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Who is at Fault in a Car Accident Changing Lanes?

Even the most experienced motorist faces risks on the roadway every time he or she gets behind the wheel. One of those risks is other drivers who do not pay attention to what is going on around them. Each person who drives a vehicle has a duty to drive safely and follow traffic laws. That includes making sure the lane next to them is clear before attempting to merge into it.

If you have been injured in a car accident after someone hit you while changing lanes, call Norris Injury Lawyers today. You did not deserve to have your life altered because of someone else’s negligence. Our Birmingham personal injury attorneys have over 40 years of experience handling all types of accident cases. Let us help you get the compensation you deserve.

Call Norris Injury Lawyers today at (800) 477-7510. Our No Fee Guarantee® means you do not have to worry about paying us a cent unless you win.

Alabama Lane Change Car Accident Statistics

According to data from the Alabama Department of Transportation, there were 14,276 lane change accidents statewide in 2019. 70 of these resulted in fatalities. 14.8 percent of those improper lane change crashes involved large trucks. There may be other contributing factors, but these numbers are based on what law enforcement lists as the main cause of the accident.

Who is Responsible for Causing a Lane Change Accident?

Not all lane change accidents are the same. There are a variety of negligent lane change behaviors that can create a dangerous scenario for other motorists on the roadway. These types of behaviors include the following.

A single driver changing lanes

Most lane-changing accidents occur when a driver attempts to merge into a lane that is already occupied by another car. In this case, it is easy to determine who is at fault for the accident: It is the person who attempted the merge.

Even though most of these collisions are not intentional, it does not matter. The merging driver caused the accident and can be held responsible for several types of negligent behavior, including:

  • Failing to indicate a turn
  • Failing to check mirrors
  • Merging prematurely, before traffic clears
  • Sideswiping another vehicle
  • Failing to leave enough distance between vehicles

Every driver who desires to change lanes must do so in a safe manner. He or she must use a turn signal and ensure the lane is completely clear.

There must also be enough space between vehicles in that space to merge into. If there is not enough space, another driver may be forced to slam on the brakes or must make a sudden evasion maneuver.

Regardless of what happens, the merging driver would be considered at fault.

Reckless driving

Reckless drivers in Alabama do not pay enough attention to what is going on around them. They can easily cause lane change accidents when they are not being safe. This puts other people’s lives at risk.

Some types of reckless driving behaviors that can cause accidents are:

  • Distracted driving
  • Following too closely
  • Speeding
  • Driving while under the influence
  • Driving while drowsy
  • Tailgating

It’s easy to give in to the many distractions that face us on the road. A reckless driver may not even intend to change lanes. He could simply drift from one lane to the next and hit the adjacent car, or lose control while speeding. Either way, reckless driving is negligence that can injure or kill other drivers and passengers.

Both drivers are at fault

In some instances, both drivers can be considered at fault for causing a lane change accident. Imagine two drivers on a three-lane highway separated by an open middle lane. Both drivers attempt to merge into that open center lane, only to end up colliding with each other. In this case, it can be difficult to identify a single party as liable.

Alabama is a pure contributory negligence state. This means that if you are even 1 percent at fault for causing the accident, you cannot sue the other party for compensation. However, if the other driver was driving recklessly, like speeding, or was under the influence, it could change the outcome in your favor.

This is where applying the law can get complex. Thus, you should hire a personal injury attorney to investigate the details of your case and handle any complications that arise.

Proving Fault in an Alabama Lane Change Accident

Like most car accident victims, you likely want to be compensated for your injuries. The only way to do that is to prove the other party was completely at fault for causing the lane change accident.

Proving negligence in Alabama requires depends on meeting these three elements:

  1. The other driver owed you a duty. Every driver in Alabama is required to drive carefully while exercising reasonable care.
  2. The other driver breached his duty. This is where you will have to prove that the other driver did not use reasonable care while behind the wheel. For example, was he driving recklessly?
  3. Your injuries were caused by the other driver breaching his duty. You cannot simply say the other driver breached his duty without also proving how you were injured. The insurance company can claim that you caused your own injuries or that you were hurt before the accident.

While most lane change accidents are the result of another negligent driver, that is not always the case. In some instances, another party may have caused the collision. For example, a pedestrian may decide to run out into the road without looking both ways. To avoid hitting the person, a car may attempt to avoid the pedestrian and crash into you instead.

There are a variety of outside scenarios that can force a car to leave its lane and hit the car next to it. Other potential negligent parties can include:

  • Pedestrians
  • Passengers
  • Car manufacturers
  • Repair shops
  • Property owners
  • Local and state municipalities

Damages Available After an Alabama Lane Change Accident

If you have been injured in a lane change accident, there are three main types of compensation you can receive:

Economic damages are the financial losses you suffered because of the accident and can include:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Property damage
  • Rehabilitation

Non-economic damages can be more difficult to place a number on. Non-monetary damages can include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Depression
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

Punitive damages can be claimed against the defendant if he or she intentionally tried to injure you. This can be possible in cases of road rage where the other driver purposefully sideswiped you.

Steps to Take After Being in an Alabama Lane Change Accident

Since Alabama compensation laws are complex, drivers need to know the steps they should take after being in an accident. As it was established, you will need to be able to prove the other party was 100-percent at fault for causing your injuries. That requires evidence.

  1. Call 911

    Even if you do not think you are injured, call for emergency services. Both the police and paramedics will likely arrive on the scene. The police will conduct their investigation and put together a police report which can help your insurance claim. Paramedics will check you out for injuries. Do not be afraid to let them take you to the hospital if they feel it is best.

  2. Take photographs

    While you are waiting for emergency services to arrive, you should take photographs if possible. These photos can be used to help bolster your case. This includes pictures of the scene, damage to vehicles, and even the weather at the time of the accident. As they say, a picture can be worth a thousand words.

  3. Grab witness information

    It can also be helpful to gather information from all the witnesses. If anyone saw the other vehicle being reckless before causing the accident, it can be included as powerful testimony. Collect their names, addresses, and other contact information. Even write down the license plate number of the driver who hit you.

  4. Seek medical treatment

    If you were unable to complete the previous steps, that is okay. Most of that information will be gathered by the police for their report. It is good to have your own set of records in case the police miss something. What will be crucial for your case are medical records. You cannot sue for compensation without evidence that you were injured in a lane change accident by the other party.

    Again, even if you do not think you were injured, make sure to see a doctor anyway. It is not uncommon for some injury symptoms to be masked by adrenaline. Many accident victims go home thinking they are fine, only for the pain and soreness to hit them a few days later.

    It’s also important to follow your doctor’s treatment plan completely. Failing to do so can result in a denial of compensation.

  5. Call Norris Injury Lawyers

    Norris Injury Lawyers can be your ally in helping to get you the compensation you deserve. We have over 40 years of experience achieving successful outcomes for our clients. Our team of attorneys excels at negotiating fair settlements with powerful insurance companies. If they still do not budge, we will put together a strong case to take to trial on your behalf.

Call Norris Injury Lawyers today serving Birmingham, AL, at (800) 477-7510. We are available 24/7 to take your call.

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