How many times have any of us been driving on Maryland’s interstates or beltways when we see a disabled or damaged vehicle on the roadside? How often have you wondered if the driver and passengers of that vehicle would be alright until help arrived? Even in these days of cellphones and satellite navigation, being stuck on the side of a busy freeway or lesser-traveled rural highway can leave one with a sinking feeling. Most worry about getting a tow truck or some other roadside assistance, but there is something more important.
On the surface, a roadside emergency can certainly be an inconvenience and even result in some difficult consequences. But being hit by another vehicle is not something that many people think about until a similar situation happens to them. As personal injury lawyers, the staff at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, is well aware of the inherent dangers of being stranded on the shoulder of a high-speed beltway or interstate. The chances of being struck by a passing car or commercial vehicle are increased in situations such as this.
Whether one is the motorist who is stranded, the tow truck operator arriving on the scene, or the Good Samaritan offering to help out, each shares similar risks when standing mere feet from traffic speeding by at 50 or 60 miles per hour. Many times we have read about individuals who have died or been severely hurt in a roadside car crash under these kinds of circumstances. The simple act of running out of gas can easily turn into a life-threatening event should another vehicle sideswipe or rear-end the disabled vehicle, killing or seriously injuring the occupants.
Here at Lebowitz & Mzhen, we have heard many terrible stories of people being killed while inspecting their vehicle for a blown-out tire, empty gas tank, over-heated engine or other inconvenient, yet hardly life-threatening car problem. Unfortunately, roadside collisions and highway shoulder accidents occur all around Maryland on a fairly regular basis. As preventable as these traffic wrecks tend to be, we likely will continue to see them play out time and time again.
Fatalities from roadside impacts are usually a factor of speed. Drivers in oncoming vehicles can sometimes be caught off guard at highway speeds, especially if their view is blocked by a larger vehicle ahead. This is why it is always advisable to move out of the lanes nearest the shoulder on which the disabled vehicle is parked to avoid a potential crash situation.
Not surprisingly, it is the people outside of the disabled car or truck who may suffer the most in an impact. In fact, police officers conducting traffic stops are some of the most common victims of roadside accidents. But patrolmen are not the only professionals at risk; construction workers, tow truck drivers and EMS personnel are some of the many people killed or injured in shoulder-related highway accidents.
As personal injury attorneys, we look for the negligent parties in every injury or wrongful death case. Other drivers on the roadway, if they do not keep a watchful eye on the traffic ahead and what is going on at the roadside can end up killing or injuring a pedestrian through simple negligence. We usually advise friends and associates to always keep their eyes on the road and ignore other distractions that may lead to an automobile wreck. It’s the right thing to do and it may save someone’s life, if not their own.
When it comes to pedestrian-related accidents, Lebowitz & Mzhen knows that even the simple act of walking or riding a bicycle near traffic can have devastating results given the right circumstances. But being stranded on a roadside is hardly a conscious choice. Still, the statistics show that pedestrian fatalities occur with tragic frequency. Based on 2010 accident data from the National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA), almost 500 people died here in Maryland from traffic-related collisions; of that number 20 percent of those killed were individuals on foot.
Of the many causes of pedestrian accidents, the most common is distracted driving. Considering the volume of traffic that passes a disabled vehicle every minute, it may not be difficult to imagine that more than a few of those passing drivers may be distracted. Whether one is talking or texting on a cellphone, fiddling with the radio or GPS controls, eating or even applying makeup, the chances of striking a person standing on the roadside is much higher for those motorists who are not paying attention.
As injury lawyers, we often must consider who is ultimately responsible in a pedestrian injury or wrongful death case. In the majority of cases the responsible party is the negligent driver that struck the victim. In some instances, it may be the state or municipality for faulty road design, or a manufacturer for a defective product that caused a mechanical failure, such as faulty brakes or steering controls, which led to the collision.
The attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen are always ready to offer assistance to victims of roadside accidents, as well as those involved in automobile, commercial trucking and motorcycle wrecks. We understand the law and how to apply it to cases involving serious injury or death. If you or someone you know has been hurt in a highway shoulder collision you may want to consider contacting our Baltimore personal injury experts to better assess your options and rights under the law.
As skilled legal professionals, we have the experience and training to ensure that past, current and future medical expenses will be covered for victims of pedestrian traffic collisions or roadside accidents. Please contact us to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. We are always happy to speak with you regarding your motor vehicle-related personal injury case. You may email Jack Lebowitz or Vadim Mzhen, or call our law firm, toll-free, at: (800) 654-1949.