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  • Writer's pictureRobert Schuerger II

Who Is at Fault In a Car Accident While Merging? | TN Law

Even in situations when traffic is light, joining an interstate or highway can be a little nerve-wracking. This is often due to the fact that there isn't much space to accelerate to the required speed before getting on the highway in order to keep up with other vehicles. Additionally, there might not be many, if any, spaces to merge when traffic is heavy, making an ordinary maneuver more difficult and possibly deadly.


Since merging is effectively a high-speed lane shift, it often results in highway and interstate crashes. However, who is to blame for these improper lane change collisions? Other drivers might not have enough space or time to react to clear a route; however, merging cars might run out of room and be forced to drift into the main lanes of traffic.


A merging accident is often considered a complex area of law; therefore, it's vital to contact personal Nashville accident attorneys when dealing with a case of this magnitude.


What Is a Merging Accident?

What Is a Merging Accident?


A merging accident occurs when a vehicle shifts from one lane to a parallel lane and the vehicle hits another car that is already in that lane. This often happens if the merging car does not accelerate or decelerate quickly enough to avoid the vehicle in the lane next to it. The merging driver often underestimates the distance between the two cars or fails to notice the other one for a number of reasons.


Sometimes, the vehicle in the parallel lane is unable to prevent an accident. They might be unaware that the car trying to merge is attempting to get into their lane. This is often the case if the car that is merging doesn't use a turn signal. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can also explain who is at fault in a driver side car accident TN.


Who Is At Fault in a Car Accident While Merging? TN Law


Most of the time, the merging driver is considered to be at fault for an accident, even if they were hit by another vehicle - why is this the case? It is generally assumed by juries, police officers, and insurance companies alike that the merging driver changed lanes carelessly off the on-ramp and onto the highway or interstate, failing to check their mirrors. In other words, it will be presumed that the merging driver carelessly entered the path of another car without checking to make sure the route was clear.


Unfortunately, this isn't always the case, and there are plenty of instances where merging drivers weren't at fault or were forced to do so because the on-ramp was coming to an end and there were cars behind them. If the cause of the accident is contested, it might also be worthwhile to consider whether the drivers in the adjacent lanes to the on-ramp failed to accommodate merging drivers. Keep in mind that this won't necessarily make them accountable for merging the accident.


Why Are Merging Drivers Often Considered At Fault for Car Accidents?


Merging drivers are often fully or partially to blame for car crashes for a number of reasons, most commonly:


Merging Without Signaling

While it might be evident to other vehicles that someone is merging when they're on an on-ramp, they might not be aware of the planned merge time. When merging, always use a turn signal, just like one would when changing lanes.


Merging Too Slowly

Before changing lanes, drivers should accelerate their cars to standard highway speed and merge safely but swiftly. Slow drivers might endanger other motorists by obstructing traffic flow as they join interstates or highways.


Merging Across Multiple Traffic Lanes

It is best to merge into the lane nearest to the on-ramp when merging onto an interstate or highway. In the event that one has to cross the road, they should do so one lane at a time, making sure to look for oncoming traffic first.


Merging Dangerously

While it's preferable, other drivers don't have to be courteous and leave space for someone to merge. The onus is on merging drivers to determine when and where it is safe to join the lane. Entering too quickly can result in tragic merging accidents.


Proving Fault in a Merging Accident


To determine fault in a merging vehicle accident, the following four requirements must be met:


  1. The driver had a legal duty.

  2. The at-fault driver breached their legal duty.

  3. The merging accident was a result of the breach.

  4. Damages were suffered because of the accident.


In a merging accident, both drivers owe the other a legal duty to drive safely. Someone violates that obligation if they merge into the side of the other party's car without giving them enough of a signal. However, this needs to be proved, which can be challenging. 


By obtaining footage from dashboard cameras, eyewitness accounts, traffic camera footage, and other evidence, victims may be able to prove a breach of legal obligation. In the event that a semi-truck was involved, its black box would show the movements it made shortly prior to the merging collision.


What Happens When Multiple Drivers Change Lanes?

What Happens When Multiple Drivers Change Lanes?


More than one driver changing lanes at the same time can also result in catastrophic accidents. Both parties can be held responsible for the crash in this case. An example would be a vehicle in the outside lane trying to move to the center lane, whereas a car in the center lane would try to move to the outside lane. In this instance, both drivers had an obligation to make sure the path was clear before merging, and neither had a free right of way to execute the maneuver, resulting in both parties being at fault.


Contact a Reputable Personal Injury Attorney Today!


Merging or lane change accidents can be difficult to prove, which is why it's essential to consult an experienced attorney in these instances. A professional legal team will be able to gather the necessary evidence from the scene of the lane change accident to support their client's claims. They can also help with determining who is at fault in a low speed car accident TN.


Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys in Nashville, Tennessee, has been representing victims of merging accidents for many years and is ready to go to war for its clients and give them the legal representation they deserve.

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