Who Is At Fault in a Lane Change Accident

Typically, a lane change accident is the fault of whoever initiates the lane change.

Lane changes can be dangerous because of blind spots, fast moving vehicles and poor judgment. In most cases, when the lane change results in an accident, it’s because the person changing lanes made a poor choice.

However, your situation may be more complicated than that. Perhaps you are the person who changed lanes and you believe that the other driver was more at fault than you were, or perhaps there were additional circumstances that make it difficult to decide guilt.

In this article, we’ll discuss some of the variations in lane change accidents and what you can do to get justice in court. If you have any questions and live in Virginia, call Epperly & Follis, personal injury lawyers based in Richmond, VA to discuss your case.

What Is a Lane Change Accident?

When one motorist changes lanes in such a way that it causes a crash, it’s called a lane change accident. Sometimes, lane changes can cause sideswipe accidents where the sides of the two cars make impact.

Sideswipe accidents can range in severity. In some cases, cars crash into each other and there is very little damage. However, sometimes a motor vehicle changing lanes can push another car off the road and hit a guardrail or ditch.  The vehicle changing lanes could also push the second car into a third or fourth car, causing a car crash chain reaction. Other times, sideswipe accidents can result in cars spinning out and being struck from behind. The resulting pile up can be disastrous.

Lane change accidents can also cause rear-end accidents. When a motorist changes lanes without enough following distance, the car behind them could crash into them. This could also happen if the car changing lanes suddenly slows down after changing lanes. If the car behind them doesn’t have enough time to react, they could rear-end the lane-changing car.

How to Drive Safely to Avoid Lane Change Accidents

Lane changes, and therefore lane change accidents, typically take place on a multi-lane highway. Multi-lane highways are designed for slower traffic to drive in the right lane. Faster traffic or overtaking vehicles go in the left lanes.

Any driver trying to pass another vehicle should move one lane to their left while they overtake the other vehicle. Before moving over a lane, the driver should indicate their intention to turn with a turn signal while they check rear and side-view mirrors. They should also glance over their shoulder at their blind spot. Once there is a safe amount of space to their left, they can initiate a lane change. When they are finished passing the other vehicle, they can repeat the steps to initiate a lane change back into the right lane.

It is best for the driver to stay in the right lane unless they are actively overtaking another vehicle. This keeps traffic sorted with faster traffic in the left lanes and slower traffic in the right lanes. Passing on the right makes sideswipe crashes more likely. When a driver drives slowly in the left lane, it encourages other vehicles to pass them on the right.

What Complicates a Lane Change Accident?

Virginia lane change law puts the burden of safety on the motorist who initiates the lane change. Even if someone is in your blind spot, if you change lanes and cause an accident, you’re the one at fault. It is your responsibility to check your blind spot before changing lanes.

However, there may be instances when the motorist who decides to change lanes doesn’t bear the entirety or even most of the fault.

Lane change accidents can be complicated when the motorist who would otherwise be the victim was not following the rules of the road prior to the accident. This can include times when the victim motorist is texting while driving, driving above the speed limit or driving under the influence. In some instances, the victim driver might have been boxing in the car who initiated the lane change. By not allowing a safe lane change, they can be liable for sharing the fault of the accident.

What To Do if There Are Complications in Your Case

When these additional factors are introduced into the case, it is best for both sides to have a personal injury lawyer on their side. That is the best way to prevent your opponent from using the complications of the case to dodge justice.

A personal injury lawyer can take time to investigate the context of the accident, interview eyewitnesses on both sides and obtain video surveillance footage (if any is available). A personal injury attorney can hire an accident reconstruction specialist to examine how the cars were damaged. The accident reconstruction specialist can use the car damage to turn back time and show how the accident took place.

This information is very helpful in defending you in your lane change accident case. If you have any knowledge that you think would complicate your case, it is in your best interest to give that information to your personal injury lawyer. Even if you know of evidence that may make you look bad, you should talk to your lawyer. It is better for your lawyer to know all the details so they can know how to best defend you.

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