In a car accident case, whether your hire a lawyer or deal with the insurance companies yourself, determining who was at fault is one of the very first things that must happen. Car accidents due to an unsafe lane change are no different. In these cases, it’s not always easy to determine who is at fault as is the case in rear-end accidents. In virtually all rear-end car collisions, the driver who rear ends another vehicle is almost always at fault.
It’s not always clear immediately who’s at fault in a lane change accident. The main legal theory of personal injury law is negligence, and causation is one of its most important elements. Causation is something that produces an effect or result (the cause of the accident—in this case, unsafe lane change). The theory of negligence divides the element of causation in two main areas: actual causation and proximate causation. Actual causation can be proven if the “but for” test is satisfied. The best way to explain this test is to illustrate it with an example. Assume a driver is texting while driving and abruptly switches lanes and hits another vehicle. “But for” the driver’s actions, this wreck would not have happened.
In determining proximate cause, something called the “substantial factor” test is utilized. Under this rule, it is decided whether the defendant’s actions or omissions were a “substantial factor in causing the injury.” In personal injury law, a “substantial factor” is one that contributes materially to an injury’s occurrence.
Proving Your Case in an Unsafe Lane Change Accident
The first thing to prove in every car accident case is that someone was at fault for the accident, and the second thing that you must prove is that you were injured. The third point you must prove is that the injuries suffered were caused by the other driver’s negligence. As mentioned above, a clear line of causation must exist between the defendant’s actions and the plaintiff’s injuries.
When attempting to show causation in unsafe lane change accidents, it has to be determined, first, whether a reasonable person would foresee a risk of injuries from a certain type of driving behavior. Second, the at-fault driver’s actions must be the cause of the accident victim’s injuries, so if the driver had not made an unsafe lane change, the accident and subsequent injuries would likely not have occurred. Properly signaling and then carefully changing lanes could have prevented the accident and injury.
Courts will analyze a number of factors to determine fault in a car accident case:
- Traffic laws where the accident happened
- Each driver’s state (impaired or not impaired)
- Which driver had the right of way
- Why the unsafe lane change occurred
- Contributing factors (including any of those mentioned below)
Causes of Unsafe Lane Change Accidents
There are many causes of unsafe lane change accidents including:
- Negligent driving; reckless driving
- Inclement weather
- Distracted driving
- Reckless passing of other cars
- Driving while under the influence of drugs and alcohol
If you’ve been injured in an unsafe lane change accident, you may need the advice of a personal injury lawyer who handles these complex cases. Please contact a car accident attorney in your area today and schedule a no-cost consultation. A lawyer will hear the details of your accident and offer legal advice on what, if any, legal action could be taken to help pay for any damages you’ve suffered including medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.