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Who is Responsible When a Big Rig Hits Someone Changing a Flat Tire?

If you’re stuck on the side of the road and changing a flat or putting gas in your car and get hit by a big rig, who’s to blame? Unfortunately, this happens all too frequently in the U.S. According to a study by the American Automobile Association, around 500 to 600 pedestrians die each year while on the shoulder of a freeway or divided highway.

Not all of these victims are fixing a flat or putting gas in their tank, but it shows just how dangerous it is to be stuck on the side of the freeway.

Stranded Motorist Killed in Tragic Collision with Big Rig in Visalia

An example of this is an accident that happened Wednesday night, April 8, 2020, on the shoulder of Highway 99 near Visalia. According to the California Highway Patrol, an 18-year-old man was fixing a flat on the right-hand shoulder of the northbound lanes and was struck by a big rig.

Unfortunately, the young man died from his injuries. The truck driver stopped immediately and cooperated with authorities. The CHP says that neither drugs nor alcohol were believed to be a factor.

Big Rig Liability

We have no idea who was to blame in the above-mentioned tragedy, and sometimes it happens that no one is really at fault. However, when it comes to compensation, the law will end up declaring someone responsible even if it’s a really close call.

It works like this. Compensation in a motor vehicle accident is based on negligence, so the victim on the side of the road has to prove that the truck driver was negligent. To do that, the victim needs to show that the truck driver wasn’t using the caution that the law says is due to people on the side of the road.

In a trial, the jury will compare the actions of the truck driver to those actions that a reasonably prudent truck driver would do under the same or similar circumstances.

Examples of Negligence

This leaves us with a couple of possible scenarios: First, if the truck driver swerved across the white line and struck the stranded motorist, then it’s likely that the truck driver would be found negligent. However, if the truck driver didn’t cross the line and the victim was sticking out into the road just a bit, then the jury would probably rule that the truck driver wasn’t negligent.

Big Rig Insurance

It all comes down to the actions of those involved. If the truck driver fell asleep, got distracted, was impaired, or crossed over the white line for any reason, then the jury will require him or her to pay for the damages.

If so, the good news for the victim is that by law, drivers of large commercial trucks have to carry at least $750,000 in bodily injury liability. This will usually be enough to cover any injuries or compensation for the survivors if the victim dies from their injuries.

If you’ve been injured by a big rig or any vehicle while you were on the shoulder of the road, don’t take the word of the insurance company that the accident was your fault. Talk to an attorney who understands the laws of negligence and knows the duty that truck drivers have when operating their rigs on the highways and freeways.

Contact a Visalia Truck Accident Lawyer

After an accident involving a serious injury, speak to an experienced Visalia truck accident lawyer such as Martin Gasparian for a free consultation and case evaluation. Mr. Gasparian takes a hands-on approach to every case. He believes that every client should work directly with their lawyer, get honest advice and personalized attention.


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