Most people change lanes when they get out on the roadway. Typically, individuals execute lane changes without any major incidents, but that is not always the case. If drivers are not careful, lane changes can result in significant accidents that affect not only themselves and their passengers, but also others on the roadway. Here, our Phoenix personal injury lawyers want to discuss liability issues for car accidents that occur when a driver is changing lanes.
Fault for an Arizona Lane Change Accident
Lane changes are one of the most common driving procedures that individuals undertake on the roadways of Arizona. However, lane changes also present significant risks, particularly when vehicles are moving at higher rates of speed. When a lane change accident does occur, determining liability can be difficult. Often, these types of accidents quickly turn into each driver involved pointing the finger at other drivers, and everyone has a different story. Unlike rear-end accidents, where fault is usually fairly evident, liability for lane-changing accidents may not be as clear.
When a driver has to change lanes, they are responsible for yielding the right of way to any traffic in the lane they wish to get to. The lane-changing driver must activate their turn signal in the correct direction so that other drivers around them, both in their lane and in the other lane, have the opportunity to see the desired lane change. A driver must only change lanes after they check their mirrors and manually check their blind spots to ensure that their pathway to the new lane is clear.
There are various ways that a driver in Arizona could be held liable for a lane change accident. This includes, but is not limited to, the following:
- Failing to activate turn signals before making the lane change
- Not checking the mirrors or blind spots before changing lanes
- Crossing more than one lane of traffic without pausing in each before a subsequent lane change
If a driver is changing lanes into a new lane and collides with a vehicle, fault will almost always fall to the driver who initiated the lane change. However, there are times when more than one driver could be responsible for a lane change incident. Sometimes, shared fault can occur in certain situations, including when:
- Two vehicles attempt to initiate a lane change into a middle lane from outside lanes. This type of incident usually only occurs if there are three or more lanes of traffic going in one direction.
- The driver of a vehicle inside of the desired lane was operating while impaired by alcohol or drugs, while distracted, or driving too fast for conditions.
- A driver inside of the desired lane was operating with faulty brake lights or headlights.
- One driver slams into the rear of another vehicle that just completed a lane change.
In addition to traditional lane changes, there are also times when individuals have to merge from one type of roadway to another, and this almost always means changing lanes. Our Phoenix car accident lawyers most often see this occur when a person has to merge onto or off of a highway from a different type of roadway.
In these situations, any driver wishing to merge with a new type of roadway is the one responsible for yielding the right of way to the traffic already in the desired lane. The driver must activate their turn signal and wait for their pathway to be clear before merging. Sometimes, this means making a complete stop and waiting for traffic to clear. Contact us today if you’ve been involved in a lane change accident.