According to the Indiana Code, semi-trucks cannot drive in the left lane of a highway unless they are passing a slower car, entering or exiting a highway, or avoiding a hazard. This law aims to protect other drivers on the road and reduce the chance of truck crashes.
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With this law in mind, what happens if you sustain injuries from a semi-truck driving in the left lane?
Why Was the Indiana Left Lane Law Enacted?
The primary reason lawmakers banned truck drivers from driving outside of the far right lane in most circumstances is simple. Commercial trucks create havoc when they drive in the left lane for long periods.
Getting around trucks in the left lane is more difficult, and they can obstruct visibility. In some cases, they might prevent emergency responders from reaching crash victims in time. Having this law in place reduces the chances of a truck accident occurring.
Are There Any Exceptions for Trucks Driving in the Left Lane?
The Indiana law barring trucks from driving in the left lane lists a few exceptions to this rule, including:
- Passing slower vehicles – Semi-trucks have the right to move to the left lane to pass a slower vehicle. However, they should return to the right lane as quickly and safely as possible.
- Entering or exiting a highway – Some highway exits and entrances are on the left side of the road. In these cases, there’s no way for a truck to leave or enter a highway without leaving the right lane. The law allows commercial trucks to drive in the left lane to exit or enter a highway when needed.
- Hazards – If there is a hazard on the road and the only way for the truck to avoid it is to drive in the left lane, truck drivers can move their vehicles to that lane.
What Are Some of the Dangers of a Truck Driving in the Left Lane?
Lawmakers recognized the potential dangers of having semi-trucks in the left lane of a highway and passed a law specifically to prevent that from happening. Some of the risks that come with semi-trucks driving in the left lane include:
- Reduced visibility – Semi-trucks in the left lane can block the view for other drivers. This makes it difficult to see traffic conditions ahead, increasing the risk of collisions.
- Difficulty passing – When semi-trucks drive in the left lane, it can be harder for faster-moving vehicles to pass safely. This may lead to risky maneuvers, impatience, or frustration.
- Merging challenges – Semi-trucks in the left lane can create complications for vehicles entering the highway. As drivers struggle to find a safe space to enter the flow of traffic, it increases the potential for accidents.
- Increased stopping distance – Semi-trucks require a longer distance to stop compared to smaller vehicles. Driving in the left lane may not provide enough space for them to stop safely in case of sudden traffic changes, leading to rear-end collisions.
- Slower emergency response – With semi-trucks occupying the left lane, emergency vehicles may face difficulties maneuvering through traffic. This obstacle can delay their response times and put injured individuals at risk.
- Driver fatigue – Truck drivers may experience fatigue from long hours on the road. Truckers must remain more alert to navigate faster-moving traffic, increasing the likelihood of accidents. Driving in the left lane can exacerbate this issue.
- Limited escape routes – In case of an emergency or sudden traffic change, having a semi-truck in the left lane can limit the options for other drivers to maneuver safely out of harm’s way.
What Are the Fines for a Truck Driving in the Left Lane?
According to state officials, truckers who drive in the left lane commit a Class C infraction. The penalties include a fine of up to $500 plus court costs.
If a trucker hits someone while driving in the left lane and the victim sustains a bodily injury, the trucker commits a Class A infraction. The penalties for a Class A infraction include fines of up to $10,000 and a two-year driver’s license suspension.
What Should I Do If I Am Hurt in a Truck Accident in Indiana?
After you’ve called 911 and made sure everyone’s safe, here are steps to take to prepare for your claim for compensation for your injuries from a truck driving in the left lane:
- Document the scene – Take photos or videos of the accident scene, including the truck, your vehicle, and any other vehicles involved. This documentation is often helpful for insurance claims and potential legal proceedings.
- Gather information – Exchange contact and insurance information with the truck driver and any other parties involved in the accident. Obtain the truck driver’s license number, the truck’s license plate number, and the trucking company’s name.
- Seek medical attention – Even if you do not feel severely injured, it is essential to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Some injuries might not be immediately apparent, and early documentation is crucial for insurance claims or legal cases.
- Notify your insurance company – Contact your insurance company to report the accident and begin the claims process. Provide them with the necessary information and documentation you collected at the scene.
- Keep records – Maintain a file with all relevant documents, including medical records, repair estimates, and any correspondence with insurance companies or other parties involved.
- Consult an attorney – Consult with a personal injury attorney experienced in truck accidents. They can help you through the legal process and work to get you appropriate compensation for your injuries and losses.
If I Am Hurt by a Truck Driver Violating the Left Lane Law, Who Can I Sue?
Depending on the circumstances of the crash, the potentially liable parties for a truck accident in the left lane may include:
- The truck driver
- The trucking company
- The truck’s manufacturer
- Truck maintenance workers
- Other drivers
An Indiana truck accident attorney can tell you more about who might bear responsibility for your injuries and how much compensation you could recover for your injuries.
Contact an Indiana Truck Accident Lawyer
If you’ve suffered injuries in an Indiana truck accident caused by a trucker driving in the left lane, you need an experienced and aggressive attorney to help you recover the money you need. Call Truitt Law Offices today or visit our contact page for a free consultation.