Who Is at Fault in a Lane-Change Accident?

November 23, 2021 Vehicle Wrecks

It’s difficult to prove fault in a lane-change accident, but our Houston accident attorneys can help.

Merging onto a highway or changing lanes on a busy street is a major cause of accidents, and it can be tricky to determine who was at fault. While merging, drivers may speed up, slow down, misjudge the space between vehicles, fail to use their turn signals, or not realize that another vehicle is also trying to merge into the lane.

Accidents from lane changes can result in serious injuries and property damage for victims, who may be left with broken bones, cuts and bruises, and head, back, and neck damage that can result in paralysis or even death. You may be unable to work at a time that medical bills can keep mounting, and your life may never be the same again.

If you or a loved one has been injured or someone has died in a car crash in Texas due to someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to receive compensation for your damages from insurance through a personal injury claim or lawsuit. However, Texas personal injury laws are complicated, and insurance companies and their lawyers will often try to put the blame on you or attempt to get you to settle for the lowest amount possible.

Fortunately, you do not have to navigate the legal hurdles of obtaining compensation alone. The experienced car accident lawyers at Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law know the courts, the system, and the tactics insurance companies use, and are here to help determine fault and fight for the settlement you deserve.

We offer a free consultation to discuss the individual facts of your case and determine the best way to move forward. There are no fees to you unless and until we win your case, so call us today at (713) 973-8888 or toll-free 1 (800) 444-5000 to get started.

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

The driver who merges or changes lanes is generally the one found to be at fault for a lane-change car accident. That driver is required to yield the right of way to oncoming vehicles, judge the availability of the proper amount of space to change lanes, and drive at the correct speed to do so safely.

When two vehicles are merging into a lane between them on a multi-lane highway, Texas law states which driver has the right of way. According to the law, “On a roadway divided into three or more lanes and providing for one-way movement of traffic, an operator entering a lane of traffic from a lane to the right shall yield the right-of-way to a vehicle entering the same lane of traffic from a lane to the left.” (Texas Transportation Code §545.061)

Drivers who fail to yield as required, don’t drive at the correct speed, or crash into a 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 occur from the accident.

Who is at Fault if Someone Merges Into You?

When a driver merges into a lane of moving traffic and crashes into your vehicle, the merging driver is at fault for the accident, whether the driver was merging from one lane of moving traffic into another or moving from a ramp onto a roadway. All vehicle drivers have a duty to drive in a safe manner and obey the traffic laws to avoid causing accidents when merging.

Merging drivers are required to:

  • Keep a safe distance and avoid tailgating other vehicles and leave enough space between vehicles to safely merge or change lanes. Texas statute states that a driver must keep a distance between vehicles so that the operator can safely stop without colliding with another vehicle, object, or person on or near the highway (Texas Transportation Code §545.062).
  • Use turn signals to show intent to merge or change lanes, to allow other drivers enough time make adjustments.
  • Merge or change lanes gradually and remain in their lane until they can move into another lane safely.

Common causes of merging or lane-change accidents include:

  • 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
  • Driving while distracted or intoxicated.

Getting Compensation When Changing Lanes Has Caused a Car Accident

If drivers fail to follow the law and hit you while changing lanes, our attorneys can hold them liable in a personal injury lawsuit. To win your case and get compensation for your losses, we 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 fault in the accident we would:

  • Investigate the case and gather evidence such 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.

What Compensation Can I Receive?

The amount of compensation depends on many 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 a broken arm, might be worth a few thousand dollars. A permanently disabling injury that requires continuing care, such as a traumatic brain injury or broken neck or spine, could cost millions of dollars in medical bills and lost income.

In a Texas personal injury lawsuit, you may receive compensation for:

  • Economic (Special) Damages. For calculable expenses such as medical and rehabilitative care, property damage, and lost income.
  • Non-economic (General) Damages. Compensation for losses that do not have a specific dollar value but negatively affect your life, such as pain and suffering.
  • Punitive damages. These may be awarded in rare situations where the injury was caused by actions that were wantonly reckless and negligent. The purpose is to punish the offender and deter similar behavior in the future.

In some situations, both drivers share fault for an accident. In Texas, a percentage of the fault for the accident is then assigned to each driver and the settlement is reduced according to the level of fault (Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code §33.001). As long as you are 50% or less at fault, you can still recover compensation for the percentage of fault the other driver is assigned.  For example, if the settlement is for $100,000 and you are 20% at fault, you will be awarded $80,000.

Call Our Car Accident Lawyers For Help

Texas 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. The car accident lawyers at Terry Bryant will handle all aspects of your case, including making sure it is filed 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.

You pay us nothing unless we win at trial or you accept a negotiated settlement. Don’t delay. Call a Houston car accident attorney at Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law now for your free case evaluation: (713) 973-8888 or toll-free 1 (800) 444-5000.

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