Determining who is at fault in a lane-change accident can be complicated, and it is influenced by several factors. Parties potentially at fault in a lane-change accident include:
- The driver changing lanes
- A distracted driver in another vehicle
- A drunk driver
- Both drivers/multiple drivers.
In some cases, the at-fault party is obvious. In other cases, more than one driver is at fault, and the analysis hinges on which driver was most at fault. For example, it could be determined that one driver was 80% at fault for an accident while the other driver was 20% at fault. The amount of damages awarded will be determined by the degree to which each driver was at fault for the accident. As you can see, this is where things get murky when assigning fault, or “negligence,” in a lane-change crash.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a lane-change accident, contacting a car accident lawyer is the first step in protecting your rights. A skilled and experienced attorney can assess your situation and explain whether you may have a successful legal claim. The Billy Johnson Law Firm would be glad to answer your questions. Call us for a free initial consultation at 606-437-4488.
Who is at fault in a car accident when changing lanes?
The driver changing lanes
When one driver merges into a different lane on a surface street or highway, they could be at fault for creating an accident if they merge recklessly, fail to use a turn signal, rear-end another vehicle, or fail to leave enough room between themselves and other motorists.
A distracted driver in another vehicle
A distracted driver could be at fault for creating an accident if they are texting on their phone, fidgeting with the radio, putting on makeup, talking to other passengers in the car or otherwise not paying attention when another car merges into their lane.
A drunk driver
A drunk driver – whether changing lanes or in another vehicle – almost certainly bears some responsibility for causing an accident if they are driving carelessly while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
When more than one driver is careless or fails to obey traffic laws, then both drivers can share liability for causing an accident. Kentucky has a “pure comparative fault” statute KRS 411.182, which means that more than one motorist can be deemed negligent in a lane-change accident.
Sometimes, car accidents happen at intersections when someone is changing lanes or turning across another lane of traffic. Kentucky statutes explain turning and right-of-way at intersections at KRS 189.330. The law reads in part:
(1) When two (2) vehicles approach or enter an intersection from different roadways at approximately the same time, the operator of the vehicle on the left shall yield the right-of-way to the vehicle on the right.
AutoBlog offers a Guide to Right-of-Way Laws in Kentucky that is a helpful resource explaining who has the right-of-way in different traffic scenarios. AutoBlog also details the penalties for failing to yield the right of way, saying: “In Kentucky, the penalties for failing to yield the right of way are very onerous. Failure to yield will result in having 3 demerit points assigned against your driver’s license, and a fine of $143. If you fail to yield to an emergency vehicle, the fine is the same, but you will be assessed four points.”
When someone is at fault in an improper lane-change accident, drivers and passengers get hurt.
There are several common injuries that can occur in a lane-change accident, ranging from mildly debilitating to catastrophic. Many injuries result in large medical bills, time off work, and ongoing rehabilitation.
Common injuries in a car accident include:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Broken bones
- Back and neck injuries
- Internal bleeding
- Cuts, bruises and lacerations
- Puncture wounds
- Internal organ damage
- Wrongful death.
If you or a loved one is injured in a vehicle accident caused by an improper lane change, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Some types of things you can be compensated for include:
- Current and future medical bills
- Lost wages and lost future earnings
- Pain and suffering
- Funeral and burial costs in the event of death.
Evidence used to establish fault for unsafe lane-change accident
There are various pieces of evidence that officials will consider when determining who is at fault in a lane-change accident. Some of the critical pieces of information include:
- Police report
- Eyewitness accounts
- Pictures and video footage
- Statements from drivers involved in crash
- Accident scene investigation and evidence
- Traffic signals and signage
- Traffic laws relevant to the incident.
If you are involved in a car accident caused by an unsafe lane change, it’s very important to call 911 and ask for police officers (and emergency medical personnel, if needed) to respond to the scene. This will ensure that you get the proper medical attention right away. The police report that officers write will also be a critical part of your legal claim if you seek compensation.
Contact a car accident lawyer today
Most of us spend time in our cars every day — driving to work, dropping the kids at school, going shopping or traveling on vacation. Accidents are bound to happen. Lane-change accidents can result in serious injuries, whether they were caused by a careless motorist changing lanes or a distracted or impaired driver in another vehicle. If you or a loved one has been injured in a lane-change accident, you may be entitled to financial compensation. The car accident lawyers at Billy Johnson Law Firm have helped hundreds of injured motorists get the justice they deserve. It’s not fair that you alone should have to bear the cost of your injuries – medical bills, lost wages, rehabilitation – especially if the crash was due to someone else’s negligence. Our attorneys can help. We are aggressive negotiators and litigators, and we fight for our clients when going up against insurance companies. To find out how we can help you, call us for a free initial consultation at 606-437-4488.