Determining Fault In A Changing Lanes Car Accident
Under Nevada law, determining fault is critical in car accidents. The driver who is at fault for the collision must pay compensation to anyone injured in the crash. For this reason, a car accident claim will almost always revolve around determining who is to blame for the accident and its aftermath.
Lane change accidents are increasingly common, no surprise given the congestion in Las Vegas. Each day, thousands of people arrive by vehicle and thousands also leave. If you’ve been involved in an accident and are worried about how you will pay for medical care and other bills, please contact us. We can begin working right away to establish who is at fault for the collision.
Why Lane Change Accidents are Complicated
This is one of the more complex types of car accidents that we see for one simple reason—both drivers believe that they are innocent and that the other driver is to blame for the collision. Lane change accidents are usually sideswipes—the cars are parallel to each other and one strikes or collides with the other. Sometimes they can also be head-on collisions if the driver passing is unable to get back into his lane in a timely manner.
Because neither side admits responsibility, insurance companies need to look at the evidence to determine fault. But the evidence with sideswipes is often unclear. Unlike with a T-bone collision at an intersection, it isn’t always obvious who hit who. Witnesses, such as passengers, might not have seen everything, either. Compiling sufficient evidence to establish fault is a difficult task and one that an experienced Nevada car accident attorney can help with.
Nevada Law On Changing Lanes
Traffic travels at different speeds, and Nevada law expressly allows you to pass a vehicle that is going slow or that has come to a standstill in preparation of making a turn. However, the law is quite detailed about what motorists need to do when one tries to pass another:
- If passing on the left, you must pass at a safe distance and not merge back into your lane until you have safely overtaken the vehicle. (NRS 484B.207)
- A driver can only pass on the left of a two-lane highway when the left-side lane is visible and clear of traffic for a sufficient distance that will allow the driver to safely pass.
- The driver of the vehicle being overtaken must not increase his speed until completely overtaken.
- A driver can only overtake a vehicle on the right-hand side of the road in a certain situation, such as when the driver ahead is signaling to turn left and only when safe to do so.
Unfortunately, many people do not follow these laws but pass in a negligent or reckless manner. For example, they might illegally pass on the right when the driver ahead is not turning or scoot into the other lane to pass on the left when the lane is not clear. These drivers endanger many people, causing thousands of accidents a year.
Sometimes, both vehicles involved in a collision are to blame, at least partially, for the accident. For example, one driver might have pulled back into the lane too quickly, cutting off the vehicle behind. But this trailing vehicle was also speeding. They end up colliding, and each side points the finger at the other. What happens?
Untangling fault is often complicated by the attitudes of the insurance companies, which try to put the entire blame on the other driver. The fact is that in many accidents both drivers share fault.
Nevada follows a comparative fault scheme when it comes to accidents. This means that you can receive compensation so long as you were not more to blame than the other drivers involved in the crash. In other words, you can be up to 50% responsible for the accident but not 51%, which would bar any kind of compensation.
The amount of money you receive will also be reduced by your percentage of fault. As an example: your losses might total $40,000 but you were 50% at fault. This means that you can get $20,000 at most in compensation. If you were 25% responsible, you could get $30,000 in compensation.
As your attorney, we will thoroughly review the evidence to make sure that fault is correctly allocated among the parties. We can also try to minimize your own mistakes so that you will qualify for compensation.
Police Reports and Lane Change Accidents
The officer who reports to the scene should inspect both vehicles and talk with the drivers involved. The police report should note the location of any damage to the vehicles as well as the severity of the damage. The officer will probably also try to identify the cause of the accident, such as one driver passing illegally.
Although the officer might assign fault, it is important to realize that the officer does not have the last work on this issue. The officer did not personally observe the accident and can frequently be wrong, especially in sideswipe accidents.
If you are unhappy with what the police report says, talk to your attorney. There are steps we can take to minimize the damage of a police report that places fault on your shoulders. For example, the responding officer might not have had all the facts before him when he wrote his report, and we can identify what critical evidence was missing.
Contact A Las Vegas Lane Change Accident Attorney If You Were Injured
After a lane change accident, you should move quickly to get the help you need to make a valid claim for compensation. You should not accept more responsibility for an accident than necessary.
Protect your right to full and fair compensation. At Naqvi Injury Law, we listen carefully to our clients as they explain what happened, and then we collect the evidence necessary to obtain a fair settlement.
We would be happy to meet with you to discuss your case. Please call us today to schedule a consultation with a Las Vegas car accident attorney.