Ohio Car Crash Liability: Who is At Fault in a Merging Accident? | KNR

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Drivers must pay close attention and use common sense to merge safely. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen, and merging accidents occur.
Written by
KNR Legal
Date posted
February 10, 2023

Ohio has the fourth most extensive Interstate Highway System in the county. So, it makes sense that merging is a significant concern for Ohio drivers. Highway accidents while merging can cause severe injuries and considerable damage to your car.

A lot of factors come into play when determining fault and liability in an Ohio merging accident. But if you are injured because you think the other driver was negligent and failed to merge properly, you may have cause to file an insurance claim or lawsuit for compensation. Contact the Ohio car accident lawyers at Kisling, Nestico & Redick at 1-800-HURT-NOW to discuss your legal options.

Initial consults are free, and there’s no cost unless you recover compensation.

What Causes Merging Accidents in Ohio?

Car crashes happen for many reasons, especially when travel is complicated on busy, congested roadways. Frequently, merging accidents happen because drivers incorrectly judge the distance between vehicles and hit another car while trying to merge.

Merging or lane change accidents are most common when drivers in the on-ramp lane attempt to merge into highway traffic.

Who’s in the Wrong for a Merging Accident?

In most merging accidents, the merging driver is at fault. But there are exceptions. For instance, when the merging vehicle crashes into a speeding car, the merging driver may not be held liable because the speeding driver made it difficult for the merging driver to estimate the time needed to merge.

Other times, a driver may merge from an inside lane and strike a vehicle merging from the outermost lane to the middle lane. In this case, the first driver may not be liable. However, if the cars involved sideswiped each other rather than collided, the at-fault driver will be determined by their position on the road and where the cars made impact.

Negligence & Fault in a Merging Accident

Like most car accidents, one driver will be considered at fault, and proving which driver’s lapse in judgment ultimately caused the crash could be simple. For instance, if you were already in the lane and obeying traffic laws when another driver merged into you, it’s relatively straightforward that their reckless driving caused them to be in the wrong.

A merging driver may be assigned partial or total blame if they

  • Merged too slowly When a car is entering a highway, the driver should use the on-ramp to match the speed of other vehicles. When they don’t, they run the risk of causing an accident.
  • Changed lanes suddenly: If a driver changes lanes abruptly without using their turn signal, nearby drivers don’t have enough warning to avoid a collision.
  • Abruptly cut off other vehicles: An inattentive driver may not give nearby drivers enough clearance when they change lanes, pulling in front of them and increasing the chance of a crash.
  • Crossed multiple lanes of traffic at once When a driver changes lanes, they should be going one at a time. If they decide to cross several lanes at once, they may not see a vehicle previously in their blind spot and cause a crash.

I Was the Merging Driver – Am I At Fault?

If you collided with another car while attempting to merge, you would likely be considered responsible for the accident. As the merging driver, you’re legally obligated to enter the lane safely by checking mirrors, gauging distance, and keeping a lookout. So, if an accident happened, it’s considered more than likely that your negligence to do so was the cause.

However, things are not always cut and dry. Even if you followed every safety precaution to merge correctly, if a speeding driver hit you in the adjacent lane or an aggressive driver who wouldn’t accommodate someone entering the lane, a merging accident could happen that wasn’t your fault.

What If Another Car Merged into Me?

As a driver, remember you shouldn’t regulate traffic or obstruct it by preventing someone from merging. Don’t speed up to prevent a driver from merging. Doing so can shift the blame to you.

You also have an obligation to other drivers to obey traffic laws, which means if you’re speeding, impairment, or general negligence contributes to a merging accident, it can impact your level of fault.

That being said, most merging accidents are initiated by the merging driver. If the merging driver didn’t use their signal appropriately, that is negligence on their part. Any witnesses that corroborate a driver was driving aggressively or recklessly can help prove negligence. It’s also important to note if a driver ignored any traffic directions, like yield signs.

Proper Merging & Right of Way in Ohio

The Ohio Revised Code dictates how drivers should conduct themselves on the road. This includes how to change lanes and safely merge into traffic.

Whether a driver is entering the highway or changing lanes during travel, they have a duty of care to ensure their safety and the safety of others. If you are driving and need to change lanes, you should:

  • Check your surroundings, using your mirrors and looking around.
  • Wait until it’s clear, then signal and change lanes.
  • Maintain speed so oncoming drivers won’t have to react drastically.

Doing otherwise could mean being at fault for a merging accident.

Car Accidents While Merging on the Highway

If you’re merging on the highway, you’ll need to match traffic speed. As the on-ramp begins to merge with the existing lane, ensure space for your vehicle, and move into the lane. If you need to cross lanes, wait to ensure room in the next lane before merging.

Preventing Merging Accidents

Fortunately, there are several ways to prevent merging accidents and the severe injuries that come with them. Here are some tips to help reduce your risk of a merging accident:

  • Don’t Tailgate — Avoid tailgating the vehicle in front of you. Doing so can increase your chance of causing a rear-end collision because the vehicle may slow down or stop without you realizing it.
  • Use Turn Signals — The importance of turn signals should not be overlooked, especially while merging. Turn signals allow other drivers to understand your intentions and ensure you are more visible.
  • Merge Gradually — Since abrupt movements frighten drivers and lead to accidents, merge gradually.

Hold Reckless Drivers Accountable for Merging Accidents

Since collisions, while merging primarily happen fast and on busy roads, it can be difficult to assign responsibility accurately. You may even think you carry more of the blame than you do. Ohio follows a comparative negligence standard that accounts for varying degrees of fault. Because every merging accident is different, it’s wise to get help from an experienced car accident lawyer before making any final decisions or accepting a settlement.

By investigating the details with a lawyer, you can confidently assign fault for a merging accident and pursue a claim or lawsuit for financial damages against the appropriate party. This is usually the at-fault driver’s auto insurance carrier. The compensation you may be entitled to can help you pay any medical bills, vehicle repair costs, lost wages, and other losses related to your merging accident.

Hurt in a Merging Accident? Call The Ohio Vehicle Accident Lawyers at KNR Today

Injured in a merging accident and unsure of who is at fault? Call an experienced Ohio car accident lawyer at Kisling, Nestico & Redick. We know what to look for and how to hold reckless drivers accountable.

You may be able to recover compensation for your injuries. Contact us at 1-800-HURT-NOW.