Driver inattention is one of the leading causes of traffic accidents nationwide. One particularly dangerous consequence of inattentive driving is the unsafe lane change. An unsafe lane change occurs when motorists fail to check their blind spots or use turn signals to switch lanes or merge onto a highway. Drivers’ lack of attention to nearby vehicles and their surroundings endangers the lives of other road users.
If you were injured in a car crash caused by another driver changing lanes improperly in St. Louis, Sumner Law Group, LLC, is here to help. Our attorneys have experience handling improper lane change accidents in St. Louis and know how to hold the other driver liable for the compensation you deserve.
What Is an Unsafe Lane Change?
An improper lane change occurs when a driver violates Missouri laws governing the overtaking and passing of vehicles traveling in the same direction. A driver must pass to the left at a safe distance and may not return to the right side of the roadway until clear of the overtaken vehicle.
Motorists are prohibited from overtaking and passing to the right of vehicles except when overtaking a car that is:
- About to or making a left turn
- On a one-way street
- On a highway outside of a city with an unobstructed pavement and sufficient width, clearly marked for at least four lanes of traffic
- On a city street with unobstructed pavement of adequate width for two or more lines of cars traveling in the same direction
Drivers cannot cross the center line of a highway or public road in overtaking and passing other vehicles traveling in the same direction unless the left side is visible and free of oncoming traffic for a distance sufficient to overtake and pass without endangering oncoming traffic. The only exception is if the roadway is divided into three traffic lanes.
Motorists are prohibited from driving to the left side of the roadway when:
- Approaching a tunnel, bridge, or viaduct or within 100 feet of a railroad grade crossing or intersection
- Upon a curve of the highway or approaching the crest of a grade when the driver’s view is obstructed
Causes of Unsafe Lane Change Accidents
Every driver intending to change lanes must signal to others using their turn signal and check blind spots before moving into the adjacent lane. However, drivers often fail to take these necessary precautions, leading to accidents.
The most common causes of unsafe lane change accidents include:
- Distracted driving
- Failure to use turn signals
- Changing multiple lanes in one move
- Merging onto a highway without checking for approaching cars
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Failure to check blind spots
- Changing lanes when visibility is poor
- Driver fatigue
- Miscalculating the distance from a vehicle ahead while merging behind it
- Swerving to avoid a pothole or road hazard without looking for cars already occupying the next lane
Types of Unsafe Lane Change Crashes
Unsafe lane changes can lead to various types of accidents. The most common types of unsafe lane change crashes include the following:
- Sideswipe accidents – A motorist who doesn’t check their blind spot before changing lanes can sideswipe a vehicle traveling alongside them.
- Head-on collisions – While attempting to pass a car ahead, a motorist might cross into oncoming traffic without checking if the lane is clear, leading to a head-on accident.
- Rollover accidents – Sometimes, drivers merging into other lanes change their minds at the last second or realize there’s a car occupying the lane. Steering hard in the opposite direction can cause the tires to lift off the ground, tipping the entire vehicle onto its side or causing it to roll over.
- Rear-end collisions – Rear-end accidents commonly occur when a driver suddenly changes lanes behind a car traveling in the same direction without calculating whether there’s enough space.
Injuries Caused by Improper Lane Change Accidents
The severity of an accident-related injury varies depending on multiple factors, including the speed of each vehicle at the time of impact. The most common injuries caused by improper lane change accidents include the following:
- Broken bones
- Internal bleeding or organ failure
- Psychological trauma
- Serious disfigurement or impairment
- Nerve damage
- Spinal cord injury
- Loss of limb
- Traumatic brain injury
Establishing Negligence in an Unsafe Lane Change Car Accident Case
Typically, the driver who changes lanes improperly or unsafely is responsible for a resulting accident. However, in certain circumstances, another driver might be partially or entirely at fault. For example, a driver who changes lanes without signaling due to an emergency or to avoid colliding with another vehicle might not be liable for the accident. Instead, the person who necessitated the unsafe lane change might be liable.
Because establishing negligence in these cases can be complicated, you need the help of an experienced car accident attorney. A lawyer can investigate the circumstances of a crash and gather various types of evidence to prove another driver was at fault.
Some of the types of evidence that a lawyer might use in your case include:
- Citations issued to the other driver for unsafe lane changes or other traffic violations
- Statements from eyewitnesses who saw the crash
- Copies of your medical records and bills associated with treating your injuries
- Photos from the accident scene, including of vehicle damage
- Information from the police accident report
- Videos from traffic and dash cams or nearby surveillance cameras
- Statements from expert witnesses, such as medical providers and accident reconstruction specialists
How the Car Accident Lawyers at Sumner Law Group Can Help
Unsafe lane change accidents can be traumatic and overwhelming. Proving another driver’s liability can be complicated. Rather than trying to do so yourself, turn to the dedicated car accident lawyers at Sumner Law Group, LLC, for help. Our St. Louis attorneys have more than 50 years of combined legal experience and are prepared to handle even the most complex cases. We keep our caseload small so we can prioritize each client’s unique and specific needs.
Contact us for a free consultation today if you were injured in an improper lane change accident.