Lane Change and Merging Accident Lawyer in Houston
Merging and changing lanes are two crucial parts of driving, especially in large cities like Houston. However, merging and changing lanes can also be dangerous in areas of heavy traffic. When drivers engage in improper merging or improper lane changes, this can easily lead to car accidents. If you were involved in a merging accident in Houston, we strongly recommend working with a Houston car accident attorney for your personal injury claim.
At Reich & Binstock, our attorneys have extensive experience handling a wide variety of car accident cases. Merging and lane change accidents could result in either minor property damage or serious injuries. Either way, you deserve compensation for your losses. We’re here to give you the tools you need for a better chance at a favorable outcome. To schedule a free consultation with us, please call our law firm at 713-622-7271 today.
What Is a Merging Accident?
Merging occurs when two separate roads converge into one road. Traffic signs on the road will indicate to drivers that they need to merge into the other road. When an accident occurs while a driver is merging onto a highway, this is called a merging accident. A merging driver has a responsibility to safely merge onto a highway. Other drivers also have a responsibility to be aware of merging drivers and to accommodate them if necessary. When any driver fails to handle merging correctly, this can result in a serious accident.
What Is a Lane Change Accident?
Lane change accidents are similar to merging accidents, but they occur when someone is changing lanes rather than merging onto a highway. A driver changing lanes has a responsibility to use their blinkers to signal to other drivers that they intend to change lanes. Other drivers have a responsibility to give the driver changing lanes room to do so. If either party fails to safely handle a lane change, this could cause a lane change accident.
Texas Merging Laws
Each state has its own rules of the road, and Texas is no exception. According to Section 545.061 of the Texas Transportation Code, the following lane change and merging rules are outlined.
- A merging driver must yield to the vehicles already on the highway. They have the duty to slow down or stop until they can safely merge onto the highway.
- Drivers who are already on the highway can yield to a merging driver as a courtesy, but they are not legally required to do so.
- Also, a driver changing lanes must yield to traffic already in the lane they are merging into.
- During a lane change, drivers may only pass slower vehicles on the left side. Drivers who want to pass a slower vehicle must safely move into the lane to the left of the slow driver, accelerate past them, then return to their original lane.
Merging and Lane-Changing Accident Statistics
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 9% of all car accidents occur as a result of switching lanes or merging. Additionally, many of these accidents result in severe injuries. This is because one of the vehicles involved is often caught off guard. Improperly changing lanes or merging can leave the other driver in a vulnerable position in which they are unable to react to the situation.
Who Has the Right of Way When Merging or Changing Lanes?
As we mentioned before, every state has different traffic laws that govern their roads. In Texas, the merging vehicle must yield to vehicles already on the highway. The same rule applies to those who want to switch lanes. They must yield to the traffic that is already in the lane and wait for a safe opportunity to change lanes.
Do You Have to Let Someone Merge or Change Lanes in Texas?
No. The drivers who are already in a particular lane or who are on the highway have the right of way when it comes to merging and changing lanes. If a driver fails to follow the rules of the road, this could result in a merging or changing lanes car accident.
However, it’s important to note that it is sometimes a good idea to yield to merging vehicles in order to avoid an accident. This is especially true in high-traffic areas, such as Houston. Even though you are not legally required to yield, doing so could help you prevent a merging or lane change accident.
What Causes Lane Change and Merging Accidents?
A changing lanes car accident claim can arise for a variety of reasons. Negligence from even one of the drivers involved can cause a serious crash on a busy highway. Below, we list some of the most common causes of merging and lane change accident claims.
- Misjudging how much space is available between vehicles
- Merging too slowly or too quickly
- Crossing over multiple lanes of traffic at one time
- Cutting off other vehicles while merging or changing lanes
- Failing to use a turn signal when merging or changing lanes
- Lingering in another car’s blind spots for too long
- A driver failed to check their mirrors or blind spots
When Do Most Merging Accidents Occur?
Most merging and lane change crashes occur when one vehicle is slightly behind the other vehicle, in their blind spot. Blind spot accidents are notoriously dangerous, as at least one driver will not have enough time to react. This is especially true when it comes to accidents involving large trucks and passenger vehicles. Trucks have very large blind spots, called “no-zones.” When cars linger in the no-zone of a truck, this increases the chances of a merging or lane change crash.
How to Safely Merge or Change Lanes on a Highway
In order to avoid an unsafe lane change accident, here are a few tips to help you and your loved ones stay safe on busy Texas roads.
- Before you attempt to merge, put on your turn signal. This will let any other driver know that you intend to merge or change lanes. They may even be courteous enough to yield for you if you signal early enough.
- Check your mirrors. This includes both your side mirrors and your rearview mirror. You should also check your blind spots quickly. This ensures that you have plenty of room to merge or change lanes before doing so.
- Change lanes quickly and safely. Maintain a steady speed and smoothly move into the lane.
- Switch off your turn signal. Once you are safely in the lane, turn off your signal so that other drivers know you intend to stay in that lane.
Who Is At Fault in a Merging Accident?
In most cases, the driver who is changing lanes or merging is at fault for the accident. This is because, under Texas law, those who are merging or changing lanes must yield to existing traffic. Failing to yield to the traffic already in the lane can cause a serious auto accident that could even turn into a multi-vehicle accident. However, it is possible for other drivers to be responsible for these motor vehicle accidents.
For example, maybe another driver thought that the merging driver was trying to cut them off. If they drive aggressively and cause an accident because of their road rage, they can be held liable for the crash. It is also possible for more than one driver to be held accountable for the accident. Determining fault in these accidents can be difficult, which is why we recommend working with an experienced car accident attorney for your case.
Determining Liability in a Merging Accident
In order to assign fault in these cases, working with an attorney is your best bet. When you work with our auto accident lawyers, we will thoroughly investigate the facts of your case. Our investigations often involve gathering the following forms of evidence.
- Copy of the police report
- Opinions from accident reconstruction experts
- Pictures and videos from the accident scene
- Eyewitness accounts
- Traffic camera footage, if available
- Medical records to show the severity of your injuries
If you are an accident victim who suffered injuries from a merging or lane change accident, you have the right to recover compensation for the injuries and property damage you suffered.
Compensation in a Merging Car Accident
As your car accident attorneys, we will always fight for maximum compensation in your case. This includes the following individual forms of compensation.
- Current and future medical bills
- Current and future lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Property damage and repair costs
- Other damages related to the accident
Contact a Houston Car Accident Lawyer Today
If you are a car accident victim who is unsure of where to turn, the injury attorneys at Reich & Binstock are here for you. We will be there for you throughout every step of your personal injury claim, no matter how complex. Our attorneys have extensive experience handling many different car accident types, including sideswipe accidents, rear-end accidents, T-bone accidents, and many others. To schedule a free consultation with us and explore your legal options, please call our office at 713-622-7271 today.