Being an emergency responder is a dangerous job for a number of reasons. However, the leading cause of death among emergency responders has consistently been traffic-related accidents. Most often, these Alabama car accidents occur when an emergency responder is working road-side while assisting a disabled vehicle or responding to the scene of an accident when another motorist clips one of the stationary vehicles, causing a chain reaction in which anyone nearby has a high probability of being injured.This concern over the safety of emergency responders has led every state legislature – including Alabama’s – to implement a move-over law, requiring motorists to take certain precautions when approaching emergency responders on the side of the road.
The Alabama move-over law protects the following people:
- law enforcement officers;
- wreckers and tow-truck drivers;
- utility workers; and
- garbage and recycling collectors.
Under Alabama law, a motorist who approaches one of the above vehicles on a multi-lane road must move one lane over as soon as it is safe to do so in order to give the road-side worker room to safely conduct their job. If the motorist is driving on a two-lane road, they are to slow down to a speed at least 10 or 15 miles per hour less than the posted speed limit. A driver’s failure to follow the state’s move-over law will result in a misdemeanor conviction and may also be a basis for civil liability.
Woman Charged with Tow Truck Driver’s Death
Earlier this month, a grand jury returned an indictment charging a Tuscaloosa woman with criminally negligent homicide for her role in a fatal accident that took the life of a tow-truck operator back in 2016. According to a local news report, the truck driver was working at the scene of an accident near mile-marker 74 on Interstate 20/59 at the time of the collision. Evidently, the woman was traveling in the lane closest to the accident, and she struck one of the vehicles involved in the accident. That vehicle then spun around and struck the tow-truck driver. He was taken to DCH Regional Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead a short time later.
Since the accident, the family of the tow-truck driver has advocated to increase the penalty for those who violate the state’s move-over law. As it currently stands, the penalty for a first-time offender is only $25.
That being the case, the fact that a motorist violated the move-over law can help an accident victim or their family establish liability in a civil case against the at-fault motorist through the doctrine of negligence per se. Under this doctrine, a driver is presumed to be negligent if they are in violation of a statute that is designed to protect the very class of person who was injured in the accident. For example, move-over laws are specifically designed to protect emergency workers, so an emergency worker who was struck by a motorist who failed to change lanes may be able to benefit from this legal doctrine. Importantly, an accident victim must still establish that the other motorist’s conduct was the cause of their injuries.
Have You Been Injured in an Alabama Car Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in an Alabama car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. Attorney Greg Reeves has extensive experience handling a wide range of Alabama car accident cases and fights aggressively for his clients’ rights. To learn more about how Alabama law may allow you to recover for your injuries, and to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case with Attorney Reeves, call 256-355-3311 today. Calling is free, and I will not bill you for my services unless I am able to help you seek the compensation you deserve.