What the law means by "failure to maintain a lane," and what it means for your car accident case:
Lawyers use a lot of different theories of liability or negligence arguments against the people who cause car accidents, and some are rather convoluted. In this article, however, we're going to discuss a rather obvious theory of liability that is often used in Texas car accident cases. This is called failure to maintain a lane.
Questions Answered in this Section:
- Why are lanes on a road important?
- How can I prove that the other driver was distracted?
- What happens if you were also on the phone at the time of the accident?
Why have lanes at all?
The only reason 4,000 lb. machines are allowed the freedom to whiz past each other at 70 mph is because we have rules which keep people accountable for their misconduct. The whole thing is founded on the idea that imaginary dividers keep us from entering each other's paths, and the lanes painted on a road map out the imaginary sections that belong to a given driver. When someone plays around with that, they play around with the entire system.
What makes failing to maintain a lane negligence?
Lawyers can't just explain to a jury that a bad driver did a bad thing. Instead, they must tie the bad act to a legally recognized "cause of action." To put it another way, you can only sue for a few things, such as breach of contract, discrimination, deceptive trade practices, conspiracy, etc. So when something specific happens like an accident caused by a driver who veered out of their lane and into another, your lawyer can't simply sue because of a bad lane change. Rather, he has to explain to the court how the specific act of failure to maintain a lane is in fact a version of one of the general legal concepts that you can sue for. More to the point, your attorney has to explain how the other driver's inability to maintain their lane constitutes negligence.
That can be a bit of a double-edged sword since there are ways a driver can negligently fail to maintain their lane, as well as ways they can non-negligently fail to maintain their lane. For instance, if the driver of a car is texting on their cell phone, and that causes them to drift into your lane and sideswipe you, that's negligent.,/p>
If the driver gets sideswiped himself and forced into your lane, even though he has technically failed to maintain his lane, it's not negligence. At least not on his part.
Suffice it to say, details like this can make a big difference in your car accident case, and your lawyer will need to be able to prove what happened, second by second in the accident, so that the specific events of your wreck can be framed as a court-accepted legal theory as to why the defendant should be made to pay you damages.
Examples of failure to maintain case we've litigated:
Obviously, this is something that's come up in literally hundreds of cases our firm has taken on, but here are just a few that illustrate the point.
- We once had a client driving along the interstate. The driver next to her began to veer over into her lane due to complications related to sleep apnea. This caused our client to swerve her vehicle in the opposite direction and crash into a divider wall. The accident caused her severe injuries and many thousands of dollars in car repair costs.
- A family was traveling north on the interstate near San Antonio, Texas, and were in the process of passing an 18-wheeler on the left. The truck's driver didn't look carefully enough before changing lanes and crashed into their car. One family member died, while several others were permanently injured.
How we prove the other driver improperly changed lanes.
Since we can't go back in time to watch your accident, we have to piece together what happened with whatever evidence we have available. This usually comes from the following sources:
- Witnesses. Hopefully, there were neutral, unbiased witnesses who saw what happened. Often enough, people will stop after a serious accident to make sure people are OK. Police officers usually interview these people and get their side of the story. We always try to find these folks and get their statements, sometimes under oath.
- Testimony. What you saw will be of central importance to the case. But so will the other driver's. We'll want to put him under oath in a deposition and cross-examine him.
- Forensic evidence. In serious cases, we'll send out an expert reconstructionist to take pictures and measurements of the scene and, if available, the cars involved.
It's extremely rare that a defendant admits to swerving over the line improperly. It's up to your attorney to find the evidence you need. Finding that evidence won't just take any attorney, but an attorney with years of experience prosecuting and winning these types of cases. Grossman Law Offices has that experience. We've helped countless others, and can help you, too. If you have questions, call us today at 1-855-326-0000 and learn what we can do for you.
Related Articles for Further Reading: