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Who Is at Fault in a Car Accident Changing Lanes?

Posted on February 22, 2019

When you’re driving, you must always be vigilant of your surroundings and respond appropriately to avoid car accidents. However, some causes of accidents can be out of your control – especially when someone makes an unsafe lane change. In an instant, you can suffer severe injuries, extensive property damage, and experience additional losses, such as lost wages from work and expensive medical bills. In these cases, who is at-fault for an unsafe lane change accident? Continue reading and if you have any additional questions, speak with a Philadelphia car accident lawyer.

Common Causes of Lane Change Accidents

When a driver changes lanes in a way that endangers other people on the road or breaks traffic laws, he or she commits an unsafe lane change. If you are driving and in the path of someone who commits this act, you can suffer severe damage. Often, significant lapses in judgement cause unsafe lane changes that lead to accidents.

The most common causes of unsafe lane change accidents include the following:

  • Driving negligently or recklessly, not paying attention to the environment or other cars on the road
  • Poor driving conditions, such as heavy rain, snow and ice, or unsafe road conditions
  • Excessive speeding, which leads to an impaired reaction time
  • Distracted driving, such as using a cellphone while driving or engaging in another distracting activity
  • Excessive passing of other cars on the road
  • Driving while under the influence of drugs and alcohol

Determining Fault in a Lane Change Accident

After you get into an accident with a driver who makes an unsafe lane change, you can file a personal injury claim to collect compensatory damages for your injuries. When courts determine how much compensation you may receive, they will examine the circumstances of the case and the actions of each driver at the time of the accident.

In many cases, both parties can share a portion of the fault. However, courts determine fault by analyzing which driver failed in his or her duty to protect others on the road from harm. The court places the majority of the fault with the driver who broke traffic laws or operated his or her vehicle in an unsafe manner.

Pennsylvania courts will determine fault by analyzing the following factors involved in the case:

  • The applicable traffic rules where the accident occurred
  • The impaired state of each driver
  • The right of way for each driver involved in the case
  • The driver’s reason for the unsafe lane change
  • The presence of any other unlawful behaviors, such as speeding, distracted driving, and failure to drive appropriately for unsafe road conditions

Pennsylvania’s Comparative Negligence Law

When you file a personal injury lawsuit for a car accident involving an unsafe lane change, you can collect compensatory damages for various losses. Common damages in car accident cases include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Property damage
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Permanent disability
  • Punitive damages

Pennsylvania courts will examine the facts of your unsafe lane change case and determine how much you can receive in damages. The court will determine fault in the case based on the factors we discussed earlier and assign a percentage of fault to each driver. If the court finds that you are responsible for a portion of your accident, it will reduce your final settlement amount by that percentage. If you are responsible for 50% or more of your accident, you will not receive any damages.

For example, the jury decides that you can receive $60,000 in damages for your settlement. However, the court also finds that you drove over the speed limit when the accident occurred. As a result, you are responsible for 40% of the accident. You will receive a settlement of $36,000.

Determining fault in a lane change accident can be challenging due to the complex nature of these cases. For best results, hire a car accident attorney to conduct an investigation into your accident and present a compelling case to the court.