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Attorney Sanga Turnbull

Unsafe Lane Change Accident in Florida: Who’s at Fault?

On Behalf of | Jul 1, 2020 | Car Accident

Changing lanes is a basic driving activity that all motorists do when driving. However, “basic” does not necessarily mean safe. Unfortunately, a motorist may switch lanes in an unsafe and illegal manner, which can lead to car accidents.

But who is at fault when merging or changing lanes causes a vehicle crash? You may need a skilled car accident attorney’s help to establish fault in your unsafe lane change crash in Florida.

Car Accident Caused by Changing Lanes

One such accident recently occurred in Polk County.

As reported by WKMG-TV, a car driver switching lanes caused a domino-effect accident on Interstate 4 near mile marker 32. The chain-reaction crash involved five vehicles. An investigation by the Florida Highway Patrol determined that the multi-vehicle collision was caused by a driver who switched lanes. When switching lanes, the motorist collided with another vehicle.

After the collision, the vehicle bounced into the center median, and the two vehicles crashed into a cable barrier. The vehicle that caused the collision when switching lanes crossed into opposing traffic lanes where it hit a pick-up truck. Another car had to swerve to avoid colliding with the vehicles but ended up crashing into the truck.

Who can be held at fault for causing changing lane accidents? Is the driver changing lanes always to blame for causing the collision?

How Do Unsafe Lane Change Accidents Occur?

Typically, the driver who leaves one lane to enter another lane when doing so is deemed unsafe will be responsible for causing the crash. Most unsafe lane change accidents occur when a driver executes the maneuver when there is not enough room to switch lanes.

The driver who intends to make a lane change has the duty to ensure that the lane is clear in order to avoid a collision. Certain factors may contribute to unsafe lane change crashes:

  • Distracted driving
  • Exceeding the speed limit
  • Drunk driving
  • Negligent passing of other vehicles
  • Poor road or weather conditions

Under Florida Statutes Section 316.085, motorists are prohibited from changing lanes until the merging driver ensures that it is safe to execute the maneuver, and the driver is acting as predictable as possible. The driver must check whether the distance between the vehicles allows them to execute the maneuver and ensure that the vehicle is not being passed by other cars in the lane where the motorist wants to move.

Determining Fault in Unsafe Lane Change Accidents

Establishing fault in a car accident that occurred when one driver was switching lanes depends on the circumstances of your particular case. Either driver can be held liable for causing the crash. In some cases, both drivers may be found at fault.

For instance, if the merging driver decided to move into a new lane when doing so was unsafe, he will be considered at fault. If the driver who was in that lane accelerated suddenly or failed to maintain a safe distance, that motorist may be deemed at fault. If the two drivers contributed to the lane change accident, both could bear responsibility for causing the collision.

Speak with our experienced Lakeland car accident attorneys to establish fault in your unsafe lane change crash. Contact The Turnbull Firm to discuss liability in your particular case. Call at 863-324-3500 for a case review.