Most of us have had this experience: You’re driving along, and another vehicle suddenly starts moving into your lane—right where you are. If you’re paying attention and driving defensively, you might be able to stop or move out of the other car’s way, but in some situations, this simply isn’t possible.
When a collision occurs, the other driver’s negligence could cause you painful injuries, medical bills, lost income, property damage, and more difficulties.
Get Help From a Denver Lane Change Car Accident Attorney Today
Not only can a thoughtless driver leave you with severe injuries, but they may not be willing to take responsibility for the accident. They might claim you were trying to change lanes, swerved, sideswiped them, etc.
Worse, their insurance carrier will likely take their side because it means the insurance company won’t have to pay your claim.
If the other driver does take responsibility, your challenges with making an insurance claim might not be over; under Colorado’s comparative negligence laws, the insurance company can reduce your payout if they believe you are partially at fault. For instance, they might say that you were speeding or driving recklessly, contributing to the accident even if their client also made mistakes.
If the insurance company assigns you a percentage of fault below 50 percent, you can still collect damages, but you will lose your own share of fault from the final settlement. If they decide you were 50 percent or more responsible, they don’t have to pay you anything.
The problem with both scenarios is that apportioning fault is somewhat subjective, and an insurance adjuster could easily overestimate your share of fault. Additionally, they may have limited evidence to justify their decision.
An experienced lane change accident lawyer can assist you with these challenges. In many cases, we investigate and find additional evidence to show the injured party did not contribute at all or that their contributions were more minor than the adjuster estimated.
Who Is at Fault in a Lane Change Accident?
Lane change accidents are usually caused by one driver failing to see another vehicle in their blind spot. When this happens, the driver moves over, thinking the way is clear—but it isn’t.
Are they at fault? Yes.
A driver making a lane change is responsible for ensuring no one is in their blind spot. They should use their mirrors, turn their head, look over their shoulder, and adjust their speed to change lanes safely.
If the other motorist tells the responding officer they didn’t see you, this will usually make your insurance claim much easier. They’ve essentially admitted that they didn’t do an adequate job of checking their blind spot before making the move.
However, the insurance company could still claim you had some responsibility under comparative negligence, so we will work to show you were not at fault.
But not every case is this simple. Sometimes, the other driver has a story that doesn’t match your recollections.
For instance, they might tell the officer that you were getting over into their lane, making the accident your fault. To make matters worse, the evidence at the scene might not help much—if there is damage to the side of each car, it could be difficult to tell who moved into the other party’s lane.
When there are no other witnesses, the police officer may have to make an educated guess about who was at fault. Or, they might not cite anyone if the fault is unclear.
What About Rear-End Lane Change Accidents?
Another situation that could be complicated is the rear-end lane change accident. In this scenario, another car cuts in front of you, and despite your best efforts, you can’t stop in time to avoid hitting it; the other motorist says it’s your fault because you followed too closely!
While following too closely usually is the reason for rear-end crashes, that doesn’t apply in situations where a car cuts in front of you without leaving enough room. The lane-changing driver should allow enough space so the car behind them can avoid a collision.
But again, the other driver might have a different memory of what happened. If there are no witnesses, the police may be left with two conflicting accounts and evidence that doesn’t prove either version. As a result, the police report could be inconclusive or inaccurate.
How Can You Prove Fault in a Lane Change Accident?
We’ll work to gather as much evidence as possible to show the other driver is culpable. Our investigators will canvas where your accident occurred, talking to people who live or work there.
Sometimes, we find a witness who wasn’t present when the police arrived. In other situations, we can recover a video of the accident from a doorbell, security, or traffic camera.
These videos can be crucial evidence, but we need to work fast—video files are often deleted frequently to free up storage space. For this reason, we encourage you to contact a lawyer as soon as possible after your accident.
If video and witnesses are unavailable, we may request data from each vehicle’s event data recorder or EDR. These devices are built into most modern vehicles as a way for car manufacturers to study accidents and improve safety.
However, their data is often useful in car accident cases.
An EDR records a vehicle’s speed and direction and any actions the driver made before or during the collision. As a result, we may be able to use this information to show which vehicle was changing lanes and which was already in the lane.
What if the Lane-Changing Driver Is Uninsured or Underinsured?
Proving fault may not be the only challenge with your insurance claim. A little more than 16 percent of Colorado residents are uninsured, and even those who have insurance may not have sufficient coverage for your claim.
For instance, if you have more than $25,000 in medical expenses and the other driver has the minimum required insurance, you could be left with the balance.
But don’t give up until you talk to an attorney! In some situations, we can find other ways to recover your damages, such as:
- Sue the driver. If we have evidence they were at fault, we can attempt to hold the driver personally responsible for your additional damages. The downside to this option is that it’s not practical in every case. If the at-fault driver has no money or assets we can seize, it may not be possible to collect on a judgment even if you win. We generally don’t advise clients to pursue a lawsuit in this situation because it isn’t in their best interests.
- Use your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UI). This is typically the most reliable way to ensure your expenses are paid if an uninsured or underinsured driver hits you. In many cases, you can recover up to your own UM/UI policy limit, so we recommend buying as much coverage as you can afford. If you don’t have any UM/UI insurance, you may not be able to recover anything in some situations.
- Sue a third party. This is only an option in rare circumstances. One example would be if a defective car component contributed to the accident or made your injuries worse. In this situation, we might be able to file a claim against the manufacturer.
What Should You Do When the Insurance Company Makes You an Offer?
We recommend reviewing the offer with a lawyer before you make a decision. Frequently, initial offers look good on paper, but the insurance adjuster may have ignored or undervalued some losses.
It’s difficult for the average person to know exactly how much their claim is worth. They may not know what future expenses they’ll have or how much they should receive for some categories of damages.
For this reason, your attorney will carefully calculate the value of your claim and then review the offer with you. If it falls significantly short of meeting your needs, we can negotiate with the insurance company to get you a better deal.
How Can You Get Help From a Denver Lane Change Car Accident Law Firm?
Lane change accidents can be frustrating, but an experienced car accident lawyer will work to get you the best settlement possible. If a lane-changing driver has injured you or a loved one, please contact Olson Law Firm for a free consultation about your car accident case.
We’ll review the police report, answer your questions, and explain the options for recovering your damages. There is no obligation, and if we take your case, you won’t pay anything until we win or settle it.
Attorney Sean Olson established Olson Law Firm in 2012 with the goal of advocating for injured people and their families. He takes pride in telling his clients’ stories and helping them put their lives back together after serious injuries.
A member of the Colorado and Wyoming Bar Associations, Mr. Olson has also been a Super Lawyers Rising Star for five consecutive years. In his spare time, he enjoys outdoor activities with his family.
Work with him today when you call Olson Law Firm at (720) 730-4325.