Every driver on the roadway has a legal responsibility to practice caution when driving. Switching lanes unsafely is a violation of that responsibility. Drivers who fail to maintain their lane, cut back and forth in traffic, or move over without signaling can cause devastating crashes.
Lane shift accidents are one of the most common causes of motor vehicle accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that nearly 35,000 people are injured, and approximately 6,000 people die each year from lane shift accidents. These accidents also account for 9% of all motor vehicle accidents in the United States.
How driver negligence leads to lane shift accidents
Driver negligence is one of the common causes of lane shift accidents. Drivers can cause these types of accidents when they fail to properly check their blind spots, use their turn signals, or weave in and out of lanes. All of these actions may be the result of aggressive driving or distracted driving, two of the most dangerous forms of driver negligence.
Another cause of lane shift accidents is driver fatigue. Drivers can find themselves switching lanes unsafely when they begin to fall asleep behind the wheel, or experience “highway hypnosis,” a trance-like state where drivers lose a sense of time while traveling. Long-haul truckers are susceptible to this condition, as they spend much of their time on interstate highways.
Other examples of driver negligence
There are multiple examples of the other driver actions that can result in bad outcomes on the road. Some of these examples include:
- Speeding in inclement weather conditions
- Cutting other drivers off
- Blatantly disobeying right-of-way regulations
- Driving while under the influence
Serious injuries caused by lane shift accidents
Drivers who cause lane shift accidents can seriously injure other motorists and their passengers, as well as themselves. Traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, long-term nerve damage, and broken bones are just some of the injuries that stem from these accidents. The accident can be so severe that a driver or passenger can die at the scene, leading to a wrongful death claim.
What types of accidents are caused by improper lane changes?
Switching lanes unsafely can lead to several different types of accidents, including:
- Multi-vehicle accidents. Known as a “pile-up,” multi-car crashes are a result of a chain reaction of car accidents: Vehicle A hits Vehicle B, which in turn hits Vehicle C (and potentially other vehicles as well).
- Sideswipe accidents. Sideswipe accidents occur when two cars traveling in the same direction strike one another from the left and right side. These accidents often happen on high-speed roadways, and they can cause both vehicles to spin out into other lanes. They can often lead to a multi-car pile-up.
- Rear-end collisions. Rear-end collisions occur when one car strikes another vehicle from behind. Depending on how close the following car was traveling behind the car in front of it, an abrupt stop can cause another rear-end collision easily. On high-speed highways, drivers will not have enough time to properly brake and respond to a rear-end collision, and may end up in a multi-car crash.
- Single-vehicle crashes. In some cases, improper lane shifts can cause other drivers to swerve onto a shoulder to avoid a collision. The serving driver then hits a barrier or a tree, causing massive damage to the car, and often critical injuries to the driver. These accidents can be complex because the original driver may have left the scene not knowing he or she caused a crash, and insurance companies may try to deny paying out claims if they think you are responsible for your own injuries and property loss.
Who can be held liable for a lane shift accident in Nevada?
When you or a loved one are seriously injured in a lane shift accident, the driver who is at fault is the liable party for your accident. Lane shift accidents are completely preventable, and are usually the result of the at-fault driver’s negligence. However, the other driver’s insurance company will almost always argue that their client is not the at-fault driver of your accident.
If the lane shift collision involves a commercial vehicle, like an 18-wheeler, then the truck driver, trucking company, or other affiliated party could be liable. Trucking companies are responsible for their driver’s behavior, and a poorly trained or overworked trucker may not be the only liable party.
In some cases, a third party may be liable, too. For example, if a truck swerves because the treads separated on the tires due to a defect, the manufacturer may bear some responsibility. If a lane shift accident is the result of road milling or road work, and there are no warning signs indicating a lane shift or potential issues with the roadway, the construction crew may be partially liable.
How a Las Vegas car accident lawyer can help
Car accidents are one of the most common causes of personal injury in the United States. Even though car accidents are common, they can still cause serious losses and injuries to victims. When you have been involved in a crash, your main concern is recovering as best as you can from your injuries. You do not want to worry about the types of tactics that insurance companies will use to avoid paying out what they owe you.
Insurance companies will try to argue that your own negligence contributed to your lane shift accident. At the very least, arguing that you played a role in your accident will reduce the amount of liability that the at-fault driver will be responsible for. An experienced attorney can help prove that this is not the case.
At Claggett & Sykes Law Firm, we are ready to help with every step of your claim. We handle all paperwork and communication with the insurance companies so you don’t have to. We also pride ourselves on preparing your case for trial instead of accepting a low settlement offer right off the bat. Insurance companies are more open to negotiations when you decide to take your case to trial.
If you or a loved one suffered an injury in a lane shift accident, our car accident attorneys in Las Vegas and Reno can help. Call our office in Las Vegas at 702.333.7777, or fill out our contact form. Or, if you have suffered an injury in northern Nevada, call our Reno car accident attorneys at 775-322-2923.
We are not simply a personal injury firm. We are trial lawyers who take on catastrophic injury, brain injury, and wrongful death cases. These cases are different than most personal injury cases and the needs of these cases cannot be met by law firms that take on just any case.
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