Who Is Responsible For Lane Changing Accidents In Washington, D.C.?

By Peter DePaolis

Drivers are required to operate their vehicles with reasonable care and safety, and that means avoiding unsafe lane changes. But when negligent drivers fail to do so, others can get seriously injured or even killed. Proving that an unsafe lane change caused an accident isn’t easy, and requires the skill that an experienced Washington, D.C. personal injury attorney brings to the table

Most drivers understand the basic requirement that you cannot change lanes unless it’s safe to do so. That means, at a minimum, checking your mirrors and checking over your shoulder to ensure no vehicle is in your blind spot. Unfortunately, there are so many distractions for the average driver that few pay attention and will shift their automobiles right in the path of an oncoming vehicle. Other motorists simply don’t care and will change lanes without looking.

When combined with speed, environmental factors such as weather, and high traffic density, these accidents can be deadly. And while it’s always a good idea to drive defensively and be on the lookout for careless drivers, even the safest motorist can’t prevent another driver’s negligence. If you or a loved one were involved in a car accident caused by changing lanes, the damages could be substantial.

Proving Negligence

Proving the other driver’s negligent behavior will be challenging. Some drivers have dash cams that record traffic activity while they’re driving, but most don’t. Your attorney will need to be creative in coming up with ways to prove what the other driver did. That could involve the following:

  • Seeking out and speaking to witnesses to the accident
  • Obtaining dash cam footage from other drivers
  • Obtaining surveillance footage from cameras in the vicinity
  • The use of accident reconstruction experts
  • Determining whether the responsible driver was texting or otherwise distracted at the time of the accident

There are also cases in which the other driver may not be held liable, or may only be held partially liable. These cases present challenges to an injured victim seeking compensation for their accident. Some examples of these more difficult cases include:

  • Accidents in which both vehicles merged into the same lane at the same time
  • A speeding driver or reckless driver who suddenly appears in the other vehicle’s blind spot
  • Cases in which the government may be liable, e.g. in which lanes on public roads were not clearly marked
  • Cases involving automobile manufacturer liability, e.g. those in which a lane departure warning system failed

After a lane change accident, you can count on the other driver and his or her insurance company to deny responsibility. It’s also in the driver’s best interest to allege that you, the victim, were somehow partially to blame. That’s because, unlike most jurisdictions, Washington, D.C. follows what is called contributory negligence. That means if the victim contributed in any way to the accident, he or she cannot recover any damages. Using contributory negligence, a defendant can potentially evade any liability for the accident, sticking the victim with the medical bills and other losses.

That’s why Washington, D.C. automobile accident victims need the aggressive litigation team at Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP. If you were hurt by an irresponsible driver, reach out to us today.

About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.