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Who Is at Fault in a Car Accident Changing Lanes?

Unsafe lane changes are one of the most common causes of car accidents. In 2016, 3,369 car accidents in Utah occurred during lane changes. Over 600 of these accidents caused injuries, while two were fatal. “Leaving traffic lane” was another significant cause of collisions, with 608 such accidents total in 2016. Liability can be difficult to assign after a lane change accident. Both drivers may have their own versions of what happened and who caused the wreck. A Meridian car accident lawyer can help you understand the law for this particular scenario.

Utah Lane Change Laws

Utah State Legislature Section 41-6a-804 states that a driver may not change lanes on a roadway unless the driver can make the movement with reasonable safety and has provided the appropriate left or right turn signal to make the move at least two seconds preceding the change. It is, therefore, the driver making the lane change’s responsibility to ensure the safety of the movement prior to execution.

In a lane change accident involving only one driver intending to switch lanes, that driver will most likely face liability. A negligent driver could cause a lane change accident if he or she is speeding, texting and driving, driving drowsy or distracted, drunk driving, or if the driver fails to check his or her mirrors before switching lanes. If the driver negligently changes lanes and crashes into a vehicle already occupying that lane, the driver making the lane change will be at fault for the accident under Utah law.

Utah’s No-Fault Insurance Laws

It is only necessary to determine fault for a car accident in Utah if the crash causes injuries that meet the state’s serious injury threshold. Utah is a no-fault insurance state. Everyone involved in a car accident will seek benefits from their own insurance companies, no matter who caused the collision. The only time a victim can file a lawsuit against an at-fault driver outside the insurance system is if his or her injuries meet certain requirements.

  • Permanently disabling or impairing
  • Permanently disfiguring
  • Causing dismemberment
  • Costing medical expenses exceeding $3,000
  • Fatal

Note, however, that uninsured motorist claims are an exception to the rule. As a crash victim, you will only need to determine fault for a lane change accident if your injuries are serious enough to give you grounds for a personal injury lawsuit. Otherwise, you will seek benefits from your own insurance company without needing to determine or prove anyone else’s fault.

Determining Fault for Your Lane Change Accident

Lane change accidents occur when drivers are speeding, weaving between lanes of traffic, and not paying attention to the road. Drivers who do not signal before they merge lanes, or do not leave enough room in front or behind their vehicles in the new lane, could cause a minor or more serious accident. A driver could also cause a crash if he or she switches lanes and then brakes.

It is vital for drivers to check their mirrors and look over their shoulders to see blind spots before turning on their turn signals and changing lanes. If you believe someone else is responsible for your recent lane change wreck in Utah, and want to pursue a personal injury claim against that person for your damages, you (or your attorney) will need to prove liability. Proving liability takes four main elements: duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages.

Every driver has the duty to make safe lane changes. Your motorcycle accident attorney will need to establish that a driver breached this duty by negligently merging lanes when it was not safe to do so, or changing lanes without the proper steps. Your lawyer will then need to prove that this caused you real, compensable damages. An investigation of your crash from a local law firm may be necessary to help you determine fault for a lane change accident.

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