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Florida Injury Lawyers > Blog > Car Accident > Florida Left Turn Accidents: Is The Left Turning Driver Always To Blame?

Florida Left Turn Accidents: Is The Left Turning Driver Always To Blame?

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Every year, the state of Florida records more than 300,000 crashes. In 2020 alone, for instance, Florida recorded a total of 341,331 crashes. That means that approximately 935 crashes occurred in Florida every day in 2020. Because of the frequency of car accidents in Florida, we are asked many questions about all types of car accidents as personal injury attorneys. One of the types of car accidents that attract many questions is left-turn car accidents. One of the many questions we receive about left-turn crashes is, “Is the left turning driver always at fault?” If you have this same question in mind, read on to learn the answer.

What Does Florida Law Say About Left Turns?

Despite Florida’s heavy traffic and gridlocked roadways, Florida law requires left-turning drivers to yield the right of way and only make a left turn when it is safe to do so and without putting other road users in danger or creating obstructions.

Florida Statute 316.122 – Vehicle Turning Left:  The driver of a vehicle intending to turn to the left within an intersection or into an alley, private road, or driveway shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction, or vehicles lawfully passing on the left of the turning vehicle, which is within the intersection or so close thereto as to constitute an immediate hazard. A violation of this section is a noncriminal traffic infraction, punishable as a moving violation as provided in chapter 318.

Is the Left Turning Driver Always at Fault?

Many people assume that drivers executing left turns are automatically 100% to blame for crashes (See Florida Statute 316.122). But is this really the case? Are left-turning drivers always 100% at fault?

Left-turning drivers who crash into someone going the right of way are always at-fault … to some degree.   Florida is a comparative negligence state.    That means that if the person going the right of way is partially at fault for an accident which they suffer harm, that person’s recovery of damages will be reduced by their percentage of fault.

The following are common situations that could reduce the percentage of fault of the person turning left:

  1. The oncoming driver was speeding. If the driver coming straight was speeding, the left-turning driver could be found only comparatively negligent for causing the accident. However, it can be hard to convince the court or insurance company that the other driver was speeding since the law requires left-turning drivers to wait until it is completely safe before making a left turn.
  2. The oncoming vehicle ran a red light. If a driver goes through a red light without stopping, they are almost certainly at fault if an accident happens after they run the red light. In a case where the other driver failed to stop at a red light, the left-turning driver will most likely have an easy time convincing the insurance company or court that they are not to blame for the accident. 

Let’s assume, you are turning left on green.   The person traveling “the right of way” switches lanes and proceeds through the intersection at 85 mph (in a 40-mph speed zone).   It is possible that you can be compensated for your injuries, even if you are found “at-fault” for the crash for turning left into oncoming traffic.

Let’s assume your damages are $1,000,000.00.    Let’s assume you are 60% at-fault.   Your recover would be $400,000.00.

Understand that proving fault on the person going the right of way can be extremely difficult.   If you are involved in this type of fact pattern, you should contact one of our skilled Plantation car accident lawyers as soon as possible to discuss your case.  Our office will immediately seek to preserve the vehicles so our expert can examine the vehicles’ black box (EDR) to determine speed.

Resource:

flhsmv.gov/traffic-crash-reports/crash-dashboard/

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