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Who is at Fault in a Changing Lanes Car Accident?

Posted On February 28, 2020 In Local Car Accidents

Car accidents happen all the time in and around our area. Regardless of how safely you operate your vehicle, there is no way to control the actions of other drivers around you. Lane change accidents are fairly common. Often, these incidents are the result of a brief distraction by one or more drivers. Regardless of how a lane change accident occurs, the immediate issue is ensuring that everybody is safe. However, in the aftermath of a crash, it will need to be determined who was at fault. As with most car accident cases, lane change crash fault depends on various factors.

How is fault determined in these incidents?

As with most every other car accident, police will investigate a lane change accident and often cite one or both drivers for the crash. Depending on how fault is assigned, insurance claims can become very confusing.

When a driver needs to make a lane change, they are required to activate their turn signals in the direction did they wish to go. If a driver does not have turn signals, they will need to give the appropriate hand signs to signal that they wish to change lanes. These turn signals or hand signs let drivers around them know what their intentions are. However, that does not give a driver the right to simply change lanes when they feel like it.

A driver that wishes to change lanes must check their mirrors and blind spots to ensure that it is safe for them to make a shift. Drivers should never change lanes until it is safe for them to do so.

A lane-changing driver could be at fault in the following circumstances:

  • They failed to activate their turn signals before changing lanes in collided with a vehicle in another lane.
  • They did not check their blind spot or mirrors before they changed lanes and collide with a vehicle beside them.
  • The driver crosses multiple lanes of traffic at once without stopping in each lane to signal their intention to change into the next lane.
  • A driver is recklessly operating and weaving in and out of traffic.

You will find that in most cases, a driver will be at fault for an incident in a car or truck accident that results from them entering another lane. However, the following scenarios could result in both drivers being cited for a lane-changing accident:

  • Two vehicles attempt to change lanes at the same time, resulting in a sideswiping or side-impact collision.
  • A driver shows reckless behavior or road rage and refuses to allow another driver to change lanes.
  • A vehicle in the lane in which the other driver wants to change to has brake lights or headlights that are not properly working at the time of the incident.
  • A driver rear-ends someone who has recently changed lanes, possibly indicated that they were operating too fast for conditions.

Merging into traffic

There are other times when a driver needs to merge from one line to another, such as from a city street onto a highway or the other way around. Drivers need to realize that vehicles already on the roadway that they wish to get to have the right-of-way. Drivers wishing to merge into traffic need to activate their turn signals and wait until there is an opening in the traffic before they begin to merge. This may require the driver that wants to merge to stop and wait until they can get into traffic. Drivers who are already in the other lane of moving traffic are not required to slow down or move over to allow drivers to merge.

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