Accidents on the Shoulder of the Road or Highway
Vehicles parked along the side of the road is a common sight. There are many reasons for a driver to pull the vehicle over including car trouble, phone calls, and health issues.
When a vehicle is parked completely on the shoulder of the road, it should be safe, but accidents can always happen especially when a driver is not paying attention to the road or visibility is low.
It is tempting to think that being hit while parked on some low-speed roads will not result in injury, but even being hit by a slow-moving vehicle can result in serious injury.
Injuries in Roadside Accidents in WV
If a vehicle that is parked along the road is hit, it is likely that it will be hit from the rear. Even if the moving vehicle was not going fast when it crashed into the parked vehicle, the injury could still be severe. Here are several types of injuries that are common to rear-end crashes.
Whiplash is the most common of these injuries. This is a neck injury that occurs when the head is suddenly jerked back and forth. It strains the muscles in the neck which causes pain and possible weakness. It is likely that the whiplash will heal completely on its own in time, but it always needs to be checked promptly by a doctor as it can be serious and need medical attention.
As is true in manytraffic accidents, broken bones are a common injury in rear-end crashes. While it is particularly common with higher speed impacts, broken bones are possible in any accident. Broken bones are likely to completely heal in time with medical attention, but complications are always possible. Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions in caring for your injury.
Traumatic brain injuryis also possible in rear-end crashes. This is a general term for any brain injury caused by trauma, such as a car accident. The prognosis for traumatic brain injury is widely varied, based on severity. The mildest form of traumatic brain injury is a concussion and full recovery is likely. More severe brain injuries could result in permanent damage. There are many factors which determine the severity of traumatic brain injury in an accident, but a couple are the speed of impact and position of the victim.
In some cases, facial injuries could occur in rear-end crashes. This is especially likely when airbags do not deploy correctly. The victim could hit his head on the steering wheel or dashboard and cause severe disfigurement. The prognosis is better if the injury is treated quickly and correctly. Immediate medical attention is required for a chance at complete recovery.
Spinal cord injuriesare also possible in rear-end crashes. Similar to whiplash, the body can be thrown violently in a crash and can strain the muscles around the spine. If the muscles cannot protect the spine, the spinal cord could be damaged. In some cases, complete recovery is possible, but immediate medical attention is required. In more severe cases, paralysis could result.
How to Avoid Roadside Accidents
The easiest way to avoid roadside accidents is to avoid the need to pull off the road. This means to try to prevent the need to pull over before beginning to drive. Some of these steps include to silence the phone, check the vehicle and tires for potential problems, and be sure you are rested and feeling well enough to drive safely.
Sometimes, though, it is necessary to stop the vehicle. Instead of pulling off onto the shoulder of the road, try to find a safer place to park, such as a parking lot, away from the road. Along some rural roads where there are no places to pull off the road safety, there may be places along the road where the shoulder is intentionally widened where it is at least somewhat safer to park.
There are times when both these options fail and an immediate stop must be made. This is especially true with sudden car problems, wrecks, or immediate health emergencies. Here are some steps to take to make this situation as safe as possible.
┬À Pull the vehicle as far off the road as you safely can. If the tire is flat or blown out and it is still on or near traffic flow, pull the vehicle away from the road. It may ruin the wheel, but it could prevent injury or save your life.
┬À Call for help. If you needed to pull off onto the shoulder of the road, it is an emergency and you need help. Call for emergency services or roadside assistance.
┬À Use your best judgment when deciding if you should stay in the vehicle or not. If you are a safe distance from a busy highway, it would probably be safer to remain in the vehicle. If the vehicle is very near traffic flow, it is most likely safer to exit the vehicle on the side away from traffic. If the vehicle itself seems unsafe, like it might catch on fire, exit the vehicle immediately as safely as possible and get as far away from the vehicle as possible.
┬À Set flares to warn other drivers of the upcoming potential hazard and to alert emergency vehicles of your location.
┬À If the vehicle breaks down in the flow of traffic and cannot be moved to the shoulder, do not stand out in traffic. Turn your flashers on and call for help.
┬À If you feel unsafe in the place where you had to pull over, lock the doors, stay in the vehicle, and call the police.
Pulling off onto the shoulder of the road is dangerous, but sometimes necessary. If at all possible, avoid pulling off the road or find a safer place to park. When it is necessary, follow the above steps to be as safe as possible. Always use your best judgment when deciding exactly what to do as each situation will be different. The goal is for you and everyone else on the road to be safe. Do everything in your power to make that a reality.
Jeffery Robinette was admitted to practice law in 1991 and is licensed in all levels of state and federal trial courts in West Virginia. Mr. Robinette is also licensed in all state and federal appeals courts in West Virginia and the United States Supreme Court. As a National Board Certified Trial Attorney who has handled hundreds of motor vehicle, injury, and construction defect claims and a leading author on insurance claims settlement issues and difficulties in West Virginia, Jeff Robinette is uniquely qualified to represent your best interest.