Who is at Fault in a Lane-Change Accident?

October 5, 2021

It’s difficult to prove fault in a lane-change accident, but our Philadelphia car accident attorney knows how.

When an accident happens while changing lanes or merging onto a highway, it is often tricky to determine which driver was at fault. Unfortunately, lane-change accidents are common, and they can cause major injuries that can result in paralysis or even death. Survivors may be left unable to work at a time that medical bills keep mounting.

If you or a loved one has been injured or someone has died in a lane-change accident in Pennsylvania due to someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to receive compensation through insurance or a Philadelphia wrongful death lawsuit. However, Pennsylvania personal injury laws are complicated, and to collect fair compensation, it is important to be able to prove that the other party was at fault.

Fortunately, at this difficult time when you are trying to recover from your injuries, there is help available. The experienced car accident lawyer at Wapner Newman have a long history of results in dealing with these cases and know how to investigate the crash and gather evidence to prove that the other driver was at fault. We know the courts, the system, and the tactics insurance companies use, and are here fight for the settlement you deserve. We also can help explain who is at fault in your lane-change accident and determine how that affects your case.

We offer a free consultation to discuss the individual facts of your case and determine the best way to move forward. Our attorneys serve clients throughout Pennsylvania, and there are no fees to you unless and until we win your case.

Call us today at (215) 569-0900 to get started while evidence is fresh and witnesses can be found.

Who is at Fault in a Car Accident When Changing Lanes?

In general, the driver who merges or changes lanes is at fault for a lane-change car accident, as well as any driver who does so recklessly. Drivers changing lanes or merging into traffic have a duty to ensure it is safe to do so.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles, vehicles that are already in the lane always have the right of way. Therefore, it is the merging vehicle that is usually found to be at fault for the accident.

Pennsylvania law states that: “Upon a roadway, no person shall turn a vehicle or move from one traffic lane to another or enter the traffic stream from a parked position unless and until the movement can be made with reasonable safety nor without giving an appropriate signal….” (Title 75 Pa. C.S.A. Vehicles § 3334)

To be “reasonably safe” when making a lane change, drivers must have ample space to maneuver into the lane without risking an accident. They must signal the lane change well in advance, so surrounding vehicles are aware of their intentions. They must yield the right of way to oncoming vehicles and drive at the correct speed to do so safely.

Who is at Fault if Someone Merges into You?

Drivers who fail to yield as required or drive at the correct speed, who drive recklessly, or who crash into your vehicle that is already traveling in a lane, can be found to be at fault and therefore legally liable for any resulting injuries and property damage that occurs from the accident.

Common causes of merging or lane-change accidents include:

  • Driving negligently or recklessly, not paying attention to the environment or other cars on the road
  • Driving while distracted
  • Excessive passing of other cars on the road
  • Driving while under the influence of drugs and alcohol
  • Merging too quickly or slowly when entering the highway
  • Failure to judge the amount of space needed to merge or change lanes
  • Failure to use turn signals when changing lanes
  • Crossing multiple lanes of traffic
  • Cutting off other vehicles to merge or change lanes.

Our Wapner Newman attorneys are aware of the behaviors that lead to lane-change accidents and will fight for your rights when someone merges into you.

When Someone Else’s Fault in Changing Lanes Causes a Car Accident, Our Attorneys Can Help You Get Compensation.

After an accident with a driver who makes an unsafe lane change, our attorneys can file a personal injury claim for compensatory damages for your injuries. In a successful case, you may receive a damage award that includes payments for your:

  • Medical and rehabilitation expenses
  • Property damage for your vehicle or other property involved in an accident
  • Lost earnings if you are unable to work due to your injury
  • Future lost income and ability to earn
  • Estimated future medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Permanent disability.

To win your case our attorneys would have to prove the following elements:

  • Duty: The driver owed you a duty of care to merge or change lanes safely.
  • Breach: The driver breached this duty by making an unsafe lane change.
  • Cause: This unsafe behavior caused your accident.
  • Damages: You suffered damages as a result.

To prove another party was at fault for the accident we would:

  • Investigate the case and gather evidence such as videos from surveillance cameras, eyewitness accounts, police and medical reports, photographs of the crash scene, both vehicles’ damages and skid and tire marks on the road.
  • Hire experts to reconstruct the accident and testify on your behalf and experts to testify as to the extent of your injuries and how they negatively impact your life.

Comparative Fault

In some lane-change situations, both drivers share fault for an accident. In Pennsylvania, a percentage of the fault is then assigned to each driver. If the court finds that you are partially at fault for accident, it will reduce your final settlement amount by that percentage. As long as you are 50 percent or less at fault, you can still recover compensation for the fault percentage the other driver is assigned. For example, if the settlement is for $100,000 and you are 30 percent at fault, you will be awarded $70,000.

Amounts of Compensation

The amount of compensation depends on several factors, including the type of injuries you sustained, the long-term effects of the injuries and whether you will need continuing care, your costs and expenses, and the effects on your life, earning ability, and family. A minor injury, such as whiplash that should improve over time, may bring a settlement of thousands of dollars. More severe injuries, such as brain injuries that have lifetime consequences or a wrongful death lawsuit, may bring multimillion-dollar settlements.

Talk to Our Attorneys About Fault in a Lane-Change Accident

Pennsylvania car accident and personal injury laws are complicated, and making mistakes can be costly, but you do not have to deal with the legal hurdles of trying to get compensation alone. If you want to understand who is at fault in a lane-change accident you were involved in, turn to our team for help. Our Wapner Newman lawyers will take the burden off you and handle all aspects of your case, including filing all documents in a timely manner, negotiating with insurance companies and their lawyers, gathering evidence and interviewing witnesses to prove fault, obtaining expert testimony on your behalf, and taking your case to court if necessary.

We have helped hundreds of clients secure the compensation they are entitled to through our thorough and creative investigative legal solutions. Call us today at (215) 569-0900 so we can start working for you.