Many Harrisonburg car accidents are caused by drivers making improper lane changes. An unsafe lane change accident may occur when a motorist attempts to merge into another lane without checking to be sure the lane is clear. Failure to check blind spots is a common cause of lane change collisions.
If you have been injured in an improper lane change accident in Harrisonburg caused by another driver’s negligence, a personal injury attorney at Kendall Law Firm can help you seek full compensation for your losses. Call us today or contact us online to learn more about your legal options in a free initial consultation.
Virginia Lane Change Regulations
Under §46.2-804 of the Virginia traffic code, drivers are expected to drive as nearly as practical within a single lane at all times and must not change lanes without first determining it is safe to do so.
Before changing lanes, a driver should check the rearview and side-view mirrors for traffic approaching from behind. The driver should signal to let other drivers know their intent to change lanes. The driver should also look for other cars or trucks that may be moving into the same lane. Before moving into the lane, a driver should glance over his or her shoulder and look for any vehicles that may be hidden in a blind spot.
The following provisions in Virginia law regulate when and how drivers may overtake and pass other road users:
- §46.2-838 (Overtaking other vehicles) – Motorists who overtake other vehicles traveling in the same direction must pass at least two feet to the left of the other vehicle and may not move back to the right side of the road until safely clear of the other vehicle. Motorists who overtake stationary vehicles with flashing hazard lights must proceed with caution at a safe speed while doing so. A driver who passes another moving vehicle and attempts to move back into the right lane too quickly may cause a lane change accident.
- §46.2-839 (Overtaking bicycles, scooters, mopeds, and animals) – Motorists who overtake other road users on bicycles, scooters, mopeds, animals, or animal-drawn vehicles must pass at least three feet to the left and may not move back to the right side of the road until safely clear of the other road user. If road lanes are not wide enough to accommodate overtaking in this manner, motorists must change lanes before passing.
- §46.2-841 (Passing on the right) – Motorists may only overtake other vehicles by passing on the right when the driver of the overtaken vehicle is signaling their intent to turn left, and the road is wide enough to accommodate the right-hand passing maneuver safely.
- §46.2-843 (Overtaking by crossing the center line of the road) – Motorists are prohibited from crossing the center line of a highway to overtake other vehicles unless the area to the left of the center line is clearly visible and free of oncoming traffic that would pose a safety hazard.
Do You Legally Have to Let Someone Merge in Harrisonburg, VA?
When driving on a multi-lane highway, you should stay in the right lane, except when passing another vehicle.
When you are in the left lane on a divided highway, and another driver overtakes you from behind, you are expected to move over to the right lane to allow the other motorist to pass. Under § 46.2-842 of the Virginia traffic code, you must yield the right of way to overtaking motorists in traffic and cannot speed up until they have passed in front of you.
Exceptions apply if you are traveling on a road where passing on the right is allowed.
Types of Unsafe Lane Change Cases in Harrisonburg, VA
Harrisonburg attorney David Kendall has seen many examples of unsafe lane change maneuvers leading to serious car accidents in Harrisonburg.
Some unsafe maneuvers that can lead to accidents include:
- Failing to signal before turning or changing lanes
- Failing to check blind spots or mirrors before merging into a new lane
- Texting or engaging in other distractions while changing lanes
- Cutting across multiple lanes in a single maneuver
- Cutting across a double yellow line to pass
- Driving in between two different lanes for an extended time
- Failing to properly judge the speeds of vehicles in another lane before merging
- Changing lanes despite knowing there is not enough room for oncoming vehicles
Who Decides Which Driver Was At Fault in an Accident?
Determining which driver was at fault is a critical part of any lane change accident claim. Any of the following parties may be involved in determining fault in a lane change accident:
- Law enforcement – If a lane change accident results in extensive injuries or property damage, local police will investigate the accident and complete an accident report. Accident reports typically contain the investigating officer’s official opinion regarding who was at fault. That can carry significant weight.
- Insurance adjusters – If you or the other driver files an insurance claim, the insurance company will have an adjuster investigate the crash. An adjuster may review evidence from the accident report, the scene of the crash, and statements from eyewitnesses to determine who was at fault and whether the insurance company is financially liable.
- Civil courts – If you file a lane change accident lawsuit, the suit may be resolved by a negotiated settlement. If the insurance company refuses to agree to a fair settlement, the case may go to court, and a civil judge or jury would determine who was at fault. The court will review all relevant evidence and testimony to decide whether to award compensation and how much.
In most cases, the driver who initiates an unsafe lane change is held responsible for a Harrisonburg lane change accident. Virginia law prohibits drivers from changing lanes until the driver knows the lane change can be completed safely. Suppose a driver crashes into you because the driver failed to make sure the lane was open before merging. The negligent driver may be financially liable for your injuries and related losses.
The other driver or their insurance company may try to blame you after an improper lane change accident. If so, you should have a knowledgeable injury lawyer review the details of the accident right away and help you understand your legal options. In Virginia, you may be disqualified from recovering any money if you were partly at fault for a motor vehicle accident. A common tactic of insurance companies is to shift the blame and say that you were partly at fault to avoid paying a claim. An experienced car accident injury attorney can help you protect your legal rights and demand fair compensation.
Contact a Harrisonburg Lane Change Accident Attorney
After a Harrisonburg lane change accident, contact an experienced car accident lawyer at Kendall Law Firm. Our team will help you understand your rights and demand the fair compensation you deserve. Call us today or fill out our online contact form for a free initial case review.