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

Improper lane changes account for thousands of fatalities and serious injuries each year. Also known as sideswipe accidents— who is fault depends upon the circumstances. Further, determining liability often requires a thorough investigation by the police. While the driver making the lane change is generally at fault, the issue is less certain when both drivers attempt it at the same time. It all comes down to which motorist had the right of way.

If this has happened to you, and you are looking for answers, at Douglas and London, our New York City car accident lawyers will protect your interests while holding those responsible for the accident accountable. We can help you obtain the maximum compensation for your injuries.

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Lane Change Laws

New York State requires, on roads with clearly delineated lanes, that a motorist should remain in a single lane and change only if it is safe. If the driver fails to do this, and an accident ensues—they are considered negligent. Such negligence is often due to:

In addition, inclement weather and poor visibility are often contributing factors to these types of accidents.

Types of Lane Change Accidents

Heavy merging is part of driving in New York City, so these accidents are common. The most frequent types include:

  • Failing to signal when changing lanes
  • Cutting off other vehicles
  • Trying to cross more than one lane at once
  • Moving too slowly onto a highway from an off-ramp

Vehicle Damage

When it is unclear who is at fault, the examination of the vehicles involved may reveal liability. A seasoned investigator can look at where each car is damaged—to determine liability. If a surveillance video of the crash is available, that is also crucial evidence for your personal injury lawyer.

What to Do After a Lane Change Accident

After a crash, get your vehicle to the side of the road, if possible. If you are not badly hurt, check to see if anyone is injured and call the police. Take photos with your phone of the accident scene, including vehicle damage and any skid marks or road debris. Get the name, address, driver’s license number, and insurance information of the other driver. If there are eyewitnesses, obtain their contact information.

Even if you do not think you were hurt, go to the emergency room for an examination. The adrenalin rush occurring after a car crash can temporarily mask serious injuries.

Do not give a statement to the insurance company until speaking with an attorney.  As noted above, a crash investigator needs to examine all vehicles involved in the accident as soon as possible.

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Pure Comparative Negligence

New York is one of the relatively few states using a pure comparative negligence standard. That means even if a driver is partly at fault for a collision, as may occur in a lane change accident, they may still receive some compensation. The exception is for those motorists deemed 100 percent at fault for the crash.

Keep in mind that the percentage of negligence is determined by each driver involved in the accident. Thus, if you are found 10 percent negligent, any compensation you receive is reduced by that amount.

Contact us at Douglas and London today

If you were involved in a car accident because another driver negligently changed lanes, the experienced New York City personal injury lawyers at our firm can help. Arrange a free consultation by filling out our online form or calling or texting us today.

We will evaluate your case, and if warranted, begin an investigation. That may include hiring an accident reconstruction expert. Because we work on a contingency basis, there is never a fee unless you receive compensation.