If your car ever breaks down please be sure to get it off the side of the road as much as possible. Even with hazard lights, road flares, or strobe lights, inattentive or drunk drivers will still hit cars parked on the shoulder causing severe injuries or even death. As an accomplished injury lawyer, I have handled dozens of cases involving pedestrians hit by passing cars. In my experience, these types of accidents usually happen between 10:00 p.m. and midnight; especially on the weekends. I think for obvious reasons, since this is the time of day that more drivers are intoxicated or under the influence of drugs, thus impairing their ability to see stranded motorists on the side of he road.
Currently, our law firm is handling one such case that resulted in the tragic death of a father of four children. See Wrongful Death Lawsuit - Lewis County, MO. Despite taking safety measures, a man was killed on the side of the highway. Cortez Robinson's car broke down late at night in December 2012, he moved the car off the road as far as possible onto the shoulder, turned the hazards on, and was standing outside near the car. This stretch of Highway 6, about 2 miles West of Lewistown, Missouri, is straight and visibility is good. Despite his hazard lights being on and good visibility, a driver passing by struck the vehicle and Mr. Robinson, killing him and severely injuring another pedestrian by forcing the car into her body. See Article in Kirksville Missouri Daily Express: KV man killed in Lewis County crash. Additionally, the preliminary crash report from the Missouri Highway Patrol is available here.
As mentioned above, our law firm is representing the four surviving children ages 1 to 8. We believe the driver was negligent and at fault for by not keeping a proper lookout, even if the disabled car was partially in the westbound lane, she still should have seen it in plenty of time to avoid the collision with a parked car. It is foreseeable on the roadway that other vehicles may break down or pull over to the side for whatever reason. I am sure we have all encountered vehicles pulled over on the road while driving down the highway, most of us do the responsible thing of first paying attention enough to see the car and then move our vehicles away form the shoulder to give the vehicle and the people in or around it as much room as reasonably possible.
Since the children whose father was killed in the wrongful death accident are all minors, the case is still brought in their name, however, the court must appoint a "next friend" to make decisions on behalf of the minors. Typically, the "next friend" is a parent or guardian, usually the natural mother or father. In this case, we have asked the court to appoint the natural mother of the children as the "next friend". This is a formality to protect the minor children. Additionally, to also protect the minor children, any settlement involving a car crash death and minor children must be approved by the court. The court will assure that the judgment or settlement money goes to the benefit of the minors and put in a protective account that will benefit the children and prevent the parents or other adults from squandering the assets. This is referred to a minor settlement approval hearing.
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