By: Matthew Tievsky
Ayala v. Lee, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals has made it clear than an unsafe
lane change will not be tolerated if it causes an automobile collision.
In this case, the plaintiffs were fully parked on the right shoulder of
a highway. The defendant truck driver testified that he was driving in
the right lane, when he saw a vehicle begin to drift into his lane from
the left lane. The defendant could not personally remember what happened
next, but it is undisputed that he then changed lanes into the shoulder
and hit the plaintiffs.
The Court of Special Appeals held that under these facts, the defendant
must be found at fault, for two different reasons. First, Section 21-309(b)
of the Transportation Article of the Maryland Code establishes a duty
to only change lanes when it can be done safely; by definition, it was
not safe to change lanes into a parked vehicle. Second, even without the
statute, there is a general duty for a driver to keep a lookout while
on the road; here, the defendant failed to do that, as he could not remember
seeing the parked car and there was no evidence that he looked for one. The
Ayala decision makes it clear that if the defendant admits to changing lanes
into another car, there is no escape from liability.
If you have any questions about who is at fault in an auto accident following
an unsafe lane change, you should contact the personal injury attorneys
at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C.