Accidents and Disabled Vehicles

The recent death of a US track star highlights some of the issues with accidents involving disabled vehicles (both on and off the road).

The operators of disabled vehicles are required to take reasonable steps to either (1) get them off the road and/or (2) warn other motorists that their vehicles are disabled.  Some good tips for warning oncoming drivers are contained in the Washington Driver’s Guide.

But even though the driver of the disable vehicle should take action the drivers of oncoming cars and trucks have a responsibility to see and avoid the disabled vehicle and the driver of the disabled vehicle.

Usually the “following car doctrine” applies to rear-end collisions.  But many at-fault drivers argue they weren’t “following” the disabled vehicle.  This is really a distinction without a difference and won’t prevent discovery.

Uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance covers pedestrians.  So if you get hit while your car is disabled there’s no question you can tap those benefits.  The trickier issue is personal injury protection (PIP).  PIP covers accidents where you’re in the vehicle or close proximity to it.  Most PIP adjusters are black and white creatures and will push back against providing PIP coverage (even though you’ve paid premiums).

Based on the lattice of criss-crossing issues, you’re going to net a lot more money by involving a personal injury attorney than trying to go it on your own.


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