Who is at fault when changing lanes and a crash occurs depends on the circumstances. An investigation will be necessary to determine what happened, who acted negligently, and who is legally liable for the resulting damages. Most states allow victims to hold the at-fault driver financially responsible for their actions.
While the police will investigate the accident, this is generally a cursory investigation that may or may not end with one driver receiving a citation. You may want to work with a personal injury lawyer who can look deeper into the crash and gather evidence to support your insurance claim or lawsuit.
An Investigation Will Determine Fault and Liability
In most cases, it will take an investigation to determine who is at fault in a lane-changing crash. It can be difficult to prove which driver was changing lanes – or if both drivers were – when the collision occurred. Vehicles rarely remain in the lanes where they collided.
It will be necessary to determine what each driver was doing leading up to the accident, whether turn indicators were used, and much more.
Each driver is responsible for indicating and carefully checking the next lane, including any blind spots, before moving over. Failing to do so is negligence.
What Causes Lane Change Accidents?
Collisions that occur during a lane change are usually a result of carelessness. For example, a driver often fails to look or does not see the car in the adjacent lane and merges into them. Other factors that can play a role include:
- Internal distractions
- External distractions
- Impairment from drugs or alcohol
- Poor vehicle design
Evidence to Support an Insurance Claim Based on a Lane-Change Crash
The physical evidence in a lane-change accident rarely gives much indication about which driver is at fault. Instead, proving negligence and liability often relies on eyewitnesses, video of the crash, accident reconstruction, and other proof.
The steps necessary to identify and gather evidence in these accidents may include:
- Requesting a copy of the accident report from law enforcement
- Canvassing for eyewitnesses to the accident
- Seeking any available photos or videos
- Analyzing additional documents
- Obtaining relevant medical records
- Working with accident reconstruction experts
- Surveying the accident scene
- Calling in experts as necessary
- Documenting your expenses and losses
For a free legal consultation, call (800) 537-8185
Shared Fault in a Lane-Changing Crash
Many investigations into this type of collision uncover ways that both drivers contributed to the accident. While this can affect the value of your case, it is not necessarily a reason to panic.
Only four states and Washington DC bar drivers who contributed to a crash from recovering at least some damages. This includes Alabama, as confirmed by the Alabama Supreme Court in Golden v. McCurry (1980).
Most states instead allow the victims of a crash, or all parties involved to seek compensation. Examples of these laws include the following:
- Arkansas bars those more than 50 percent at fault from recovery under Code Ann.
- Anyone can sue in Louisiana under Civ. Code Art. 2323
- Mississippi also allows anyone involved to sue, per Code Ann. § 11-7-15
However, it is important to note that your payout will be reduced in proportion to your percentage of shared fault. This means if the insurer or court decides 30 percent of the fault lies with you, you will only receive up to 70 percent of the value of your damages.
Working with an attorney may greatly benefit you if shared fault is assigned in your case. Our team may be able to document more damages than you could on your own or mitigate the percentage of fault assigned to you, potentially helping you to recover more money damages.
Navigating the Claims Process to Seek Compensation for Your Damages
Most car accident cases never go to trial. You may not even need to sue the at-fault driver to recover compensation. It may be possible to negotiate a fair settlement with their insurance provider and avoid going to court.
Working with a personal injury attorney from our team can help this process move along more smoothly. Our firm can handle your legal case, including identifying the liable party and gathering support for your claim. We want you to be able to focus on getting better and back to your previous activities while we negotiate a settlement or sue the other driver and pursue a payout for you.
There are deadlines for suing the at-fault driver, although they vary based on state law and the facts of your case. You should act quickly after an accident to ensure you do not run out of time.
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Our team at the Morris Bart law firm provides free car accident consultations for accident victims in areas we serve. We have 15 offices in the Gulf South and our personal injury lawyers work based on contingency fees.
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