The “right-of-way” is a driver’s right to proceed before another driver into or across a section of roadway, including intersections. This right also applies to cyclists and pedestrians. When one vehicle, motorcycle, bicycle, or pedestrian has the right-of-way, other vehicles and individuals must yield and allow them to pass first.
The purpose of yielding is preventing crashes, but there isn’t always signage indicating who has the right-of-way. That’s why it’s important for all Mainers to know the state’s right-of-way laws. All Maine drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians must follow these laws, and when individuals ignore them, the consequences can be severe or even deadly.
Many collisions occur because drivers don’t know when to yield the right-of-way to other motorists and pedestrians. Maine’s right-of-way traffic laws are straightforward, sensible, and designed to protect drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians from dangerous crashes.
Some of Maine’s common sense right-of-way laws include:
● Pedestrians always have the right-of-way, including when a crossing is not marked and when there are no traffic signals.
● Drivers backing out of driveways into roadways must yield to other vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians crossing behind them.
● If a vehicle is stopped at a crosswalk, drivers may not go around them.
● Any vehicle that has already entered an intersection has the right-of-way, and drivers who haven’t yet entered the intersection must yield.
● Similarly, vehicles that are already in a roundabout have the right-of-way, and vehicles that have not yet entered the traffic circle must yield.
● If you intend to make a left turn, for instance, through an intersection or across a roadway, oncoming traffic always has the right-of-way.
● All vehicles must yield to emergency vehicles like fire trucks and ambulances if those vehicles flash their lights. Vehicles that have already entered an intersection should proceed through the intersection and then pull over to the shoulder.
Failing to yield the right-of-way and obey applicable traffic laws can result in serious collisions. One type of collision frequently caused by failure to obey right-of-way laws is a “T-bone” collision. These occur when an oncoming vehicle crashes into the side of a car whose driver has neglected to yield the right-of-way.
In the state of Maine, if a driver causes an accident by failing to yield the right-of-way, four demerits are assigned to their driver’s license. Multiple violations can lead to a suspension of an individual’s driver’s license. Maine’s Motorist Handbook and Study Guide outlines more penalties that drivers can face for disobeying right-of-way laws.
Drivers who fail to yield the right-of-way and cause accidents may be responsible for damages that occur because of their negligence. They may be required to compensate any drivers, passengers, cyclists, and pedestrians for medical costs, lost income, vehicle damage, and pain and suffering caused by the collision.
Failing to properly yield the right-of-way can lead to severe, even fatal injuries, as well as property damage. Every crash is unique, but some of the most common injuries that are caused by a driver’s failure to yield the right-of-way include:
Whiplash. Whiplash occurs when a person’s head moves violently back and forth during a collision. Whiplash can be insidious because it doesn’t always appear serious at first. Some people experience delayed whiplash when symptoms show up weeks or even months later. Untreated whiplash can lead to loss of mobility in the head and neck, as well as chronic pain.
Traumatic brain injuries. Mild concussions may not sound serious, but a person with a mild concussion must be carefully monitored to make sure that no complications arise. Moderate to severe head injuries often require immediate medical attention. Emergency surgery may be needed to relieve pressure on the brain or repair a fractured skull.
Spine and spinal cord damage. The spine connects the brain—the body’s supercomputer—to the rest of the body. This freeway of motoneurons is one of the most vital parts of the human body, and if damaged, it can be life-altering. Spinal damage can cause loss of sensation in parts of the body, and in severe cases, even paralysis.
Paralysis. A transected spine can cause bodily paralysis below the site of the injury. Paralysis injuries utterly transform victims’ lives, impacting every aspect of their daily activities.
Broken or fractured bones. Right-of-way accidents often result in fractured, broken, or shattered bones. These injuries can take months of recovery and require extensive, costly physical therapy.
This list is by no means exhaustive. One driver’s failure to abide by right-of-way laws can alter other motorists’ lives forever.
If you or a loved one were the victim of a traffic accident caused by another driver’s failure to yield the right-of-way, you may be entitled to financial compensation. The at-fault party and their insurance company may be forced to cover costs that you incurred as a result of an accident.
Compensation may include any and all medical expenses (including emergency services, surgeries, physical therapy), loss of income from the inability to work, property damage (such as damage your vehicle sustained in the collision), and pain and suffering.
In order to file a personal injury claim after a traffic accident successfully, you will need to prove that another driver’s negligence caused the accident. Working with an attorney can make this task much easier, especially if you’re recovering from serious injuries. Your Maine failure-to-yield car accident attorney can help you by investigating the accident, talking to eyewitnesses, collecting video and photo evidence, obtaining a police report of the accident, and determining which party or parties were at fault for the accident.
At Mann Law, we understand that your life can change in the split second of a car accident. Our skilled Maine car accident attorneys will be ready to help you seek the compensation that you deserve.
The experience and relationships of Mann Law are invaluable. While you work on your health we take care of everything else to win your case. We are a statewide firm with satellite offices for easy accessibility. Contact us for a free consultation to learn how we can advocate for you.