Maryland newspapers and newscasts recently reported that a local superhero had died in a car crash. They were referring to a fatal highway accident that claimed the life of Leonard Robinson, a retired businessman who played the role of movie and comic book figure, Batman, for countless children stricken by cancer and other serious illnesses. In his guise as the dark knight, Robinson had entertained thousands of children in hospitals, schools and at charity events and was hailed by many as a true life superhero. Robinson’s persona came to light a few years ago after he was stopped by police in his “Batmobile,” a custom made motor vehicle built to resemble the one used in Batman comics and movies, for not displaying a license plate. Amused officers let Robinson proceed to his event and the encounter was captured on a widely viewed YouTube video.
Robinson was tragically killed after pulling over into a breakdown lane off an interstate to attend to his Batmobile. A passing vehicle struck Robinson who was apparently partially standing on the roadway. The injuries Leonard Robinson sustained were fatal.
Safe Breakdown Lane Use
The tragedy of this accident highlights the purpose of the breakdown lane and the hazards it poses to motorists. Breakdown lanes are off to the side of highways and are intended for emergencies only. These lanes are frequently not very wide so motorists are warned to pull over as far as possible.
Breakdown lanes are also not to be used to take or place calls or texts, to rest, to wait out inclement weather or to relieve yourself. Because of its close proximity to cars travelling at high rates of speed coupled with the erratic and reckless driving of many motorists, you risk the same fate as Batman unless you take precautions.
What to Do in an Emergency
If your vehicle becomes disabled for whatever reason, your best practice is to exit immediately and search for a gas station or area off the highway. If not possible, use the emergency or breakdown lane to change a tire, put gas in your tank or to check your motor. Here are a few suggestions to keep yourself safe:
- Pull over as far from the roadway as possible
- Turn on your flashers and/or place flares behind you if you have them
- Call 911 or emergency road service if you are unable to do the repairs or are too wary of the risks from passing traffic
- Exit your vehicle and stay behind a guardrail or away from the car and traffic while waiting for assistance
- Do not stand near the roadway or have any tools on the road
- Be constantly aware of approaching traffic
In any event, use commonsense when you are in an emergency situation and do not hesitate to call for assistance if you have any doubts or concerns about your safety.
Liability in a Breakdown Accident
Even if you are forced to go off the roadway due to an emergency and take all proper precautions, you are not immune from the negligent driving of motorists. You face certain risks because of:
- Fatigued drivers who lose control or wander off the roadway
- Impaired motorists from alcohol or drugs
- Distracted motorists from use of cell phones or other behavior that causes them to not focus on driving
- Incidents that cause motorists to swerve or otherwise lose control and collide with your parked car in the breakdown lane
- Icy or slippery or white out conditions that cause motorists to swerve or skid off the roadway
Motorists have a duty to exercise reasonable care, which includes keeping a proper lookout for other cars on the roadway, adhering to all traffic laws and driving at a speed commensurate with traffic and weather conditions. Failing to do that is a breach of that duty and injured motorists including those who are in a breakdown lane are entitled to compensation for any damages they incur.
Damages in a Breakdown Lane Car Accident
If you were injured in a breakdown lane accident because of a negligent driver, you may collect compensation for damages including:
- Medical expenses
- Lost earnings
- Diminished quality of life
- Property damage to your vehicle
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma
- Spousal claim for loss of consortium
Retain Personal Injury Lawyer Neil Burns
Injured claimants have received millions in compensation for their injuries because of the experience and skills that attorney Neil Burns applies to each case he handles. His investigation, relentless approach and dedication to the rights of his clients have earned him the trust of thousands of clients over his 30 years of practice. Call his office today for an evaluation of your injury claim.