Liability in Merging Accidents in New Hampshire: Who is at Fault?
Merging car accidents are a common occurrence on our roads. These crashes occur when a motorist merges into another lane or onto another road and ends up hitting someone else’s vehicle from the side or rear-ending it. But what about liability in merging collisions? Is the driver changing lanes always at-fault?
Causes of Merging Collisions
Contrary to popular belief, the motorist merging into another lane is not always responsible for causing the car crash. When it comes to determining fault in a merging accident in New Hampshire, it is critical to understand how the crash occurred in the first place. There may be various causes of merging auto accidents:
- Distracted driving (a driver who is not paying a sufficient amount of attention to the road and his surroundings is more likely to crash when attempting to change lanes);
- Misjudging the distance between a vehicle and other cars when trying to merge into other lanes or onto the other road;
- Entering the highway too fast or too slowly;
- Exceeding the speed limit;
- Failing to use turn signals when merging or changing lanes;
- Cutting other vehicles off;
- Failing to adjust to adverse weather conditions
- Hitting a pothole or other bad road conditions;
- Two drivers merging into the same lane simultaneously;
- Cutting across multiple lanes at once;
- Coming to a complete stop in an acceleration lane;
- Failing to yield to vehicles that are traveling on the main roadway; and
- Failing to use the side and rear windows before changing lanes or merging.
Who is Responsible for a Merging Accident?
People tend to assume that it is always obvious who is at fault in a merging accident. However, that is not always the case. The driver who was merging when a collision occurred is liable for the crash in the majority of such accidents. However, the non-merging driver may be at-fault (in whole or in part) if he was:
- Speeding (making it difficult for the merging driver to judge the distance);
- Attempting to merge at the same time without using turn signals; or
- Suddenly accelerating when the merging driver began their maneuver.
These actions could be due to driving distracted, driving under the influence, not knowing the rules of the road, or otherwise driving negligently.
Determining fault in merging accidents that involve any of these situations can be tough. However, a knowledgeable car accident attorney in Manchester, New Hampshire, may be able to establish fault by gathering and looking at the following evidence:
- Accident or police report
- Analysis of the damage to the vehicles
- Estimation of the speed of each vehicle prior to the collision
- Analysis of traffic and weather conditions
- Phone data proving that either driver was distracted at the time of the crash
- Witness statements
- Surveillance footage
You need a skilled attorney to analyze all available evidence in order to determine who was responsible for the merging crash. Also, keep in mind that both parties may be at fault for merging collisions.
Under New Hampshire’s modified comparative negligence system, your degree of fault will limit your damages, but you may still be able to recover damages as long as you are less than half at fault. Contact our Manchester car accident attorneys at The Law Office of Manning Zimmerman & Oliveira PLLC to establish fault in your merging accident and obtain compensation for your damages. Call at 603-624-7200 to receive a consultation.