When you are behind the wheel and you want to make a left turn, you should be extremely cautious. If there is an accident while you are making a left turn, you are likely going to be liable for the accident. Florida Statute §316.122 requires drivers to proceed cautiously and yield to nearly anyone or anything they could possibly hit while turning left. This applies to turning left at an intersection as well as turning into a driveway or alley. It applies to public and private roads.
When there is a left-turn arrow, the driver may turn left while the left turn arrow is green, after yielding to pedestrians and any other vehicle that is lawfully in the intersection. Merely looking in the direction of oncoming traffic and looking left and right is not enough.
If there is no left turn arrow, the driver must wait until all oncoming traffic clears the intersection, as well as pedestrians and any other vehicle that is lawfully in the intersection.
A driver who makes a left turn at an intersection where there is signage posted that prohibits left turns or all turns at the intersection, may be liable if the illegal turn results in an accident.
What about someone in an oncoming lane who wants to turn right, into your path, as you are turning left? It depends. Florida Statute §316.075 provides that if you are turning left on a green left turn signal, the car wanting to turn right, into your path, should yield right of way to you. If you both have green lights but no green turn signals, the car turning left should yield, unless there is signage posted or a signal that prohibits the other car from turning right at that time.
So when might a driver turning left not be held liable in the event of an accident?
- If a left-turning driver is struck by another vehicle from behind, the driver of the turning vehicle might not be liable.
- If a driver ran a red light and struck the left-turning vehicle, the driver of the turning vehicle might not be liable.
- And if a driver from a parallel lane, traveling the same direction the turning driver was going prior to the left turn, swerved into the left-turning vehicle’s lane and struck the left-turning vehicle, the driver of the turning vehicle might not be liable.
Even in those situations, the left-turning driver would have to have proceeded cautiously and yielded right of way as required by law.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident involving the right of way on a left turn, please contact the Montero Law Center at 954-767-6500 to speak with an auto accident attorney.