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How is Fault Assessed After a Crash Involving a Vehicle on the Shoulder?

Posted on behalf of Phillips Law Group on Feb 23, 2021 in Auto Accidents

looking at engine on roadsideAre passing drivers always at fault for a crash involving a vehicle on the shoulder? What if the vehicle on the shoulder was partially in the roadway in the path of oncoming traffic?

Below, learn more about these situations and how fault may be assessed. Our Phoenix-based car accident lawyers also discuss how drivers on the shoulder and those passing by can stay safe. Drivers should always be paying attention to cars in the area, whether they are currently on the move or stopped on the shoulder for some reason.

If you have any questions about fault for the crash that injured you, give us a call today to schedule a free legal consultation. There are no upfront fees for our services.

What Does Arizona Law Say About Vehicles on the Shoulder?

We have all passed vehicles on the shoulder, whether they are police cars or emergency vehicles or simply disabled vehicles. As this is a common occurrence, it is important to review what the law says about how you should react to these vehicles.

Under Arizona Revised Statutes Section 28-775 E-1-2, also known as the “Move Over” law, whenever you approach a stationary vehicle displaying alternately flashing lights or warning lights, approaching drivers must do one of two things:

  • Yield the right-of-way by moving into a lane that is not adjacent to the lane with the stationary vehicle. This applies if you are on a highway with a minimum of four lanes and four lanes moving in the same direction you are traveling.
  • Slow down to a speed that is safe for road conditions and proceed with caution if it is not possible to change lanes.

This law applies to emergency vehicles, like police cars and ambulances that have their lights flashing, as well as non-emergency vehicles that have their hazard lights on. Other vehicles that are likely covered by this law include:

  • Tow trucks
  • Roadside assistance providers
  • Construction vehicles with lights flashing

If you violate this law, you could be fined hundreds of dollars. However, if you crash into the vehicle, you could potentially cause fatal or life-threatening injuries for those in the stopped vehicle. You would likely be held liable for such a crash, which would mean you would be responsible for any damages.

Who May be Held Liable for These Crashes?

If you violate the Move Over law, it would be very difficult to prove you are not liable for a crash that results. The insurance company and victim would argue you should have seen the flashing lights. They would have a particularly strong argument if the victim’s vehicle had its hazard lights on and there was a stopped emergency vehicle with flashing lights.

However, what if the stopped vehicle did not have its hazard lights on?

This type of claim would be difficult to assess. If the crash happened in the daytime, it may be difficult to argue you did not see the vehicle. You might be held at least partially at fault.

However, if the crash happened at night, it would be hard to hold you liable. This is particularly true if there were not a lot of lights in the area. It would be difficult to see vehicles on the roadside.

Could I Seek Compensation from the Driver of the Stopped Vehicle?

This is a question you should strongly consider discussing with a licensed attorney. The driver of the stopped vehicle could potentially be held liable. It may be considered negligent to not turn on your hazard lights when you are stopped on the side of the road. It may also be considered negligent to leave part of your vehicle hanging out on the roadway in the path of approaching cars.

Staying Safe if You are on the Roadside

Whenever possible, avoid pulling over on the interstate or another road where cars are traveling at a high rate of speed. You would be much safer pulling into a parking lot or even on the side of the road somewhere with a lower speed limit.

When you do pull over, get as far over as you possibly can and put on your hazard lights. You should not expect other drivers to see you, even during the daytime.

Call for help as soon as possible. That means calling the police or a tow truck. You need to get your car off the road as soon as you can.

You should also avoid getting out of your car unless it is safe to do so. You could easily get clipped by a passing car and suffer severe or even life-threatening injuries in this type of collision.

If possible, get out of your car on the passenger side away from oncoming traffic. You should also check oncoming traffic as you get out.

What About Passing Drivers?

You have a legal obligation to pay attention to the cars around you. If you do not and an accident happens, you could potentially be held liable.

If you are in the far left or right lane closest to the shoulder, be prepared to change lanes. In fact, you may want to get out of these lanes when possible, so you do not need to change lanes for a stopped vehicle.

Need Help After a Car Crash? Call Today for Assistance

Unsure if someone else is at fault for your car crash damages? Do you have other questions you need answers to?

Give Phillips Law Group a call today to learn more about how we may be able to assist you. We have recovered hundreds of millions for our clients, many of whom were injured in motor vehicle crashes.

We take cases on contingency, which means no upfront fees for our services. Our lawyers are not paid unless our clients get paid.

Call us today to learn more. No upfront fees. Phone: 1-800-706-3000.

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