Lanes of traffic and dividing lines allow cars to travel past each other safely at anywhere from 25 mph to 70 mph. Unfortunately, not all drivers stay in their lanes. They may be sleepy, distracted, poorly trained, or under the influence. If you were injured in a failure to maintain lane accident, The Law Office of Black & DePaoli, PC may be able to provide knowledgeable legal representation. California car accident attorney Travis G. Black was formerly an insurance adjuster and police officer. He understands strong strategies for presenting claims and how important it is for people who have been injured to recover damages.
Claims Based on Failure to Maintain Lane Accidents
California Vehicle Code § 21658 provides that if a road has been divided into at least two clearly marked lanes for travel in the same direction, certain rules apply. First, a car is supposed to be driven as much as makes sense wholly within one lane, and a driver should not try to change lanes unless they can do so safely. The government can place signs directing traffic to use a designated lane or providing specific lanes to traffic traveling in the same direction, and drivers are supposed to obey any directions from a traffic device. A violation of this law is a common reason why cars are stopped.
If you collide with a car that was weaving or failing to maintain lanes appropriately, you may be able to bring a lawsuit for damages. You will need to show the other driver’s duty toward you, evidence that the other driver failed to abide by the duty, causation, and actual damages. When any of these elements is missing, the defendant can defeat the case. For example, if a car was weaving, but you were not actually struck and injured, you will not have actual damages and cannot bring a case. Similarly, if you were distracted by a driver in a different lane who was weaving, and as a result you rear-ended a car stopped in traffic, you might have your damages reduced because your distraction contributed to the accident as well as the weaving.
Sometimes more than one driver is to blame for an accident. Perhaps both drivers are distracted and fail to maintain lanes, and as a result, the front of the other driver’s car hits the back of your car. A defendant can raise comparative negligence as an affirmative defense. When comparative negligence applies, the jury will evaluate the negligence of each driver and reduce the damages according to the plaintiff’s percentage of fault. For example, if both drivers are 50% responsible for the accident, and one driver’s damages are $80,000, he can recover $40,000 from the other driver.
Generally, you should be able to recover compensatory damages or some portion of them in a personal injury lawsuit. These damages can include medical bills, household services, lost income, pain and suffering, and mental anguish. Punitive damages are not usually awarded in car accident cases, and if they are awarded, it is often because one party caused an accident through drunk driving. As a plaintiff, you are expected to mitigate your damages arising from any sort of car accident. For example, if your doctor asks you to go to physical therapy, but you fail to do so, and as a result, your leg bones fail to heal and cause a permanent limp, you cannot recover the extra damages that you suffered as a result of not following the doctor’s orders.