We have all seen it – a driver is trying to make a turn in an intersection, proceeds on a green light, gets held up by the traffic in front of her, and then the light changes from green to yellow to red while she is stopped. Now, she is in the intersection waiting to complete her turn.
Under Louisiana law, a motorist approaching an intersection cannot depend exclusively on a favorable light, but has a duty to watch for vehicles who have already preempted the intersection when the light changed. Gaines v. Lemoine, 2019-0551 (La. App. 1 Cir. 2/21/20), 297 So.3d 775; Mosley v. Griffin, 5478 (La. App. 2 Cir. 2/24/16), 191 So.3d 16. Further, in order to preempt the intersection the motorist must show that he “made lawful entry, at a proper speed, after ascertaining that oncoming traffic was sufficiently removed to permit a safe passage and under bona fide belief and expectation that he can negotiate a crossing with safety.” Mosely, 191 So.3d at 12-13.
In Gaines v. Lemoine, supra, the plaintiff was stopped at the red light and immediately the intersection when his light turned green, colliding with the defendant driver who was in the process of executing a left turn. The court determined that any way you view the evidence, it is clear that the defendant entered the intersection on a green light but had not cleared the intersection by the time Plaintiff entered the intersection. As such, plaintiff was found to be completely at fault because a motorist must not enter an intersection immediately after his light turns green without allowing sufficient time for traffic in the intersection to clear. The court rejected plaintiff’s assertion that the law concerning left-turning motorists and comparative fault should apply because uncontradicted testimony indicated that the defendant has exercised caution as he began making the turn under a green arrow.