Shoulder of Road Accidents
Many people have been in a situation when they need to pull over into the shoulder of the road. Whether it is used to take an emergency phone call or change a flat tire, the shoulder is intended to provide a safe place for motorists. Despite this, there are many collisions that occur in the shoulder area, putting people who need to use this space at risk of severe harm. Experienced Knoxville car accident attorney Mark Hartsoe can provide knowledgeable legal counsel to individuals who have been struck by a careless driver while using the shoulder.Pursuing Compensation for a Collision on the Shoulder of a Road
Most lawsuits arising from car accidents require the plaintiff to establish that the defendant acted negligently. The first step involves showing the level of care that the defendant owed to the plaintiff at the time of the crash. Broadly speaking, each driver must operate his or her vehicle with the same level of skill and care that a reasonably prudent person would have used in the same situation.
Applying this standard to the context of shoulder use, most prudent drivers would reduce their speed when passing a vehicle in the shoulder, or they might change lanes to avoid coming too closely. According to TCA 55-8-152, motorists must operate their vehicles according to posted speed limits, and other provisions require motorists to reduce their speed when necessary to ensure the safety of other motorists. When someone is standing next to their car in the shoulder, therefore, it would be reasonable to expect another driver approaching them to recognize the potential hazard and adjust speed accordingly.
In some instances, a motorist who strikes someone on the shoulder may be deemed to have acted recklessly. Reckless driving is prohibited under TCA 55-10-205, and it may give rise to punitive damages if it is established by clear and convincing evidence. Punitive damages may be awarded in addition to compensatory damages if the defendant acted with a mental state more culpable than mere carelessness.
The next step of a personal injury case requires the plaintiff to demonstrate that the defendant’s breach was the cause of his or her harm. In some situations, the defendant may argue that the plaintiff was also partly responsible. For example, a driver may have stepped out of a car onto the shoulder without checking for approaching cars. When this happens, the jury may consider the negligence of both parties. However, a plaintiff still may be able to receive damages that are proportionate to the defendant’s degree of fault unless the plaintiff was 50 percent or more responsible for the accident.
Finally, the plaintiff must submit evidence supporting his or her damages, such as property damage, hospital bills and medical bills, the costs of future treatment, lost income and earning capacity, and pain and suffering.
Since a victim often is outside the vehicle and unprotected when on the shoulder, he or she may suffer a tragic death. In this situation, the victim’s family may bring a wrongful death action to seek certain types of damages based on their relationship to the victim, as well as costs related to the victim’s medical treatment and burial.Discuss Your Car Accident Case with a Knoxville Attorney
If you or someone you love has been struck on the shoulder of a road by a careless or reckless driver, you may be entitled to compensation. Bringing a claim, collecting evidence, and negotiating with insurance companies can be a complicated process, especially if you are dealing with painful injuries and missed work while you recover. Knoxville car accident lawyer Mark Hartsoe can guide you through each step of the process and assert your right to the compensation that you deserve. For a free consultation with a motor vehicle collision attorney, call us at 865-524-5657 or contact us online to set up an appointment.