Car accidents can happen at any time, especially on a highway. One common car accident we see at RMD Law occurs when a driver tries to change lanes and ends up striking another vehicle. These accidents can cause a host of injuries and require an experienced car accident lawyer to help determine what compensation is available.
Who Is at Fault for a Lane Change Accident?
Under California law, the driver who is at fault for the accident is responsible for paying compensation to victims. Fault is called “negligence,” which is the legal term for failing to use reasonable care. All drivers owe others on the road a duty to operate their vehicles with sufficient care so that they do not cause accidents. When a driver is careless, he is legally responsible for all losses that result from a crash.
Fault is pretty easy to assign in lane change accident. In most situations, the driver merging into traffic is at fault if he strikes a vehicle. A driver looking to change lanes is also responsible if they are changing lanes to pass and end up striking someone.
California law also recognizes that sometimes more than one vehicle is responsible for the collision. For example, a driver might have been merging into traffic when a speeding driver tries to race past. In this situation, both drivers are probably responsible—the first, because he did not merge with sufficient care, and the second because he was speeding.
If a driver is partially responsible for a crash, then he will receive less in compensation than if he was 100% innocent. In particular, the amount of compensation he can receive will be reduced by his percentage of fault.
Imagine this: a driver strikes another vehicle while merging into traffic but the car struck was speeding. A jury finds that both sides are equally responsible for the collision—50/50. If the speeding vehicle suffered $20,000 in damage, then he can only receive half of that amount, or $10,000.
Evidence to Establish Fault
To prove that the driver is at fault for a lane change accident, you will need evidence that the driver broke the law or was behaving carelessly. For example, the California Driver Handbook states that drivers must do the following:
● Before merging, drivers must signal and make sure there is sufficient room to merge. Drivers should not try to squeeze into small gaps.
● Drivers should enter traffic close to the speed of traffic. Freeway traffic has the right of way.
● Drivers need a gap of at least 4 seconds to merge. As soon as it is safe, the driver should drop back to 3 seconds behind.
● Drivers looking to pass another vehicle should not do so within 100 feet of an intersection or when approaching a curve or hill that limits their vision.
The best evidence you will have is your own memories. As soon as possible, write down what happened. You should also call a police officer to the scene and tell the officer what happened. This police report is a helpful piece of evidence to have.
Contact RMD Law Today
As a premiere Orange County car accident lawyer firm, we help motorists injured in all sorts of car accidents. After receiving medical care, you should immediately contact us and schedule a free consultation.