Improper passing can result in severe accidents, but drivers don't always anticipate the risk to others when they are in a hurry to get to their destination. If you have been injured in an accident caused by improper passing, speak to a personal injury attorney to protect your right to a fair settlement.
Types of Improper Passing
Improper passing refers to changing lanes in a way that is unsafe and/or against the law. There are three types of improper passing that are commonly linked to traffic accidents:
Endangering the Occupants of Other Vehicles.
Drivers are not allowed to interfere with the safe operation of any vehicle they are trying to pass or vehicles coming from the opposite direction on a two-lane road. This is explained in Louisiana RS 32:75 — Limitations on passing on the left.
Passing in No Passing Zones.
Drivers can't pass when they are approaching hills or curves that impede visibility for vehicles approaching from the other side. These marked no passing zones are covered under Louisiana RS 32:77 — No passing zones.
Passing on the Right.
Passing on the right is typically prohibited, except if the vehicle is about to turn left or the street is designed to accommodate two lanes of traffic. This requirement is detailed in Louisiana RS 32:74 — When passing on the right is permitted.
All of these types of improper passing can cause severe injuries. The driver who is attempting to pass is likely traveling at a higher rate of speed than the driver who is struck, which increases the force of impact. Head-on or side impact collisions are the most common, carrying a risk of broken bones, internal bleeding, traumatic brain injury, and spinal cord injury. Victims may also suffer from mental health conditions after the accident such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD.
Improper passing accidents where a motorcyclist or bicyclist is struck are particularly dangerous due to the lack of protection these individuals have in the event of a collision. Death or permanent disability is likely.
Establishing Liability for an Accident Caused by Improper Passing
A personal injury claim is a type of civil legal action, but traffic law violations can be used to support your claim of negligence. Since improper passing is a traffic offense, a driver who is ticketed will be found responsible for the accident.
If you are found partially at fault for the accident due to an error such as not using your turn signal, you can still collect compensation via a personal injury claim. However, your settlement will be proportionally reduced to reflect your own responsibility for the resulting damages.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim
Typically, Louisiana law requires that you file your personal injury claim within one year of the date of the accident. However, it's best to begin the process as soon as possible since valuable evidence can become harder to locate as time passes.
Your claim can include compensation for:
- Immediate medical expenses
- Anticipated future medical needs for an accident-related disability
- Lost wages while you were recovering from your injuries
- Loss of future earning potential, if applicable
- Pain and suffering
If an improper passing accident results in a fatality, eligible surviving family members can file a wrongful death claim. This is a personal injury claim seeking damages for medical care up to the time of death, funeral and burial costs, loss of future earnings, pain and suffering before death, and loss of care and companionship.
You are not required to retain legal representation to file a personal injury claim, but a skilled attorney can locate evidence, document damages, and negotiate with the at-fault driver's insurance company on your behalf. Since personal injury attorneys accept cases on a contingency fee basis, there is no upfront cost for legal services.
The experienced car accident lawyers of Neblett, Beard & Arsenault protect the rights of Louisiana residents who've been injured in serious auto accidents caused by improper passing and other forms of negligence. Contact us online or call our Alexandria office directly at 318.541.8188 today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial case review.