Cars on a road

Who Is At Fault For Lane-Changing Accidents?

By Steven Miller
Senior Partner

Drivers must constantly be aware of what’s in front of, behind, and to either side of them. Failure to pay attention to their surroundings can lead to unsafe lane changes that may put others’ lives in danger. This is especially true in New York, where heavy traffic is a daily way of life. Lane-changing accidents are almost always due to negligence, and the injured victim has the right to seek compensation. Miller, Montiel, & Strano, P.C. can help.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), lane change accidents occur when one vehicle veers into another vehicle’s path, resulting in a crash. New York law generally prohibits drivers from making unsafe lane changes. Anyone who does so could be faced with a moving violation. And if it causes an accident, the victim can file a lawsuit demanding monetary damages from the at-fault party.

More specifically, New York law requires that:

  • Motorists cannot change lanes until it is safe to do so
  • The left lane of traffic is for passing vehicles or making left turns only
  • Slow-moving vehicles such as trucks and buses must use designated lanes
  • Street markings that indicate dangerous crossings, such as double yellow lines, should not be crossed

Lane-changing accidents happen for numerous reasons, almost all of which are due to driver error. After experiencing an accident, the victim will need to show why the crash happened. Here are a few common reasons:

  • Failing to observe traffic conditions
  • Failing to yield the right of way
  • Speeding
  • Not checking mirrors
  • Misjudging distances between vehicles
  • Making a lane change with poor visibility
  • Driving while distracted (e.g. because of cell phone use)
  • Gradually drifting into another vehicle’s lane
  • Failure to use a turn signal

A lane-changing accident may cause immediate impact with another vehicle, causing the driver to lose control and crash. Or the accident can happen because the other driver tries to avoid the lane-changing driver and wrecks. However the accident occurs, the injuries could be serious. Some examples include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
  • Lacerations, scarring, disfiguration
  • Paralysis
  • Tears to a meniscus, tendon or ligament
  • Internal bleeding
  • Internal organ damage
  • Bone fractures (broken bones)

These and other injuries will likely result in major medical bills, lost time from work, and potentially the inability to ever work again. This is especially true if the victim is a motorcyclist, bicyclist, or pedestrian. In some cases, the victims of lane-changing accidents die from their injuries. Surviving family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit against the liable party.

If you’ve been in an accident, call 911. Tell the police what happened so a police report can be generated. You will need a copy of this report later. Seek immediate medical attention, even if you think your injury and pain is not that bad. . Keep copies of your medical records so the nature of your injuries can be proven.

Take photos or video of the accident scene and vehicles if you are able to. Talk to any witnesses at the scene and get their contact information. Make your own notes about the accident at your earliest convenience so you don’t forget key details.

Lastly, talk to an experienced Queens lane-changing accident attorney. An attorney will review the circumstances of your wreck, build a case to prove the at-fault party’s liability, and work to get you the compensation you deserve. Your lawyer will take your case in front of a jury if the insurance company refuses to offer what you and we believe you are entitled to. Automobile accidents are frightening experiences no one wants to go through. Fortunately, you are not alone. Call Miller, Montiel, & Strano, P.C. today to get started on your legal claim.

About the Author
Steven Miller, Esq. is the founding member and Senior Partner in Miller, Montiel & Strano, P.C. Mr. Miller’s extensive career as a trial attorney spans five decades. He tries cases for the catastrophically injured victims of construction site accidents, motor vehicle and premises accidents caused by the negligence of others. Mr. Miller is a detail oriented, tenacious attorney committed to achieving the maximum results for his clients; he has obtained numerous seven figure verdicts and settlements.