If a driver hits a bicycle while the driver is making a left turn, the turning driver is likely at fault. Florida law requires left-turning drivers to yield the right-of-way to other vehicles, including bicycles, in nearly every situation. If failing to yield right-of-way results in a collision, the driver is likely liable.
Do Left-Turning Vehicles Have to Yield?
Yes. Drivers do not have an absolute right to make a left turn just because they have a green light. The Florida statutes require drivers to proceed cautiously when they have a green light or turn signal and to yield to other vehicles that are lawfully within the intersection. Drivers cannot assert their right to go if it will result in a collision.
Are Bicycles Considered Vehicles in Florida?
Yes. As such, bikes have the same rights as cars and other vehicles. Drivers must yield the right-of-way to a bicycle that is lawfully within the intersection when turning left, even if they have a green light.
Since bicycles are vehicles in the eyes of the law in Florida, they also have to follow the same rules of the road as cars, as well as some laws that are specific to bicycles. A bicycle cannot be legally within an intersection if it would be illegal for a car to be in the intersection under the same circumstances.
Does it Matter if the Bicycle is Not Legally in the Intersection?
Drivers cannot hit any vehicle intentionally just because it should not be in the intersection at that time. For example, a bicycle zipped across the intersection just as its traffic light turned red. Drivers must wait until the bicyclist clears the intersection before entering, even though the bicyclist broke the law by running the red light. All road users have a responsibility to prevent accidents.
Section 316.122 of the Florida Statutes requires drivers to let traffic that is approaching from the opposite direction get through the intersection if they were either in the intersection or so close to it that they could not stop, before executing a left turn. Failure to yield is a moving violation that is also negligence.
When Might a Driver Not Be at Fault for Striking a Bicyclist While the Car is Turning Left?
A left-turning car would not be at fault for hitting a bicyclist if the driver was proceeding cautiously and yielding the right-of-way to all vehicles, including bicycles, but an accident still occurred because the bicyclist caused it.
In some cases, both parties may hold partial fault, which reduces recoverable damages under Florida comparative negligence laws. For example, if the bicyclist ran a red light but the driver did not proceed cautiously to avoid hitting the cyclist, both parties may be partially at fault; the bicyclist for running the red light and the driver for failing to proceed cautiously. Fault would ultimately depend on the details of the case, which is why we recommend speaking with a lawyer after your accident.
Call the Montero Law Center at 954-767-6500 if you suffered injuries in a bicycle accident that was not your fault.