Are Left Turning Vehicles Always at Fault in Nova Scotia?

The short answer is no, and more elaborate answer is that left-turning vehicles should yield the right of the way to the oncoming ones. That doesn’t mean they are automatically at fault for any possible accident. Every traffic accident should be examined on its circumstances to determine who was to blame.

There is a common misconception that if a driver was making a left turn, they are automatically at fault for a traffic accident that may occur. However, liability for a collision will depend on the right of the way, the duties of each driver, the speed of the vehicles, and what a prudent or reasonable driver would have done in the same circumstances.

Left hand-hand turn rules in Nova Scotia

The Motor Vehicle Act outlines the statutory requirements of the roads in Nova Scotia. You can find a reader-friendly version of these regulations in the Nova Scotia Driver’s Handbook. Keep in mind that pedestrians and vehicles should follow traffic lights, traffic signs, and pavement markings.

A green traffic signal implies that when it is safe, you can go unless otherwise directed by a police officer or a traffic sign. You should yield the right of way to pedestrians at a crosswalk, including individuals on wheelchairs.  For cars turning left at a green signal light, you should yield the right of way to any pedestrians and the oncoming vehicles that may be in your way.

An amber or yellow signal light implies that you should stop before you enter an intersection, as long as you can do so safely. On the other hand, red signal lights imply that traffic facing this signal should stop at the spot marked or the nearest side of the crosswalk. In case traffic signal lights stop working, all drivers should perceive the intersection as a multi-stop where they should come to a full stop and then proceed once they have the right of way.

When is it safe to turn left at a red-light signal?

A left turn on a red light is a violation of traffic regulations. However, there are exceptions to these regulations. For example, it is alright to turn left at a red light from a single-way street to another one-way street.

When would a left-turning vehicle not be to blame for an accident?

A left-turning vehicle may not be at fault for a traffic accident under the following circumstances:

Wrongful overtaking

On all highways with multiple substantially continuous lanes, you can pass another vehicle from the left side or right side. However, you should pass another vehicle on the right if only that vehicle is making a left turn. That means if you have slowed or stopped and signaled to make a left turn onto your driveway or another street and another driver tries to pass you on the left side, they will be more likely to be blamed for any accident that occurs at that moment.

Unexpected circumstances or conditions

It’s impossible to anticipate or predict everything that will happen while driving. Sometimes, unexpected circumstances or events could cause a vehicle turning left to cause an accident. Some of these events include another vehicle causing a left-turning driver to swerve to prevent an imminent vehicle crash or a pedestrian falling into the way of the turning car.

Under such unpredictable circumstances, the court might rule that the fault for the accident will be fully on the third-party driver. The turning driver may also be partially to blame for the accident, but not always.

The other driver violated the traffic regulations or was negligent

A driver turning left will not be responsible if a vehicle crash happened when they had the right of way. For instance, if a driver turns left at a green left turn light signal, and another driver chooses to run a red light and crashes into the vehicle making a right turn, the driver that violated traffic rules by running the red light is to blame for the accident.

Contributory negligence law in Nova Scotia

Suppose you have suffered injuries or other damages in an accident and intend to file an injury claim. Nova Scotia’s contributory negligence laws govern the process of filing a claim for compensation for accident-related injuries and damages. That means that drivers involved in a traffic accident can be apportioned blame from zero percent to 100 percent.

According to the Nova Scotia Contributory Negligence Act, the blame of two or more individual loss or damage is caused to one or more of them the responsibility of compensation is in proportion to the fraction or degree in which each individual was to blame for the incident. If it is impossible to determine the different levels of fault for each party, then the responsibility for the accident will be shared equally among the parties involved.

In Nova Scotia, the courts rely on the rules set out in the Contributory Negligence Act to determine fault for an accident. The courts usually award damages to compensate victims of the accident for their injuries, but the amount awarded will be reduced by the level of the victim’s responsibility for the accident. That means you can be blamed for an accident and still get a specific amount of compensation.

Do you have more questions?

Determining fault in a traffic crash is a complicated process. If you are being held responsible for causing a traffic accident, it is in your best interest to get legal counsel from a highly experienced vehicle accident lawyer. With a car accident lawyer on your side, you stand a better chance of proving that someone was responsible for your injuries and getting the amount of compensation for the damages to property or injuries you suffered during the accident.

At Wagners Law Firm, our lawyers understand the contributory negligence laws in Nova Scotia and how they can affect your case. You shouldn’t admit full fault for an accident immediately. Instead, contact a personal injury lawyer from our law firm, and he or she will defend your rights and interests during fault determination and compensation negotiations.

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