Determining Liability After a Car Wreck in Georgia: Passing Vehicles Proceeding in Opposite Directions Under OCGA 40-6-41

Determining Liability After a Car Wreck in Georgia: O.C.G.A 40-6-41


Last week, in our ongoing blog series on civil liability after traffic accidents, we went over statutes 40-6-40, 40-6-45, and 40-6-48, which deal with when it is and isn’t acceptable to leave your lane or your side of the road. Today, we’ll continue with that theme and talk about statute 40-6-41, which has to do with situations where two vehicles traveling in opposite directions need to pass each other.

Just like all rules of the road, statute 40-6-41 is designed to protect the public from harm, in this case from head-on collisions. This means that violating statute 40-6-41 counts as negligence per se, which can be helpful in determining civil liability after an accident.

Remember, in most cases, proving that someone behaved negligently (and is therefore liable for the damage they’ve caused) means proving that they behaved in a way a reasonable person wouldn’t. However, if their actions violated a law intended to protect the public safety, those actions are automatically negligent, with no need to argue about what a reasonable person would do. That’s negligence per se.

So, without further ado, let’s look at statute 40-6-41, and what it says about keeping to your side of the road.


When Passing in Opposite Directions, All Drivers Must Keep Right

This one’s pretty straightforward. As we discussed last week, drivers in the U.S must keep to the right half of the road under most circumstances. This rule exists to prevent head-on collisions, so naturally, it’s especially important and applicable when two vehicles are moving in opposite directions on the same roadway. In fact, this scenario is important enough that it has its own separate statute:


§ 40-6-41. Passing vehicles proceeding in opposite directions


Drivers of vehicles proceeding in opposite directions shall pass each other to the right, and, upon roadways having width for not more than one lane of traffic in each direction, each driver shall give to the other at least one-half of the main traveled portion of the roadway or as nearly one-half as possible.


O.C.G.A. § 40-6-41


Under statute 40-6-41, vehicles passing in opposite directions are required to give each other a full half of the usable area of the road. On streets with assigned lanes, you probably don’t think much about whether you’re giving other drivers a full half of the roadway, but on lesser-traveled side streets, lanes aren’t always clearly marked. When two vehicles need to pass in opposite directions on these kinds of streets, the drivers must visually estimate half of the road, or simply keep as far to the right as possible without hitting obstacles. On particularly narrow roads, one driver will sometimes have to pull over completely to allow the other to pass.


Driving on the Wrong Side of the Road Can Lead to Civil Liability

This statute also applies to drivers who cross onto the left side of the road when lanes are clearly marked. There are situations where this is allowed, which we covered last week in our discussion of statute 40-6-40, but drivers using the left side of a two-way street are always required to yield to oncoming traffic and return to their own side as soon as practical. A driver who causes an accident by driving illegally on the left side of the road, or failing to check for oncoming traffic before driving on the left, is liable for the resulting damages under negligence per se.


What Damages Can You Recover If Someone Was Driving on the Wrong Side of the Road?

Just like other personal injury cases, the damages you’ll be able to recover from a driver who was negligently using the left half of the road will be divided into “special” and “general” damages. If you’ve been hurt in a head-on collision with someone driving on the wrong side of the road, or taking up the entirety of a narrow side street, read on to learn more about the case we can help you build.


 You Will Need to Prove Specific Expenses to Collect “Special” Damages

It’s crucial to keep a thorough financial record after an accident, in order to collect compensation for your losses. This includes any doctor’s bills and mechanic’s bills, as well as documentation of how much work you’ve missed and how much income you lost as a result. Proving that you’ve suffered financial losses after the accident is the first step, but you’ll also need to prove that your losses were directly or “proximately” caused by the other driver’s negligence. (To learn more about direct and proximate cause, click here.)


 “General” Damages Are More Difficult to Prove, But Just as Important

If you’ve been seriously injured in an accident, full reimbursement for all your expenses doesn’t even come close to returning you to the life you had before. Many traffic accident survivors are left with long-term pain, permanent disabilities, and disruptive psychological after effects, such as PTSD. Even missing out on your kid’s school play because of a temporary hospitalization is a real loss you’ll never truly recover. While nothing can repair the non-financial harm an accident can cause, the point of general damages is to help compensate for some of it. It’s especially important to have an expert lawyer when pursuing general damages, because you’re asking the court to place a value on something priceless. Without someone on your side who has experience arguing that value, the figures judges and juries come up with can be arbitrary and highly unpredictable.


What If I’ve Lost Someone to a Driver Using the Wrong Side of the Road?

If the accident in question caused a death, then your case becomes one of wrongful death instead of personal injury, and special rules apply. The Wetherington Law Firm covers wrongful death cases as well, and you can learn more about the process here.


Why Do I Need a Lawyer?

Personal injury cases are a complicated minefield of counter-accusations and trick questions, especially when insurance companies are involved. One wrong move or impulsive answer could ruin your chances of a fair settlement beyond repair. Navigating that minefield without training or help is unreasonable and unfair to expect of yourself under the best of circumstances, let alone while you should be focused on recovering from your injuries and caring for you mental health. Thankfully, you don’t have to go it alone. The Wetherington Law Firm will work with you to minimize the stress of proceedings and maximize your settlement, so you can get back to your life as it should be.


How to Hire the Best Car Wreck Lawyers in Atlanta

You don’t need to be rich, or even making ends meet, to get expert representation for your case. The Wetherington Law Firm works on contingency, meaning we don’t get paid until and unless we win. Our only fee comes out of the settlement we secure for you, and when all’s said and done, our clients typically walk away with far more than they would have without qualified representation.


Ready for a free consultation on your case with one of our experienced attorneys? Just call 404-888-4444 or email us, any time. You have nothing to lose, and a life to gain back!



The Wetherington Law Firm Can Help You Make the World a Better Place

We love working with clients who want to change the world! Did your head-on collision happen on a road that was too narrow, or too fast-moving for the conditions? Was there a passing zone with an obstructed view of oncoming traffic? If your accident wasn’t just a momentary lapse in someone else’s judgement but a disaster waiting to happen, we’ll work with you to make sure the underlying problem is addressed before others can be hurt as well. To learn more about the Wetherington Law Firm’s work on improving the world we live in for more than just our clients, reach out by phone or email!








The Wetherington Law Firm will work with you to minimize the stress of proceedings and maximize your settlement, so you can get back to your life as it should be. There is no cost to you for our conversation and if you decide to hire us, there is no fee unless we win your case.