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Who is At Fault in a Car Accident Changing Lanes?

Posted on March 15, 2022 in

One of the most common driving maneuvers is a lane change. Even though lane changes should be fairly routine, the reality is that serious accidents can occur when a person decides to go from one lane to the next. Determining fault after a lane change accident can be challenging, and we want to examine various scenarios surrounding liability in these situations.

Fault for a Colorado Lane Change Accident

We all change lanes on the roadway. Often, we change length multiple times when getting from point A to point B. However, these seemingly simple maneuvers can present significant risks, particularly for vehicles operating at higher speeds on a highway.

When a lane change accident does occur, determining fault can be challenging. It is not uncommon for these incidents to quickly turn into one driver accusing the other of making a mistake and causing the incident. Unlike other types of accidents, like a rear-end incident, fault for a lane change accident may not be immediately apparent.

When a driver decides to change a lane, they are ultimately responsible for yielding the right of way to any traffic already in the lane they want to go to. The driver changing lanes should activate their turn signal in the correct direction, which allows other drivers to have an idea of what may be about to happen. Additionally, this driver should not only check their mirrors for other vehicles, but they should manually turn their heads to check their blind spots to make sure they have a clear path.

There are various ways that a driver could be held liable for a lane change accident if they are the ones changing lanes. This can include the following scenarios:

  • Failing to activate a turn signal before changing the lane
  • Failing to check the blind spots or mirrors before changing lanes
  • Crossing more than one lane of traffic at a time without pausing in between to make another lane change

If the driver making the lane change collides with another vehicle already inside of the new lane, then the driver who initiated the lane change is almost always going to be at fault. However, there are times when more than one driver could be at fault for a lane change incident in Colorado. In fact, there could be shared fault in certain scenarios, including the following:

  • Two vehicles attempt to change lanes at the same time into the same lane and end up colliding with one another. However, this is more likely to happen when there are three or more lanes moving in the same direction.
  • If the driver of a vehicle inside the desired lane is impaired by alcohol or drugs, operating while distracted, or driving too fast for conditions, they could be at fault or partially at fault.
  • If one driver slams into the rear of another vehicle that just completed their lane change, this could indicate that the rear driver was operating too fast for conditions.
  • Anytime there is equipment malfunction, including brake lights, headlights, or turn signals, this could shift fault for the incident.

We strongly encourage you to contact an attorney if there is any doubt about liability after a lane change accident in Colorado. A Denver car accident attorney can work diligently to obtain evidence proving what happened and negotiate with the insurance carriers to recover compensation.