Florida drivers are notorious for changing lanes without looking. Apparently most drivers believe that turn signals are optional—so they opt-out—and never use them.
Few accidents are more dangerous—or more common— than those caused by illegal lane changes.
(And in case you, too, have gotten the impression that turn signals are optional in Florida, they are not. The law requires you to use them.)
According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Annual Traffic Citation Report, in 2019 alone, over 20,000 non-criminal moving violations were issued for improper lane changes. And another 80,000 were issued for careless driving (e.g., not using your turn signal.)
Personal injury caused by car accidents are always regrettable, but when injury to another and to yourself could have been prevented by simply using your turn signal and precaution before changing lanes, it is particularly lamentable.
How Do Lane Change Accidents Occur?
Like any accident, lane change accidents can occur in a variety of ways. They can be caused by:
- Careless driving (not looking/not using a turn signal)
- Blind spots—both cars and trucks have blind spots that can prevent a driver from seeing what is coming up from behind or what is right next to him
- Road construction —road work often involves narrowing of lanes and requires cars to merge carefully
- Merging onto the highway—cars merging onto the highway often cause accidents by failing to get up to speed in time to merge safely
- Weaving in and out of traffic to try to get ahead
Florida law requires drivers to stay in their lane and only change lanes when it is reasonably safe to do so, and after signaling.
As noted above, lane change accidents are common, but they are also preventable. Personal injuries are devastating, expensive, and time consuming to heal from. So if you can do your part to prevent an accident, why wouldn’t you?
Take the time to carefully prepare before changing lanes, make sure it is safe, and use your turn signals.
Lane Change Accidents and Liability
Unlike a rear-end accident, determining liability for lane change accidents is far more complicated.
In most lane change cases, both parties contributed to the accident. So, fault depends on the particular facts of your case.
Determining fault may require recreating the accident through expert testimony and forensic evidence. It certainly will require testimony from witnesses, as well as evidence from police reports and treating physicians regarding the ensuing injuries.
Quite often, both parties may be at fault for a lane change accident as when two drivers merge into the middle lane simultaneously.
Determining liability in lane change or merging accidents will focus on who was primarily responsible for the accident. To decide this, the court will look at which driver had the right-of-way at the time. Typically, the driver with the right-of-way will not be at fault, even though he or she may bear some responsibility for the accident. Most times, the merging driver is considered the one at fault—because drivers are not supposed change lanes unless it is safe to do so.
In situations where both parties are at fault, Florida courts will use a pure comparative negligence rule. (Note that this rule is separate from Florida’s “no-fault” insurance rule.) This means that even if you are partially at fault for an accident, you may still recover for your injuries, but how much you can recover will be reduced by the percentage of your fault. So, if you were 70% at fault for the accident, your recovery will be reduced by 70%.
Lane change accidents are preventable. But if you are in a lane change accident, get the expert personal injury assistance you need.
Helping Those Injured Due to Another’s Negligence.
Our attorneys are here to help injured individuals obtain the compensation they deserve. If you have been injured due to the negligence of another, contact us here or simply call our firm at: 777-JOHN. We serve clients throughout Florida. Our main office is in Orange Park, but we have consulting offices in Palatka, Middleburg, Keystone, Starke, Gainesville, and Ocala.