Discussing Fault in Merging Accidents
Merging with traffic is rife with problems. If the vehicle trying to merge is too aggressive, they can slam into another car on the highway. Alternately, if a car on the highway does not allow a vehicle to merge, they could cause a terrible accident themselves. Because Washington’s highways have a lot of traffic, any accident can cause a multi-car pileup.
The personal injury lawyers at Kapuz Lighty receive many questions about merging accidents, and many of the questions revolve around liability. Who is legally responsible in a merging accident? And who needs to pay compensation?
Washington Law on Merging
According to RCW 46.61.205, the driver of a vehicle that is about to enter a highway must yield the right of way to all vehicles on the highway that are approaching it. RCW 46.61.190 requires that vehicles slow down to a reasonable speed when approaching a yield sign and should stop if necessary to yield to approaching traffic. These rules mean that the vehicle that wants to merge with traffic must wait until there is room for it to merge safely.
As explained by a spokesman with the Washington State Patrol, the responsibility for safely merging “lies with the driver of the merging vehicle.” In other words, Washington law does not require that a driver already on the highway slow down or move over so that a vehicle can merge with traffic.
Of course, vehicles on the highway should move over to make room, which will make things easier for everybody. However, there is no law that requires that they move over.
Accidents often happen when a vehicle tries to press into traffic and ends up clipping a vehicle that is already in the right-hand lane. Under the law, the driver who tried to merge will probably be responsible for the accident, especially if they did not stop or failed to yield to traffic already on the road. It really isn’t an excuse to claim you ran out for time or that other drivers were not creating a space for you. Under the law, they don’t have to.
Of course, in some situations, a vehicle already on the highway might be responsible. Let’s assume there is plenty of room for you to merge. But as you pull your vehicle onto the highway, another vehicle going much too fast tries to shoot past you, clipping you in the process. In this case, the car that hit you might be responsible for the accident, especially if they were speeding. Although the law does not require that vehicles pull over to let a car merge, the law also does not let drivers behave recklessly on the road.
Speak to a Car Accident Lawyer
Every car accident depends on its own facts, so it is vital that you meet with an experienced Yakima car accident lawyer as soon as possible to review what happened. At Kapuza Lighty, we have been representing injured motorists for years, and we are eager to hear your story.
To schedule a free consultation with one of our lawyers, please contact us today.