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Who Is at Fault in a Lane Change Accident?

Published: Nov 29, 2017 in Car Accidents

Vehicular accidents can prove to be devastating and sometimes life-changing. If you have suffered an injury due to a lane change incident or another type of accident caused by another driver, our Alabama car accident lawyers at Belt & Bruner, P.C. are committed to helping you obtain the compensation to which you may be entitled.

Sudden and dangerous, unexpected lane changes, unfortunately, occur often on Alabama roads. Drivers may accelerate recklessly or fail to use their vehicle’s turn signals to indicate their intention to switch lanes. Regardless of the specifics, such an action has the potential to cause a serious lane change accident involving severe injuries and even death to others on the road.

If another vehicle changes lanes in the vicinity of your vehicle and causes a collision as a result, you have the right to seek compensation for any injuries you may have suffered as result of the accident. To set up a free, no-obligation consultation, call our car accident lawyers today at (205) 933-1500.

Why Determining Fault Matters

Determining fault in an automobile accident is important due to the fact that the at-fault party is generally required to pay for the injured party’s damages, either through their insurance company or from their personal resources. A party that proves they are not at fault can escape any and all financial liability for the accident, in addition to any accompanying injuries resulting from the accident.

Determining Fault in Lane Change and Merging Accidents

A lane change accident can occur for a variety of reasons. The driver changing lanes may simply misjudge the amount of space available to enter that lane or perform some other type of negligent action that results in a collision with another vehicle. As well, when a vehicle merges onto a roadway from a stop or yield position, the same disastrous consequences can occur if such a merge is not executed safely.

Who is at Fault?

In general, a driver who enters a lane of moving traffic and collides with another vehicle is designated as the at-fault party. If, for instance, you are driving in your lane and another vehicle enters your lane and subsequently impacts your vehicle, you generally carry no fault for the collision. This holds true (with limited exceptions) regardless of whether the other driver was changing lanes from one lane of moving traffic to the next or merging onto a roadway from a ramp.

Who is at fault in a lane change accident may be influenced by the actions of the driver merging and how safe those actions are deemed by an insurance company, or a court in the case of a lawsuit. Some factors that determine whether or not a driver is at fault include whether there was adequate space available in the next lane to allow a safe merge of the vehicle and whether the existing weather conditions would have reasonably necessitated more caution on the part of the driver attempting a lane change.

Proof that the driver did not engage their turn signal during a lane change resulting in an accident may form the grounds for a claim of negligence.

The law in Alabama, specifically State Code Section 32-5A-133, requires drivers use turn signals when engaging in turning movements. Part of that Section states the following:

  • “No person shall turn a vehicle or move right or left upon a roadway unless and until such movement can be made with reasonable safety nor without giving an appropriate signal in the manner hereinafter provided.”
  • “A signal of intention to turn right or left when required shall be given continuously during not less than the last 100 feet traveled by the vehicle before turning.”

Shared Fault?

Due to the complexity of some vehicle accidents, it is possible for more than one party to carry fault for what occurred. An example of shared blame may involve one driver misjudging the available space to enter the next lane and subsequently colliding into another driver who was driving recklessly.

However, Alabama functions under a strict rule referred to as “contributory negligence.” In short, this means that you may be barred from recovering if you are found to have been contributorily negligent in causing the accident.

Importance of the Police Report

If you believe another driver violated the law in a lane change accident during which you suffered damage to your vehicle and/or to your person, you should make sure that an official police report is filled out and that these violations are noted in the report.

Most insurance companies depend on the information contained in the police accident report when determining fault. Without this report, it comes down to one person’s word against another person’s, which makes filing and having your claim approved more problematic. Therefore, it is important for you to ensure that a police report is drafted that includes all of the necessary evidence to back up your claim.

Contact Skilled Alabama Car Accident Lawyers

With over six decades of collective trial experience, our Birmingham car accident attorneys at Belt & Bruner, P.C. have accumulated dozens of successful injury claims for our clients over the years. If you have suffered injuries due to a lane change accident or another type of vehicle collision caused by another party, we can investigate your accident and fight vigorously on your behalf to obtain any rightful compensation you are owed.

Contact us online today, or call us at (205) 933-1500 to request a free case evaluation. With offices in Birmingham, Mobile, Huntsville, and Montgomery, our car accident attorneys can help you at a location nearest you.