Who Is at Fault in a Car Accident Changing Lanes?

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When it comes to lane-changing accidents, most collisions occur on multi-lane highways and interstate roads that generally have much higher speed limits than residential and commercial areas. It can be very difficult to determine who is to blame in a lane change accident at higher speeds. Lots of cars passing and changing lanes means that a traffic accident can be a blur and determining your right to take legal action afterward can be challenging. If you or a loved one received injuries in a lane change accident, please contact Harting, Simkins & Ryan, LLP to discuss your case with a skilled car accident lawyer in Long Beach.

Gathering Evidence and Proving Negligence

One of the most important aspects of any lane-changing auto accident case is the evidence in play. This may include photos of the accident site, debris and skid marks in the road, and statements from eyewitnesses to the accident. It is also important to determine if you bear any liability for the accident. Depending on where the accident took place, shared liability can be a serious factor in a lane change accident case.

To establish another driver’s liability for a lane-change accident, it is essential to prove the elements of negligence.

  • The plaintiff must prove that the defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff in some way. Every driver on the road has a responsibility to execute lane changes safely.
  • The plaintiff must then show how the defendant breached or violated his or her duty of care. For example, the other driver may have changed lanes very abruptly without signaling or looking before executing the lane change.
  • The plaintiff only has grounds for legal action if he or she suffered some type of tangible or measurable loss or harm. Even if a defendant was negligent, if the plaintiff incurred no harm or loss, no grounds for a claim exist.
  • The plaintiff must finally prove that his or her damages would not have occurred but for the defendant’s breach of duty.

Of course, the most common defense in such a case is for the defendant to respond by claiming the plaintiff caused or contributed to causing the accident. Depending on the state in which the lawsuit takes place, this could potentially impact the plaintiff’s case result and compensation. In a state with a comparative negligence law, like here in Long Beach, California, any fault on the part of the plaintiff will lead to reduced compensation, and contributory negligence may completely bar recovery in some other states.

How Does a Driver Bear Liability for a Lane Change Accident?

A driver can bear liability in many ways for a lane change accident.

  • Driving without headlights engaged at night or in low visibility
  • Speeding
  • Executing lane changes without signaling
  • Cutting in front of other drivers too closely
  • Changing lanes without checking the vehicle’s blind spot
  • Aggressive driving

These are just a few examples of how a driver could breach his or her duty of care and cause a lane change accident. However, proving these things occurred may be challenging. Unless traffic cameras covered the area where the accident took place or witnesses clearly saw the events, it can be very difficult to prove liability for a lane change accident.

A good Long Beach accident attorney can help an injured driver secure the evidence he or she needs to prove fault for a lane change accident and help secure compensation for the driver’s damages. A successful lawsuit for a negligent lane change can yield compensation for the injured driver’s medical expenses, lost income, property damage, and pain and suffering. It is essential to act quickly to meet the applicable statute of limitations, so contact an attorney as soon as possible after any lane change accident.