Hit someone that went straight in a right turn only lane...

by Joshua
(Spartanburg, South Carolina)

On my way to work, there is a 4 lane road. The right lane turns into a right turn only at the next intersection (markings on the road and signs saying "right lane must turn right"). Past the intersection however, the lane continues going. My entrance to work is just past the intersection on the right.

So to get where I am going, I must be in the left lane before the intersection, and then change lanes either in, or right after, the intersection. My question is a two-part:

a. If I hit someone while changing lanes after or in the intersection because they failed to turn right at the intersection (went straight in a right turn only), who is at fault?

b. Knowing that the right lane is a right turn only, am I even changing lanes? i.e., did that lane technically end at the turn (or intersection) and a new lane create? If so, then I didn't really change lanes, but chose which lane I wanted to be in when the new lane was created. There are no dotted lines in the intersection stating which lane I am in during the intersection.

Thank you for your perspective.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Hit someone that went straight in a right turn only lane...":

Joshua (Spartanburg, South Carolina):

From the facts you present, it appears the other driver was clearly at fault. His actions were in violation of South Carolina's Motor Vehicle Code Section 56-5-2150 which reads in part:

"(a) No person shall turn a vehicle or move right or left upon a roadway unless and until such movement can be made with reasonable safety nor without giving an appropriate signal as provided for in this section."

The right lane effectively ended at the intersection. At that time the other driver had no choice but to move left into your lane of traffic. The driver did so without "reasonable safety" and the driver failed to give "an appropriate signal."

The driver's actions were clearly negligent. As a result, you have a right to compensation for the repairs to your car.

It appears you did not sustain any injures, but instead, only property damage to your vehicle. Contact the driver's insurance company and file a property damage claim. They should accept liability and compensate you for the property damage.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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