No Better Way to Describe It: You Were Hurt in a “Waving Accident”
On first glance, you might be a bit puzzled. Does a “waving accident” have something to do with hands making contact after a greeting? Absolutely not. Instead, it has everything to do with a motor vehicle operator waving on another driver – and adding to the cause of a car crash.
Truth be told, the concept is not so uncommon. Consider this scenario. You are traveling on Newark Avenue near the Hudson County Courthouse. As usual, traffic is heavy, and cars and trucks seem to be everywhere. It’s a bit difficult to see through the maze of motor vehicles. You are therefore quite grateful when another driver waves you forward to make a left through the upcoming intersection.
Although your normal instinct is to wait until you can fairly judge your ability to proceed, you take the chance. You instantly regret your decision. Before you know it, you become involved in an unavoidable collision. It turns out the path was not clear. Although you were not traveling at a high rate of speed, you are nonetheless severely injured.
All kinds of things run through your mind as you fight back the tears. Was the accident your fault because you did not wait to check things out for yourself? What about the person who waved you on? Could their simple polite gesture make them at all liable?
If you have been injured in an automobile crash after another driver waved you on, you may be interested in a case decided by the courts nearly twenty years ago.
Uninvolved Driver Liable in Waving Accident
How can an uninvolved driver be found negligent in a waving accident? In 1998, Thorne v. Miller dealt with this issue in a Law Division legal opinion. The case stemmed from a 1994 automobile accident that occurred in South Jersey.
According to the facts presented in the court’s decision, the accident happened on a roadway that consisted of two lanes of traffic in each direction. Lori Miller was one of the drivers involved in the crash. The area was congested, and Miller waited to make a left turn out of a parking lot located in the westbound direction of the divided road.
Meanwhile, Donald Cook was operating his motor vehicle in the outer lane of the westbound traffic. His car was positioned near the parking lot. Cook motioned Miller to make the left turn, indicating that he would let her pass through to exit. In fact, Cook waved her on not once – but twice.
One problem. Although Miller thought she might safely make her turn, Cook’s car wasn’t the only issue. As Miller passed over the westbound lane, she crashed into another vehicle whose driver was identified as Rita St. George. As a result of the impact, the St. George car collided with a third vehicle.
The injured parties sued Donald Cook, who attempted to get out of the case on summary judgment. He maintained that his simple waving gesture did not mean he owed a “duty of care” when it came to Lori Miller.
Other states have considered whether the threat of liability could stop drivers from practicing civility. However, the judge in this matter saw it differently. The reasoning was that “encouraging civility at the expense of driving safety is not… sound public policy.”
Waving Drivers Have a Duty
In reviewing the facts of this matter, the court elaborated on the duty of care Cook owed. Before waving on Miller, he could have checked to make sure the area was completely clear. This meant using his rear view mirror as there was a chance car could be coming up from behind him and to his left.
Does this mean that the accident was entirely Cook’s fault? The court’s decision does not apportion Cook’s share of the blame. However, it does acknowledge that the waving gesture may have contributed to the crash.
At the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone, we have many years of experience handling automobile accident cases. Contact our office to schedule an appointment. There is no cost for our representation unless we recover money for you.