How to avoid a car accident.

How to avoid a car accident.

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Street smarts from a Personal Injury Lawyer: Ignore the hand wave.

It starts innocently enough. You are headed home and coming out of a parking lot entrance hoping to make a left-hand turn, and the traffic is backed up.  You are looking to turn left onto a four-lane road, and the two lanes closest to you are full of vehicles all moving at a crawl. You are just waiting for the traffic to clear, when suddenly there is a gap in the near lane where a truck just to your left stops. He waves his hand for you to cross in front of him and you declined. You know that you aren’t late and think, “Well go yourself.” You are prepared to stay there however long it takes for the traffic to clear when you make eye contact again. The kind truck driver is staring down at you.  You see him look in his side view mirror and his rearview mirror and he again motions for you to go.  You can nearly hear his voice in your head, like a demand, “Come on lady, you’ll never get across at this rate.”   You thank him and pull out, when, bam, another unseen car, on the inside lane hidden by the truck, hits your vehicle.  Conveniently for him, the “nice” truck driver leaves about his business.

The law is clear; you have a nondelegable duty to yield to oncoming traffic while making a left turn. Dawson v. Griffin, 249 Kan. 115, 116–17, 816 P.2d 374, 375 (1991). Don’t make the hand signal. A signaler may in some states be held liable, under some circumstances, on the principle that one who acts gratuitously assumes a duty of care. Liability rests on the view that sometimes a signal may be interpreted as an indication that the way is clear, and it is safe to proceed. Isaacs v. Larkin Elec. Co., No. 16948, 1998 WL 906394, at *4 (Ohio Ct. App. Sept. 4, 1998).

Bottom line: Ignore the hand wave.

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