Unsafe Lane Change Accidents Attorney
When you hear “unsafe lane change” you probably think of a traffic ticket that you find mildly annoying. It just doesn’t sound like a significant issue. But, that’s far from the truth. In fact, unsafe lane changes can be quite dangerous. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), about 9% of traffic accidents reported by police agencies around the country involve lane changes or merging. While 9% may not sound like a lot, that translates to hundreds of thousands of accidents each year. A small percentage of lane-change collisions are fatal.
What Causes Lane Change Accidents?
The most common cause of lane change accidents is driver distraction. Distracted driving lane change accidents often happen when an inattentive driver inadvertently drifts across the line into another lane or the driver fails to check the adjacent lane before making a lane change. While other factors, such as blind spots in vehicles, contribute to lane change accidents, these can often be avoided. Precautions such as checking both over-the-shoulder and mirrors and using turn signals when changing lanes cut down the risk of a blind-spot accident.
Other examples of improper lane change situations include failure to signal before changing lanes, failure to allow appropriate distance between vehicles when changing lanes, and the changing of lanes where prohibited.
Who is Responsible for an Unsafe Lane Change Accident?
As in any motor vehicle accident case, any driver or other party whose negligence contributes to the accident may be wholly or partly liable for damages. In an unsafe lane change accident, responsibility would typically fall primarily on the driver who made the unsafe lane change. However, other parties, including the injured party, may share responsibility.
Imagine, for instance, that a distracted driver drifts into the next lane of traffic because he is looking at his phone instead of watching the road. That’s a negligent action, and at first glance, it would appear that this driver was wholly responsible for the accident. But, what if the driver he hit was significantly exceeding the speed limit? Had that driver not been speeding, he might have been able to avoid the accident. In fact, his vehicle would naturally have taken longer to close the gap between him and the car drifting into his lane, perhaps avoiding the encounter altogether. In that situation, both the driver who drifted into the other lane and the speeding driver might be partially responsible.
There may be other responsible parties as well. For example, if the driver who was hit was being tailgated, and as a result was unable to avoid the accident, the driver who was following too close might share responsibility.
The bottom line is that while the driver who is guilty of an unsafe lane change will typically be at least partly responsible for the resulting accident, there may be other responsible parties. If the injured party is partly responsible, the amount of compensation he or she can receive may be reduced. If a third party, such as that tailgating driver, is partly responsible, then it may be necessary to pursue claims against both drivers to receive full compensation.
In short, every unsafe lane change accident case is different. If you have been injured by a driver who cut into your lane, drifted across the line, failed to signal before changing lanes, or otherwise negligently changed lanes, your best next step is to talk to an experienced personal injury lawyer.
Attorney Kevin P. Broderick offers extensive experience representing victims of car accidents in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire. He offers free consultations to ensure that you have the information you need to make good decisions about your next steps. You can schedule yours right now by calling 978-459-1792 or filling out the contact form on this website.
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