U-turns are sometimes a necessary driving maneuver. However, because the person making the U-turn must account for oncoming traffic and vehicles making turns from cross streets, U-turns can be dangerous.
Who is at fault when a U-turn accident happens?
Legality of the turn
In North Carolina, U-turns are generally legal except for where they are not permitted. U-turns are illegal on controlled-access highways, except for highways with openings specifically for that purpose. They are also illegal in areas with No U-turn signs and medians intended to prevent U-turn maneuvers. It may be illegal for specific types of vehicles to make a U-turn in some places where U-turns are otherwise legal.
Fault in a U-Turn accident
Drivers making U-turns usually must yield to oncoming traffic and vehicles making right turns at an intersection. Drivers should also be careful not to attempt a U-turn from the wrong lane, causing them to cut in front of traffic in the adjacent lane.
In many cases, when an accident occurs while a driver is making a U-turn, the driver executing the U-turn will be at fault. However, the other driver must attempt to avoid the accident. If the other driver was speeding, not paying attention or otherwise contributed to the accident, both drivers may share some of the fault.
Because of North Carolina’s contributory negligence law, drivers who share any amount of fault cannot collect damages from another party. This makes exercising caution when driving particularly important, because you may have to pay for your damages even if the other driver was the majority at fault.