Accident Attorneys of America
Salt Lake City Car Inspection Laws

Who Is at Fault in a Car Accident Changing Lanes?

Who is at fault in a car accident involving changing lanes? The knowledgeable firm of Accident Attorneys of America offers answers to this and more. Call now!

When you or a loved one suffers an injury or wrongful death, you need a lawyer who knows the laws inside out and will fight for you. Our legal team will provide quality representation for your case.


Changing Lanes Car Accidents

The Utah Department of Public Safety’s Highway Safety Office (UDPS) reports that in 2021, out of the 61,415 car accidents in Utah, 3,536 accidents were caused when a vehicle changed lanes. The same report states that there were 18,225 accidents resulting in injuries and 328 fatalities from such car accidents.

If the car accident involves one vehicle merging into another lane (such as when one joins a highway using an onramp), it is generally the duty of the driver who is doing the merging to ensure that it is safe to change lanes safely.

If the driver fails to do so, they will at least be partly responsible for the lane-changing accident. In law, however, it is never that simple. So, as usual, there is a heavy “it depends” clause when trying to answer these questions.

Each changing lanes accident case turns on its own facts, and the answer will differ depending on the facts. Our experienced car accident lawyer can assess your case’s facts and assist in determining fault. In addition, car accident victims are offered a free consultation.

The process of assigning blame in these accidents can be pretty complex. If you need help determining liability, consider getting in touch with an experienced car accident lawyer in Salt Lake City.

What Is a Lane Change Accident?

Lane change accidents occur when a vehicle moves from one lane to another in which both lanes have the same direction of travel.

In this case, the driver could fail to see or anticipate the other vehicle’s speed in the lane they are changing into while changing lanes.

It could also involve a merger maneuver into another lane due to a road narrowing or an onramp scenario on a highway.


What Are the General Rules to Follow When Changing Lanes?

Traffic laws require drivers to take proper precautions and ensure that switching lanes is safe before switching. Failure to comply with these instructions will constitute an improper lane change. Hence they will be considered negligent and responsible for the accident. However, depending on the facts, more than one driver can be held to be at fault for a lane change accident.

Automobile accidents can occur as a result of a simple pane change or merging into traffic.


Simple Lane Change Accidents (Sideswipe Accidents)

These accidents are often referred to as sideswipe accidents. To ensure safety, drivers should check their rear and side mirrors and blind spots before changing lanes and look over their shoulders in the direction of the lane change to ensure they can join the other lane safely.

Using their turn signal, they should make their intentions clear before starting the maneuver so others can see their intentions. It is also essential to make sure that there are no vehicles behind the driver who are speeding before the lane change. Once this has been accomplished, they should turn steadily into the new lane.

The driver changing lanes is primarily responsible. However, the other driver also bears responsibility for safety on the road, and their inaction or action can also result in liability in certain circumstances. There is often joint liability, in which case fault is apportioned proportionally to the percentage of liability. Financial awards are adjusted accordingly.

When a driver is changing lanes to overtake another vehicle, the driver must ensure they leave enough space to change back into the right lane before doing so. The overtaking driver will be liable for the accident if there is evidence that the driver cut off the driver being passed, resulting in the lane change crash.


Merging Accidents

If there are two lanes on the road, but one lane merges onto a highway, and a driver merges into another lane that moves in the same direction. What are the safety requirements and driver obligations in this situation?

The merging driver changing lanes bears the primary responsibility for safety as they join the other drivers’ lane. The merging driver should satisfy themselves that it is safe to merge. They must check all mirrors and blind spots, check over their shoulder, indicate their intention to change lanes, double-check that it is safe, and then confidently merge.

The merging driver should ensure they can merge at a speed consistent with the other cars in the lane – merging too fast or too slowly can constitute a danger and cause an accident.

Although the merging driver bears the primary responsibility, the other driver also bears some responsibility to ensure that the merger happens safely and smoothly. This driver may also be held liable for lane change accidents if they make the merger dangerous.

Factors That Can Lead to Liability for the Driver Changing Lanes

Liability for causing the lane change accident could be attributed to the driver changing lanes where the driver failed to:

  • Check rear-view mirrors before changing lanes

  • Check all side mirrors before changing lanes

  • Check all blind spots

  • Indicate early enough to warn other drivers of the intention to change lanes

  • Match the traffic speed in the lane into which they are turning

  • Maintain total concentration on the road – cell phone use, texting, or other distracted driving attracts liability

  • Braked hard or aggressively after merging in front of the other driver

  • Rejoining the lane after overtaking and failing to leave enough space for the vehicle that has been overtaken – cutting off

Factors That Can Lead to Liability for the Other Driver

The driver into whose lane the merging driver is moving can be held liable when they:

  • Failed to make space for the other driver to merge as safely as possible

  • Drove aggressively to prevent the changing lanes car from merging. Tailgating to prevent the merge or to speed up to prevent the changing lanes car from merging.

  • Drove over the speed limit.

  • Drove under the influence of alcohol or drugs

  • Was distracted and not paying proper attention to other drivers around them


How Can an Attorney Help?


Establishing fault can be challenging when it comes to changing lanes or sideswipe accidents. In order to prove the fault of the other driver in a lane change accident, you must provide evidence. Our experienced personal injury lawyer will build your case to get you the compensation you deserve. Confidentiality is guaranteed in every legal matter. Our law firm is experienced in proving negligence and fault on the other driver’s part, as well as accident reconstruction, and we will fight for fair compensation for you.

Whether you need to assess your Utah auto insurance requirements or need access to an experienced truck accident lawyer, we have you covered. Call your personal injury lawyer today for a free initial consultation.

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