A Driver Paused To Let Me In--Who Is Liable?

Many things can happen in a split second. You make a judgment call, and it could result in a result that is completely opposite to what you intended. For example, you or another driver could stop to be polite to another driver on the road, letting them merge into traffic, only to cause an auto accident.

Certainly, that result is not what anyone in the situation intended, so what do you do? Who is responsible for the resulting damages?

We have asked attorney, Alaina Sullivan, about what you should do. Here is what she had to say:

Driving Defensively and Duty of Care

Ultimately, anytime you get behind the wheel, you are charged with a duty of care to be aware of your surroundings at all times while on the road. You and only you are responsible for your actions while driving, and you are expected to drive defensively. This expectation means you should be aware that not all drivers are perfect.

Not every driver on the road is going to be following all traffic laws at all times, and you are expected to anticipate those actions. The driver who hit the car being allowed into traffic by another driver should have seen the entire scene playing out if at all possible. It could be argued that, if the driver had been appropriately paying attention, he or she would have had adequate time to stop before hitting your vehicle. Therefore, at least a portion of the blame will fall on the driver who hit your car.

A Lawyer Explains How Merging Affects a Claim

Sharing the Auto Accident Blame

The blame does not lie solely on that one driver. Just as that driver has a duty to drive defensively, the other driver who let you merge has a duty to ensure that the actions he or she is taking will not lead to an accident. If stopping to let oncoming traffic in could be viewed as dangerous or negligent, the other driver might be able to argue that the “polite” driver should share a portion of the blame.

Comparative Fault in Auto Accidents

In the same breath, you might also be delegated some of the blame as well. Many states have a standard known as comparative fault whereby fault is divided between parties based on the percent their own negligence played into an accident. If you should have seen oncoming traffic and known it would not be wise to merge into traffic at the risk of causing an accident, the “at-fault” party might be able to reduce his or her portion of the fault by claiming you played a part in the accident. The entire situation will be considered, and that includes the actions of all three parties involved.

Contact an Attorney Today

These situations can be tricky, and for that reason it is important you speak with an attorney to know your rights as well as the possibilities out there in how your case can be resolved. A licensed personal injury attorney will be able to evaluate your case and determine if you have a claim against the other party’s insurance company. For the best chance of receiving the compensation you need to pay for damages as a result of your accident, you should speak with a personal injury attorney in your area today.