Driver turning left

How do I determine fault for a left turn accident?

Under Florida law, left turn accident fault usually falls on the driver of the car turning left. Below, we discuss the circumstances that might affect fault in an accident. 

When would the driver turning left be at-fault?

When turning left at a solid green light, Florida Statute § 316.122 requires the driver of the left-turning vehicle to “yield the right-of-way to any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction” that is in the intersection or so close to it that it would not be able to stop in time to avoid a collision. 

By way of example, Larry is waiting at a solid green light to make a lawful left turn. Sally Straight is approaching from the opposite direction, driving straight through the intersection. Larry turns without ensuring the way is clear and collides with Sally. He is at-fault.  

If Sally was turning right when Larry collided with her, he would also be at-fault in that situation. 

Section 316.075 of the Florida Statutes also requires Larry to yield to pedestrians and any other vehicle that is lawfully in the intersection. If a pedestrian is in the crosswalk and has not yet made it across the street, Larry must wait before executing his left turn. If a vehicle entered the intersection legally and is still in the intersection when Larry gets his left turn arrow, Larry must wait until the vehicle clears the intersection. If he does not, he is liable.

The left-turning driver would also be liable if he turned on a red light.

When would the other driver be liable?

The driver going straight through the intersection can be partially or fully at-fault if he:

  • Ran a red light
  • Sped through the intersection (e.g., could be at-fault if the accident would not have occurred/would not have been as severe if the driver going straight was not speeding)
  • Attempted to “beat” a yellow light
  • Proceeded through the intersection from the left turn lane instead of the left straight lane (e.g., the driver realized she needed to turn at the next intersection instead so she merged right into the intersection)
  • Turned left where no left turns are allowed (e.g., turned where only U-turns are permitted)
  • Violated another traffic law in the process of her left turn

A driver who turns left on red is always at fault, right?

Not always. In limited circumstances, it is legal to turn left on a red light in Florida. If you are turning from a one-way street onto a one-way street, you have come to a complete stop, and you have yielded to all pedestrians and oncoming traffic, you may make a left turn on a red light as long as there is not a “No turn on red” sign at the intersection.

In this case, the other driver would be at-fault because he would be driving the wrong way down the street.

How can I prove liability for a left turn car accident? 

While fault for a left turn car accident is often straightforward, if liability is disputed or unclear, we can gather the following pieces of evidence to establish the other driver’s responsibility:

  • Police reports
  • Surveillance video
  • Photos
  • Eyewitness testimony
  • Testimony from an accident reconstruction expert 

Surveillance video and eyewitness testimony can be especially helpful as they give an unbiased account of what occurred. An accident reconstruction expert will be able to determine exactly how the accident occurred and how much fault either party has for the collision. 

Get help from a Fort Lauderdale car accident attorney.

If you have been in an accident that involved a left turn, and it was not your fault, you may have a claim. Left-turn car accident fault can be complicated. The Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyers at Coffey Trial Law have years of experience dealing with these types of accidents and know what to look for when determining and proving liability.

Call us today for your free case evaluation and consultation: 954-541-3194.