Merging into the flow of traffic can be one of the most stressful driving maneuvers that a motorist has to make. Whether you are attempting to merge onto a highway with vehicles coming at you at full speed or you are looking for an open spot in the middle of a bumper-to-bumper traffic jam, traffic merges can often be tricky situations.
When two or more vehicles are merging into traffic and a crash occurs, it can be difficult to determine who is at fault. It could be the merging driver, or it could be a driver whose car is already in the flow of traffic, or partial fault could be assigned to more than one driver.
As with every type of auto accident, determining liability always depends on the specific circumstances of the case. If you or someone close to you got injured in a merging accident, it is always best to speak with an experienced attorney as soon as possible, so you can ensure that your rights and interests are fully protected.
Assessing Liability in Merging Accidents
Crashes that involve merging vehicles may be caused by a number of different factors, among the most common include:
- A vehicle that is speeding or moving too slowly as they merge into traffic.
- A vehicle that hesitates while trying to merge into traffic.
- A vehicle that changes lanes without using a turn signal.
- A vehicle that crosses over multiple lanes while merging.
- A vehicle that cuts off another vehicle in order to merge or change lanes.
- A driver that fails to look for other cars before merging into traffic.
Oftentimes, fault for an accident will fall on the merging driver because they are supposed to yield the right-of-way to vehicles that are already in traffic. But this is just a general rule, and there are a number of possible exceptions.
Here are some examples of cases when a merging accident may not be the fault of the driver who is trying to merge into traffic:
- The merging vehicle collides with a vehicle that is exceeding the speed limit and therefore is in violation of a traffic law.
- As the merging vehicle turns into traffic, another vehicle turns from an inner lane into the outside lane without using their turn signal.
- While the driver of a vehicle that is in an inner lane is sending a text message, their car weaves into the outer (merging) lane and crashes into the merging vehicle.
In some cases, two different vehicle drivers could be at fault for a merging accident. For example, if one vehicle is merging into the outer lane while another vehicle is simultaneously turning from the inner lane into the outer (merging) lane, then they might both be partially at fault for not exercising reasonable caution in looking out for other vehicles in their lane.
Merging Accidents and Comparative Negligence Laws
If someone is injured in an auto accident in South Carolina and they are partially at fault, they may still be able to recover compensation under the state’s modified comparative negligence standard. To be eligible, however, the fault of the plaintiff must not exceed the fault of the defendant. So, if both drivers are determined to be 50% at fault for the accident, then an injured party can still file a claim for damages. But if an injured individual is 51% or more at fault, then they are barred from recovering compensation.
It is also important to note that, although you can recover damages even when you are partially at fault for an accident, any damage award you receive would be reduced in proportion to the percentage of fault you share in the accident. For example, if you were 50% at fault for a merging accident and you sustained a total of $100,000 in losses, your damages would be reduced down to $50,000.
Injured in a Merging Accident in South Carolina? Contact Peake and Fowler for Legal Help
If you or a loved got hurt in any type of vehicle accident in South Carolina, you need strong legal counsel by your side working hard to get you the compensation you deserve. At Peake and Fowler, we have extensive experience with these types of cases, and we work closely with our clients to help ensure a favorable outcome.
To schedule a free consultation and case assessment with one of our attorneys, message us online or call our office today at 803-788-4370. We look forward to serving you!