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Who is at Fault for a Changing Lanes Car Accident?

June 10, 2021 By John Torgenson

One of the most routine yet most dangerous actions that a person will take on the roadway is changing lanes. We know that you probably change lanes multiple times when you get behind the wheel of your vehicle, but have you stopped to think about the mechanics of this driving action? There is so much going on, and the potential for a mistake on the part of others on the roadway is tremendous. Car accidents do occur as a result of lane changes gone wrong.

Here, we want to discuss who could potentially be at fault for a lane change accident in Arizona. If you have been involved in an accident you may be eligible for compensation. Contact our Phoenix car accident lawyers today for a free consultation.

Determining Fault for an Arizona Lane Change Accident

The vast majority of vehicle accidents occur because one or more drivers made a mistake. This includes accidents involving lane changes in Phoenix. When a lane change accident occurs, it is not uncommon for the responding law enforcement officer to cite at least one of the drivers for failing to yield the right of way. However, there are also times when lane change accidents occur due to the fault of more than one driver. This can all create confusion when it comes to determining who is at fault and when securing compensation through an insurance settlement.

Every driver on the roadway owes a duty of care to those around them. This means that drivers are responsible for operating their vehicles safely and for following all traffic laws. This includes driver responsibility when it comes to changing lanes.

If a driver wants to change lanes, they need to activate their turn signal in the direction that they are trying to go. This alerts other drivers about the impending lane change, but this does not necessarily give the driver the right of way to change lanes immediately. Any driver wishing to change lanes has to check their surroundings, including their mirrors and their blind spots, to ensure that they have a clear space to move into in the other lane. Drivers in the other lane are not responsible for slowing down, speeding up, or moving out of the way for the driver who wants to make the change.

There are various ways in which a driver trying to change lanes could be at fault if a collision occurs. These situations include:

  • If the driver failed to activate their turn signal and then collided with another vehicle when changing lanes.
  • If a driver failed to check their blind spots or mirrors before changing lanes and struck another vehicle.
  • If a driver crossed multiple lanes of traffic without stopping in each individual lane along the way.

There are also times when liability in these situations could be muddied because more than one driver may have contributed to the incident. Other parties (aside from the lane-changing driver) could be at fault in these situations:

  • If both drivers attempted to change lanes at the same time.
  • If a driver exhibited reckless, impaired, or distracted driving actions.
  • If a driver rear-ends a vehicle that has already completed its lane change.

Merging Into Traffic – Who Has to Yield?

Anytime a driver has to merge from one road of traffic onto another road (often seen in highway situations), they are essentially changing lanes, though in a more precarious situation. Any driver who wants to merge is required to activate their turn signal and wait until they have a clear traffic opening before they merge. Often, this requires that drivers wanting to merge come to a complete stop while they wait for a clear opening.

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John Torgenson

John Torgenson is a highly experienced personal injury lawyer with over 20 years of practice in Arizona. He earned his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Utah and his Juris Doctor from Notre Dame. John has a proven track record of securing substantial verdicts and settlements, including an $8.25 million recovery for a gunshot injury victim. His expertise has earned him AVVO ratings and recognition as a Super Lawyer.

John is also a sought-after lecturer on personal injury law, sharing his extensive knowledge with peers and aspiring attorneys. Beyond his legal practice, John is an avid golfer and actively supports organizations like the Military Assistance Mission, Arizona School for the Arts, Page Balloon Regatta, University of Arizona Foundation, Junior Achievement of Arizona, and the Tim Huff Pro Bono Golf Classic.

Passionate about advocating for injury victims, John dedicates his career to battling insurance companies and corporate interests, ensuring that the rights of those who are hurt are vigorously defended.