You may have experienced a “near miss” when two drivers who are parallel to one another on the road decide to merge at the same time. The driver in the right lane decides to merge into the center lane at the precise moment that the driver in the left lane tries to do the same. If both drivers are watching carefully, they may see what’s about to happen and avoid the impending disaster. However, if one driver or both drivers are not paying close enough attention, the two vehicles will collide. The resulting crash could include more than just those two vehicles.
Merging accidents can happen when a vehicle is trying to merge into a lane of traffic from a highway on-ramp, too. If that vehicle accelerates too quickly as the driver tries to merge into traffic, he or she could cause an accident. If the driver is traveling too slowly at the time of the merge, he or she runs the risk of getting rear-ended.
What causes merging accidents?
Some of the factors which could contribute to causing a merging accident include:
- Changing lanes quickly without using directional signals
- Changing more than one lane at a time
- Cutting off other drivers to merge into a new lane
- Entering the roadway going too slowly or too fast
- Drifting slowly from one lane to the other
Determining fault in a truck accident which occurs while merging
Determining which driver is at fault in causing the crash is based on which driver may have violated traffic laws. According to North Dakota Century Code 39-10-22.1: “A vehicle entering a freeway from an acceleration lane, ramp, or any other approach road shall yield the right of way to a vehicle on the main roadway entering the merging area at the same time, regardless of whether the approach road is to the left or the right of the main roadway, unless posted signs indicate otherwise.”
So, when merging on to a highway, the vehicle that is already on that highway has the right of way. When overtaking or passing a vehicle on the left, the driver passing another vehicle must do so at a safe distance. The vehicle being overtaken is not permitted to increase its speed until it has been completely passed by the overtaking vehicle.
Comparative negligence in North Dakota merging accidents
The driver who is merging into another lane may be at fault for failure to yield the right of way to the driver who was already in that lane. However, if the right-of-way driver was doing something wrong – not using a turn signal, being distracted by a cell phone, or driving erratically – these factors might change who is liable.
In some cases, the fault for causing the crash can be shared by both drivers. In North Dakota, if you are involved in a crash where both drivers have some share of the fault, it could reduce the award you receive. The doctrine of comparative negligence in North Dakota says that the plaintiff is entitled to be compensated for the portion of damages caused by someone else as long as the plaintiff is less than 50% responsible. In cases where the defendant brings up comparative negligence, the jury will assign a percentage of fault to each party. If the plaintiff’s portion of fault is greater than 50%, he or she will be unable to recover compensation.
If you were hit by a truck while merging and sustained injures, Larson Law Firm, P.C. is here to represent you. To schedule a free consultation with a truck accident attorney in our Minot or Bismarck office, please call 701-484-4878, or fill out our contact form.