In the state of California in the US, the person who is responsible for a merging accident will usually be the driver who does not have the right of way. However, every accident is different, and the specific circumstances will vary between each. California uses a comparative negligence system to assign responsibility to each party in an accident. Therefore, it’s possible for both parties to receive some of the blame from a merging accident.
How Is Fault Determined in a Merging Accident?
Drivers have a responsibility to safely change lanes, which means that merging accidents are usually the responsibility of the merging driver. Drivers who are already in the lane typically have the right of way, which is another major factor that determines who is responsible for these types of accidents.
However, it’s possible for a driver who was already in a lane to behave in an unsafe manner. In these circumstances, the merging driver might bear less responsibility or none at all.
When Is a Driver At Fault?
A merging driver might be at fault for an accident if they were generally exhibiting unsafe practices when merging or when driving in a lane. Drivers that don’t use turn signals, don’t wait for an appropriate time to enter a new lane, or engage in any form of reckless driving risk being assigned blame for an accident.
On the other hand, a driver who is already in the lane in question and makes it difficult for a driver to merge may be blamed for a crash. An example would be someone who keeps adjusting speeds to stay even with the merging vehicle.
What Happens if Both Cars Are Merging?
In accidents where both cars were merging, it can be difficult to assign blame to a single party, and it’s likely that both are at fault for the crash to differing degrees. The behavior of each driver leading up to the accident will have to be examined. If one party merged across multiple lanes or failed to signal, the blame would tend to fall on them.
In cases where one driver began to merge before the other and the second driver failed to notice, the driver who began changing lanes later would most likely be found to be at fault. It may require a lengthy series of negotiations or even a court battle to determine who is at fault and to what degree.
How Is Fault Determined After a Merging Accident?
If you’re involved in a merging accident, it’s essential to secure the services of an experienced lawyer soon after the crash. You can visit Pintas and Mullins car accident lawyers to learn more about your responsibilities after a traffic accident. Your lawyer will argue on your behalf to ensure that you are not unfairly assigned blame for the accident. Factors they can look at include the following:
- Which driver had the right of way and their responsibilities
- Phone usage by the other party leading up to the accident
- The road conditions at the time
- The behavior of the other driver
- Factors that may have contributed to the crash which the other driver could have mitigated
- Any action the other driver took that could have contributed to the crash
A car accident can cause significant financial losses for anyone involved and may even lead to injuries. If you’re facing medical bills after an accident, you may have difficulty in paying them and might also be worried about your negatively impacted earning potential.
It’s vital to contact an experienced lawyer as soon as possible after your accident to put yourself in the best position. Doing so can make the difference between struggling to pay for a new car and medical bills and enjoying a measure of financial stability to aid in your recovery.