How Is Fault Determined in Collisions Related to Lane Merges?
While highways offer a convenient way to travel, certain driving skills are needed to operate a vehicle safely in multi-lane traffic at high speeds. Merging is one of the skills that can be challenging. Safe merging requires concentration and common sense. When reckless drivers attempt to change lanes without checking their surroundings, automobile accidents can cause significant property damage and serious injuries.
One of the most difficult things to determine after an accident is at fault. This can be especially tricky in accidents involving lane merges because of the number of ways these accidents can happen, but understanding why merging crashes occur can help you prove who is liable for a wreck.
Reasons Merging Accidents Happen
Lane change collisions often happen when drivers are merging from a ramp onto a freeway or highway. They are more likely to occur when the traffic is traveling at high speeds, the lanes are crowded, or multiple people are trying to get over at the same time. When all of those factors are present and a crash occurs, it’s likely to result in a multi-car pileup. Recognizing why wrecks happen can not only help you prove fault in the event you find yourself in that kind of situation, but it can also contribute to reducing the number of accidents.
Merging accidents can happen when someone changes lanes without using a turn signal. If a turn signal is used properly, other drivers will be aware of the intent to change lanes. Without the signal, the merge is likely to seem sudden and unexpected to other drivers who may be unprepared to react appropriately. Crossing over multiple lanes can also take drivers off guard.
Merging onto a highway too quickly or too slowly can result in accidents, as well. Inexperienced drivers may be anxious about merging onto a highway and drive too slowly. Reckless drivers may try to merge too quickly and not see a vehicle in their blind spot. Drivers who are rushing may also cut other drivers off and cause a crash.
Laned Roadway Laws in Mississippi
As a responsible driver, it’s crucial to be aware of all driving laws and regulations. Mississippi Code Title 63 Chapter 3 establishes the rules of the road for driving on roadways laned for traffic and overtaking vehicles. According to the chapter, drivers are supposed to do the following in regard to driving on laned highways and passing:
- Vehicles should be operated in a single lane and should not be moved from the lane until the driver has determined it is safe to move when the road has been divided into three lanes.
- Vehicles should not be driven in the center lane of a three-lane roadway except when overtaking and passing when the center lane is clear and traffic and passing can happen within a safe distance, when preparing to turn left, or when the center lane is being used exclusively to move traffic forward with the proper sign postings for notice.
- Drivers who are preparing to overtake another vehicle traveling in the same direction must pass on the left at a safe distance and not merge to the right until the other vehicle has been passed.
- Passing on the right is allowed with a width of four or more lines of moving traffic; however, the left lane is the preferred passing lane.
- Overtaking and passing is never allowed off the pavement or on the shoulder of a roadway.
Determining Fault for a Lane Change Crash
Understanding the above laws and determining why the accident occurred are crucial steps in proving fault. In most merging accidents, the driver who was merging when the accident occurred is at fault because they are the party that is required to overtake and pass safely and yield as needed. There are exceptions, however.
In the event the other party was speeding, the merging driver may not be liable because it could be said that the speeding driver made it difficult for the other party to determine how much time they needed to merge. The merging vehicle may also be not at fault if they were in the inside lane merging to the center while someone else was merging to the center from the outside lane. The best way to determine fault, however, is to get in touch with an experienced lawyer who can investigate your accident.
If you were involved in a crash you believe was caused by another party’s negligent driving errors, you may be able to seek compensation through legal action. Our attorneys can guide you through the process and determine what you are owed. Contact us for more information.