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Who Is At Fault in a Merging Lanes Accident?

Fiol Law Group|Posted in Car Accidents on August 31, 2020

You are never truly safe from an auto accident. No matter how safely or prudently you drive, the possibility of another driver being negligent will always exist. One of the most common types of car accidents in Florida is a lane-change collision. A driver’s distraction, negligence or recklessness could cause a lane-change accident. It can be difficult to prove fault and obtain compensation for an accident while merging lanes in Florida. Your case may involve the doctrine of comparative negligence.

Florida’s Rules for Merging and Changing Lanes

Florida’s right-of-way laws are important to obey when it comes to switching lanes or merging. These are dangerous maneuvers that become even more so when one or both drivers do not fully understand the rules for changing lanes. According to state law, when merging, the driver who has the right-of-way is the one already traveling in the destination lane. When merging onto a highway, for example, the person doing the merging will have to yield the right-of-way to cars already on the highway.

When changing lanes on a multilane road or highway, the person doing the maneuver will need to yield to vehicles in the destination lane. Drivers in the destination lane will have the right-of-way and will not lawfully have to brake or yield to merging drivers. If you are the driver trying to switch lanes, you will have the responsibility to turn your blinker on, adjust your speed, check your rearview mirrors and blind spots, and only get over when you have ample room to do so. If you breach these duties of care, you could be liable for a subsequent car accident. Cutting another driver off and hitting the brakes, for instance, could make you liable for the accident – even if the other driver rear-ended you.

Why Do Lane-Change Accidents Happen?

Many merging accidents happen when one driver is negligent, careless or reckless. They are typically preventable when the driver doing the merging is careful and obeys Florida’s right-of-way laws. If the driver changing from one lane to another or merging was negligent in some way, he or she would be at fault for the accident.

  • Speeding
  • Racing
  • Weaving between cars
  • Illegally lane-splitting
  • Tailgating/following too closely
  • Road rage driving
  • Distracted driving
  • Improper lookout
  • Drunk driving
  • Dirty mirrors
  • Large blind spots
  • Broken turn signals
  • Bad weather/poor visibility

Proving someone’s fault for a lane-change accident may take evidence such as statements from eyewitnesses, photographs of the crash scene, accident reconstruction and police reports. Evidence may help an investigator piece together how the collision occurred and who should be held liable.

Shared Fault in a Florida Merging Lanes Accident Claim

Many changing lanes accident claims become complex due to shared fault. If two drivers were trying to enter the same lane at the same time and collided, both could share fault for the accident. A liability dispute may ensue, however, with one driver trying to prove the other’s fault for the wreck. These cases can be difficult to resolve. If both drivers entered the destination lane simultaneously, they might share fault down the middle – 50/50. Otherwise, one driver could bear a greater portion of fault than the other

Florida is a comparative negligence state, meaning two drivers could share fault for an accident and an injured victim would still receive some compensation. Under Florida’s comparative negligence law, the courts will award compensation based on each driver’s percentage of fault for the merging accident. Partial fault, therefore, could reduce your award accordingly.

If you get into an accident while merging lanes and believe the other driver to be 100% at fault, contact a Tampa car accident attorney for assistance. You may need an attorney’s help in disputing fault and fighting for fair compensation. It is important to protect yourself with a lawyer if another driver is alleging your shared fault for a lane-change accident.