- June 28, 2022
- Kelvin Birk
- Family Law
Each time you get in your vehicle and use it to travel somewhere, you are accepting some level of risk that you may be involved in an accident. While this is true, if you follow the rules of the road, avoid distractions, and practice defensive driving, you can protect yourself in many situations.
Unfortunately, not all accidents can be avoided, and one that may occur without warning is a lane-change accident.
If you are involved in this type of collision, you may wonder who is at fault? After all, it can be a confusing and stressful situation.
When figuring out who is at fault in a lane-change accident, it is good to consult with an attorney. They will understand the local laws and be able to help you protect your rights. The information here will help you find out more about who is at fault in a car accident when changing lanes.
Being informed is important. Not only will it help you understand your rights if you are involved in this type of accident, but it will also help you avoid it in many cases.
Determining Fault in Lane-Change Accidents
When you are ready to change lanes, the safest thing to do is to wait until there’s a sufficient gap in the traffic in the other lane to move over. Even when you spot an opening, you need to stay aware of your surroundings as you move quickly but carefully into the other lane.
Unfortunately, many drivers don’t exercise proper care when changing lanes. In fact, they may do this carelessly or abruptly, without signaling or looking, which is when most lane-changing accidents occur.
For any accident that involves lane changes, someone will be at fault. This is also called negligence, and the at-fault driver will usually be guilty of not following the traffic rules, causing harm to themselves or to other drivers on the road.
According to the revised Missouri Statute 304.015, when a driver is operating their vehicle on a highway with two or more lanes, they must stay in the right-hand lane. It’s legal for a driver to overtake only if they can do so and follow the relevant traffic laws.
If a driver happens to merge into the other lane without observing the proper traffic laws and causes an accident, then that driver will probably be considered at fault for the accident. All drivers have the duty to obey the traffic laws to ensure they make the proper decisions and take safe steps when behind the wheel.
Is Lane Splitting Illegal in Missouri?
You may wonder who is at fault if someone merges into you and whether lane splitting is illegal. These are both good questions.
In Missouri, lane splitting is not considered illegal. This is something that refers to riding a motorcycle through tight lanes of slower-moving traffic. While this is mainly done on freeways, lane splitting is something that can happen on any road with multiple lanes.
If someone is lane-splitting and causes an accident, then law enforcement may give them a citation. They may also be considered liable for all injuries or damages that are caused by the accident.
While lane-splitting isn’t illegal, it can be dangerous. Because of this, it’s best to avoid it if possible.
What Is Considered a “Proper” Lane Change?
To ensure you are making a proper lane change, be sure to do the following before moving over:
- Turn your signal on to show other drivers you are about to change lanes.
- Check your mirrors.
- Make sure there’s no blind spot by looking in your mirrors and over your shoulder.
- Change lanes carefully while staying aware of other drivers.
- Once you are in the new lane, turn your signal off.
Who Is at Fault if a Driver Cuts You Off When You Are Changing Lanes, and You Hit Them?
According to traffic laws in Missouri, you need to always maintain a safe distance between you and other vehicles. If an unexpected issue occurs, you will have time to stop before colliding with the other driver ahead of you.
After an accident, an experienced attorney can investigate the situation and facts and help determine who was truly at fault. Sometimes, it will be possible to shift blame to the driver of the vehicle you hit if they were changing lanes improperly ahead of you when the collision occurred.
Some of the variables that the authorities will likely consider include:
- Whether the driver signaled or not and changed lanes properly
- Whether the driver was following the traffic rules set for changing lanes
- Whether the driver provided sufficient time for other drivers to react.
Common Causes of Missouri Lane-Change Accidents
Rollovers, rear-end collisions, and other types of crashes aren’t uncommon in Missouri due to improper or sudden lane changes by drivers:
- The failure to use a signal prior to changing lanes
- Not checking blind spots before merging or changing lanes
- Trying to evade accidents that have already taken place
- Driving while drowsy, fatigued, or drunk
- Medical issues like strokes, seizures, or heart attacks
- Fallen cargo or road debris
- Losing focus because of distracted driving.
Keep in mind that these are just a few of the ways that a lane-change accident may occur in Missouri.
How an Attorney Can Help with Your Lane-Change or Lane-Splitting Accident
Determining fault in a lane-changing accident can be tricky. Sometimes, it won’t be immediately clear who is to blame for the incident. Because of this, it’s smart to get in touch with our legal team, who can conduct a full investigation of the situation.
With the help of an experienced attorney, you will have the best chance possible of a successful outcome for your lane-change accident. Don’t accept fault if you believe you were safe and followed the rules of the road. You can recover compensation for these accidents and the injuries and damages you suffered.
Attorney Kelvin Birk
Kelvin Birk is a lawyer as well as a certified public accountant, with more than 30 years of experience in accounting and tax and business consulting, and more than 20 years of experience in numerous legal matters. This combined expertise allows our law firm to provide a level of service above that of other firms. Whatever your legal situation, your attorney at Birk Law Firm can counsel you as to the tax implications. We have experience in providing myriad legal representation services to residents of southeast Missouri and other areas. [ Attorney Bio ]