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Who Is at Fault in a Merging Accident?

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Cars and trucks on a busy highway, view from inside car
When you merge onto an interstate or try to change lanes while driving on a busy, multi-lane street, you have a higher risk of being involved in an accident. Some drivers speed up when they see others about to merge into their lanes, and others merge or switch lanes without using their turn signals. These types of actions can result in serious accidents involving significant property damage and serious injuries. Following a collision, you might wonder who is at fault in a merging accident. Scroll down to find out.

Who Is at Fault in a Merging Accident?

So, who is at fault in a merging accident in Missouri? In most cases, the motorist who was merging is determined to be at fault. Under R.S.Mo. § 304.351, motorists who are preparing to enter a highway must yield the right-of-way to oncoming vehicles that are traveling on it. Similarly, under R.S.Mo. § 304.015, a motorist who is traveling in one lane may not merge into an adjacent lane before he or she determines that it is safe to do so.

However, there are some exceptions to this general rule. For example, if a driver on the highway aggressively speeds up to prevent the merging vehicle from cutting him or her off, that driver might be at fault for causing a merging accident. An oncoming vehicle that is driven by a drunk driver might also be an exception to the general rule that the merging driver is at fault. Other situations in which the oncoming motorist might be at fault include distracted driving or speeding. In these types of situations, both drivers might share some liability. An attorney can review your case and help you to understand whether the other motorist might be at fault.

Causes of Merging Accidents

Merging accidents can happen when drivers engage in negligent driving behaviors. Some of the common causes of merging accidents include the following:

  • Trying to merge onto a highway or interstate while traveling too slowly or from a stopped position
  • Merging too quickly when entering a highway
  • Failing to use a turn signal when changing lanes
  • Cutting other motorists off when merging or changing lanes
  • Crossing over multiple lanes at one time
  • Aggressive driving to prevent a merging motorist from entering the lane
  • Speeding
  • Drunk or distracted driving

How to Prevent Merging Accidents

Merging and lane change accidents are preventable. You can avoid being involved in one of these types of collisions by obeying the traffic laws.

Make sure to leave enough space between your vehicle and the car in front of you to allow other motorists to merge if necessary. Don’t tailgate vehicles, and try to change lanes when you see motorists that are attempting to merge in front of you on the highway. Always use your turn signal to let other drivers know that you are about to merge or change lanes, and only move over when you are sure that you have plenty of room to do so. Avoid slowing down when traveling in a merging lane onto the highway and instead try to get your vehicle up to speed as you prepare to merge. Avoid making sudden movements when you are merging or changing lanes. You should instead merge gradually so that you do not take motorists traveling in the oncoming lane by surprise.

Get Help from the Law Offices of Bryan Musgrave

Merging or sideswipe accidents can be dangerous. Many merging accidents result in serious injuries or fatalities. If you were involved in a merging collision in which you were seriously injured, you should speak to an experienced attorney at the Law Offices of Bryan Musgrave. We can provide you with a free case evaluation so that you understand whether your claim has legal merits and the options that might be available to you. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation by calling 417-322-2222 or sending us a message online.

Files under: Personal Injury