How Are Lane-Change Car Accident Cases Decided in Florida?

Many car accidents are confusing.  Traffic laws may sometimes hold drivers accountable for surprising technicalities while other rules may absolve you of fault.  One of the most confusing and unclear types of accidents occurs when cars change lanes, especially if two cars change lanes at the same time.  Miami car accident lawyer Prosper Shaked discusses some of the Florida traffic laws that affect the outcome of these cases and how judges and juries decide who is at fault in lane-changing accident cases.

Who is At Fault in an Accident on a Multi-Lane Highway in FL?

When changing lanes, it is a common safety practice to check your mirrors, check your blind spots, and use your turn signal.  If a driver changes lanes without looking or signaling, they may violate certain sections of Florida’s Motor Vehicles Code.  Whenever a driver breaks the law, that law may be used to help show that they were at fault for any accident injuries they caused while breaking the law.  Although many crashes do when one person changes lanes, many lane-change crashes are more complex.

One of the most common – and most confusing – types of lane-change accidents occurs on multi-lane highways.  When two cars move into the same lane at the same time, it may not be clear who caused the crash.  Both cars were making unsafe lane changes, so it isn’t as simple as blaming the car who changed lanes.  If both drivers used their turn signals and properly checked the area before making their move, the accident may seem like a freak accident.  However, courts can still decide that one party is at fault for the crash.

When judges and juries analyze a car accident case, they look at the “totality of the circumstances” to decide who is at fault.  This means they can take into account factors like the speed at which the driver was traveling, how far before their move they used their signal, and how carefully they made the move, among other factors, when determining fault.

Additionally, juries can assign partial blame to each party involved in the crash.  That means that a jury may say that you were partly to blame for the crash, but they may consider the other driver to be more at-fault, in which case you may still recover substantial compensation.  Your total damages will be reduced by the amount of fault you shared, but you can still recover damages if you were partly at-fault.  For instance, an award that would normally be $100,000 would be reduced to $90,000 if the court finds you shared 10% of the fault.

Although Florida has no specific law on-point, some cases of this type are decided by giving preference to the car coming from the left lane.  This would make the driver to the right at fault for the crash.  Since you should drive in the right lane and only move left to pass, the law sometimes gives preference to the leftmost vehicle.  The car coming from the left is either trying to leave the left lane open or get to the right so they can exit.  However, the totality of the circumstances is important, and this rule alone may not be enough to hold the driver coming from the right responsible.

Proving Your Changing Lanes Car Accident Case in FL

To win your car accident case in Florida, you first need to be able to file a lawsuit.  Florida law only allows lawsuits in cases that have permanent injuries or injuries worth over $10,000 in medical expenses and lost wages.  Even minor injuries can be expensive to treat, and many surprising injuries like whiplash injuries or back injuries may qualify.

Once your case is in court, you need to prove that the other driver was at fault.  The standard for proving your case is known as the “by a preponderance of the evidence” standard, which essentially means proving it is more likely than not that your claim is true.  If the jury believes your claim that the other driver injured you, you can receive damages for your case.  You prove what damages you are entitled to during trial by presenting evidence of how much your medical bills cost, what wages you missed, other expenses you paid because of the injury, and how the injury caused you pain and suffering.

In many car accident claims, it’s your word against the other driver’s.  However, witnesses to the crash, collision recreation experts, and the police who responded to the scene can also provide excellent information and evidence of the case to help you prove what happened.  You may also be able to use evidence from traffic cameras to piece together your case.  Talk to an attorney about what evidence you need to prove your case.

Miami, FL Car Accident Lawyer Offering Free Consultations

If you or a loved one was injured in a car accident in Miami, Florida, talk to Miami personal injury lawyer Prosper Shaked about filing your car accident claim.  Prosper Shaked is a trial lawyer who fights to get his clients compensation they need for their injuries.  For a free consultation on your case, call The Law Offices of Prosper Shaked today at (305) 609-0244.

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