Guide to Fault After a Highway Ramp Merging Accident in Texas
Highway driving is inherently dangerous. According to an analysis of statewide crash rates, the Texas Department of Transportation (DOT) concluded that there were 158.85 crashes per 100 million vehicle miles on interstate highways in urban areas. Meanwhile, there were 57.38 traffic crashes per 100 million vehicle miles on interstates in rural areas.
Many of these highway accidents happen while vehicles are merging. Typically, a driver entering the highway has to yield to oncoming traffic. Still, there are crashes where the non-merging driver may be at fault. Fortunately, victims of these accidents may pursue payment for the injuries they suffer.
After a highway ramp merging accident, seek guidance from our experienced Dallas car accident attorneys by calling The Queenan Law Firm at (817) 476-1797 today.
Dangerous Interstates for Highway Ramp Merging Accidents in Texas
Unfortunately, Texas is home to some of the most dangerous roads in America. Particularly in the Dallas-Fort Worth region, there are multiple areas where travelers must navigate high-speed merges when entering the highway. The following are examples of interstates where highway ramp merging accidents frequently occur:
The Zebra is an Austin-based insurance company that released a study analyzing the 10 most dangerous roads in America. The study was published online in March of 2023 and relied on data compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
According to the study, Interstate 35 is the fifth most dangerous highway in the country. This road runs through many of the major cities in Central and East Texas including San Antonio, Austin, and Dallas. In 2019, there were 197 fatalities on this highway.
Another study released by personal finance company MoneyGeek in 2022 specifically identified the most dangerous roads in Texas. According to the data analyzed by MoneyGeek, the area of I-35 between Exit 238B and Exit 244 in Austin is the second most dangerous stretch of road in Texas with 16 fatal accidents occurring there between 2018 and 2020. Furthermore, the area between Exit 235B and Exit 229 in Austin is the third most dangerous stretch of road in Texas, with 15 deadly crashes happening in that same time frame.
Interstate 20 was identified as the second most dangerous highway in America in the previously mentioned study published by the Zebra. This interstate travels through the heavily populated Dallas-Fort Worth region. In 2019, there were 208 fatal collisions on this road.
The study from MoneyGeek that specifically analyzed dangerous roads in Texas noted that the stretch of I-20 between Exit 443 and Exit 439 was particularly perilous. This stretch of road runs through Forest Hill, Arlington, and Fort Worth. From 2018 to 2020, there were 14 deadly accidents in this area. A significant portion of these crashes occurred near the merge with Interstate 820.
Finally, Interstate 820 is another dangerous road for highway ramp merging accidents in Texas. MoneyGeek’s analysis of dangerous roads in Texas identified the area between Exit 33C and Exit 30A to be especially treacherous. This is the 10th deadliest stretch of road in Texas with 10 fatal accidents happening there between 2018 and 2020.
Who is to Blame for Highway Ramp Merging Accidents in Texas?
According to Tex. Transp. Code § 545.061, a driver must yield to traffic on their left when entering a lane from their right when entering roadways divided into three or more lanes for one-way traffic. In other words, drivers entering highways from on-ramps typically have to yield to oncoming traffic before merging.
There are times where drivers may yield the right-of-way to vehicles entering the highway, but this is done as a courtesy rather than a legal requirement. However, it is always the merging driver’s duty to slow down or stop until it is safe to enter a highway. This means that for highway merging accidents, the merging driver is often at fault.
Still, there are some highway merging accidents where the non-merging driver is to blame. If a non-merging motorist causes an accident because they were driving carelessly or recklessly, then they may be held accountable for the damages they cause. For example, a non-merging driver who was texting at the time of a crash may be liable for the accident because they were not paying attention to the road. Victims of highway merging accidents can consult with our Fort Worth car accident lawyers to determine the strength of their claims against other drivers.
What if You Share Fault for Your Highway Ramp Merging Accident in Texas?
If you share some of the blame for your highway ramp merging accident, you may still be able to recover financial compensation for the injuries you sustained. However, the amount of monetary damages you are awarded can be limited.
When assigning damages in car accident cases, Texas courts will abide by the rules of modified comparative fault. In other words, damages are apportioned based on each party’s percentage of blame. For example, if you were 15% responsible for your crash while the defendant is 85% at fault, then the defendant will have to pay for 85% of the damages you incurred while you are left to account for the remaining 15 %.
However, if you are found to be more than 50% responsible for your accident, then you will be unable to sue the other driver.
Common Causes of Highway Ramp Merging Accidents in Texas
Highway ramp merging accidents can stem from several different sources of negligence. For example, many of these collisions happen because drivers fail to check their blind spots before merging. This is an especially common source of motorcycle crashes, as drivers of standard cars often have trouble noticing bikers on the roadway.
Furthermore, distracted driving is a very common source of highway ramp merging accidents. While distracted, a merging driver may fail to properly yield the right-of-way.
Finally, a high number of these accidents happen because of speeding drivers. When traveling at an excessive speed, a merging driver may be unable to slow down and wait for a safe time to enter the highway.
Victims of Highway Ramp Merging Accidents in Texas Can Call Our Law Firm for Support
Get support from our experienced Houston car accident lawyers at The Queenan Law Firm by calling (817) 476-1797.