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Navigating the Legalities of Illegal Left Turns in Louisiana

Have you ever found yourself stuck at a light, impatiently waiting for that one driver who seems determined to squeeze in a left turn despite oncoming traffic? It’s a heart-stopping scenario, and for good reason—illegal left turns are a major cause of accidents in Louisiana, leaving a trail of frustration, damage, and oftentimes unfortunately, injuries.

In this blog, we will explore the legal implications of illegal left turns by explaining the relevant laws, exploring real-life scenarios, and offering valuable tips to keep you safe behind the wheel. Understanding these regulations can protect you, both on the road and in the courtroom, should an accident occur.

Understanding Illegal Left Turns

Imagine you’re at a busy intersection with a solid green light, but oncoming traffic seems endless. You inch forward, tempted to squeeze in a left turn during a seemingly opportune gap.  However, this could be a recipe for disaster. An illegal left turn is any turn that violates traffic laws or safety protocols; here are some common scenarios:

  • Turning left without yielding the right of way to oncoming traffic.
  • Turning left from a prohibited lane (for example, a turn lane designated for right turns only).
  • Turning left across a double yellow line.
  • Making a left turn when the oncoming traffic light is green.

Let’s take a look at an Louisiana accident crash report showing a head-on intersection collision caused by an illegal left turn.

The diagram reveals a driver (Vehicle #1) turning left from a single road intersection off the highway and colliding with a southbound car (Vehicle #2), which was traveling straight. The investigating officer would likely conclude that the driver of Vehicle #1 made an illegal left turn, causing the accident. 

The risks associated with illegal left turns are significant because these maneuvers put you at risk and endanger other drivers. Not only could you get a ticket, but you also increase the chance of a serious accident, which can typically lead to injuries, property damage, and even fatalities.

Louisiana Laws and Implication on Illegal Left Turns 

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Regulations: Louisiana law mandates that left-turn signals be used at least 100 feet before the intersection (La. R.S. 32:104).
    • Don’t get caught short—signal early and clearly!
  • Penalties: Violating left-turn laws can result in fines ranging from $100 to $500.
    • A seemingly harmless turn gone wrong can land a hefty ticket on your lap.
  • Liability: If you make an illegal left turn and cause an accident, you’ll likely be held liable for damages.
    • This could involve medical bills, vehicle repairs, even lost wages, and, of course, general damages like pain and suffering. 
    • The scope is significant. 

Louisiana Revised Statute 32:122 explains it clearly: “drivers turning left at intersections must yield the right of way to all oncoming vehicles within the intersection or so close as to constitute an immediate hazard.” This means waiting patiently until you have a safe gap in traffic before making your turn. 

But Louisiana’s  Pure Comparative Fault System adds another wrinkle. Under this law, responsibility for the accident is shared among all of those involved in causing or contributing to the accident. For example, if you are the only injured party, and you were partially (but not completely) at fault for causing the accident, then you could still recover damages from the other negligent (but not injured) party. 

Let’s say you make an illegal left turn, but the oncoming driver is speeding excessively. The jury might find you 20% at fault and the other driver 80% at fault. This means you could still receive compensation for your damages, which would be reduced by 20%. The takeaway? Even a small percentage of fault due to an illegal left turn can significantly impact your potential compensation. 

Consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney can help you navigate the complexities of the Comparative Fault System and maximize your chances of a fair settlement. Remember, at Saunders & Chabert, our team can analyze the specifics of your case and fight for the compensation you deserve, considering the role of the illegal left turn and Louisiana’s Comparative Fault System.

Preventative Measures

Understanding Louisiana’s traffic laws and practicing safe driving habits are essential to protecting yourself and others on the road. Here are some key tips to help you avoid making illegal left turns:

  • Always use your turn signal well in advance.
  • Never turn left on a double yellow line.
  • Only turn left when you have a clear and safe gap in oncoming traffic.
  • Be patient – waiting a few seconds for a safe turn is better than risking an accident.
  • Practice defensive driving techniques to anticipate potential hazards.

By avoiding illegal left turns and staying alert, you can significantly reduce your risk of accidents. Yet even the most cautious driver can be involved in an accident caused by another’s negligence. If you’ve been injured in an accident caused by an illegal left turn, don’t hesitate to contact Saunders & Chabert. 

Call us today or schedule a free online consultation, and allow our experienced team to help you understand your legal rights and fight for the compensation you deserve. Remember, staying informed and following the law can keep you safe and on the road!

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