drivers should always use turn signals before they turn left, right, or perform a U-turn.
- When You Pass Other Vehicles – All drivers should strictly use the left lane to pass other vehicles and should always signal before they change lanes in attempts to pass.
- When You Park – Drivers should always use their turn signals when parking, even when parallel parking, pulling into driveways, or parking in lots. If a driver pulls out of a parking spot or driveway, they should use the correct turn signal.
- When You Exit – Drivers should use turn signals to indicate their plans to exit highways, expressways, or freeways by using off ramps.
- When You Drive in Parking Lots – The National Safety Council (NSC) found that at least 60,000 people suffer injuries, and 500 are killed in more than 50,000 crashes in parking lots and garages every year. NSC further reports that 66 percent of drivers nationwide said they make phone calls while driving through parking lots, with 63 percent using GPS systems, 56 percent texting, 52 percent using social media, 50 percent sending or receiving emails, and 49 percent taking photos or watching videos. Turn signals can be just as important in parking lots so other drivers can know your intentions.
Common accidents that result from a failure to use a turn signal include:
- Rear-end collisions
- Sideswipe accidents
- Head-on collisions
What Can You Do After An Accident?
You’ll want to take some essential steps after a car accident caused by someone failing to signal a turn to protect your health and legal rights. You’ll need evidence that the other driver’s negligence caused your accident to recover compensation.
Here are the main things you should do following an accident:
- Get as far off the road as possible. You don’t want to impede other traffic.
- Call an ambulance to ensure anyone 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 prove your claim.
- Get statements and contact information from any eyewitnesses still on the scene.
- Exchange insurance information with the other driver(s).
- Call a car accident lawyer to gather evidence and start on a claim, if necessary.
To ensure the best case possible, 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 easier to determine what happened, but it can still be hard to prove fault.
It is often challenging to prove that someone else didn’t use a turn signal. Witness statements are often the most critical evidence in these accidents unless video might have caught the car and its signal or lack thereof.
In some cases, a negligent driver may admit to police officers or other drivers that they forgot to signal. These admissions can be particularly damaging, and the insurance company may later use them as evidence against negligent drivers.
If your accident occurred on an empty road with no businesses and surveillance cameras nearby, you might have difficulty finding the evidence you need. A car accident attorney can 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. You can hold the other driver or insurer responsible for these damages.
The damages you can claim after a car accident include:
- Emotional distress. Car accidents can lead to emotional trauma, such as depression, nightmares, and more.
- Pain and suffering. This category can cover your pain and suffering from your injuries.
- Medical records and bills. These can cover all expenses 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 return to work in the same capacity as before, leading to a loss of future earning capacity.
- Loss of consortium. 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 need evidence. You need bills and records for medical expenses, proof of lower or nonexistent pay stubs for lost income, repair receipts for property, etc. Calling a car accident lawyer is the best way to find out what damages you may recover. A car accident lawyer can gather the evidence and evaluate exactly how much you deserve as compensation.
Insurance companies like to contact accident victims soon after their crashes. Always consult a lawyer when they offer a settlement because the insurance company will probably start with a lowball proposal. Once you accept a settlement offer, it is practically impossible to get more compensation. As a result, you should always have an attorney review your case before accepting a settlement.
When any insurance company contacts you, it is usually in your best interest to let a lawyer deal with the insurer for you. This is especially true if the insurance company pressures you to provide a recorded statement or sign paperwork. Never agree to any of these measures without consulting an attorney. Insurance companies typically use recorded statements to trick people into making statements that damage their injury claims. Supposedly necessary paperwork they need you to sign is a way of getting you to sign away your rights.
How Long Does a Car Accident Claim Take?
Recovering compensation from an at-fault driver in a car accident can require a long and challenging process. It takes a while to gather the evidence and build a strong claim.
That said, most car accident cases follow a similar process:
- 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 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.
- 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 depositions, which are interviews of a party or 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. At trial, 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 Car Accident Lawyer?
Yes if you were in an accident caused by someone failing to signal a turn, hire a lawyer. An attorney can often result in significantly more compensation than you can obtain on your own.
Car accidents cause a lot of stress to everyone involved, especially if you or your loved ones suffer an injury.
Contact a lawyer who 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 your claim.