The Maryland Court of Special Appeals recently reviewed a jury decision finding that a defendant was not negligent in causing a car accident with the plaintiff. In Clark v. Dulaney, the parties were driving towards each other in opposite directions on the same two-lane road. An SUV in front of the plaintiff stopped to make a left turn at the same time the defendant’s minivan stopped to make a left turn. The plaintiff passed the SUV on his motorcycle, hitting the rear of the defendant’s minivan as she made a left turn. The plaintiff brought a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant, alleging that she failed to yield to the right of way of the plaintiff, which resulted in an accident that injured the plaintiff. After trial, the jury returned its verdict in favor of the defendant, finding that she was not negligent, nor was her negligence the proximate cause of the accident.
On appeal, the defendant argued that the trial court erred in denying his motion for a directed verdict on the issue of negligence, contending that a driver who makes a left turn into a lane of oncoming traffic is negligent as a matter of law. The Court of Special Appeals recognized that in cases in which the favored driver has a right of way to proceed and collides with another vehicle, directed verdicts have been awarded. However, in Clark, the court found that the plaintiff was not the favored driver having a right of way to proceed through the intersection.
Under Maryland law, the right of way is defined as the right of one vehicle or pedestrian to proceed lawfully in preference to another vehicle or pedestrian. In Clark, the plaintiff was passing the SUV in the same lane and did not have the right of way to proceed. The court stated that the defendant was entitled to assume that the plaintiff would not pass the SUV on the right portion of a single traffic lane. In addition, the court found that the jury was entitled to find that the plaintiff’s violation of passing an SUV within the same lane was a proximate cause of the collision. Although the law does provide that a vehicle may pass to the right of another vehicle making a left turn, the driver may do so only when it is safe. In Clark, the court held that the plaintiff’s violation in passing a vehicle in the same lane, in addition to his testimony that he could not see that the defendant had proceeded with her left turn, was legally sufficient evidence of negligence to permit the case to go to the jury. Therefore, the court found that the trial court did not err in denying the plaintiff’s motion for judgment.
Negligence claims can be difficult to prove, but a skilled attorney can present the details of your case in the most persuasive way possible in front of a judge or jury. The Maryland injury attorneys at Foran & Foran, P.A. represent negligence victims in a variety of cases, including auto accidents, medical malpractice, premises liability, and others. We have the experience and resources necessary to help you pursue compensation for an injury caused by a careless defendant. To discuss your case with one of our accident lawyers, contact us by phone at (301) 441-2022 or online.
More Blog Posts:
Maryland Court Rules in Favor of Insureds, Awards Underinsured Motorist Coverage in Moped and Motor Scooter Cases, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published December 14, 2015
Maryland Court of Appeals Upholds “Gap” Insurance Policy in Pedestrian Accident Case, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published October 31, 2015