Get Off the Road if You’re Trying to Help a Stranded Motorist

April 12th, 2017 by Attorney Julie Butcher

Society needs good Samaritans. In this time when America is more divided than ever politically and economically, we need to reach out to each other when someone needs help. But we need to be smart about it and, most importantly, obey the law when we’re driving in Kentucky.

If you want to help someone who’s been in an accident or whose vehicle has broken down, the safest thing you can do is drive past the area, pull over to leave the travel lane, in front of the other vehicle, put on your flashers and exit your vehicle only when it is safe to do so.

Parking behind the damaged or broken down vehicle is not a good idea. You may block the view of the scene, and if someone is not paying attention they may collide into the back of your vehicle, damaging it and possibly injuring you and whoever else may be in your vehicle.

In addition to being common sense, getting off the travel portion of the road is also the law in Kentucky. If you park in the travel lane you risk causing an accident because your vehicle may be rear-ended or another vehicle, trying to avoid your car, may swerve into the path of a third vehicle and cause an accident.

Under KRS 189.450(1), no person is to stop a vehicle and leave it standing, or cause it to stop or to be left standing, upon any portion of the roadway. An exception is if the vehicle is damaged or broken down and it cannot be moved. Under another state statute, KRS 189.580(1)(b), if a vehicle is involved in an accident on a highway, entrance or exit ramp, it needs to be moved off the roadway if possible, as close to the location of the accident as possible. There are exceptions, including if the accident caused a death, a known or visible injury or one of the vehicles was transporting hazardous materials.

Generally speaking, if you rear-end a vehicle you are normally considered to be at fault in the accident. However, if the roadway is blocked by a good Samaritan who didn’t park his or her vehicle off the travel lane, or a vehicle involved in an accident which could or should have been moved off the road was not, these laws (as well as common sense) may have been violated.

If you rear-end such a vehicle, despite driving your vehicle in a safe and reasonable manner — perhaps because road or traffic conditions prevented you from safely avoiding a collision — and you are injured as a result, you may still be able to obtain damages for your injuries.

  • The factfinder in your case (a judge or jury) may see the operator of the blocking vehicle to be totally at fault.
  • Even if that doesn’t occur, you may not be out of luck. Kentucky negligence law is labelled “pure comparative negligence,” which means that as long as the other party shares some part of the blame, an accident victim can obtain damages that reflect the degree of culpability by the other party.
  • In this case, if a jury finds that you are 20% to blame for not avoiding the accident the other party may be seen as 80% to blame because he or she broke the law by leaving the vehicle in the travel portion of the road. If you could show $100,000 in damages, you would be awarded $80,000.

This is one of many instances where complex facts and laws meet, so if you suffer a vehicle accident you need to speak to an attorney to understand your situation and to make an educated decision about what to do next.

If you or a family member has been injured in a vehicle accident in Kentucky, you can rely on the Julie Butcher Law Office, which has extensive experience handling the claims of those injured in all types of vehicle accidents. Call us at 859-233-3641 or fill out our contact form so we can talk about the circumstances of your case and how we might help your family obtain compensation for your injuries.