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Who is Liable for a ‘Merging’ Accident in California?

Merging onto a highway in the San Francisco Bay Area can be challenging. We have all seen how congested our region’s roads can get. Unfortunately, in some cases, major accidents occur when motorists are trying to merge. This raises an important question: Who is at fault for a merging accident in California?

The answer depends on the specific circumstances of the crash. Technically, either driver could potentially be held at fault, and, in some cases, multiple drivers may share liability for the wreck. If you were involved in a merging or lane change crash and there is now a dispute over fault, it is imperative you speak to an experienced San Francisco auto accident attorney right away. Your attorney will take action to protect your legal rights.

You Need to Know Which Driver Had the Right-of-Way

In most merging accident claims, the core question that must be resolved is: Which driver had the right-of-way? When the courses of two vehicles intersect — as is often the case when one car is merging onto another roadway — only one of the vehicles has the legal authority to travel forward. The other vehicle has a legal responsibility to yield.

As explained in the California Driver Handbook, freeway traffic generally has the right-of-way. In other words, a vehicle that is maintaining its own lane, with some limited exceptions, is not responsible for a merging accident. A driver changing lanes or merging into another lane has an affirmative duty to make sure their selected lane is clear before entering it.

Both Drivers May Share Fault

In theory, merging accidents may seem to be easy to sort out. Though, the real world is often far more complicated. Crashes can happen quickly. In some cases, both drivers might be making mistakes at the same time. They might even both be merging into a new lane. It is important to remember California operates under a comparative negligence legal standard. Two or more parties can be held legally liable for the same accident.

Merging Accidents Require a Comprehensive Investigation

If you were injured in a merging accident in California, it is crucial you work with an attorney who can conduct a comprehensive investigation of the crash. When fault is disputed, plaintiffs must present a case that is backed up by strong and compelling supporting evidence. Your San Francisco auto accident attorney will be able to determine exactly why the crash occurred, ensuring you can hold a negligent driver accountable for their unsafe conduct.

Get Help From Our San Francisco, CA Car Accident Lawyers Today

At Bracamontes & Vlasak, our Bay Area traffic accident attorneys are proud to provide strong and effective representatives for our clients. If you or your family member was injured in a merging or lane change accident, we are here to help. For a free case evaluation, please call our San Francisco office today at 415-835-6777 or contact our law firm directly online.

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