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Accidents Caused by Lane Changes

Florida Lane Change Auto Accidents

Florida roads are notorious for drivers who change lanes without looking.  Dangerous lane changes by cars in one of the most common causes of car accidents in Florida.  According to Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Annual Traffic Citation Report, there were more than 400,000 non-criminal moving citations issued to Florida drivers last year.  Of that amount, more than 20,000 were given for improper lane change, and another 80,000 citations given for careless driving.  Car drivers making dangerous lane changes is a serious problem in Florida.

What Are Florida’s Laws on Improper Lane Change?

Florida Statute §316.085 is titled “Limitations On Overtaking, Passing, Changing Lanes and Changing Course”.  This law states:

(1) No vehicle shall be driven to the left side of the center of the roadway in overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction unless …. such left side is clearly visible and is free of oncoming traffic for a sufficient distance ahead to permit such overtaking and passing to be completely made without interfering with the operation of any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction of any vehicle overtaken. In every event the overtaking vehicle must return to an authorized lane of travel as soon as practicable and, in the event the passing movement involves the use of a lane authorized for vehicles approaching from the opposite direction, before coming within 200 feet of any approaching vehicle.

(2) No vehicle shall be driven from a [single lane of traffic] on any highway until the driver has determined that the vehicle is not being approached or passed by any other vehicle in the lane or on the side to which the driver desires to move and that the move can be completely made with safety and without interfering with the safe operation of any vehicle approaching from the same direction.

What Are The Most Common Causes Of Lane Change Accidents in Florida?

  • Vehicle Blind Spots – every car has them. When you are driving, look out the back corner of your car and at least part of the view is blocked by the structural pillars of your car, and by headrests.  These blind spots can block your view of cars approaching on your side.
  • Excessive Speed – it is sometimes difficult to judge the speed of traffic that you are approaching, or that is approaching you from behind.
  • Racing – cars traveling at high rates of speed weaving in and out of traffic
  • Tractor Trailers – even with wide angle side mirrors, most truck drivers cannot see vehicles that are travelling close behind their trailer. Car that dart out from behind a tractor trailer can also be hidden from other cars in the area
  • Road construction/lane narrowing – road construction often brings alterations in normal straight line traffic lanes, either with narrowing, uneven pavement, or curves to newly created lanes
  • Merging traffic – traffic merging onto highway lanes often have difficulty getting up to speed, or attempting the change too many lanes when merging.

How Do You Prove Fault in a Florida Lane Change Car Accident?

Florida’s lane change law clearly identifies when a driver is at fault for a lane change accident.  A car cannot pass another car unless the driver has made sure they are not being passed themselves, and that the move can be made without interfering with the travel of any other cars.  However, once the cars stop after the accident, the at fault driver rarely admits fault.

It is critical in a lane change accident to investigate the accident as soon as it happens.  This means taking photographs of the location of the crash as soon as it occurs, and in particular, the location of the vehicles when they come to a stop.  If there are any witnesses to the accident, their names and contact information should be preserved.

One of the most important pieces of evidence in a Florida lane change accident is the location of the property damage on the cars.  Typically, property damage from a dangerous lane change accident will be in the front quarter panel and rear quarter panel of the vehicles involved.

Can I Recover Money For My Injuries And Damages In A Florida Lane Change Accident?

Florida lane change accident fall under Florida’s No Fault Motor Vehicle Law.  This means that your initial medical bills will be covered by your personal injury protection (PIP) insurance coverage.  However, to recover money for your pain and suffering, future medical care, and lost wages because you cannot return to work, you must be able to prove you suffered a permanent injury as a result of the lane change accident.  Florida law defines a “permanent injury” as:

  1. Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function;
  2. Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, other than scarring or disfigurement;
  3. Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement; or
  4. Death

While this sounds like a difficult burden to meet, most Florida doctors understand the types of injuries that can justify a finding a permanent injury.  Florida courts have found permanent injuries to exist with these types of injuries:

  1. Neck and back injuries
  2. Shoulder, elbow and hand injuries
  3. Broken bone
  4. Injuries requiring surgery
  5. Knee Injuries
  6. Traumatic Brain Injuries
  7. Foot and Ankle Injuries

If you or a loved one has been injured in a Florida lane change accident, contact the Maus Law Firm for a free evaluation of your rights and ability to recover for your accident.



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