Determining Who is At Fault in a Car Accident Changing Lanes

Changing lanes is one of the most common driving procedures that individuals do when they hit the roadway. However, this can also be an incredibly dangerous procedure where accidents can occur if just one step is not done correctly. Here, our car accident lawyers want to examine who could be at fault for a crash that occurs when a person changes lanes.

Fault for a Lane Change in Seattle

Most drivers that get on the roadway end up changing lanes at least once or twice before they reach their destination. Even though this is a common maneuver on the roadway, changing lanes can also lead to significant risks, especially for those operating at higher speeds on the highways around Seattle.

When an accident does occur as a result of a lane change, determining liability can be a challenge. It is not uncommon for these incidents to turn into one driver accusing the other of making a mistake. The reality is that, unlike other types of incidents like a rear-end collision, fault for a lane change crash may not be immediately apparent at the scene of the incident.

The driver who needs to change lanes is ultimately responsible for yielding the right of way to the traffic inside of the lane they wish to go. The lane-changing driver is responsible for activating their turn signal, and this allows other drivers to at least have an idea that the driver wants to change their lane. Additionally, a driver who needs to change their lane should check their mirrors and blind spots to be sure that there are no other vehicles in their path before they commence and complete their lane change. 

How Can a Driver Be Held Liable?

Since Washington is not a no-fault insurance state, there are numerous ways that a driver could be held liable for an accident caused by a lane change incident. A driver changing lanes could be responsible for causing a crash in the following scenarios:

  • Not activating the turn signal before making a lane change
  • Not checking blind spots or mirrors before making a lane change
  • Crossing more than one lane of traffic at a time without stopping in each lane to restart the lane changing procedure

If the driver changing lanes collides with a vehicle inside of the lane they are trying to go to, then it is very likely that the driver who initiated the lane change will be at fault. However, there are certainly times when more than one driver could be at fault for a lane change in Seattle. Some of these are fault scenarios include:

  • Two drivers attempting to change lanes at the same time into the same lane, causing a collision in the middle lane. This typically only happens if there are three or more lanes going in the same direction.
  • If a driver inside of the “new” lane is impaired by alcohol or drugs, operating too fast for conditions, or operating well distracted, they could be completely or partially at fault for a crash.
  • If one driver rear-ends another driver who just completed their lane change, this could be an indication that the rear driver was operating too fast for conditions.
  • These incidents can also be caused by equipment malfunction, including faulty brakes, headlights, or turn signals, and this could shift fault from one party to another period

Our team of Seattle personal injury lawyers strongly encourage any person who has been injured or sustained property damage as a result of a lane change accident in Seattle to work with an attorney as soon as possible.