liable merging accident

The act of moving from a lane that ends to enter into another lane that continues forward is known as merging. This is an extremely critical maneuver and any error at this stage can lead to a merging accident. Most merging accidents in New York are known to occur when drivers change lanes without indicating their intention through a turn signal. Occasionally, a car driver will cross over multiple lanes or merge in such a way that they cut off someone on the lane into which they merge.

Determining liability for a merging accident can be complex and depends on several factors such as whether both drivers merged together, or whether one of them was speeding or distracted while driving. Even if you are worried that you may be partially at fault for a merging accident, it’s judicious to consult a personal injury lawyer in New York to find out if you can claim damages for the injury you sustained in the accident.

Common Causes of Merging Accidents in NYC

It is a well-known fact that a majority of merging accidents occur due to entirely avoidable causes. The most common among these include the following:

Failure to Signal a Turn

The most basic of traffic laws say that a driver who wishes to execute a turn must indicate their intention to do so. When you suddenly make a turn without having previously signaled it, the other drivers on the road are unaware of your intention and may not be able to avoid colliding into your vehicle in time to stop an accident.

Crossing Multiple Lanes

A car driver who suddenly moves in a manner that involves crossing many lanes together has poor visibility, especially of the lane that is farthest from them. Such crossing is yet another reason for merging accidents.

Merging Too Fast or Too Slowly

When you merge into a lane, it is vital that the speed of your vehicle match the pace of the rest of the traffic on that lane. Moving too fast or too slowly at the time of merging can confuse other drivers and also cause you to panic and lose control of your vehicle, resulting in a crash.


While speeding at any point on the road is dangerous, it becomes even more so at the time of merging. When you drive at a speed above the prescribed limits, you cannot react in time to the movements of other vehicles on the road, particularly those who are merging ahead of you.

Cutting Off Another Vehicle

When you drive in a manner that cuts off another approaching vehicle at the time of merging, there is a greater possibility of your vehicle sustaining a rear-end collision.

Road Distractions

Signs on the road or the presence of electric poles close to the merging point can distract attention away from the approaching vehicle. This may result in your inability to notice other vehicles around you or render your vehicle invisible to others on the road.

Driving Without Lights at Night

At night, the lights of your vehicle serve to not just illuminate your path, but also to warn other vehicles of your presence. Driving without lights at night makes your presence unnoticeable to other drivers on the road, and this can easily lead to a merging accident.

Who is Liable for a Merging Accident in New York?

Under New York law, there are specific guidelines that have been laid down to determine liability in a merging accident. Liability is determined by first considering the specific circumstances surrounding the accident and also by trying to find out if either of the involved drivers flouted road safety rules at the time when the accident occurred.

When a driver makes an attempt to enter a lane, it is considered as their responsibility to enter it in a safe manner. If the entry is such that the merging car collides with another vehicle, it is the merging driver who is naturally considered to be at fault for the accident. However, there may be situations when the other driver may be partly or equally responsible.

For example, if the other car was speeding or the driver was distracted, it could be their fault for not reacting in the appropriate manner to the merging vehicle. In a few rare cases, if there was an issue with the way the lane merging area was maintained, or a problem with visibility, the government entity responsible for the road’s upkeep may also be at fault.

Determining fault in middle lane merges is often far more complicated because it can be difficult to decide how much of the fault was shared by both the merging drivers.

Tips to Avoid Merging Accidents

Human error is often the most common theme in merging accidents and therefore, the best way to avoid them is to drive in a safe and cautious manner. Here are a few tips to follow when merging onto a lane:

  • Always make use of the turn signal to indicate the direction in which you plan to move. This helps other drivers around you to plan their movement so that there is enough space for you to make your maneuver without crashing into another car.
  • Never speed while driving, and be even warier of greater speeds when you are close to a merging point. Always drive at a consistent speed so that your movements are not unpredictable for vehicles around you. Reacting to sudden events on the road is definitely more difficult at higher speeds and easier when you are moving at a constant pace.
  • Resist the urge to tailgate someone and leave them enough space to enter the lane. Your aggressive driving can often trigger the same reckless behavior in drivers around you and increase the chances of a car collision.
  • Never stop abruptly when in the flow of traffic where the vehicles are moving at a constant pace. Whether you are merging into another lane or not, your stopping will force other drivers to maneuver around your car, and this can lead to complications that render you liable for the merging accident.
  • Drive in a consistent manner, sticking to your lane as far as possible. Weaving in and out of traffic and changing lanes in a random manner can increase the risk of a collision as well as a merging accident.
  • Be cautious when merging and pay careful attention to other vehicles in your vicinity before merging. Use the mirrors on your car to see how drivers behind you are placed; look out for anyone else who is indicating an intention to turn, and keep an eye out for other drivers who may be speeding.

What Must You Do If You Have Been in a Merging Accident?

If the vehicle you are driving is involved in a New York merging accident, make sure you pull to a stop on a safe part of the road. Check if you have injuries that require immediate medical attention and call for an ambulance or medical help.

If there is no such emergency, the next step to undertake is to call the police and file a report of the accident, giving a clear explanation of the situations that culminated in the accident.

Exchange contact information with the other driver or drivers who were involved in the accident. Get information regarding their license and also the insurance details. If there were other drivers who witnessed the merging accident, collect their contact information too because you may require it later to support your report of the accident circumstances.

Use your cellphone to take pictures of the accident site. They will serve as evidence of the situations, the conditions of the road, and the extent of damage caused by the accident.

The most important step that comes next is to contact a personal injury attorney in New York who is experienced in dealing with merging accidents and can help you claim damages for the losses you suffered.

Contact a Merging Accident Personal Injury Lawyer in NYC Today

If you or a loved one has been injured in a merging accident in NYC, it is vital you have the right legal representation to pursue your claim for damages. Determining liability can be complex in a merging accident and only the most experienced and skilled lawyers can help you prepare a case that is strong enough to establish the negligence of the other party.

If you have a case with points firmly in your favor, it is quite likely that the insurance company of the party at fault will try to settle the case without going to trial. Having a competent personal injury lawyer can be crucial to ensuring that you get the best possible settlement amount that you rightfully deserve.

At Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff, LLP, our attorneys are dedicated to protecting your rights in a merging accident and will put to use all our resources to make sure you get the compensation to which you are truly entitled. To know more about how we can help in your merging accident case, call us today at 212-344-1000 or contact us online for a free and confidential case review.


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