Accident While Stopped on the Side of the Road

Accidents with vehicles stopped by the side of the road are not uncommon. It is a violation of Florida law to obstruct the roadway with your vehicle. For example, drivers that get into a car accident in Miami are expected to get their vehicles off the road if they are able to do so safely before exchanging their insurance information with one another.

Similarly, when a police officer pulls a vehicle over to the side of the road, the driver of that vehicle is expected to do so in a manner that will not obstruct traffic and will not cause an accident. Unfortunately, some times drivers pull over to the side of the road without taking certain precautions that could help alert other motorists of their situation and afford them the opportunity to pass safely.

Sometimes drivers of a disabled car or truck forget to turn on their hazard lights to indicate to other drivers that there is a disabled car stopped on side of the road. Forgetting to properly indicate the condition and situation of your disabled vehicle to oncoming traffic can cause a traffic accident if another motorist does not notice your vehicle in time. At other times, drivers of disabled vehicles fail to pull over far enough onto the shoulder of the road, leaving part of their car in the roadway or too close to oncoming traffic.

Regardless of the reason why they stopped, drivers that park on the side of the road sometimes cause (or contribute) to a car accident because they stop too close to the lane of traffic, leaving very little clearance between their car and oncoming traffic, sometimes opening their door and swinging it into traffic, others simply stepping out of their car into oncoming traffic.

However, often times fault cannot be placed on those drivers who had to pull onto the side of the road forced by a mechanical failure or a law enforcement officer. It is the duty of all drivers to watch for those vehicles in distress and give them as wide a berth as possible when passing by them.

Distracted Drivers or Drivers Under the Influence

Sometimes accidents happen because drivers passing where a stranded vehicle is stopped are not paying due attention and simply slam into those disabled vehicles or hit the driver or an occupant of the vehicle parked on the shoulder while he or she is waiting for help to arrive.

Our firm represented the estate of a Miami woman who had stopped by the side of the road due to a mechanical problem and was struck by a speeding driver. We were able to prove our case and show that the offending driver was speeding even though he said he was not, by immediately making sure his SUV was impounded and then having an expert read the “black box,” or Event Data Recorder (EDR) on the SUV which told the speed at the time of the collision. Our investigation proved that the SUV was speeding when it struck the driver who was standing awaiting help on the shoulder of the roadway. To read about this and other car accident cases handled by our firm, please visit the Notable Cases section of our website.

Unfortunately, often times the driver of the passing vehicle is under the influence of alcohol or drugs that impaired his or her ability to appreciate that the vehicle on the shoulder was in fact stopped and that they were approaching that disabled vehicle too fast and/or too close to avoid a collision.

Sometimes it is impossible to avoid an accident, even one with a vehicle stopped on the side of the road. However, every driver can drive safely and reduce the risk of getting into an accident by following certain rules. First, drivers should never drive drunk or while under the influence of drugs. Often time drivers that have stopped by the side of the road due to a mechanical failure or because they were pulled over by an officer of the law, get hit by drunk drivers who don’t realize the victim’s car is at a stop.

Second, when you see a car pulled over ahead of you, change lanes as soon as traffic allows you to do so away from the stopped. In Florida (as in many states), it is the law, especially when an emergency vehicle is flashing its lights to move over.

Third, if you are the driver who is pulled over, make sure you move as much as is safe onto the shoulder (obviously, without having your vehicle fall into the embankment). Next, turn on your hazard lights and if possible, get far away from your car to an area that is safe and away from traffic. If this is not possible, then staying buckled-up inside your car is usually the safest way to wait for help.

Florida’s Move Over Law

In fact, under Florida law it is the responsibility of every driver approaching an authorized emergency vehicle or wrecker to move over a lane in order to give vehicles on the side of the road a wide berth.

To that effect, Florida Statute 316.126(1)(b)(1)(2) establishes that:

(b) When an authorized emergency vehicle making use of any visual signals is parked or a wrecker displaying amber rotating or flashing lights is performing a recovery or loading on the roadside, the driver of every other vehicle, as soon as it is safe:

  1. Shall vacate the lane closest to the emergency vehicle or wrecker when driving on an interstate highway or other highway with two or more lanes traveling in the direction of the emergency vehicle or wrecker, except when otherwise directed by a law enforcement officer. If such movement cannot be safely accomplished, the driver shall reduce speed as provided in subparagraph 2.
  2. Shall slow to a speed that is 20 miles per hour less than the posted speed limit when the posted speed limit is 25 miles per hour or greater; or travel at 5 miles per hour when the posted speed limit is 20 miles per hour or less, when driving on a two-lane road, except when otherwise directed by a law enforcement officer.

We Can Help

If you have been seriously injured or a loved one has been killed when struck by an oncoming vehicle as your vehicle was stopped by the side of the road, please contact the lawyers of Greenberg, Stone & Urbano immediately at 305-595-2400. We have over 100 years of combined experience handling all types of car accident cases, including those involving victims whose vehicles were stopped by the side of the road. We offer a free initial consultation and handle all personal injury matters on contingency fees, which means we will not charge you anything unless we recover compensation for you.