Disabled vehicles or vehicles that are on the shoulder of the road can often cause accidents in Georgia. The requirements for making a claim for personal injuries sustained from these types of accidents are the same as any negligence claim. The issues are whether the at-fault driver had a duty of care, whether the at-fault driver was negligent, whether the negligence caused the accident, and whether the claimant or plaintiff suffered from injuries or damages due to the accident.
Perhaps what makes an accident involving a disabled vehicle or a vehicle on the side or shoulder of the road a little different than a run-of-the-mill wreck is that liability is sometimes difficult to determine.
For example, there could be a three-car rear-end collision that involves a disabled vehicle in the front. Let’s just say that the first car in line was disabled and that the driver of that car knew that the car was not drivable but drove it anyway. That vehicle then stalls on the highway. The car directly behind it stops in a timely manner, but a third car in line rear-ends the middle car. Although, typically, the driver of a vehicle that rear-ends another vehicle is liable for a collision, throwing in the disabled front vehicle could cause a question of liability.
On one hand, the driver of the third vehicle was following too closely to stop in a timely fashion, causing the collision. On the other hand, the driver of the first car should not have driven a car he or she knew was not drivable. In such a situation, the automobile insurance companies involved are probably going to have a liability dispute; or, perhaps, each driver would take 50% of the liability. Or, maybe, the driver of the first vehicle would attempt to make a “sudden emergency” defense, wherein he or she argued that the car suddenly stopped, and that his or her conduct was not due to negligence. Such an argument would be weak in a situation where the driver knowingly drove a mechanically unsound car.
Other examples of accidents involving disabled vehicles include vehicles that are on the shoulder of the road, vehicles that are stopped because they are already involved in an accident, or vehicles that are driving below the speed limit due to mechanical problems. All drivers have a duty to be on the look out for these types of stalled and slowed vehicles, but, often times, these vehicles became disabled on major highways where the speed limit is well above 55 miles per hour; or, even when these vehicles are pulled over, they may not be completely off of the road and may protrude into the lane of traffic. When vehicular accidents result from disabled vehicles, the question of who is responsible for the accident may be difficult to answer and depends on the specific circumstances of that collision.
When a catastrophic injury or death is involved, a thorough investigation involving talking to witnesses, retaining accident reconstruction experts, examining the scene of the wreck, and obtaining photographs and videos, among other things, is extremely important to pin down liability and defeat defenses such as the “sudden emergency” defense.
Further, investigating all possible theories as to who may be liable is important, as many times vehicles become disabled as a result of a third party mechanic’s negligence or a tire manufacturer’s negligence or a car manufacturer’s negligence. Exploring all possible avenues and finding available insurance coverage are imperative to your case.
If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident because of a disabled vehicle, you should consult a qualified injury attorney to advise you appropriately. We at The Davis Injury Firm are happy to set you up with a consultation. Please call 404-593-2620 to speak to an attorney today.
About the Author Betty Nguyen Davis is an Atlanta attorney who solely focuses her practice on plaintiff’s personal injury work. Betty is consistently recognized by her peers as a top attorney in Georgia by Super Lawyers and Georgia Trend and is highly recommended by her clients as a aggressive and persistent, yet caring and accessible attorney.