Maine Bicycle Accidents: The “Right Hook” or Failure To Observe Bicyclist Alongside Vehicle When Making Right Turn

John F. Kennedy once said, “[n]othing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride.” Today, a whopping 57 million Americans agree with this sentiment, taking over nine million bike trips across the U.S. each day. Unfortunately, along with the rise in the popularity of cycling has come an increase in the number of bicycle accidents. Each year, approximately half a million individuals will seek emergency medical treatment for injuries sustained in biking accidents. Seven hundred and fifty people will die from these injuries.

Bicycle accidents occur under a variety of circumstances, but among the most common cause of these accidents in Maine is the failure of vehicle drivers to observe a bicyclist when making a right hand turn. Making a right hand turn in front of a cyclist is often dubbed a “right hook”—and it is extremely dangerous.

Right hooks can result in the cyclist crashing into the illegally turning motor vehicle, or swerving to avoid the vehicle and ending up in traffic, on the ground, or crashed into another obstacle. Recognizing the danger of right hooks, most states have passed laws banning this action.

Maine’s Laws on Right Hooks

In 2013, the Maine legislature proudly strengthened several important bicycle riding laws. In Part 1-A of the newly amended ME-29-A MRS § 2060, all individuals operating a motor vehicle near a person operating a bicycle, and proceeding in the same direction, may not make a right turn unless the turn can be made with reasonable safety and without interfering with the safe and legal operation of the bicycle.

This new law, and several other amendments which allow the bicyclist more discretion over selecting which part of the lane to ride on, was introduced by the Bicycle Coalition of Maine. The Bicycle Coalition hopes that passage of the law is a step toward enacting a “vulnerable user” law in Maine. These laws, which exist in several other states, place responsibility for the safety of bicyclist, pedestrians, and motorcyclists, on motor vehicle drivers.

Potential Right Hook Injuries

Right hand turns into cyclists can lead to severe injuries, including:

  • Broken bones
  • Facial lacerations
  • Road rash
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Head injury
  • Brain injury
  • Death
Maine “Right Hook” Case Demonstrates Severity of these Types of Accidents

Monica Semian, a bike rider in Ogunquit, Maine, experienced firsthand the devastating nature of a right hook accident. Semian, a Romanian college student, was riding her bike from Main Street onto Berwick Road, when the distracted driver of a school bus turned in front of her, knocking her off the bike and running her over with its rear wheels. Semian underwent three different surgeries as a result of her extensive injuries. She mounted over $200,000 in medical bills and suffered tremendous pain for months following the accident. Ultimately, the driver who hit Semian was found at fault and she was awarded $750,000 for her damages stemming from the accident.

Proving Fault of the Driver After a Right Hook Accident

In order to recover from the driver of a motor vehicle following any sort of bike accident, the victim must establish the driver acted in a negligent manner. When the motor vehicle driver violates a rule of the road, this is often sufficient to establish negligence. Accordingly, because right hook accidents so often involve the violation of Maine’s statute prohibiting right hand turns in front of a cyclist unless it is safe to do so, negligence can frequently be established in these cases.

Peter Thompson & Associates: Protecting Cyclists Across the State of Maine

The Maine law firm of Peter Thompson & Associates strives to protect the legal rights of all injured bicyclists across the state. Our attorney team will zealously fight for your recovery in the event you are injured in a bicycle accident. Call us today at 1 800.804.2004 to schedule an initial consultation with one of our experienced and compassionate Maine bike accident attorneys. We look forward to providing you with excellence of legal services.

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