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Who May be Liable for a Crash with a Vehicle Stopped on the Shoulder?

guardrail on side of roadDo you move over when you see a car stopped on the shoulder?

If you answered “no” you are probably not alone. Many drivers are not as cautious as they should be when they approach a vehicle stopped on the shoulder. Even though you are not required by law to move over for a non-emergency vehicle, it is a good idea because it could help lower the risk of a crash.

Unfortunately, passing cars often hit vehicles stopped on the shoulder. Sometimes occupants of vehicles stopped on the shoulder get out of their vehicles only to get hit by passing cars. These accidents can result in catastrophic, life-changing injuries.

While passing drivers are often at fault, there are times when the drivers of the vehicles stopped on the shoulder may be at fault. For example, the driver of the vehicle on the shoulder maybe could have pulled farther off the road or turned on his or her hazard lights.

Learn more about liability for these types of collisions and how to stay safe if you are forced to pull onto the shoulder of a busy road.

What You Need to Know About Pennsylvania’s Move Over Law

In Pennsylvania, drivers who are approaching an emergency response area must safely merge into a lane farther away from the response area. If you are unable to do that, you must pass the emergency response area at no more than 20 miles per hour below the posted speed limit.

An emergency response area is defined as an area with an emergency vehicle with flashing lights or where emergency responders or road crews posted signs or lit flares to warn passing cars.

The law only applies to emergency vehicles or road crews. However, sometimes crashes on the shoulder happen when emergency vehicles are present. In these situations, the passing driver is likely in violation of the move over law, which would likely make him or her liable for the crash.

Liability for Crashes with Vehicles on the Shoulder

Even if no emergency vehicles are present, the passing driver could be found liable for not trying to move out of the way or for driving too fast. Drivers have a legal obligation to take reasonable steps to help prevent a crash and slowing down or moving over one lane could be considered reasonable steps.

Passing drivers are often distracted, often because they are staring at their smartphones or adjusting something on their dashboard. If your attorney can prove distracted, the passing driver is likely at fault for the crash.

Avoiding a Crash When You Must Pull Over

It is reasonable to expect drivers who need to pull onto the shoulder to pull as far off the road as possible. It can be difficult for passing cars to move out of the way and avoid a vehicle that is jutting out into the roadway. Turning on your hazard lights is also important for warning other drivers.

Hazard lights are particularly important at night when there is less visibility. Drivers who have road flares should use them to provide more visibility for passing drivers.

In some cases, you may not need to pull over onto the shoulder. For example, if you are close to an exit from an interstate you may be able to get off and pull over somewhere much farther from passing traffic. The shoulder is a dangerous place to be, considering how fast passing cars are going.

You should probably avoid getting out of your car unless it is absolutely necessary. If you get hit by a car it could be fatal. Inside your vehicle you have a seat belt, air bag and the frame of your vehicle to help protect you from serious injury.

You may think getting out of your car is no big deal because you just need a little time to change out a flat tire. However, drivers often get clipped by passing cars when they get out to change a flat tire or survey damage to their car.

If you absolutely need to get out of your car, try to do so on the side farthest away from traffic. Make sure to call 9-1-1 right away to get emergency response vehicles there as soon as possible. Drivers must move out of the way for these vehicles and their flashing lights help warn passing drivers.

Injured in a Car Crash and Need Legal Assistance? Call Schmidt Kramer

For more than three decades, the experienced Harrisburg car crash lawyers at Schmidt Kramer have been helping car crash victims seek the justice and compensation they need following an accident.

If you have questions about what to do after a crash, give us a call as soon as possible. We are ready to help you secure the compensation you need. There are no upfront fees or legal obligations and we do not get paid unless you get paid.

Call today for legal assistance. Phone: (717) 888-8888