Bicyclist’s Death Shows Perils of Unprotected Left-Turn Intersections

A recent collision at a New Jersey intersection cost a bicyclist her life when she was struck by a truck that was making a left turn. The tragic incident illustrates the dangers of unprotected left-turn intersections, where bikers and pedestrians can easily be overlooked.

According to a news report of the accident, 62-year-old Li Wang was riding her bike northward on Roller Road in Ocean Township when she stopped at a red light at the intersection of Deal Road, where a Ford box truck traveling south had also stopped. When the light turned green, Wang proceeded straight ahead and was in the crosswalk when the truck turned left and collided with her. She was transported to the hospital and died of her injuries less than two hours later.

The crossing at Deal and Roller roads is an unprotected left turn intersection. This means left turning is permitted but there is no green arrow signal allowing vehicles to turn left while oncoming traffic has a red light. The vehicle making the left turn must yield the right of way to oncoming traffic and turn only when there is a safe opening. Left-turning drivers at unprotected intersections must also wait for cyclists and pedestrians to safely cross the street before turning. However, drivers watching for other motor vehicles might not observe a bicyclist or pedestrian.

Because drivers, cyclists and pedestrians proceeding straight have the right of way, the vehicle executing a left turn is usually assumed by police to be at fault when a collision occurs. While it is often true that the left-turning driver was negligent, he or she may not be completely at fault if the vehicle driving straight did any of the following:

  • Ran a red light or stop sign
  • Was speeding while going through the intersection
  • Was driven by a distracted driver or someone who was under the influence

Bicyclists and pedestrians trying to cross an unprotected left-turn intersection are especially vulnerable to injuries. Serious injuries such as paralysis, loss of limb and brain trauma are common in collisions between heavy vehicles and cyclists. The victim is often left unable to work and faced with large medical bills and the need for ongoing care for years. Any cyclist or pedestrian injured in an auto accident should retain a skilled New Jersey personal injury lawyer to help them recover maximum compensation.

Seigel Law in Ridgewood, New Jersey has successfully represented bicyclists injured in accidents in Bergen County, Passaic County and surrounding areas. If you have been hurt while cycling and would like to find out about your legal options, please call our office at 201-444-4000 or contact us online to arrange a free initial consultation.

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