Merging auto accidents are accidents that occur when one car swipes another vehicle either from the side or sometimes from the back while merging into another lane. Merging onto another road or into another lane is something that happens on a regular and daily basis, so these accidents happen rather frequently. They can result in property damage, bodily injuries, and/or fatalities. It depends on the circumstances of the accident, but of course, speed always plays an important role in how severe or not an accident is.
When these types of accidents occur, people always wonder who is responsible. The general rule of thumb is the person merging onto the other lane is responsible, but that’s not always the case. Here, we discuss a little more about the causes of merging accidents and how to determine when or which party is more than likely the at-fault party of the accident, and therefore, the more likely liable party for compensation.
Causes of Merging Accidents in New Hampshire
Motorists can misjudge the distance of other vehicles as they try to change lanes or merge from an acceleration lane onto a road. Weather conditions and other environmental or dangerous road conditions can make judging distance more difficult. More and more, too, motorists are distracted by their electronic devices and may be paying attention to them while also trying to determine if they can merge or not. Despite these challenges when merging, the most common causes of merging accidents are:
- Driving too slowly from an on-ramp onto the freeway;
- Not using signals when changing lanes;
- Cutting vehicles and making unsafe lane changes;
- Merging into a middle lane while another driver merges into the middle lane from the other side; and
- Cutting across multiple lanes of traffic.
Because speed often accompanies merging accidents, they are more likely to result in serious bodily injuries in addition to property damage. Serious bodily injuries include:
- facial injuries;
- neck injuries;
- fractures and broken bones;
- back injuries;
- spinal cord injuries;
- organ damage; and
- brain injuries.
In some cases, bodily injuries may be fatal.
How Liability is Determined in Merging Car Accident Cases in New Hampshire
If you experienced bodily injuries, then you have likely accumulated medical bills, among other expenses, and possibly pain and suffering. If you were the driver who merged into the other lane, then it is possible you are the responsible party, but that’s not always the case. Exceptions to this general rule include:
- the other driver was speeding, making it difficult to judge the distance;
- the other driver was driving while distracted;
- the other driver merged into the middle lane at the same time and without using signals;
- the other driver sped up when you started to merge.
In such instances, it can be difficult to determine who was liable for the accident. Evidence will include things like:
- an accident reconstruction report;
- analysis of the damage, including if you were struck from behind or side-wiped or if you struck the other vehicle from behind or side-swiped it;
- estimated speed of each vehicle;
- other environmental or traffic conditions;
- smart phone data indicating if the other driver was using the phone at the time of the accident;
- witnesses or any available video.
A complete assessment of the events and evidence will be necessary. No longer is it as easy as assuming the merging vehicle is the at-fault party. And New Hampshire follows a modified comparative negligence theory, which means even if you are partially at-fault, you can still recover damages. The law recognizes that drivers can share fault, and as such can also be liable for the accident but liable according to percentages.
If you have been in a merging accident, don’t let anyone persuade you that you are at fault simply because you were the one merging, or vice versa: that you are not at fault simply because the other driver was merging into your lane. You need an experienced car accident lawyer who can identify all the factors and file a claim accordingly to ensure you receive just and fair compensation.