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Who Is Liable for a U-Turn Car Accident in Michigan?

Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran

U-turn car accidents are a major concern on Michigan roads and can result in severe injuries or fatalities. The simple maneuver of making a U-turn can quickly turn disastrous when executed without proper caution.

In 2022, improper turn actions, which included dangerous U-turns, accounted for 5,492 reportable accidents and 23 fatalities in Michigan. This highlights the risks involved in making a U-turn, especially when drivers perform the maneuver recklessly or inattentively.

If you’ve suffered injuries from a U-turn accident, you have legal options to protect your interests and seek compensation for medical expenses and associated costs. Our auto accident attorneys at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C., can investigate the cause of your crash and file a claim with the insurance companies to get you a fair settlement.

Understanding U-Turn Laws in Michigan

A U-turn is a driving maneuver involving a 180-degree turn in the road, allowing a vehicle to proceed in the opposite direction. While it can be a convenient way to change your route, it is also a complex maneuver with some safety risks.

Michigan law takes a specific approach to U-turn maneuvers:

  • Outside urban areas: In areas outside cities that have adopted the Uniform Traffic Code (UTC), Michigan state law allows U-turns. Under this code, drivers who perform a U-turn must turn and execute it safely, without being careless or reckless, and yield to other traffic with the right-of-way.
  • Within urban boundaries: In places that have implemented the UTC, Rule 434 applies. The rule states that U-turns are disallowed on any street in a business district. A U-turn is allowed on other streets if executed safely without interfering with traffic.
    Violating this rule is considered a civil infraction. If an illegal U-turn results in an accident, it could be a type of negligence proving liability in insurance claims or civil lawsuits.

What Causes a U-Turn Accident?

U-turn accidents can occur for many reasons, often stemming from lapses in judgment, disregard for traffic rules, or miscalculations. These accidents can result in severe injuries and fatalities, making it crucial to understand their contributing factors.

Some of the leading causes of U-turn crashes include:

  • Inadequate signage: Road signs that indicate whether a U-turn is allowed are often missing or obscured. Drivers may inadvertently make illegal or unsafe U-turns because they’re not properly informed.
  • Driver inattention: Whether adjusting the radio, texting or talking to a passenger, a momentary lapse in focus can result in a driver missing an oncoming vehicle while making a U-turn.
  • High speed: Excessive speed decreases the reaction time for the driver making the U-turn and oncoming traffic. Speeding can make it difficult for others to judge the distance and safely navigate around the turning vehicle.
  • Poor visibility: Environmental factors like fog, rain, or nighttime darkness can hamper visibility. In these conditions, the chances of executing a safe U-turn decrease significantly.
  • Failure to yield: Some drivers fail to consider pedestrians or cyclists, which can result in accidents that are often serious due to the vulnerable nature of these road users.
  • Impaired driving: Substances like alcohol and drugs severely affect a driver’s perception, reaction time, and judgment. Impaired driving can lead to miscalculations in distance and speed, causing unsafe U-turns.
  • Complex traffic patterns: Roads with multiple lanes, roundabouts, or unconventional designs complicate executing a U-turn. Drivers may become confused, leading to risky maneuvers and potential collisions.
  • Misjudgment of oncoming traffic: Sometimes, drivers incorrectly estimate the speed and distance of oncoming vehicles. This miscalculation can result in a U-turn that doesn’t allow time for other drivers to react.
  • Lack of signaling: Failure to use turn signals is a common oversight that can lead to accidents. Without signaling, other road users can’t anticipate your actions, increasing the risk of collision.
  • Legal confusion: Ambiguities in local traffic laws can sometimes cause drivers to make U-turns where they are not allowed, putting themselves and others at risk. For instance, if a driver is unaware that U-turns are not permitted in business districts, even if it seems safe, they may make the maneuver and cause a crash.

Determining Liability in U-Turn Accidents

When a U-turn accident occurs, determining who is liable is one of the first steps. In any car accident, liability is typically defined based on negligence. Parties are considered negligent if they fail to exercise the level of care that a reasonable person would have exercised under the same circumstances, resulting in harm.

In a U-turn accident, examples of negligence might include making an illegal U-turn, failing to yield to oncoming traffic, or making a U-turn where visibility was inadequate.

Michigan uses a no-fault auto insurance system. This means no matter who caused an accident, each driver’s insurance covers each driver’s own medical expenses and 85% of lost wages resulting from missed work. However, for severe accidents that exceed the limits of no-fault insurance or in cases of extreme negligence, you may be able to sue the at-fault driver for additional damages.

Similar to a rear-end accident, Michigan law presumes the driver making the U-turn is at fault for an accident unless they can prove otherwise. This is because the law requires a driver to make a U-turn to ensure it’s safe without interfering with other traffic.

If a driver makes an unsafe U-turn that results in an accident, they’re typically considered negligent, making them liable for a victim’s injuries.

Safe U-Turn in Michigan

Role of Evidence in Determining Liability

When a U-turn car accident occurs, establishing the facts of the case is crucial for determining liability. This process involves collecting and analyzing various types of evidence.

Your attorney from Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C., will gather evidence to build a strong case on your behalf. Using our expertise in motor vehicle accident cases, we’ll look for the following types of proof to show liability and help you secure the compensation you deserve.

  • Police report: One of the first pieces of evidence to obtain is the police report, which will contain initial assessments of fault, descriptions of the scene, and possibly even diagrams of how the accident occurred.
  • Witness testimonies: Witnesses can offer a third-party perspective on how the accident occurred. For example, a witness might have seen a driver make an illegal U-turn, violating traffic signals.
  • Traffic camera footage: If available, this can be instrumental in showing exactly how the accident unfolded. It might show a vehicle making a U-turn without adequate clearance or failing to yield.
  • Dashcam videos: Footage from your own or other cars can establish the series of events leading up to the accident. It could capture another car making a sudden U-turn without signaling.
  • Photographs of the scene: Photos can show road conditions, signage, and vehicle damage. For example, a picture might indicate that a “No U-Turn” sign was obstructed by foliage, making it unreadable.
  • Cell phone records: These can establish whether either driver was distracted. For instance, phone records might reveal that the other driver was texting when they made the U-turn.
  • Medical records: Medical records will document your injuries and likely cause. This can help your attorney accurately estimate your damages for medical expenses like medications or surgeries and long-term rehabilitation.
  • Vehicle inspection reports: A technical analysis of the vehicles involved can reveal speed at impact and other factors. This might show, for example, that a car was speeding, making it impossible to complete a U-turn safely.
  • Expert testimonies: Accident reconstruction specialists can recreate how the accident likely happened based on available evidence. For instance, their models show that one car had no time to react to the other’s sudden U-turn.
  • GPS data: Modern vehicles often have GPS tracking that can reveal speed and location data. This could show that the car was in a “No U-Turn” zone when the accident occurred.
  • Driver statements: Sometimes, admissions of guilt or inconsistent statements can be used as evidence. A driver might admit they did not see the “No U-Turn” sign or the oncoming vehicle.

Compensation Beyond PIP Benefits

In Michigan, PIP benefits are often the first source of compensation for those injured in U-turn accidents. While PIP can cover medical bills and some lost wages, there are instances where these benefits fall short of addressing the full scope of your hardships.

If you’ve suffered from serious impairment of body function or permanent disfigurement, you can seek compensation beyond PIP. This additional compensation can cover damages such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and the loss of enjoyment of life. This is done through a third-party insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit against the negligent driver who caused the accident.

Navigating these claims’ complexities requires specialized medical and legal knowledge. As a partner attorney at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C., and registered nurse, Eileen Kroll brings unique skills to your case.

Eillen’s medical background enables her to understand the full extent of your injuries, while her legal expertise ensures that you receive comprehensive compensation that addresses your needs. With our experienced legal team, you’ll have a strong advocate to help you maximize your claim.

How to Make a Safe U-Turn in Michigan

Whether you’re a Michigan resident or just passing through, understanding how to make a U-turn safely is essential to protect yourself and others on the road. Here are some tips to help you execute this common driving action with greater caution and confidence:

  • Know the law: Familiarize yourself with Michigan’s U-turn laws. Always ensure U-turns are legal in your current location, and remember to yield to oncoming traffic.
  • Use your signals: Always use your turn signal before making a U-turn. This helps alert other drivers to your intentions, giving them time to react.
  • Check twice: Before making a U-turn, check twice for oncoming traffic, pedestrians, and cyclists. Ensure you have enough time to make the U-turn safely without causing a hazard.
  • Don’t rush: Never attempt a U-turn in a hurry. If you’re unsure whether making a U-turn is safe, drive further until you can find a safe place to turn around.

Your Path Forward With Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C.

If you’ve been involved in a U-turn accident and are grappling with the aftermath, seek legal advice as soon as possible. Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. has a team of experienced car accident attorneys who can help. We can guide you through the complexities of Michigan’s no-fault insurance laws, determine liability, and help you receive the compensation you deserve.

Remember, you don’t have to face these challenges alone. Reach out to us at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C., and let our legal team guide you through this difficult time. Contact us today for a no-obligation consultation to receive the support you need to navigate the legal aspects of your U-turn car accident.

Our contingency fee basis means we only get paid if we win your case, so there is no financial risk to you to get started. Call our law firm today at  1-866-MICH-LAW   and schedule your no-obligation, free case evaluation.

Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.

Murray McPhee is an accomplished legal blogger who is on a mission to help everyday people understand their options when suffering a personal injury.

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