As a general rule, the presumption is that left-hand turn accidents are caused by the driver who turned left. This presumption is even part of Florida Law. Florida statute 316.151, provides that any driver who intends to turn left should approach the intersection in the farthest left-hand lane available. The far lane should be going in the same direction. Once the driver enters the intersection, he/she should follow the expected lane of travel. When possible, the left-hand turn should be made “to the left of the center of the intersection.”
Why left-hand turn accidents happen
Generally, the right of way traffic laws favor:
- The car that is going straight
- The vehicle that is turning right
Left-hand turns are considered dangerous because drivers turning left need to process more information. Left-hand turn accidents are more likely than right-hand turn accidents. This is because cars turning left need to cross the cars to their left. In an intersection with two lanes in all directions, the car turning left needs to focus on:
- The left-lane on his side of traffic
- The left-lane on the opposing side of traffic
- The left lane of the crossing route
- The right lane of the crossing route
A car turning right just needs to focus on the right lane of the crossing route. The left-hand turn is more dangerous because the driver has to process four times as much information.
It’s not just other drivers whose safety is put at risk when a driver turns left. Pedestrians and bicycle riders are also endangered. In all intersections, the drivers should wait for walkers and bicyclists to pass through the crosswalk.
A notable exception
There is a notable left-hand turn accident exception. If the intersection has a left-hand only turn sign, then drivers turning left on a green light generally have the right of way.
In some left-hand turn accidents, the driver turning left and another driver may be both partially at fault. Another driver may even be fully at fault. In Florida, the fault is assigned comparatively. This means if your case is worth $100,000 but you were 20% at fault, your damage is award is reduced by 20%. Your award will be 80%
Some situations where the fault may be proportioned or the other driver may be liable include:
- Another driver runs through a red light
- Another driver is speeding
- The driver turned left and then had difficulty making the turn due to other circumstances. This situation recently occurred when the tennis player Venus Williams turned-left but couldn’t complete the turn in time. Sadly, an elderly driver who proceeded through the intersection struck her car and died.
Establishing liability in complicated or even standard cases requires the help of an experienced Florida personal injury lawyer. Respected Vero Beach and Sebastian trial lawyers work with witnesses, the police, investigators, video and camera footage, and discovery - to help prove what happened.