Statistics from 2020 show that more than 70 drivers were injured in car accidents in Georgia per hour, which resulted from 1,700 accidents a day and a total of over 600,000 injuries that year. The state is no stranger to car accidents, ranging from minor to severe, which may mean that you need an experienced car accident lawyer in Atlanta.
When an accident occurs, liability may be clear. For example, in a rear-end accident, the driver from behind is (typically) at fault. However, determining who is responsible for other accidents isn’t always that simple.
For example, it may be difficult to determine liability if you are involved in a lane change accident. Many lane changes occur while traveling at high speeds and in heavy traffic, which is not unusual for Atlanta.
After an accident, things may be confusing and chaotic, which makes determining liability even more challenging. Hiring attorneys from the Atlanta car accident law firm, the Law Offices of Matthew C. Hines, is recommended in these situations. Our attorneys can utilize our resources, knowledge, and experience in this field to help determine liability and ensure you receive the compensation you are entitled to.
Liability if You Are Hit While Merging
Usually, the driver changing lanes is considered at fault for merging accidents. However, this is not always the case.
Negligence determines liability. All drivers must operate safely and ensure they don’t cause harm to others on the road. If a driver does not operate their vehicle safely, they can usually be held responsible for any damages caused by the accident.
If you are merging from an on-ramp on the interstate or to another lane, you must determine if you can do this safely. To determine if it is safe to merge, you should look in your mirrors and check your blind spots to ensure no vehicles are in the lane you are merging to.
Catastrophic accidents can occur if you don’t exercise this caution when merging and changing lanes.
Common types of negligence that occur and cause lane change accidents could include:
- Not alerting other drivers you plan to merge or change lanes with your blinkers.
- Not checking your mirrors before you merge.
- Not checking all blind spots for any road hazards before changing lanes.
- Being distracted by texting, adjusting the radio, eating, drinking, or talking on the phone while trying to merge or change lanes.
- Not maintaining the same speed as drivers in the lane you merge or move into.
Even though the driver who is merging is usually responsible for a lane change accident, you still must prove your claim with evidence to hold a driver responsible and recover compensation. An Atlanta car accident law firm can help with this process.
Liability in Sideswipe Accidents
Sideswipe accidents are also common in Atlanta. This occurs when two vehicles traveling in lanes beside one another make contact.
This type of accident is common in areas where drivers must merge. Common locations include when two lanes turn into one or on an interstate on-ramp.
Determining liability in sideswipe accidents is challenging because they usually happen quickly. In many cases, driver negligence is a contributing factor. Some of the negligence that can cause sideswipe accidents to include not checking mirrors or blind spots, driving slower or faster than the vehicles in the lane, cutting a motorist off while merging, or distracted driving.
Will the Merging Driver Always be Liable?
As mentioned above, the merging motorist is often at-fault for sideswiping and lane change accidents if negligence is involved. While this is true, it is not always the case.
Sometimes, the non-merging motorist may be partly liable for these accidents. The non-merging driver can be held responsible in situations where they:
- Attempted to keep the merging driver from moving into their lane by slowing down.
- Increased their speed to block the merging driver from moving over.
- Followed a vehicle too closely to keep a merging motorist from moving over into the lane.
- Failed to change their speed to allow the merging motorist to move over into the lane.
- Slammed or tapped their brakes to keep the merging motorist from moving over or changing lanes.
Being involved in a merging accident can be scary and confusing. If liability is unclear, our Atlanta car accident law firm can help. We will investigate what happened and utilize accident reconstruction experts when needed to ensure we know what happened.
What Determines Liability in Atlanta Lane Change Accidents?
If you are involved in a lane-change accident and believe another driver caused it, it’s best to contact our Atlanta car accident law firm. It’s necessary to gather evidence to show what happened and who is at fault.
In these accidents, certain types of evidence are needed to prove liability. Some evidence used includes:
- Testimony from witnesses
- Phone records
- Traffic or surveillance camera footage
- Dashcam footage
- Medical records
- Videos or photos captured at the scene
- Testimony from accident reconstruction experts
- The official police report
- Testimony from the drivers involved
Georgia uses a comparative negligence law. This means that you can recover monetary compensation for an accident, even if you are partly liable. For this to apply, you must be found under 50% responsible for the collision. In this situation, it’s possible to file a lawsuit against the other party involved.
In this situation, the total compensation you can recover is reduced by your percentage of fault in the accident. If you are found to be 20% at fault, and the other driver is 80% at fault, you can still recover 80% of the damages awarded. For example, if the total compensation award is $100,000 in this situation, you would receive 80% of the payout or $80,000.
Common Injuries in Sideswipe or Lane Change Accidents
While sideswiping or lane-changing accidents may not seem as serious as others; however, they do have the potential to cause major property damage and severe injuries.
For example, heavy impacts by a vehicle departing its lane suddenly can cause soft tissue damage and whiplash. There is also the possibility of secondary strikes in the vehicle’s cabin. For example, the driver may hit the side window, which causes broken bones, strains, contusions, sprains, and TBIs (traumatic brain injuries).
Also, once sideswiped, some drivers are forced onto the shoulder or even into an oncoming lane of traffic, which can cause additional collisions and injuries.
Other injuries a serious sideswipe accident can cause include:
- Organ damage
- Broken bones
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Damage to joints (particularly the knees)
- Burns, scrapes, contusions, and cuts
- Loss of limbs or amputation
Don’t Wait to Seek Medical Treatment
After an Atlanta car accident, it’s imperative to seek medical attention immediately. This is true for lane-changing and sideswipe accidents in Atlanta. When the EMTs arrive at the scene, let them assess to determine if you are seriously injured. If the EMTs recommend that you go to the emergency room, be sure to follow this advice.
If you don’t require immediate medical care, you can wait until you have spoken to the police before getting treatment. However, if you are in pain, or concerned about injuries, go to the emergency room immediately.
For minor injuries, you can see treatment from your primary care physician or a clinic within a few days of the accident. It doesn’t matter if you experienced minor or more severe injuries; keep notes about what happened and the treatment you received. You should not put off seeking medical treatment. If you do, it may impact your ability to recover from the injuries and your ability to file a car accident lawsuit to seek damages.
Protecting Your Rights After a Lane Merge Accident
After being involved in a lane change accident, you may be confused and overwhelmed. Dealing with the police, seeking medical treatment, and recovering from injuries will take much of your time and attention.
However, if you believe another party is at-fault for the accident, you need to contact our Atlanta car accident law firm for assistance. Our legal team understands these accidents and how to prove fault and help our clients recover the compensation they deserve.
We also understand that the damages you sustain are more than the physical injuries and property damage you can see. In many cases, you will experience ongoing mental and emotional anguish and suffering due to the accident, especially if it resulted in serious injuries. We will consider all these factors when determining the amount of compensation to request from the at-fault party.
The first step after an accident is to seek medical treatment. After that, contact our Atlanta car accident law firm, the Law Offices of Matthew C. Hines, for help and information. We offer new clients a free, no-obligation initial consultation to learn about your case. Contact us today so we can get started on your case.