Who is Liable in a Lane-Change Car Accident

September 28, 2023 | By Mike Hancock
Who is Liable in a Lane-Change Car Accident

Establishing fault is usually the first thing that people want to do after getting into a car crash. But usually, the fault is harder to establish than one might think. You may ask “was a blinker used?” or “was someone speeding?” In a lane-change car accident, variables such as speed, blinker use, distance, distraction, or negligence can come into play when determining liability.

According to Findlaw, a negligence claim in a lane-changing accident would include elements such as:

  • Duty: Did the other driver owe you a duty of care to drive responsibly?
  • Breach: Did the other driver fail to meet this duty, by changing lanes too abruptly or without looking?
  • Causation: Was your injury a result of the other driver’s lane change? Also, were your injuries the fault of the car accident, and not something some other cause?
  • Damages: Can you document your injuries, through medical records, medical expenses, or evidence of emotional distress?

In Florida, The Lane-Changing Law, Statute 316.085states That:

You can’t drive a vehicle on the left side of the center of the roadway when passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction. An exception may be made if you are authorized by the provisions of this chapter or if the left side is clearly visible and free of oncoming traffic for a reasonable distance ahead. Regardless, when passing another vehicle, you must return to an authorized lane of travel as soon as practicable.

You can’t drive a vehicle from a direct course in any lane on any highway until you determine that your vehicle is not being approached or passed by any other vehicle in the lane or on the side to which you desire to move to. also, you can’t change lanes until you ensure that you can do so without interfering with the safe operation of any vehicle approaching from the same direction.

What this means is that in Florida, don't switch lanes until you reasonably see it is a clear coast. If you do, then the law may consider you to be partly at fault. You need photographs, witnesses and police reports to strengthen your liability case. If you've been involved in a car accident, it's advisable to consult with a Tampa car accident lawyer who can protect your rights and help you navigate the legal process.

If you’d like to learn more about lane-change car accidents, then contact our offices or call us at (813) 915-1110 and we’ll be happy to speak with you.

Mike Hancock


People involved in serious accidents experience loss and often don’t know what to do next. Tampa Personal Injury Attorney Mike Hancock has dedicated his career to handling the recovery process for his clients so that their lives can get back to normal.

Mike has excelled in personal injury litigation for over 30 years and even though that’s earned him numerous professional honors, what’s most important to him is meeting directly with you and his commitment to giving you peace of mind.

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