Determining Fault in a Merging Car Accident in Las Vegas
Changing or merging lanes is something drivers do all the time, but it is also an action that can easily cause an accident if not done with the proper attention to the road. In fact, studies by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that more than 500,000 motor vehicle accidents occur each year due to lane changes and merging in the United States.
If you or a loved one were injured during a lane change or merge accident, you will need to determine who is at fault in order to seek recovery. Read on to learn more about establishing fault in a merging car accident and how to secure recovery for your injuries.
Causes of Merging Car Accidents
There are seven common pre-crash scenarios that lead to 88% of all lane change/merging (LCM) car accidents:
- An intentional lane change that causes a collision with another vehicle traveling on a parallel path
- A vehicle turning across the path of another driver at a junction
- A vehicle drifting into the lane of a vehicle traveling in a parallel path unintentionally
- A vehicle turning at a junction while another vehicle is passing
- A vehicle changes lane to attempt to pass another vehicle
- A vehicle exiting a parking spot as another vehicle passes
- A vehicle merging from a highway entrance that is sideswiped by another vehicle
In a notable portion of LCM accidents, some driver action or inaction contributed to the collision. Common contributing driver factors include:
- Driver distraction
- Failure to yield right of way
- Alcohol or drug consumption
- Speeding or going too fast for road conditions
- Reckless driving
- Merging too slowly or hesitating
- Failure to utilize safety mechanisms such as tail lights
Driver is distraction is the most common contributing factor to LCM accidents; anything that causes a driver to take their eyes off the road is considered a driver distraction, including using a phone, entering information into a GPS, or eating.
Building a Case for Fault
A party is only responsible for a car accident if they acted negligently or intentionally in a way that caused the accident and resulting injuries. Any violation of a traffic law or regulation is strong evidence of negligence. For this reason, it is important to secure a police report after the accident. The report will document the accident scene, witness statements and contact information, and any citations issued for traffic violations.
It is more straightforward to demonstrate fault when only one vehicle is changing lanes or merging during the accident. There is a presumption that the vehicle changing lanes is at fault because it is their responsibility to ensure that the maneuver is safe before acting. If you were struck by a vehicle that was changing lanes or merging, analyze whether there is any evidence that you acted negligently. Lack of negligence on your part will contribute significantly to your case against the other party.
The situation becomes more complicated when both parties were merging or changing lanes. Determining fault is a complicated analysis given that both parties took an affirmative action that may have contributed to the accident. It will be important to determine whether any other evidence of negligence exists, including distracted driving, speeding, or driving under the influence. If you are unable to establish the other driver’s negligence, both parties might be found partially at fault.
An experienced attorney can help you analyze the facts of the accident, gather evidence, and advise on the strength of your case.
Preparing a Damages Claim
Be sure to keep track of all the costs related to your injuries, including emotional and financial injuries. The value of these injuries will be included in your damages claim to the responsible party. Common damages after a car accident include:
- Medical Expenses: Include all costs for medical care in your damages claim. This includes doctor’s bills, hospital stays, prescription medicine, and long-term costs like physical therapy or in-home care. You will also need to calculate future medical expenses if your injuries will require ongoing care. Often a medical expert is required for a thorough analysis.
- Lost Wages: Injuries often force the victim to miss work or work a reduced schedule causing them to lose wages or salary. The negligent party is responsible for these lost wages, including any future lost earnings. If you anticipate future lost earnings, you will need to consult an economic expert to calculate the appropriate amount.
- Property Damage: Car accidents often result in a damaged vehicle. Other property is also often damaged in an accident. You are entitled to recover for the costs of repair or replacement of damaged property.
- Emotional Distress: A car accident can leave you shaken in the aftermath, but often victims suffer from long-term emotional distress as well. It is not uncommon for accident victims to suffer from anxiety, PTSD, or depression. You deserve to be compensated for these injuries.
- Loss of Enjoyment: If you are unable to participate in activities that previously served a meaningful position in your life, you should secure recovery for this loss of enjoyment. For example, if you were an avid athlete, you deserve compensation if you can no longer participate in sports.
- Exemplary or Punitive Damages: Exemplary or punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant rather than to compensate the victim. In Nevada, these damages are only available if the defendant acted with oppression, fraud, or malice.
An attorney can help you compile a comprehensive damages assessment. This is a critical step in building your case as it will impact any settlement offers and a jury award.
Contact an Experienced Attorney Today
Gina Corena & Associates is staffed by a team of attorneys who are dedicated to helping clients secure the maximum recovery for their injuries. Our attorneys have secured millions in settlements for clients and have been named “Top 40 Under 40” and “Ten Best Attorneys” in Nevada. Providing skilled and compassionate support to our clients is our number one priority.
If you or a loved one was injured in a car accident in Las Vegas, NV or the surrounding area, contact us today for a consultation.