Lane Switching Truck Accident

Richmond Lane Switching Accident Lawyer

Skilled advocacy for victims of passing and merging accidents in Virginia

One of the most dangerous times to be traveling near a truck is when it needs to switch lanes. Between their large blind spots and the time it takes for them to move, 18-wheelers and other large commercial vehicles pose a serious risk of collision any time they merge.

At Phelan Petty, our Richmond-based truck accident attorneys are skilled at showing how lane-changing crashes occur and proving the full extent of your injuries to a jury. We’ve secured millions in compensation for our clients throughout Virginia. If you or your loved one suffered serious harm in a collision with a big rig, we want to help. Call us in Richmond today to get started.

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What is a lane-switching accident?

There are three common scenarios that can lead to a lane-switching accident:

  • Trucks can pass other vehicles and other vehicles may pass trucks in three different situations:
    • A driver passes on the left into a lane of traffic that is moving in the same direction. For example, when three lanes are traveling north and the driver in the middle lane moves into the far left northbound lane.
    • A driver passes on the left into an oncoming lane of traffic. These lane switches are especially dangerous because the driver who is passing may collide head-on with a car or truck coming toward the passing driver.
    • A driver passes on the right. This type of lane switch is generally illegal. Drivers who need to switch to the right lane should wait for cars in the right lane to pass the truck before moving safely over into the right lane.
  • There are different types of merging depending on the layout of the roads.
    • Vehicles from side roads can merge into main roads.
    • Vehicles from off-ramps can merge into main roads.
    • Vehicles in right and left lanes may be directed into just one lane, such as when traffic needs to merge due to construction.
    • Vehicles may merge while driving around circular roads into straight roads.
    • Many other types of merging are possible depending on the layout of the roads and where the vehicles are located.
  • Failure to stay in a lane. Trucks and other vehicles may intend to stay in the same lane but end up veering over into other lanes. Trucks are especially prone to take up part of another lane due to their large width. New technology helps alert drivers that they are shifting into another lane, but not all commercial trucks are equipped with this software.

The one common danger for all these lane switches is that two vehicles cannot be in the same spot at the same time. This means that the truck driver who is shifting lanes and the driver in the same lane need to be aware of each other and communicate through hand signals, turn signals, eye contact, and audio signals where they can.

What factors should truck drivers consider when shifting lanes?

When truck drivers change lanes, they need to use their turn signals, look for blind spots, obey the speed limits, and proceed with caution. Blind spots are especially difficult for truck drivers because it can be very difficult for the driver to see behind the truck.

Merging is especially difficult when trucks are involved because of the length, width, and height of the vehicles. Visibility around the trucks is low for both the operators and other drivers around them.

Drivers who are passing or involved in a merge should:

  • Understand whether moving into another lane is legal
  • Know how fast they are traveling and how fast the vehicles around them are traveling
  • Know the speed limits
  • Understand how much room they have through all phases of the merge
  • Understand what they need to do if a nearby driver speeds up or slows down
  • Understand how much distance they need to make a full stop
  • Know what alternative routes are available, such as road shoulders or a third lane if an emergency arises

Why do lane-switching accidents happen in Richmond?

Most truck accidents are the result of negligence. This negligence can include truck operator error, or reckless or dangerous behavior. A truck driver can easily cause a wreck if he or she:

  • Failed to understand which driver has the right of way
  • Failed to use courtesy when merging.
  • Failed to judge the time and distance needed to pass another vehicle.
  • Passed when there was a double yellow line or a no-passing sign
  • Passed without being able to see in front of the vehicle the driver was passing
  • Failed to notice if what other cars may also be trying to pass or merge
  • Failed to observe any turn signals or use his/her turn signals
  • Drove drunk or under the influence of drugs
  • Drove distracted

Drivers may also be negligent if they drive too close to a vehicle in front to pressure that driver to move into another lane. Passing and merging are especially difficult when there are three or more lanes of travel. Generally, cars need to be acutely aware when trucks are trying to pass or merge because an accident can be deadly or cause catastrophic injuries.

At Phelan Petty, our Richmond-based lane-switching lawyers understand the Virginia traffic rules. We are skilled at showing why the driver that hit your car or truck (in the front, on the side, in the rear, or at an angle) was negligent.


What injuries can victims of lane change accidents suffer?

Lane-switching accidents often cause serious injuries or fatalities due to the initial impact between the two vehicles, and subsequent impacts with any other vehicles nearby.

Serious injuries that occur in Richmond lane-switching accidents include:

Who is liable for a truck merging accident in Richmond?

Collisions and accidents involving commercial trucks often have multiple liable parties. Those parties can include one or more of the following:

  • The truck driver
  • The trucking company
  • A third party driver
  • A construction company
  • A broker or shipper
  • A parts manufacturer

How dangerous are lane-switching accidents?

According to a study in Science Direct, the leading cause of “sudden” lane changes were driver distraction due to talking with another person (or other things), mobile phone distraction, trying to avoid an object in the road, trying to get to the next exit, overtaking a slow car, averting a car from behind that was also shifting lanes, and driver fatigue.

While 83.7 percent of drivers said they make a visual inspection around blind spots, 16.3 percent said they did not make a blind spot inspection. Only 38.9 percent of drivers said that they receive enough training when issuing a driving license about safety lane changes.


Do you have a lane-switching accident lawyer near me?

Phelan Petty’s office is located at 3315 West Broad Street in Richmond – close to the state courthouses. We do visit ill and immobile clients who were injured in lane-shifting accidents in their homes and healthcare facilities.

Our Richmond personal injury lawyers represent clients across the Commonwealth of Virginia. Many out-of-state attorneys seeking local counsel service contact us, too.

We calmly and clearly guide personal injury clients through each stage of their claim. We keep clients informed and answer any questions they have.

Talk to a respected Richmond truck accident attorney today

Drivers need to be extra careful when they pass, move into other lanes, merge, or switch lanes for any other reason. Vehicles can collide with other vehicles traveling in the same direction or head-on with drivers coming from the opposite direction. At Phelan Petty, our Richmond-based lane-switching lawyers understand who is responsible for this type of accident and how to show the driver who struck your vehicle was negligent. We demand compensation for all your financial and personal damages.

Call us or fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment. We represent car, truck, and motorcycle accident victims across Virginia.