Determining Liability for an Accident Involving a Broken-Down Vehicle

Posted on behalf of James Lynch on May 17, 2021  in Car Accident News. Updated on May 25, 2023

Accidents with broken-down carsWhen an accident involving a broken-down vehicle occurs, establishing who is liable for the damages may be complicated, since there are several factors to consider.

Our licensed car accident attorneys in New Jersey are prepared to help victims of these crashes seek compensation. We are prepared to review your situation in a free consultation.

New Jersey’s Move Over Law

New Jersey’s Move Over law requires drivers to move over one lane or slow down when emergency vehicles are on the shoulder and their lights are flashing. Emergency vehicles include tow trucks, garbage trucks, ambulances, police cars and other vehicles that are flashing red, blue or amber lights.

While the law does not apply to non-emergency vehicles, if you were on the shoulder and got hit by a car while an emergency vehicle was present, the driver of that car is likely to be found at fault for the crash.

The problem is that while the department of transportation encourages drivers to put distance between their vehicle and all vehicles on the shoulder, the law may only be enforced for emergency vehicles.

What if no Emergency Vehicles were Present?

For accidents that occur on the shoulder when there is no emergency vehicle at the scene, liability may fall to the driver of the broken-down vehicle if he or she failed to pull the vehicle completely off the roadway and onto the shoulder and turn on the vehicle’s hazard lights.

The fault may be shared by the two drivers if the vehicle is partially in the roadway, but the inattentiveness of a passing driver was also a factor in the collision.

A passing driver may fully liable for an accident if the disabled vehicle is completely on the shoulder and reckless or distracted driving was the cause of the crash.

Accidents in the Roadway

If the crash occurs in the middle of the road, liability may depend on the road and visibility conditions and whether the driver took reasonable steps to signal to other drivers that his or her car is not able to move.

For example, say a driver’s car breaks down on the turnpike during a heavy snowstorm and, due to traffic, the driver is not able to immediately get the vehicle off the roadway. The driver should turn on the vehicle’s hazard lights and call for help immediately. If this driver fails to take adequate steps to get the vehicle out of the roadway and does not attempt to signal to other drivers that there is an obstruction in the road, he or she may be held liable if a crash occurs.

If the driver of the broken-down vehicle does make a reasonable effort to signal to other drivers that his or her car is broken down, liability is likely to fall to the driver of the other vehicle.

Call a Knowledgeable Attorney Today

Determining liability for an accident involving a broken-down car may be difficult. That is why you should give serious thought to working with an experienced lawyer as you seek compensation for your damages.

Our dedicated team of legal professionals has been fighting for the rights of injury victims for decades. We do not charge you anything up front or while we work to establish your claim. We only get paid if you receive compensation.

Call us today to schedule a free consultation: (800) 518-0508

* Results may vary depending on your particular facts and legal circumstances.

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