Unsafe Lane Changing Accidents

When a road has been divided into clearly marked lanes, drivers are supposed to travel within a single lane to the greatest extent possible. Unfortunately, many drivers weave in and out of traffic wherever they see an opening, without signaling and sometimes forcing other vehicles to brake abruptly. These unsafe lane changes are particularly dangerous to motorcyclists, who have no padding to shield their bodies against the impact of a weaving vehicle. If you are hurt because of a driver's unsafe lane changing, the experienced Maine motorcycle accident attorneys at Peter Thompson & Associates may be able to help you.

Traffic Points Under Maine’s Driving Laws

Maine assigns demerit points to all traffic violations, and unsafe lane changes are assigned 6 points. The greater the number of points, the more severe the infraction is considered to be. As a point of reference, an OUI is also 6 points in Maine and an illegal U-turn is 2 points. This indicates the degree to which Maine takes seriously the responsibility drivers have to change lanes safely.

Negligence in Maine

Maine does not recognize "negligence per se," a doctrine that requires a jury to find negligence if it determines that the defendant's violation of a regulation or law caused a plaintiff's injury. Although unsafe lane changes may be penalized with demerit points in Maine, they will not be considered evidence of negligence per se. Rather, evidence of an unsafe lane change may be used to show a driver's negligence.

A motorcyclist who has been injured by an unsafe lane change and seek to recover damages from the responsible driver under a theory of negligence must show that: (1) the defendant owed him a duty to drive safely, (2) breach of that duty, (3) proximate cause and (4) damages. In many cases, an unsafe lane change is a breach of the duty to drive safely according to the existing road conditions. If successful in his lawsuit, an injured motorcyclist may be able to recover damages including amounts for past and future medical expenses, past and future wage loss, the cost of hiring someone to do household chores that the motorcyclist cannot do because of the injury, and disfigurement.

Joint and Several Liability

There are instances in which multiple defendants are responsible for a motorcycle accident. Suppose, for example, that a car must make an unsafe lane change causing a motorcyclist to crash. The driver of the car claims he made the unsafe lane change partly because a truck driving in front of him failed to properly secure furniture it was transporting on the flatbed, and items were flying towards the driver of the car. In such a case, a jury will have to adjudicate the degree of fault of both the driver that made the unsafe lane change and the truck in causing injury to the motorcyclist.

Maine recognizes the doctrine of joint and several liability. This doctrine provides that each person or entity responsible for part of a plaintiff's injury may be held liable for the full amount of it. Using the prior example, this doctrine helps protect the motorcyclist in the event that the driver of the car is not insured and has no assets from which to seek recovery. If the driver of the car is found to be 50% at fault and the truck driving in front of him is also 50% at fault, the plaintiff motorcyclist can recover damages from one or both of them for damages. If the plaintiff chooses to try to recover only from the insured truck driver, the truck driver must bear the expense of trying to seek contribution from the driver of the car.

Seek Compensation for Your Motorcycle Accident Injuries

If you have been hurt in a motorcycle crash resulting from an unsafe lane change or any other negligent behavior, you should retain a trustworthy Maine motorcycle accident lawyer to fight for the compensation you deserve. An experienced attorney may be able to find multiple sources of compensation, including the insurers for other drivers involved in the accident. To schedule your free consultation, contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 800.804.2004 or via our online form.

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