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Lane Changing Liability: Who is at Fault?

Cars lane changing in rainy traffic

Anyone operating a vehicle in the state of Georgia must follow the proper procedure when changing lanes. Sadly, improper lane change techniques are a common reason for highway and roadway collisions in the state.

In many cases, improper lane changes create a presumption that one driver is not maneuvering in the way they intend or vice-versa. Georgia law imposes a duty on all motorists to ensure that they change lanes safely, which includes the use of turn signals.

Exploring the Applicable Law in Georgia

The state of Georgia has laws that restrict situations where you can change lanes and where your lane change could be perceived as illegal.

For starters, any road in the state divided into two or more lanes requires that all vehicles on the road use a single lane. A driver cannot deviate from his or her lane without the proper use of a signal to notify other drivers of the likely lane change.

However, the statute is rather unclear as to what justifies an unsafe lane change versus safe lane change. Sadly, if you or a loved one are in a car accident caused by a driver failing to perform the proper lane change, it may be difficult to prove that the driver failed to follow the laws.

What is Considered an Improper Lane Change in Georgia?

An improper lane change can lead to a motor vehicle accident, especially because the other motorist cannot anticipate the actions of the driver. An improper lane change occurs in several situations, including:

  • Changing without sufficient distance. Making a lane change on a hill or curve where the other vehicle has inadequate time to react is an inappropriate lane change – even if you were to use the proper signal.
  • Failing to check for vehicles in neighboring lanes. Even with the utilization of a signal, you must check to see if there is a driver in the adjacent lane. If so, you cannot proceed into that lane. Failing to check for vehicles is negligent.
  • Considering weather conditions. Adverse weather that inhibits your ability to see, or the other car’s ability to see your lane change signal, should also be considered. If you were to change lanes suddenly, signal or not, and the motorist had no opportunity to see your signal – you could be considered negligent.
  • Space for a lane change. You must allow for sufficient space between your vehicle and the two vehicles that will border your vehicle, in order to safely change lanes.
  • Straddling two lanes. Straddling two lanes with your vehicle to push your way into another lane is illegal and could lead to a serious incident.
  • Failing to signal. You are required to signal when you change lanes or turn. Do not assume that other drivers will see you veering over or react when they realize you are changing lanes. It is illegal not to signal properly.

Holding Negligent Drivers Responsible

Not only will a driver be subject to criminal charges and traffic citations if they cause an accident while disobeying the law, but you can also hold them accountable in civil court.  The experienced attorneys at Van Sant Law have assisted clients just like you in receiving compensation for serious automobile accidents caused by negligent drivers.

To see if your case qualifies for compensation, or to explore your options, schedule a consultation with our attorneys today at 404-991-5950 or request your free consultation online.

David M. Van Sant
Atlanta personal injury lawyer dedicated to helping clients throughout GA get the compensation they deserve.