Merging or changing lanes is the cause of many car accidents. It can be done safely if everyone involved pays attention and carefully checks their blind spot before merging, but if another driver ignores these rules, you could suffer injuries, medical bills, lost income, and more.
Meanwhile, the other driver might blame you and file a claim on your insurance.
How Can a Denver Merging Lanes Car Accident Attorney Help?
You need compensation from the other driver’s car insurance to help with your accident expenses, but their insurance adjuster is most concerned with the bottom line. If the adjuster can find a way to explain the accident as your fault—even partially your fault—they will, and your settlement could be reduced.
The worst case scenario: you might receive nothing at all.
Thankfully, you don’t have to be at the mercy of an insurance adjuster. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you build a strong case and fight for the settlement you deserve.
If you or a loved one need help with a lane-merging car accident, please contact Olson Law Firm for a free consultation. After reviewing the details of your case, we’ll answer your questions and discuss the options for pursuing damages.
Is the Merging Driver Always at Fault in These Accidents?
Not always, but often. When two lanes merge, the driver who is moving over has a duty to pay attention, be aware of their surroundings, and wait until there is a safe opening to merge.
You want the other drivers to have space and time to adjust their speed so they don’t hit you. If you cut in front of a car with too little room, they may not be able to avoid the collision, and in this situation, you would likely be at fault.
On the other hand, if you merge carefully with a comfortable margin of space, another driver who is aggressive or speeding could still cause a collision—most commonly, a rear-end accident. They would be at fault, but you might have difficulty proving exactly what happened—especially if the other driver insists you cut them off when merging incorrectly.
This is a common dispute in lane-merging crashes.
Your lawyer will work to gather evidence and show how the accident really occurred. We may search for witnesses who weren’t present when the police came to make a report.
Alternatively, we might canvas the area and look for security or doorbell cameras—in some cases, the owner still has a video showing the accident. If we can retrieve this video evidence, we may be able to show the other driver was at fault.
Additionally, we can look at data from both vehicles’ event data recorders or EDRs. These devices are meant to assist car manufacturers in preventing car accidents and injuries.
EDRs also capture various data points, including how fast the vehicle was moving, its direction, and what actions the driver took. For instance, we might see that the other driver exceeded the speed limit and made no effort to slow down as you merged in front of them.
What if You Were Both at Fault?
Colorado law takes into account that both parties cause some accidents or injuries.
Maybe you could have merged more effectively, or, perhaps you might have been going too slowly when you joined the new lane, or perhaps you could have waited for a better opening.
At the same time, the other driver was speeding or even sped up out of anger because you merged in front of them. It’s possible you both made errors that contributed to the collision.
Under Colorado’s modified comparative negligence statutes, the party who is less than 50 percent at fault can collect damages from the party who is more than 50 percent at fault. But in an effort to make the situation more equitable, the injured person’s share of fault is deducted from their final award.
So, if you are 20 percent responsible for the crash and have $15,000 in damages, you would only receive $12,000. It’s possible to lose thousands of dollars from your settlement if your share of culpability is overestimated.
Who Decides the Percentage of Fault in a Merging Lanes Car Accident?
In many cases, the decision is made by insurance companies. If both drivers make a claim on the other’s insurance policy, the adjusters for both organizations will negotiate until they arrive at a percentage both agree on.
When you don’t have a lawyer, you will have little say in how this process works. Your insurance adjuster will probably argue that the accident was not your fault because they don’t want to assume responsibility for paying the other driver’s damages.
That said, they might be willing to agree that you had some percentage of fault below 50 percent, even if this number is higher than it should be. As a result, you could lose a significant amount of your settlement. Fortunately, a car accident lawyer can fight for a more fair resolution.
Doesn’t My Insurance Company Have to Pay for My Damages Anyway?
It depends on the type of coverage you have. If you purchased a policy with Medical Payments (MedPay) and Collision coverage, your insurance company is obligated to pay for your medical bills and car repair costs regardless of fault.
However, these policies are considered optional, so the fact that you have insurance doesn’t necessarily mean you have them. Because many people don’t remember the specific type of coverage they bought, we will review your insurance policy to determine what coverage you have.
MedPay and Collision are great options in any car accident where you can’t prove the other driver is at fault. We always do our best to find evidence of fault, but in some situations, there simply isn’t any.
If this is the case, we can still recover some of your damages from your own insurance policy with this coverage.
However, MedPay has its limitations. While it will pay your medical bills up to the policy limit, it won’t cover other losses like lost income or pain and suffering.
This is why it’s always a good idea to consult a car accident lawyer about your merging lanes collision—we’ll investigate thoroughly to give you the best chance at recovering additional damages from the other motorist.
How Can You Prove Fault in a Lane-Merging Accident?
First, contact an experienced car accident lawyer before you talk to the insurance company. Insurance adjusters are often friendly and seem helpful, but they will dissect everything you say and could misinterpret your remarks.
Many people have inadvertently made things worse by chatting with an insurance adjuster after an accident.
Instead, let your lawyer handle communications with the insurance company or companies. We’ll gather as much evidence as possible and work to show the insurance adjuster that you were not responsible or that your contributions were very minor.
What If the At-Fault Driver Is Uninsured?
Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UI) is optional in Colorado, but if you have it, you will be covered in these situations. UM/UI may also pay for some damages that exceed the limits of the other driver’s policy.
If you don’t have UM/UI coverage, we will consider other options, but these are not always feasible in a lane-merging accident. Suing the driver personally is possible if they lack sufficient insurance coverage, but it’s not always practical.
When the driver has few or no assets, we may be unable to collect if you win a judgment against them. We won’t recommend going through the stress and time commitment of a lawsuit if we don’t see a clear path to recovery.
In rare cases, we might be able to sue a third party, such as the manufacturer of a defective car part that contributed to the accident or your injuries. However, this is not an option in most accidents, so we recommend protecting yourself with a UM/UI policy.
Get Help From a Denver Merging Lanes Car Accident Law Firm Today
Olson Law Firm is always available for a free consultation about your merging lane car accident or any other personal injury situation. Our experienced legal team will study the police report and determine the best way to pursue compensation.
If there’s a way to recover your damages, we’ll find it. Also, you don’t need to worry about upfront costs—we don’t charge anything until we win or settle your case.
Attorney Sean Olson founded Olson Law Firm in 2012. Advocating for others and building them up is his calling, and he works hard to help his clients recover from serious or catastrophic injuries.
He is a member of the Colorado and Wyoming Bar Associations and has also been named a Super Lawyers Rising Star five years in a row. A former photojournalist, Mr. Olson values communication and always makes himself available to clients with questions or concerns.
When he’s not working on a case, he enjoys mountain biking, fly fishing, and spending time with his family. You, too, can work with Attorney Olson when you call Olson Law Firm at (720) 730-4325.