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Florida Keys Injury Lawyers > Blog > Car Accident > Who Is Liable In A Florida Left-Turn Accident?

Who Is Liable In A Florida Left-Turn Accident?


Trying to make a left turn against traffic (turning left on a green light) can be a very dangerous maneuver.  One lapse in judgement could be all it takes to cause a serious accident with life-altering  consequences.  The truth is, however, that motorists sometimes have to make left turns to get to their destination.   If so, who is liable if a crash occurs?   In most cases, the vehicle who attempts to make the left turn will be held responsible for the accident – even if they are turning on a green light.   Note that a green light is different from a green arrow.

A large majority of accident cases involve a driver turning left through an intersection on a green light.

Florida Laws on Left-Hand Turns

According to Florida Statute 316.151(1)(b), if a driver wants to turn left at an intersection, they must approach the intersection in the extreme left-hand lane legally available for making such a turn. Also, such a driver must enter their intended roadway within the lane lawfully available to them. This means that a driver turning left at an intersection should avoid turning into a lane where oncoming traffic might travel.

Under Florida Statute 316.122, a driver who wants to turn left into an alley, intersection, driveway, or private road must give way to right-coming motorists. Additionally, if such a driver’s vehicle is within an intersection or so close to it as to constitute an immediate risk, the driver must yield the right-of-way to vehicles legally passing on the left of their vehicle.

Additionally, according to the law, Florida motorists making a left turn (or a right turn) must use their turn signal. Any vehicle intending to turn must use a turn signal for at least 100 feet before turning.

In plain terms, a driver cannot turn left into oncoming traffic even if they are turning on a green light (as opposed to a green arrow).   The driver coming from the opposite direction – through a green light – legally has the right of way.

When is the Motorist Who Makes a Left-Hand Turn Not Liable for the Accident?

Let’s assume you proceed to make a left turn after the coast is clear, only for another vehicle to come speeding from the opposite direction.  In this scenario, you may not be held fully liable for the accident – the speeding driver may be held liable for the accident, at least in part.   In some cases both vehicles can be liable to some degree (i.e. 80%/20%).   In most cases, however, the “speeding driver” will say he/she was NOT speeding.   As a result, it is easier for the police to ticket the driver who turns on a green light – as opposed to the driver traveling straight, short of an independent witnesses claiming to have seen the offending driver speeding though the light.   In some cases, an attorney can preserve the vehicles and hire an expert to download the vehicles’ “electronic data recorder” or “black box” to determine the exact speed of vehicles.   This is done in rare situations, however (i.e. crashes involving significant injuries).   Having said that, we have on at least one occasion successfully secured a settlement under this fact pattern.

Contact Us for Legal Help

Left turn motor vehicle accidents are not always as straightforward as people assume they are.  If you were involved in a Florida left-turn accident, contact a skilled Key West & Marathon car accident attorney at Florida Keys injury today to get legal help.

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