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Unsafe Lane Changes on Northern California’s Roads and Highways: A Potentially Lethal Danger

Four, six, and eight-lane roads offer many benefits, including allowing drivers to get to their destinations more quickly. They also create a degree of risk, particularly when it comes to lane changes. An unsafe lane change has the potential to create a “domino effect” of reactions from other drivers, and may trigger an accident involving many vehicles. If you’ve been hurt in an accident caused by a driver’s unsafe lane change, the legal issues related to liability can be intricate and complex, so make sure you have an experienced San Mateo injury attorney handling your case.

In early December, an unsafe lane change right here in San Mateo County was the basis for one man’s tragic death. According to, a man in a silver Toyota was traveling northbound on Highway 101 near the San Francisco Airport when he executed what police investigators believed was an “unsafe right lane change.” That lane change caused the Toyota to hit the rear of another vehicle.

The Toyota then struck a concrete wall and overturned several times. The accident killed the driver of the Toyota. The driver of the other vehicle was not hurt, according to the report.


The death of the one driver is tragic. The other driver is fortunate apparently to have escaped unharmed. Many times, though, the damage caused by an unsafe lane change is spread across more vehicles and more people. When a driver attempts an unsafe lane change, many bad things can happen. The unsafe lane change may cause the other driver to swerve to avoid the lane-changer. That may cause that second driver to make an unsafe lane change of his/her own, or it may cause the second driver to lose control of his/her vehicle.

The legal issues presented by these kinds of cases can be complex. An unsafe lane change may ultimately lead to a multi-vehicle chain-reaction wreck, as other drivers crash into one or more of the ones involved in the initial impact. Chain-reaction crashes can be especially tricky for people who need to sue for damages. It is possible that one driver was entirely legally responsible for all of the damage, but it is also distinctly plausible that certain percentages of blame will be spread across numerous drivers, each of whom made errors of varying degrees that contributed to the crash and to the harm you suffered.

Additionally, you may have been injured in an unsafe lane change-triggered wreck where the driver who made the unsafe lane change was not involved in the crash at all. It is possible for a driver to make a legally unsafe lane change but avoid contact. If the other driver swerved quickly enough, he/she may be able to avoid an impact with the unsafe lane-changer, but then be unable to avoid some subsequent collision.

Who’s liable for your damages? It may be one driver or several.

The California Vehicle Code (Section 22107) requires drivers to make lane changes only when it’s “reasonably safe” to do so. The law also mandates the use of turn signals when making a lane change.

If you were hit by a driver who merged into your lane unsafely and without signaling, then you may have a fairly straightforward case. However, if Car A made an unsafe lane change, Car B swerved to avoid Car A but, while escaping Car A, slammed into your car, which was then hit by three other cars, you can see how your case can become very complex very quickly. The facts may reveal that as many five different drivers may have liability and may owe you compensation. And one of those is a driver who was not even involved in the impact and may not have stopped at the scene of the accident!

Getting the investigation right and doing the discovery you need to get a clear understanding of who’s liable is key to getting you the full recovery you deserve. When it comes time to do that, rely on the experienced San Mateo car accident attorneys at the Law Offices of Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos. Our team has a wealth of experience helping injured people, whether they were hurt in straightforward two-vehicle crashes or complicated multi-car wrecks, to use the legal system to get the compensation they deserve. To set up a free consultation with one of our helpful attorneys, contact us at 650-345-8484 or through our website.

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