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Who May Be Liable for a Lane-Change Crash?

lane change crashUnsafe lane changes can quickly lead to dangerous crashes. While the merging driver is usually to blame in this situation, it is not always that straightforward.

Learn more about lane-change crashes, including how they often happen and who may be liable for your medical costs and other losses.

If you suffered injuries due to a lane-change crash or some other type of auto accident, Jay Trucks is prepared to help. Contact our law offices to set up a FREE consultation with one of our qualified lawyers. You can get answers to your questions and learn what compensation may be available to help pay for your damages.

If you choose our firm to represent you, there are no out-of-pocket costs to pay up front or while we work on your case. We only get paid if you do.

Request your FREE Case Review today. (989) 244-0394

How Do Lane-Change Crashes Happen?

Lane-change crashes happen due to driver errors and reckless behavior, primarily. More specifically a lane-change crash may occur in any of the following situations:

  • Weaving in and out of traffic dangerously and without signaling
  • Failing to signal properly or at all prior to changing lanes
  • Speeding up to block a merging driver from entering the lane
  • Failing to see a vehicle in the blind spot prior to changing lanes
  • Not properly checking that traffic was clear before merging
  • Recklessly cutting off vehicles to change lanes
  • Two drivers merging into the same lane at the same time
  • Miscalculating the speed or distance of traffic in the destination lane
  • Merging too fast or too slowly into traffic from an on-ramp
  • Crossing multiple lanes of traffic all at once

Are You Legally Required to Let Someone Into Your Traffic Lane?

You are not legally required to let someone into your lane of traffic. Although on less busy roads or where traffic is at a standstill, it can be polite to let a driver into your lane. On a busier highway, however, suddenly slowing down to let another vehicle into your lane could potentially cause a crash.

That said, purposely speeding up to block someone from entering your lane is a different story. In that situation, the driver’s actions would likely be deemed as aggressive. If a crash results, the reckless driver would likely be fully liable for the damage.

Merging drivers have to make a judgement call and decide when traffic is clear enough and far enough away for them to safely change lanes.

Michigan’s Law on Lane Changes

Under state law, drivers wanting to change lanes must follow certain rules, which include:

  • Stay in your current traffic lane until you have adequate time and space to merge
  • Remain in the right lane except when you need to pass another vehicle
  • Continue in the right traffic lane unless traffic signs or signals direct you to move
  • Follow all posted traffic signs and signals
  • Do not use HOV lanes, except as designated and marked by traffic signs

These rules apply to all roadways with two or more legal traffic lanes (a road shoulder does not apply). Drivers who violate Michigan law, Section 257.642 commit a civil infraction and may be fined accordingly.

Who May Be Liable for a Lane-Change Crash?

Most of the time, the driver changing lanes will likely be liable if a crash occurs. Often this type of crash occurs because of some driver error the merging driver made. For instance, if he or she failed to properly signal or neglected to ensure traffic was clear enough to merge safely.

There are times, however, when other drivers may share at least partial liability for a lane-change crash. One common way this happens is when two drivers merge at the same time into the middle lane of traffic. However, some drivers may purposely speed up to try to prevent the other driver from changing lanes.

As you can see, these are just a couple of reasons why liability for a lane-change crash may not always be clear cut.

How is Liability Determined After a Lane-Change Crash?

Lane-change crashes often happen on highways where traffic is moving at high speeds. Unfortunately, this may make it harder to determine liability. If there is a lot of traffic on the road when the collision occurs, it could also lead to secondary crashes.

Police who respond to the scene make the initial assessment about liability when they write up the accident report. That said, the insurance companies involved will also want to investigate the crash scene and make their own assessment. In extreme cases, it may even be necessary to bring in an accident reconstruction specialist to clarify details and determine liability.

Other evidence that may help includes:

  • Traffic or dash cam footage
  • Credible witnesses at the scene
  • Driver statements
  • Photographs of the crash scene
  • Damage to all involved vehicles

Call Our Firm for Legal Help After a Lane-Change Crash

Although Michigan is a no-fault state, your no-fault benefits may not fully cover all of your medical costs and other losses. If the other driver caused the crash and your damages, you may be eligible to seek additional compensation, including pain and suffering damages.

Our auto accident lawyers in Grand Rapids have extensive experience helping victims injured by the negligence of other drivers. We have recovered over $500 million for our clients and are prepared to seek maximum compensation for you.

Jay Trucks is ready to build a strong case on your behalf. While no outcome is guaranteed, we know how to develop a strong legal strategy that will benefit your case and protect your interests.

We are here to help. (989) 244-0394