Whether you’re coasting onto the highway or transitioning from a two-lane to a one-lane road, merging safely requires patience and awareness. Unfortunately, regardless of your caution, the risk of a collision is high. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, over 500,000 accidents occur each year as a result of improper lane changes and merges. Although many of these collisions result in only property damage, many victims are left wondering, “Who’s to blame?”
Determining Merging Liability
Liability is the primary concern regarding car accident claims. Without proof of liability, victims can’t receive the compensation their injuries require.
Sometimes proving fault in these accidents caused by merging situations can be confusing and difficult—especially when there may be different perspectives as to who had right of way. Since Florida is a no-fault state, merging liability needs to be determined if an injured party decides to pursue a claim against multiple drivers or a single driver who caused permanent injuries.
To determine the amount of negligence that can be placed on either driver, insurance companies and the court will weigh the following questions.
- Who had the right of way? Merging requires a sense of decency from drivers in both lanes of traffic. The merger must pay attention and find an opening to merge into safely. However, the driver in the adjacent lane must also take responsibility and adjust speed to create an opening. Therefore, if you were hit from behind while merging into traffic, the fault of the collision could be split between you and the other driver: you should have waited for an opening, while the other driver should have paid attention to your lane change and not follow so closely. If an opening couldn't be identified, the driver in the moving lane will be given the benefit of the doubt, as through traffic has the right of way.
- Was negligence involved? If you had a safe opening but the driver behind you sped up to close the gap before you could complete the merge, he would be held mostly at fault. Again, it was his responsibility to drive cautiously. On the other hand, if it can be proven that you tried to squeeze into traffic when there wasn’t room, you’d be considered negligent.
- Were there witnesses? The best way to prove fault is with witness statements and police reports. However, finding unbiased witnesses may prove to be difficult, especially when injury compensation is involved.
To ensure that your rights are upheld following a merging accident, contact experienced car accident lawyers Frank R. Johnson and J. Lance Gilbert. For more than two decades, Johnson & Gilbert, P.A. has fought to make sure victims like you and your family receives the guidance and support they need to recover from a collision.
Do you believe your accident was directly caused by negligence? Do you feel that the opposing driver should be held fully accountable for your family’s injuries? If so, call us today at (386) 673-4412 to schedule your complete and complimentary case review.