Driving can be dangerous even if you are following all traffic rules. Unfortunately, there is no way to ensure other drivers on the road will abide by the same rules. Driving accidents are inevitable, but when it comes to lane changing accidents, there are a few elements that can make determining who is at fault a little tricky. There are a few different reasons why another car will dangerously merge into your lane with little to no warning. On the other hand, if the other driver was not paying attention and yield to the car merging, you can have shared fault between the drivers.
What Elements Matter in a Case?
As a general rule of driving, the car who enters a lane and hits into another car is most commonly at fault for the accident. This is because if a car is merging, it is their responsibility to ensure it will be a safe move for themselves and other drivers on the road. Failure to check for other cars blocking the merging path could lead to serious injuries. Around 40% of the perimeter of a vehicle are blind spots for the driver, which means the use of turn signals are incredibly important to alert drivers of your next move if you are unable to see them. Unfortunately, around 50% of drivers fail to use their turn signals, which is illegal.
When determining fault in an unsafe lane change, it usually comes down to who has most of the responsibility for the accident. You must consider what traffic laws were in effect at the time of the accident and the impairment of the other driver if there was any.
There are a few situations in which a driver is considered to be driving unlawfully. Unlawful driving occurs when a driver does not fulfill their duty of ensuring they are protecting the safety of themselves and others on the road. One example would be aggressive driving, which has skyrocketed 500% since 1990. An example of this could include speeding up and tailgating the car in front to block another car from merging. Another dangerous act while driving is texting at the wheel. Texting and driving raise your chances of getting into an accident by 800%.
Other negligent driving behaviors include driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, driving without headlights on after dark and excessive speeding. All of these elements factor into who is at fault in a lane change accident on the road. If identified by the police or other witnesses, the driver who was hit could share fault in the accident if they were acting recklessly or not paying attention as well.
Comparative Negligence Law
Pennsylvania practices the Comparative Negligence Law which states the court will take all elements of the unsafe lane change into consideration and if you are found at all responsible for the accident, whatever percentage the court finds you responsible will be deducted from your settlement. For example, if another car hit you during their unsafe lane change and the jury awards you $100,000 for your settlement, but you have been found to be responsible for 20% of the accident, you will receive $80,000 for your settlement. If the court finds you more than 50% responsible for the accident, you will receive no compensation. If two cars are looking to merge into the same lane and they hit each other, each person would take 50% of the responsibility.
Lane change accidents are not always as simple as determining which car was the one moving and then assigning 100% fault to that person. Above are a few elements that are factored in when assigning fault to one or more drivers who collide during a lane change.