Who is at Fault for a Merging Accident?

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Residents and tourists across Houston merge onto roads and highways every day to get to their destination. Merging onto a busy freeway requires the full attention and skill of drivers. It also calls for drivers already on the road to be courteous and use common sense. On busy Texas highways during rush hour, merging in and out of traffic can be difficult, and it often causes car accidents.

However, do you know who has the right of way and who should yield when merging onto a road? Which driver is liable in a merging lanes car accident? These are questions you should know the answers to when driving in Houston to keep yourself and others on the road safe. If you were in a car accident because of unsafe merging, contact the Houston car accident attorneys at Sutliff & Stout. We can explain your legal rights and options to pursue a claim.

Are There Laws for Merging Traffic in Texas?


When drivers first earn their license, instructors teach them to follow the rules of the road. When they fail to follow the rules, they may receive penalties, such as fines, jail time, or points on their license.

Texas Transportation Code 545 states that when a driver enters highway traffic from an on-ramp, that driver should yield to oncoming traffic before merging. Additionally, it establishes that while on the road with three or more lanes going in the same directions, a driver must yield to traffic on the left when entering on the right.

Is the Non-Merging Driver Ever at Fault for a Houston Merging Car Accident?

Is the Non-Merging Driver Ever at Fault for a Houston Merging Car AccidentWhile the merging driver is at fault for an accident in most cases, there could be some instances where the non-merging driver may be responsible. If a driver on the freeway is driving recklessly, negligently, or carelessly and causes an accident with the merging vehicle, it might not be the merging driver’s fault. A driver engaging in distractions, such as texting, eating, or daydreaming, may also be liable for a merging accident.

However, accident victims must remember that Texas is a modified comparative fault state. That means courts reduce each party’s awarded compensation by the percentage they were responsible for causing the accident. For example, a court may award you $100,000 but find you 20% responsible for the crash. In that case, you can only collect up to $80,000. Additionally, Texas law bars parties who are 50% or more liable for an accident from collecting any financial compensation from the other party.

Common Injuries Resulting from Merging Car Accidents

If failing to yield to oncoming traffic caused your Houston car accident, you were likely involved in a side-impact collision or sideswipe crash. These crashes may cause severe injuries, such as:

Motor vehicle design, vehicle construction, and impact speed are the main reasons why injuries are severe. The space between the driver or passenger and the colliding car is so small. Thus, it is challenging to manufacture vehicles that can adequately protect against these crashes.

Steps to Take after a Merging Car Accident in Houston

The aftermath of a merging car accident can be overwhelming. If your vehicle is still operable, you should drive it to a safe location, such as the road shoulder. Regardless of whether you can move your vehicle, you must turn on your hazards. That way, oncoming traffic can see you, which may help prevent another collision.

Other steps you should take include:

Call 911

Regardless of how minor or severe the car crash is, you should always contact law enforcement. Police officers can write an incident report that details specific information about the crash. The police report may also help later if you decide to file a claim. Additionally, Texas requires drivers to notify the police if the crash resulted in injury, death, or property damage. Remember, you must stay at the accident scene until the police arrive. Leaving may result in a criminal charge.

Exchange Contact Information

While you wait for the police to arrive, you should use this time to speak to the other driver. However, you must not admit fault for the crash. Even saying “I’m sorry” may allow their attorney to pinpoint liability on you. Instead, only exchange information, such as names, contact information, insurance carrier, and policy number. If the driver refuses to speak with you, wait until the police arrive.

Document the Accident Scene

After speaking to the other driver, document the accident scene. Taking photographs is the best way to preserve evidence. Take photos from multiple angles and make sure to include both vehicles in the shot. You should also take up-close photos of any vehicle damage and photograph the surrounding area. Photographing your injuries may also be helpful when filing a claim.

Schedule a Doctor’s Appointment

Once police officers clear the accident scene, you must seek medical attention. Even if you do not think you have any injuries, scheduling a doctor’s appointment is always a good idea. Remember, not all injuries show symptoms right away, but a doctor may catch injuries early and begin treatment. Furthermore, insurers tend to interpret not seeing a doctor as accident victims exaggerating their injuries. Protect your right to compensation and schedule an appointment.

Contact a Houston Car Accident Attorney

After a car accident in Houston, you should contact a lawyer. Insurance companies do not have your best interests in mind and will employ tactics that can deny or reduce your claim. The Houston car accident attorneys at Sutliff & Stout can protect you against these tactics.

Additionally, Texas has strict rules and deadlines when it comes to personal injury claims. One misinterpretation or missed deadline may result in a judge dismissing your case. Do not risk losing out on compensation needed to cover medical bills, lost wages, and property damage. Contact a Houston car accident lawyer.

Speak to an Experienced Car Accident Attorney in Houston Today

If you were in a crash when merging onto the highway or because of a merging driver, do not hesitate to contact the Houston car accident attorneys at Sutliff & Stout. Proving the other driver was negligent in causing the crash is vital to your claim’s success. Establishing fault on your own might be challenging to do, especially while you recover from your injuries.

However, our car accident attorneys can handle the day-to-day aspects of your case and protect your best interests while you focus on recovering. To schedule a free consultation with a skilled Houston car accident lawyer, call (713) 987-7111 or complete our online contact form.

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