Can I Seek Damages If I Was Involved in a Crash While Turning Left?


December 10, 2013

Although left hand turn accidents are particularly common, especially at intersections, there are many misconceptions that drivers have about these collisions. Some presume that the driver making the left hand turn will automatically be at-fault and that the driver who made the left turn cannot seek financial compensation for his or her injuries. These misconceptions often mislead motorists who are injured in these types of crashes not to seek legal advice to ascertain their rights and remedies under Georgia law. The reality is that a driver who is making a left turn during a collision will usually be liable, but there are exceptions to this general rule. Further, even if the driver making a left turn is considered at-fault, this does not preclude recovery for damages in all situations. Our Atlanta auto accident lawyers have provided some key facts about left turn accidents in Georgia.

Is it true that a left turn results in automatic liability in Georgia traffic accidents?

Georgia law requires drivers to turn left only when it is safe to execute such a turn and imposes a duty on motorists to yield to oncoming traffic. This means that this type of collision will generally result in liability for the driver turning left based on the doctrine of "negligence per se." This legal doctrine essentially results in a presumption of fault when a party violates a safety statute like a traffic law and causes the type of injury or harm that the law was intended to prevent. Fault in car accident litigation is generally based on an unsafe driving practice or violation of a traffic safety law. The driver who is involved in a crash when executing a left turn will usually be liable under one or both of these principles.

Are there exceptions that might result in a motorist executing a left turn not being responsible for causing the crash?

While the vast majority of crashes in this situation will result in some degree of fault being assigned to the driver turning left, there are some narrow exceptions. If the other motorists blows through a red light and collides with a vehicle turning left on a green arrow, the other motorist may be at-fault for such a collision. Similarly, a driver who speeds into the intersection at a high rate of speed may be liable for a crash in the intersection. Yet another example where the driver making a left turn may avoid being determined to be at-fault involves a sudden unanticipated event that slows down the driver's progress in making the turn or prevents the turn from being completed. For example, a vehicle in front of the car making a left turn might stall in the intersection preventing the left turn from being completed within the time period that would normally be anticipated.

Is a motorist barred from recovery if he or she does not fall into these narrow exceptions to liability for left turn accidents?

No.  There are other circumstanes where the driver taking the left turn may not be liable.  Additionally, the fact that a driver making a left turn will generally be liable when these exceptions do not apply does not necessarily mean that an injury victim cannot seek damages. A driver who is at-fault can still receive financial compensation if his or her proportion of fault is less than fifty percent. In other words, both drivers may have engaged in some form of unsafe driving behavior or traffic violation. In this situation, the critical issue will be the degree of fault assigned to each driver. If the motorist who made the left turn is less than fifty percent at fault, the amount of any recovery will simply be reduced by the driver's degree of fault.

Put Our Law Firm's Over 30 Years of Legal Experience to Work On Your Case

If you are injured in an intersection accident, our Atlanta auto accident lawyers have been representing injury victims for over thirty years throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Auto Accidents

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.