Left turns are a daily maneuver for Louisiana drivers, but they also carry an increased risk of accidents. Understanding liability in left-turn collisions is crucial for protecting yourself and navigating any potential legal consequences. This article dives into the legal intricacies of left-turn accidents in Louisiana, focusing on the adverse presumption that might impact your case.

Left-Hand Turns and Human Error

A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that over 22% of intersection crashes involve left turning vehicles. Another NHTSA study suggested that a staggering 94% of left-turn accidents were attributed to driver error. Here are some common examples of driver error:

  • Inadequate observation: Failing to properly check mirrors, blind spots, and oncoming traffic before initiating the turn.
  • Misjudgment of speed or distance: Incorrectly estimating the speed of approaching vehicles or misjudging the available space to complete the turn safely.
  • Distracted driving: Using a phone, eating, or engaging in other activities that divert attention away from the road.
  • Impaired driving: Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, significantly impairing judgment and reaction time.
  • Illegal maneuvers: Attempting unsafe turns like U-turns where prohibited or turning from the wrong lane.

The Burden of Proof: Left-Turn Liability in Louisiana

In the unfortunate event of a left-turn accident, Louisiana law generally presumes the driver making the left turn is liable. La. R.S. 32:122 requires that the “driver of a vehicle within an intersection intending to turn to the left shall yield the right of way to all vehicles approaching from the opposite direction which are within the intersection or so close thereto as to constitute an immediate hazard.” This rule applies to both turns on roads and turns onto driveways. The left-turning driver is presumed to be at fault if the collision occurs over the center line.

While this rule doesn’t guarantee the left-turning vehicle was at fault, it significantly shapes the legal fight. This does not mean the presumption cannot be overcome, however. For example, if a driver runs a red light and hits a driver turning left with a green arrow, the driver who ran the red light would be at fault for the accident.

Exceptions to the Left-Turn Liability Presumption

There are situations where the adverse presumption might not apply:

  • The other driver caused the accident by violating traffic laws (e.g., running a red light).
  • Unavoidable accidents occurred due to sudden, unforeseen circumstances beyond the turning driver’s control.
  • Left-turning vehicle preempted the intersection by entering first and that entry was made after determining that the intersection traffic was so far removed as to allow safe passage without causing the other vehicle to make an emergency stop.

Louisiana’s Comparative Fault System

Adding another layer of complexity, Louisiana operates under a pure comparative fault system. This means everyone involved in the accident can share responsibility, and their compensation will be adjusted accordingly. Unlike other states with contributory negligence or hybrid systems, even if you’re partially at fault, you can still recover damages.

When to Seek Legal Counsel

Left-turn accidents can be complex, and the liability presumption adds another layer of challenge. Unfortunately, insurance companies work hard to guard their interests by finding ways to avoid liability. Consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney is crucial if you’re involved in such an accident, whether you’re the turning driver or the one struck. An attorney can:

  • Investigate the accident thoroughly, gathering evidence and witness statements.
  • Evaluate the applicability of the left-turn liability presumption and build a strong defense if you’re the turning driver.
  • Fight for fair compensation if you were injured due to someone else’s negligence.

Remember:

  • Always prioritize safety by making left turns cautiously and obeying traffic laws.
  • Don’t admit fault at the accident scene; stick to the facts.
  • Seek legal counsel promptly to understand your rights and options.

Why Malvin Law?

Experience & Expertise: Our firm boasts extensive experience handling left-turn accident cases in Louisiana. We’ve successfully navigated complex fault issues, negotiated with aggressive insurance companies, and secured maximum compensation for our clients.

Compassion & Understanding: We recognize the emotional and physical toll an accident can take. We’ll treat you with compassion and understanding, providing support and guidance throughout your recovery process.

Personalized Attention: We believe in building strong relationships with our clients. You won’t be treated as a case number; you’ll have direct access to our managing attorney who will answer your questions, address your concerns, and keep you informed throughout the process.

Beyond Compensation: We go beyond just securing compensation. We can connect you with trusted medical professionals, rehabilitation specialists, and other resources to help you get back on your feet after the accident.

Aggressive Advocacy: We’re not afraid to fight for what you deserve. We’ll aggressively pursue all avenues of compensation, whether through negotiation or litigation, ensuring you receive fair compensation for your injuries, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Proven Results: Our track record of success speaks for itself. We’ve recovered millions of dollars for our clients, and we’re committed to achieving similar results for you.

Transparency & Communication: We believe in open communication and transparency. You’ll always know the status of your case, the options available to you, and the potential outcomes. We’ll work closely with you to make informed decisions every step of the way.

No Fees, Unless We Win: We understand the financial burden an accident can cause. That’s why we work on a contingency fee basis, meaning you pay nothing unless we secure compensation for you.

Louisiana-Focused: We have a deep understanding of Louisiana’s unique laws and regulations, including the intricacies of the pure comparative fault system. This allows us to tailor our strategies to maximize your chances of success in your specific case.

Choosing Malvin Law is choosing a firm committed to your success. We’ll be your advocate, your guide, and your partner in navigating the legal complexities of your case. Contact us today for a free consultation and let us help you get the justice and compensation you deserve.

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