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I was driving uphill on a 35mph limit road heading to a church wedding (Connecticut). Near the top of the hill, the parking lot was to the left. I signaled to turn and since no one was coming from the opposite direction I started making a left turn. I was driving very slowly looking to see if the parking lot was full when I heard the bike coming down the hill. It's one of those street racing bikes, very fast. He was about 90 feet away when I saw him and he did not slow down, I think he just tried to avoid me and wiz by. He ended up crashing the side of my car, in the back seat. He was taken to the hospital and had surgery on his arm but other than that he was ok. Police came and investigated the scene for a couple of hours. He was speeding and did not have a license. However, where I turned to enter the church parking lot was a double continuous line in the road, meaning I could not turn left there. Because of these circumstances, what should I do? Am I liable for his hospital bills and his motorcycle?

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    Where do you get the idea that a double yellow line in the road means you can't turn left? In every state I've been in, a double yellow line indicates no passing. You can still cross the line into a driveway or parking lot, after taking the proper precautions. – Thomas Owens Oct 10 '16 at 17:56
  • You're correct as it seems (goo.gl/frW9rK page 46). I got the idea from one of the officers at the scene. – Breno Oct 10 '16 at 18:05
  • So since you were making a legal maneuver and it seems like you know that the other driver was operating a vehicle illegal and speeding (presumably from the police), exactly what is your question? Are you simply concerned that you may have to be liable when you were following all of the rules of the road and the other driver wasn't? If so, what is giving you that impression? – Thomas Owens Oct 10 '16 at 18:13
  • He wasn't speeding from the police. He was just over the speed limit of the road (35mph) initial investigation at the scene pointed to at least 45mph at the point of collision, although I need to wait for the final report to know for sure. I thought, because of what the officer told me, that I might also be at fault for making an illegal left turn. That's why I was concerned. As it turns out it wasn't an illegal left turn, so I do feel more at ease now. I still wonder however why would the officer say that, he should know. – Breno Oct 10 '16 at 18:17
  • @user662852 I wasn't changing lanes. I don't follow how it can be construed as interfering with traffic. Can you explain further, please? – Breno Oct 10 '16 at 18:54
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The Ct. driver's manual p. 44 says that "Solid yellow lines may be crossed to make a left turn to or from an alley, private road, driveway, or street", and also "A double solid white line prohibits lane changing" (turning left is not the same as lane changing). In Washington, there is a fine of $136 for crossing a double white line, but this is related to the hyper-limited access pay lanes on the freeway. I have not found anything in the Connecticut code that indicates an analogous absolute prohibition against crossing a double white. In lieu of a statutory prohibition, you may succeed in arguing that it was a legal turn, as long as the turn was in compliance with the rest of the law, e.g. you signalled, you yielded right of way (which essentially means he was driving so fast that he appeared after you started to turn). His speed may be contributing negligence that prevents you from being liable, so it just depends.

  • Thanks for the answer. It was a double solid yellow line. I'll wait for the police report to determine his actual speed. From what they said at the sight of the crash he was roughly 45mph (at a 35mph limit) at the point of impact. My perception is that he was going much faster than that and slowed down before impact. – Breno Oct 10 '16 at 19:00
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I think it is quite clear the bike driver was at fault due to speeding. The question is whether you were also at fault.

You turned left into a car park. Oncoming traffic had the right of way. Your view was obscured. If you wanted to cross the left lane, you would have had to do this quickly enough so that if an oncoming vehicle entered your view, going at or slightly above the legal speed limit, it would have been safe.

You said you were driving very slowly. You also said you were looking at the car park, not watching for oncoming traffic. If I had arrived, going at the speed limit, just at the wrong moment, would that have been dangerous? I think it would have, the way you describe it. The rule isn’t “don’t start turning when there is oncoming traffic”. The rule is “you must have finished turning before oncoming traffic arrives”.

If you do a left turn, and the view ahead is obscured, you have to do that quick enough so that you won’t get hit by traffic arriving just when you turn. What I would have done: Stop in the right lane, check that I can enter the car park safely, check again for oncoming traffic, and if there is no traffic, turn into the car park as quickly as possible.

And if the obstruction is close enough, or the entrance to the car park is narrow enough, or too much traffic coming from behind you, or if you drive a truck that takes forever to turn, so that you can’t do this safely, then you just can’t turn into the car park. You also need to take into account that people drive faster than allowed. If 30mph is allowed, then you need to expect people coming at 35mph.

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Sounds like the traffic offense would would be "failure to yield to oncoming traffic," and possibly reckless driving depending on the cop who responded, but probably not an illegal left turn. But even if you aren't charged with anything, a tort claim could be made against you, but it's difficult to say what the result would be. Speeding on the motorcyclist's part would definitely count against him. At the same time, making a slow left turn just below the crest of a hill, into oncoming traffic might not play too well.

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    How can you yield to oncoming traffic when there is no oncoming traffic when you start your turn? – AndyT Nov 17 '16 at 16:34
  • By not crawling across the left lane. And there was oncoming traffic, OP just didn’t see it. You have to finish your turn before oncoming traffic arrives. – gnasher729 May 12 at 11:14
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Turning left with driving lanes giving you the all clear, and a speeding motorcycle jumps into the turn lane and totals your car THE MOTORCYCLE IS 100% to blame. No attorney will sue for the motorcyclist because he knows he would lose at trial and be out many dollars. Also, that would open for the car owner to sue the motorcyclist for damages, and he would win.

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    Welcome to Law Stack Exchange. Can you provide any support for your answer? Also, since you are a new user, we encourage you to take the tour. – feetwet May 12 at 0:56

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