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Who Is at Fault in a Car Accident Changing Lanes?

Posted On 07/24/20 by Begam Marks & Traulson, PA

Every year in Arizona, hundreds of vehicle collisions occur when drivers try to change lanes. Lane changes are dangerous and a common complaint in car accident claims. Lane-change accidents can be catastrophic if they occur at high speeds on freeways in Arizona or if they involve large vehicles such as big rigs. If you or a loved one has been in a car accident while changing lanes, a Phoenix personal injury lawyer could help you determine fault.

Assigning Fault in a Car Accident Involving Changing Lanes

As a driver injured in a car accident in Arizona, you will turn to the insurance provider of the party at fault for benefits to pay for your damages. You may need to prove that person’s fault for causing your accident before the insurance company will issue a check. In a collision involving two vehicles changing lanes, however, it can be difficult to determine and prove fault. Both drivers may believe they had the right-of-way to enter the lane. One driver may be at fault, however, if he or she was negligent.

  • Texting and driving
  • Driving distracted
  • Driving drunk
  • Driving in bad weather
  • Failing to look before changing lanes
  • Failing to signal
  • Speeding
  • Tailgating
  • Driving recklessly

If a driver guilty of any type of negligence or recklessness crashed into your vehicle while trying to merge, that driver may owe you compensation for your damages. His or her bodily injury liability insurance will pay for your medical bills, while property damage insurance will pay to repair your vehicle. A driver may also be liable for your lane-change or merge accident if that driver failed to yield you the right-of-way.

Determining the Right-of-Way

The right-of-way is the right to proceed as a driver, bicyclist or pedestrian. A road user who has the right-of-way may enter a roadway before the other drivers present. It is every roadway user’s responsibility to yield the right-of-way, or give it to others, when applicable. Drivers need to understand how rights-of-way work during dangerous maneuvers such as merges or lane changes.

Lane-change accidents happen in one of two ways: a collision when one car enters the destination lane or a collision when two cars try to enter the same lane at the same time. A collision upon a driver entering his or her destination lane generally points to the liability of the driver who changed lanes. It is a driver’s responsibility to reduce his or her speed, signal the intent to change lanes, and check that the destination lane is clear. Improper lookout or driver negligence could lead to one driver changing lanes on top of another.

Did the Driver Obey Arizona Laws for Changing Lanes?

In a collision between two cars merging at the same time, fault can be more difficult to determine. Ultimately, fault will go to the driver who did not have the right-of-way. On a multiple-lane highway, the right lane is the slow lane, the middle lane is the regular lane and the left lane is only for passing. In general, on a freeway with three or more lanes, a driver entering a lane from the left will have the right-of-way over someone entering the same lane from the right. This is due to faster-moving traffic in the far left lane and drivers needing to clear that lane. When merging, the traffic already on the destination road has the right-of-way over the driver entering the freeway.

Changing lanes in Arizona involves confusing right-of-way laws. If you got into an accident while you or another driver was changing lanes or merging, talk to a Phoenix car accident lawyer about your right to compensation. That driver may owe you money for your economic and noneconomic damages. A lawyer can help you work through Arizona’s right-of-way statutes and prove someone else’s fault for the lane-change accident.