My question involves an injury that occurred in the state of: Washington D.C.
I have an interesting rear-end collision situation:
I was driving down Interstate-395 at night at the proper speed and distance from traffic ahead of me when the SUV in front of me suddenly and unexpectedly swerved into the leftmost lane of the 5-lane highway. My attention was grabbed by this most unexpected and potentially dangerous action, and as the SUV passed into the left lane I shortly after became aware of another vehicle that was at a complete stop in my own lane, which the SUV had very narrowly avoided. I was unable to see the car at all prior to the SUV changing lanes as the larger vehicle had blocked my view of the much smaller Mercury vehicle. I immediately hit my brakes and skidded into the Mercury 4-door vehicle. Airbags were not deployed in either vehicle. Although skeptical to get out of the car in the middle of the 5-lane highway I eventually found a quick moment where traffic had completely ceased. I promptly ran to the Mercury and asked the two girls inside if they were okay. The passenger responded that they were fine and had a flat tire. The driver was on the phone and may have been during the accident as well. I told them that the both of us should get onto the shoulder of the highway to avoid any other possible accidents but they ignored me. It is unclear why the driver did not pull over to the shoulder upon first experiencing the flat tire. She later admitted to being in that position for more than 5 minutes.
I returned to my vehicle and immediately drove it onto the right shoulder of the road. When I looked back I saw the two girls exiting their vehicle in a panic and scampering across the highway on foot! Fearing for their safety I yelled to them out my window to get back in their car but they hopped over the median and across the opposite side of the highway, at which point I lost sight of them in the dark. In the time before police arrived numerous other cars skidded down the highway also narrowly missing the now abandoned Mercury vehicle. Police arrived about 5 minutes later. One officer immediately exited his vehicle and entered the driver’s seat of the abandoned Mercury, driving it to the right shoulder and away from traffic. A second officer arrived shortly after with the driver and passenger of the Mercury in his vehicle.
The Proximate Cause of the accident in my opinion was the driver’s panicked decisions and failure to adhere to safety procedures by remaining in the middle of the highway instead of making her way to a breakdown lane, shoulder or exit. This was the most immediate action taken by police upon arrival. By abandoning the vehicle the driver increased the risk of additional accidents by eliminating any opportunity for the car to be removed from the road until the police officer arrived on the scene.
The driver, by parking in the middle of the interstate when it was possible to drive to the right-hand side of the roadway, was in blatant violation of the D.C. Code:
“Minimum Speed Limit:
I. No person shall drive a vehicle at such a slow speed as to impede or block the normal and reasonable movement of traffic. D.C. Code '40-703(a) and CDCR 18-22-2200.10
II. A person, driving at less than the normal speed of traffic, shall drive in the right-hand lane then available for traffic or as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway. '40-703(a) and CDCR 18-22-2201.3”
Insurance has found both parties partially liable and now the driver and passenger are claiming injury as well. Is there any way I can be absolved of responsibility for this? My insurance company even admitted that I could not reasonably have been expected to stop in time and despite the general rule of thumb for rear-end collisions, I was doing everything properly, maintaining distance, adhering to the speed limit, etc. Contrarily, the other driver acted with gross negligence and endangered the lives of others.
Please let me know your thoughts. Thanks!