Drivers owe a duty to their passengers and others on the road to follow the law and operate their vehicles in a safe and reasonable manner. So, when changing lanes, a driver should judge the distance from other cars, check his or her mirrors and use turn signals before going through with the maneuver. If a driver fails to take those steps, and in turn causes a car accident, that driver may be liable for negligence. In some cases, the other driver may be partially responsible as well.
Unfortunately, these accidents happen all too frequently in Fort Wayne and throughout Indiana. In 2018 alone, more than 5,300 crashes occurred on state roads due to “improper lane usage,” including nine fatal crashes, the Indiana University Public Policy Institute reports.
If you were recently injured in a lane-change accident, and another driver was at fault, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain, suffering and more. At Truitt Law Offices, we can provide a free review of your case and help you to determine all options available to you. For more than 40 years, we have protected the rights of accident victims throughout Indiana. We care. We listen. And we are ready to help. Contact us now to discuss your case.
Why Do Lane Change Accidents Happen?
As we have seen at Truitt Law Offices, lane change accidents commonly occur because of the negligence of the driver who was making the lane change. For instance, the driver may change lanes without first:
- Checking rear and side mirrors for cars in nearby lanes
- Leaving sufficient distance from other cars
- Giving a proper signal (using turn lights or hand signals)
- Yielding when the driver lacks the right of way
- Making a complete change (in other words, the driver is partially in two lanes).
A driver can also be responsible for a lane-change accident if the driver causes a crash due to changing lanes:
- While entering a curve or going uphill where the driver can’t see other cars
- In an area where a lane change or pass is illegal (typically marked by signs or double solid yellow center lines)
- In traffic or weather conditions which would make the lane change unsafe such as in snow, ice, fog or heavy rain.
If a driver violates the law and causes a lane change accident – for example, the driver changes lanes without using a turn signal or completely disregards a yield sign when merging onto a road – the driver’s negligence may be presumed as a matter of law. This is a legal concept known as negligence per se.
In some cases, the other driver may be at fault. For instance, the driver may be distracted and fail to see that the driver in front is changing lanes, or the driver may be following too closely and can’t slow down on time to avoid crashing into the rear of the front car.
How Can You Prove Fault in an Unsafe Lane-Change Accident?
At Truitt Law Offices, we thoroughly investigate car accidents. We want to be prepared to present a solid case for damages to the at-fault driver’s insurance company or, if necessary, to a jury at trial. If you were hurt in a lane-change accident, we will move efficiently to gather and study evidence such as:
- Photos of the vehicles involved in the crash and surrounding scene
- Any available camera footage (from a nearby surveillance or red-light camera)
- Black box data (revealing a driver’s speed, braking and other information)
- Cell phone records (showing whether a driver was texting or talking on the phone)
- Blood, breath or urine test results (revealing whether a driver was impaired by alcohol or drugs).
In some cases, we turn to accident reconstruction experts to help us to determine who was at fault in a lane-change accident. An expert can analyze all of the evidence and prepare a report about the cause of the head-on accident or rear-end accident. The expert’s report can play a major role in settlement discussions with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. The expert may also testify if a case goes to trial.
Can You Share Fault in a Lane-Change Accident?
Not all lane-change accidents are the fault of only one driver. In many crashes, both drivers share fault. For example, one driver may change lanes without checking mirrors or using signals, which leaves the driver in the rear with no idea that a lane change is about to happen. However, the rear driver may still have been able to avoid the collision if he or wasn’t speeding, tailgating or distracted by a text or phone call.
Under Indiana’s comparative fault system, you could still recover damages in such an accident – even if you were partially at fault. However, your damages would be decreased according to the percentage of fault assigned to you. For instance, if you were deemed to be 25 percent at fault in a crash in which you suffered $100,000 in damages, your damages would be limited to $75,000. If you were more than 50 percent at fault, then you would be barred from recovering any compensation.
Because of this law, an insurance company may try to blame you – in whole or in part – for a lane-change accident that has left you with serious injuries. At Truitt Law Offices, we know these insurance companies operate. You can count on us to counter these tactics and fight for all compensation you are due.
Get Help from an Experienced Fort Wayne Car Accident Lawyer?
A car accident of any kind can turn your life upside down. Suddenly, you may be faced with medical bills, car repair bills, lost income and many other worries – all while you are coping with the pain from your injuries. The last thing you should worry about is handling your car accident claim and dealing with insurance companies.
At Truitt Law Offices, we can take that pressure off your shoulders and take care of every aspect of your claim. Our goal will be to recover the maximum amount of compensation for you so that you can get the medical care that you need and move forward with your life. To learn more about how we can help you, call or reach us online today and schedule a free consultation through our office in Fort Wayne, Huntington or Indianapolis.