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When You Crash Your Car After Another Driver Waves You On
All kinds of things fall under the category of supposed driver courtesy. For example, some motor vehicle operators have particular habits when traffic lights turn green. They may allow the first car coming from the opposite direction to make a left turn. Others think nothing of waving another driver on, with the assumption that all is clear. There’s a particular problem with the latter. You can’t really rely on others to safeguard you. In fact, there’s a chance that such trust could cause you to crash and sustain severe injuries.
Here’s an example. You’re headed to work on Routes 1 and 9, just minutes from your home. As you approach the end of your street, you see a line of cars stopped at the intersection. Someone notices that you are attempting to pull out from the opposite direction. In fact, you’re instead grateful when you see a driver motion you to proceed. Although your view is obscured, you figure you’re safe to go.
Unfortunately, there is another car coming up next to the driver who waved you on. The operator of that vehicle has no idea that you’ve been given the go ahead. In fact, after you crash, you’re hit with a barrage of insults for actually causing the accident. But, is it really all your fault?
New Jersey Waving Laws
By this time, you’re really annoyed at the driver who waved you on. In fact, you’d like to blame them for your accident entirely. Okay, maybe you second guess yourself and decide you should accept some responsibility for counting on someone else to make your observations. However, it seems to you that by encouraging you to go forward, that driver took control of the intersection.
So, what do the courts say? The bottom line is that under New Jersey law, a motor vehicle operator can be held liable for waving another vehicle into a line of traffic. This has been the case since 1998 when the New Jersey Superior Court decided the case of Thorne vs. Miller. In Thorne, the Defendant Lori Miller was waiting to make a left turn out of a parking lot across a four-lane road into the westbound lanes.
Traffic was heavy. Another driver, Donald Cook, was driving in the outer eastbound lane. Mr. Cook slowed in front of the parking lot entrance and waved Miller into his path. Miller, however, turned left instead. Miller was struck by Rita. St. George, another driving traveling eastbound in the innermost lane. Miller’s car then careened into the vehicle of Joseph Thorne. Thorne and St. George sued both Cook and Miller for the accident.
Before trial, Cook’s attorney tried to have him removed from the case. Cook never struck anyone, and he contended that he only waved Miller into his own lane. Cook’s attorney argued that Cook only intended to be helpful and shouldn’t be held responsible for the collision. The attorneys for the Plaintiff disagreed; arguing that by waving Miller into the intersection Cook owed all of the drivers a duty of care to be certain it was actually safe for Miller to enter the roadway. The court disagreed with Cook, holding that once Cook waved Miller onto the road he had the responsibility to do so with reasonable care.
Does this come as a surprise to you? All things considered, your initial instincts may be right on point. Rather than doubt whether you are entitled to make a claim against the driver who waved you on, you should consult with an attorney who has experience handling car accident cases.
Injured in an automobile accident and not sure you can make a claim? The law as it applies to the circumstances that led to your accident may surprise you. Contact the Law Office of Beninato & Matrafajlo today to receive your free consultation. We will review your situation to determine if you have a viable personal injury case.