Car collisions often happen when a driver is changing lanes and fails to realize there is another vehicle in their blind spot. Sometimes, the motorist may see the other vehicle and believe there is enough space to get over—but there isn’t.
Either way, a lane change accident can cause serious injuries, expensive medical bills, missed time at work, and damage to your car.
And yet, when you make an insurance claim, the other driver might say that you were at fault, and their insurance adjuster could agree. How can you recover your damages?
Contact a Denver Improper Lane Changes Car Accident Attorney Today
Although the law is clear about who is at fault in an improper lane change accident, the facts of the accident may not be. As a result, these cases can be complicated, with both drivers frequently having different stories about what actually happened in the collision.
If there are conflicting accounts and little evidence at the scene, the police report may be inconclusive, or some parts of the report could be incorrect.
An experienced car accident attorney will review the report and investigate your accident, gathering evidence to help you show the other driver was at fault. If the insurance company claims you are entirely or partly responsible for the collision, we’ll work to show the other driver was solely or primarily at fault.
It is possible for both drivers to make mistakes that contribute to an accident, but in these cases, the insurance company could overinflate your share of responsibility. Under Colorado’s comparative negligence laws, an injured person can still recover damages if they are less than 50 percent at fault, but they will lose whatever percentage of fault they have from the final settlement.
Fortunately, a car accident lawyer can help you to show that your contributions—if any—were minor, protecting as much of your settlement as possible.
What Does the Law Say About Improper Lane Change Accidents?
Colorado law states that a driver should remain in one lane as much as possible, and if a lane change is necessary, they must first ensure there is enough room to make the move. As a result, the person who is changing lanes is generally considered to be responsible for a lane change accident.
The reasoning is that the driver who attempted to change lanes failed to ensure they could safely change lanes before beginning.
It sounds like this would make lane change accidents simple to sort out, but unfortunately, that’s not always the case. The most common issue is a disagreement about how the accident occurred.
Here are some examples:
Another Driver Changes Lanes, Cutting So Close In Front of You That There’s No Time to Stop
You rear-end the other vehicle, whose driver says it’s your fault for “following too closely.” It is true that rear drivers are typically considered at fault in rear-end crashes, but this only applies when the rear driver is following someone already in their lane too closely.
You’re not responsible for someone cutting in front of you without leaving space for you to adjust your speed. But the other driver’s insurance adjuster will likely believe their account because it conveniently relieves the insurance company of the responsibility to pay your damages.
The problem here is proving your version of events is correct. There may have been other cars on the road, but by the time the police arrived, the other drivers were long gone, making it hard to prove what happened.
However, your car accident attorney may be able to help. We’ll canvas the area for traffic, security, or doorbell cameras that might have captured the accident or witnesses who may have seen the collision.
Additionally, we’ll request access to the other driver’s electronic data recorder (EDR) to determine their actions before and during the crash. With the data from your own vehicle’s EDR, we may be able to paint a clear picture of where both vehicles were and what the drivers were doing when the accident happened.
The Other Driver Cuts Into Your Lane, Sideswiping You
Sometimes, both drivers claim the other was trying to move into their lane when the accident happened. Again, EDR data or video can be useful in proving whose story is accurate.
Remember that videos from doorbells and security cameras are often erased frequently, so we encourage you to contact an attorney about your accident as soon as possible.
The Other Driver Claims It’s Your Fault Because They Didn’t See You
Usually, this excuse doesn’t work well. As discussed earlier, they must check their blind spot before changing lanes.
However, in a few cases, the driver or their insurance company might make a case for comparative negligence if they believe you violated traffic laws. For example, they may claim it was dark, gray, or cloudy, and you didn’t have your lights on.
EDRs don’t record data on headlight usage, but we may be able to find other evidence, such as a video or witness testimony that your lights were on.
The Other Driver Says That They Signaled, so You Should Have Known They Were Changing Lanes
This is not an excuse for changing lanes without ensuring enough space to do so safely. Drivers who are moving over should signal, and other drivers should make a reasonable effort to slow down and accommodate them.
However, the lane-changing driver still has to check that there is sufficient room before switching lanes.
What if the At-Fault Driver’s Insurance Company Makes You a Settlement Offer—Should You Accept?
Only after reviewing the offer with an attorney. In car accident cases, we frequently see initial offers that are too low, undervaluing the injured person’s damages.
The adjuster may also have assigned you an unfair percentage of fault, reducing your settlement by that amount. For this reason, we strongly recommend that you discuss the offer with a lawyer before you make a decision.
If the offer is inadequate, we can assist you in negotiating for a more equitable deal.
What if the At-Fault Driver Was Uninsured?
Sometimes, we can prove the other driver was at fault, but they don’t have insurance, or your damages exceed their policy limit. Colorado only requires $25,000 per person in bodily injury liability insurance ($50,000 per accident) and $15,000 for property damage liability.
If you have, for example, $70,000 in medical bills due to severe injuries, and the other driver has this minimum coverage, the insurance company only has to pay $25,000. Worse, slightly more than 16 percent of Colorado drivers lack even this basic insurance.
In some cases, there are other options to recover your damages, so you should always speak with an attorney if an uninsured or underinsured driver has injured you. Here are some possibilities we will consider:
- Sue the driver. If we have solid evidence to show the other driver was at fault, the lawsuit is likely to be successful. However, if the at-fault motorist has little money and no valuable assets, we may be unable to collect on a judgment. If this appears to be the case, we won’t advise you to proceed with a lawsuit, as it isn’t in your best interests.
- Use your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UI). This optional policy will cover accidents caused by an uninsured driver. In some cases, it may cover damage beyond what the at-fault driver’s insurance will pay if they have minimal coverage. Your attorney may be able to help if your insurance company asks for evidence the uninsured driver was at fault.
If you don’t have UM/UI coverage and the at-fault driver was uninsured, you may not be able to recover anything. However, you should still check with an attorney to learn if a lawsuit might be an option.
Where Can You Find a Denver Improper Lane Changes Car Accident Law Firm?
A lane change accident could result in expensive medical care, reduced income from missing work, physical or emotional pain and suffering, property damage to your car, and other losses. If you or a loved one has been injured in a lane change accident, you need assistance recovering all your damages.
Olson Law Firm is always available for a free consultation about your case. If we find evidence the other driver is at fault, we’ll help you file an insurance claim or a lawsuit.
Additionally, we can review a settlement offer or claim denial if you’ve already made an insurance claim.
Attorney Sean Olson established Olson Law Firm in 2012 and has dedicated himself to advocating for injured people and their families. He understands the impact that a car accident or any serious injury can have on a person’s life and will fight to get you the settlement you need to move on with your life.
Mr. Olson is always happy to explain legal issues in plain language and makes himself available to clients. A member of the Colorado and Wyoming Bar associations, he has been named a Super Lawyers Rising Star for five consecutive years.
Work with him when you call (720) 730-4325.