Lane change accidents commonly cause injuries such as broken bones, whiplash, lacerations and traumatic brain injuries. Making a lane change requires due care, attention to the road and compliance with all relevant traffic laws. Every driver has a duty to make reasonably safe lane changes. If another driver recklessly or negligently caused your lane change accident in Texas, that person may owe you financial compensation for your damages.
Establishing Fault in a Car Accident Changing Lanes
Before you may recover compensation for your damages, you or your San Antonio car accident lawyer must establish fault for the lane change accident. Establishing fault is a requirement during most personal injury claims under Texas’ civil laws. Your attorney must present enough evidence to prove that the other driver (or another type of defendant) owed you a duty of care, breached this duty by making an unsafe lane change and caused your accident. Your lawyer must also gather proof of your specific and compensable losses, such as vehicle damages or personal injuries.
Establishing fault for a lane change accident may require evidence that the other driver reasonably should have done something differently to prevent the collision. For example, the other driver should have kept a better lookout to see that your vehicle was already occupying the lane he or she was trying to merge into. A lawyer can help you gather evidence to establish another person’s liability, such as eyewitness accounts, police reports, crash reconstruction, photographs of your vehicle’s damages and medical records. Texas is a fault insurance state, which compared with no fault insurance states, injured plaintiffs are able to pursue compensation for their injuries. Successfully proving fault could help you obtain fair compensation for your injuries.
Texas Safe Lane Change Laws
Breaking a state lane change law commonly causes these types of accidents in Texas. Texas Transportation Code section 545.051 states that all vehicles must drive on the right half of the roadway except when passing another vehicle, avoiding an obstacle, or on a highway divided into three or more lanes. Section 545.060 of the law says when driving on a divided highway with multiple lanes, an operator cannot move from his or her single lane unless it is safe to do so. It is the driver’s responsibility to ensure he or she can make the movement safely. If it is unsafe to move into a different lane, the driver must remain in his or her current lane.
Section 545.061 says that while driving on a road with multiple lanes, a driver merging from a lane to the right must yield the right-of-way to a driver merging from the left. An operator cannot drive in the center lane of a highway with three clearly marked lanes and two-way traffic except if passing another vehicle (and the center lane is clear), preparing to turn left or following the directions of a traffic-control device. If a driver breaks any of these rules and makes an unsafe lane change, he or she might be liable for a subsequent lane-change accident.
Unsafe Lane Change Examples
A driver has committed an unsafe lane change any time he or she switches lanes without obeying all of Texas’ related laws. Changing lanes without signaling, signaling while in the middle of a lane change, changing lanes without ensuring the safety of the move, and changing lanes in a way that forces drivers in the destination lane to hit the brakes are all examples of unsafe lane changes.
Failing to signal the intent to merge is a common cause of accidents. Drivers in Texas should put on their turn signals in the direction of the merge at least 100 feet prior. This tells surrounding drivers what the merging driver plans to do, giving them enough time to properly react, if necessary. Changing lanes too quickly is also a common example of an unsafe lane change. A driver must use an appropriate speed to safely make the merge – not too quickly, as to collide with another driver, but not so slowly as to force other drivers to hit the brakes. Contact a lawyer if you believe another driver caused your Texas lane change accident.