If you get into a car accident in Texas, you must determine fault before you can file an insurance claim. This is the rule according to Texas’s fault-based insurance law, which holds the party at fault for a car accident responsible for injuries and losses. Determining fault, however, is not always easy. This is especially true after a car accident changing lanes.
A Driver Breaking Texas’s Lane-Change Law
If a driver breaks a law and causes an accident, he or she is liable. Texas Revised Statutes Section 545.060 states that on a road laned for traffic, a driver must keep to a single lane as much as is practical. A driver may only move from his or her lane when the driver can conduct the maneuver safely. Determining whether a lane change is safe or not requires a few basic driver tasks:
- Checking to see if there is enough room in the destination lane to allow the lane change.
- Using a turn signal to demonstrate the intent to switch lanes or merge.
- If merging, yielding the right-of-way to existing traffic.
- Using an appropriate speed to change lanes – not too fast or too slow.
- Maintaining a safe following distance from other vehicles.
- Checking the rearview and side mirrors, as well as blind spots, for cars.
- Making the lane change slowly and carefully.
If a driver in Dallas breaks any of these rules, that driver is at fault for a resultant lane-change accident. If you get into this type of car accident, it is important to call the police to the scene of the accident so the officer can ticket the other driver for a moving violation. A traffic ticket can serve as evidence against the driver during your insurance claim.
A Distracted Driver
Distracted driving is a common cause of lane-change accidents in Texas. A distracted driver cannot pay enough attention to his or her surroundings to safely execute a merge or lane change. The driver may not notice a vehicle in his or her blind spot, for example, or may not recognize another driver moving into the same lane at the same time.
If a driver is distracted enough by using a cell phone, texting and driving, eating or drinking, changing a radio station, looking at a GPS, reading a billboard, daydreaming, or other activities while driving, he or she may be unable to make sure it is safe to change lanes. In this scenario, the distracted driver would be liable for a related auto accident.
A lane-change accident case can get complicated if two drivers move into the same lane at the same time. In another scenario, when only one driver changes lanes, liability will go to that driver, as it is his or her responsibility to change lanes safely. If both drivers make the lane change simultaneously, however, fault is not as easy to determine.
Fault may be allocated to both drivers if they share the blame for the collision. In Texas, a modified comparative negligence law presides over cases where the plaintiff and defendant share fault for an accident. In this situation, you could still recover compensation even if you were partially at fault, as long as you were less than 50% responsible for the accident. However, the courts will reduce your recovery by your percentage of fault.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer for Assistance
Navigating Texas’s liability laws can be difficult in any type of car accident case. If you were in an accident changing lanes, however, the legal process can be even more complicated. Consult with a car accident attorney in Dallas for assistance with this type of claim. An attorney can thoroughly investigate your crash, gather proof the other driver is at fault and help you proceed with an insurance claim. A lawyer will make sure your rights are protected throughout the legal process.