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Lane Change Truck Accidents: Who Is At Fault?

Big rig semi truck

Driving in the proximity of a tractor trailer is not without its risks, and responsible drivers know to exercise caution and stay alert around heavy trucks. Truck accidents in California, including lane change crashes, are often deadly. When victims do survive, they typically face a long, painful recovery and perhaps permanent disabilities. At Ellis Injury Law, our Los Angeles truck accident lawyers have seen the devastation that big rig crashes cause. We’re committed to raising awareness of this serious issue and helping the victims pursue justice.

Types of lane change truck crashes

Lane change truck accidents can happen when either a passenger vehicle or the big rig changes lanes and causes a collision. Traffic safety experts recognize two broad categories of lane change/merge collisions: Angle/sideswipe collisions and rear-end lane change crashes.

Rear-end crashes occur when a vehicle is rear-ended shortly after completing the lane change. Angle/sideswipe crashes occur when a vehicle merges into a lane in which another vehicle is already present, adjacent to the shifting vehicle. Angle lane change crashes may involve severe side-to-side collisions or slightly less serious front bumper-to-back bumper crashes.

When is the truck driver at fault?

In the majority of truck accidents of any type, the driver is found to have been at least partially negligent. Other factors may contribute to the crash, such as dense fog that limits visibility, wet roads, or poor road construction.

When assessing liability in a lane change truck accident, injury attorneys review the police report, medical records, surveillance footage, eyewitness statements, and any other available evidence. One of the primary factors is determining which vehicle initiated the lane change.

A truck driver may be at fault for the crash if that driver failed to use the turn signal, changed lanes at an intersection, or changed lanes while traveling at a high speed. Weaving dangerously between lanes is another indicator of truck driver negligence. Truck drivers may fail to exercise reasonable caution because they’re trying to shave a few minutes off their travel time. Typically, a truck driver may be found at fault if the vehicle making the unsafe lane change was the tractor trailer.

When is the passenger vehicle driver at fault?

Drivers of passenger vehicles often underestimate the maneuvering capabilities of tractor trailers. As a result, they may not leave sufficient space between their car and the truck. Trucks have substantial blind zones, and driving within these blind zones is hazardous. However, truck drivers do have the responsibility to check their blind zones before making a lane change.

Generally, the driver of a passenger vehicle may be found at fault for a lane change crash if that driver changed lanes in front of the big rig, and failed to leave sufficient space between vehicles. The truck driver may hit the brakes, but big rigs cannot stop quickly, and the result is a rear-end collision.

Ellis Law: Your personal injury lawyers in California

To bring negligent truck drivers and their employers to justice, it takes a team of investigators, medical experts, engineers, and legal professionals. At Ellis Law, we draw on our extensive resources to build bulletproof cases for our injured clients and surviving family members. We pride ourselves on our unwavering commitment to prompt, personalized, and courteous attention to each family. When you’re here, you’re not just another statistic. Call our Los Angeles personal injury law firm at 1-800-INJURED to request your complimentary lawsuit review.

Additional “truck lane change accident” resources:

  1. U.S. Department of Transportation, Lane Change/Merge Crashes: Problem Size Assessment and Statistical Description, https://ntl.bts.gov/lib/jpodocs/repts_te/420.pdf
  2. U.S. Department of Transportation, Highway Safety Information System: An Examination of Fault, Unsafe Driving Acts, and Total Harm in Car-Truck Collisions, https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/research/safety/humanfac/04085/