Who is at Fault for a Merging Accident in Indiana?

Posted on behalf of Pfeifer Morgan & Stesiak

on October 23, 2020

. Updated on March 23, 2022


image-of-road-sign-to-mergeWhen making a lane change or merging into traffic, drivers owe other motorists a duty of care to do so safely. Drivers who commit moving violations or other types of negligence while changing lanes may be held liable for any damages they cause. However, determining fault in this type of crash is not always straightforward.

Learn more about these types of accidents, including who may be liable, and whether you may be eligible for compensation after being injured due to another’s negligence.

At Pfeifer, Morgan & Stesiak, we provide a complimentary consultation to review the circumstances of your accident and answer any questions you may have about the legal process. We have a proven track record of obtaining millions in compensation for the clients we have represented. This history includes an $825,000 settlement for a Federal Express driver who was forced off the road by a car that was changing lanes and collided with our client’s vehicle.

Determining Liability for a Lane Change Accident

When a driver is attempting to merge into traffic or change lanes, he or she has a duty to follow safe driving laws to help prevent an accident. This means yielding the right of way to traffic in the other lane. There are other actions that the merging driver also has a duty to take to help prevent an accident from happening.

When merging or changing lanes, a driver may be liable for a car crash if he or she:

  • Fails to use his or her signal to indicate he or she is about to enter another lane of traffic
  • Does not check mirrors and blind spots for oncoming traffic
  • Misjudges the amount of time and distance to safely maneuver
  • Fails to yield right of way to traffic in the other lane
  • Cuts off the vehicle in the other lane
  • Swerves unexpectedly into the next lane while driving impaired
  • Is attempting a lane change while distracted, such as using a GPS device or texting

If, however, the merging driver takes all precautions, but the driver in the other lane commits a traffic violation and causes the accident, the merging driver may not be fully at fault for the crash.

For example, if the driver in the other lane suddenly and purposely accelerates to keep the merging vehicle from being able to change lanes, the merging driver may not be able to react in time to avoid an accident. In other situations, such as if the driver in the other lane was already excessively speeding and the merging driver misjudged the time and distance, both parties may share a portion of liability for the collision.

Can Damage Indicate Who Caused the Crash?

The location of damage to the involved vehicles, along with where they came to rest after the crash, may provide accident investigators and first responders with some insight as to possible liability. However, in a merge or lane-change accident, police officers will also take into account the statements provided by the drivers and other eyewitnesses. This is why, even if you think you may have contributed to the crash, you should never say so when you speak with the responding officer, insurance adjusters or others. Let your attorney work with the insurance company and accident investigators to determine liability for the accident.

Pursuing Compensation After a Merging Accident

Indiana is an at-fault state, which means that the party who caused the accident is liable for all your medical costs, vehicle damage and other losses. However, if you are assigned some liability for the accident as well, the state’s comparative fault law applies. In this situation, you can still pursue a claim, however your degree of fault must be less than the other driver’s and not more than 50 percent of the total cause for the crash. If you are eligible to pursue a claim, you are responsible for your portion of the other driver’s damages, which will be paid for from the proceeds of any settlement or verdict awarded.

Hiring an Attorney May Benefit Your Claim

While avoiding a lane change or merging accident seems the obvious choice, sometimes it cannot be avoided. If you are injured in a car crash because of the reckless or negligent actions of another, we strongly recommend that you contact Pfeifer, Morgan & Stesiak. Even if you think you may be partly to blame, you may still be eligible to recover compensation for some of your losses.

After being involved in a car crash, you want someone on your side to protect your best interests. Our attorneys will work to make sure you are not assigned more than your fair share of liability, and we will also fight for maximum compensation for the damages you sustained. Injured victims who hire legal representation often end up with more compensation than those who do not.

Contact our firm to learn more about how our South Bend car accident lawyers may be able to help. Initial consultations carry no obligation to you, and they are completely free. If we take your case, there is nothing for you to pay out of pocket. We do not collect our fees unless we recover compensation for you.

Get legal help for your car accident claim today. (574) 444-0741

Pfeifer, Morgan & Stesiak

Serious Attorneys for Serious Cases