Roadside or shoulder collisions are very common and often lead to serious life-altering injuries. Pulling over to the roadside or shoulder is extremely risky and should always be as a last resort. Drivers should avoid parking on this area of the road unless there is an emergency that prevents them from driving to a safer location.
Given the danger of being on the shoulder, you may be unsure about liability for a crash with a vehicle parked in this area. When could passing drivers bear fault? At Goldberg Finnegan, our car crash attorneys in Silver Spring are always prepared to help injured victims after a roadside crash caused by another driver’s negligence. Call our law offices 24/7 for a confidential and free initial consultation.
How Does Maryland Determine Liability for a Shoulder or Roadside Crash?
Like most crashes, liability is determined on case-by-case basis. All motorists owe a duty of care to reasonably try to prevent causing harm to others while driving. Despite owing that duty, the passing driver may often be liable for a shoulder or roadside crash. However, there are times that the victim may also be liable or partly liable. Unfortunately, in Maryland, if the victim shares any fault for the crash, he or she will not be able to recover compensation for his or her damages. An investigation of events leading up to the crash, along with other factors, will help to determine liability. Some of the factors that may play a role in assessing fault include:
- Whether the vehicle on the roadside or shoulder was protected by Maryland’s “Move Over” law
- If there was an ambulance or other emergency vehicle flashing lights or emitting an audible siren to alert other drivers
- Whether the driver of the disabled vehicle properly pulled over or if the vehicle was partially impeding the flow of traffic
- If the driver of the parked vehicle turned on his or her hazard lights to alert others
- Whether there was a safer location, such as a nearby parking lot, the driver of the disabled vehicle could have gone to
- If the driver of the passing vehicle was driving impaired or distracted or engaged in other dangerous driving behavior
- What road conditions might have caused the passing driver to lose control of his or her car
Does Maryland Have a “Move Over” Law?
Yes, there is a “Move Over” law in Maryland, and it has gone through many changes since it first went into effect in 2010. It is important to understand your responsibility as a driver under this law. When approaching an emergency vehicle that is flashing visual signs while stopped on the road, highway or shoulder of the road, you are required to:
- Move over and away from the stopped emergency vehicle into an available lane, but only if you can do so safely
- If you cannot move over safely, you must slow down to a “reasonable and prudent” speed
When determining how much to slow down, it is important to consider the flow of traffic, weather and road conditions. It is important to note that in Maryland, the “Move Over” law does not only apply to emergency vehicles. Other vehicles that have been added and are also protected by this law include:
- Police vehicles
- Other emergency rescue vehicles
- Tow trucks
- Service and utility vehicles
- Waste and recycling trucks
Drivers are required to follow the Move Over law for any of these vehicles who are stopped, stationary or parked on a highway, roadside or shoulder and flashing red, amber or yellow lights. Violating this traffic law in Maryland is considered a primary offense. Violators may receive a citation, points on their driving records and a fine. While each case is unique, if a driver hits a car or emergency vehicle while the emergency vehicle’s lights were flashing, that driver is likely to be found at fault.
How You Can Help to Reduce the Risk of a Shoulder or Roadside Crash
While it is important to take measures to avoid a roadside emergency, you may sometimes find yourself in this situation, despite your best efforts. If you do have to suddenly pull over because you ran out of gas, had a tire blowout or another vehicle emergency, here are some steps you can take to help reduce your risk of being hit:
- Choose the safest location you can get to, such as an exit, gas station or shopping parking lot
- If the roadside is your best option, signal to pull over and put on your hazard lights immediately
- Make sure your vehicle is pulled as far off the road as possible and no part is sticking out or blocking the flow of traffic
- Do not get out of your car, as that could increase your risk of getting hit by an inattentive driver
- Keep your hazard lights and seatbelt on and call 9-1-1 immediately
Passing Driver’s Responsibility
As a passing driver approaching a disabled vehicle, you can reduce your risk of causing a crash by moving over into an adjacent and available lane, if possible. If there is no available lane, slow down so you can pass this vehicle more safely. While the Move Over law does not apply in this situation, you still have a duty of care to prevent harm to others while driving. Failing to take reasonable action could result in you being found at fault for a crash.
Injured in a Shoulder or Roadside Crash? Call Our Trusted Law Firm Today
After suffering injuries in a roadside crash, it is important that you seek legal help as soon as possible. Claims for a roadside or shoulder crash are complicated and victims may benefit from having a qualified attorney. Contact the law offices at Goldberg Finnegan anytime, night or day. You can set up a meeting with one of our licensed attorneys to get answers to your legal questions at no cost to you. While there is no obligation to file a claim, if we do represent you, there are no upfront costs to pay. We do not get paid our fees unless we win compensation for you.