In the last post on the Emergency Doctrine, a person asked if they had a personal injury claim for their heroic efforts to save a driver injured in a cross-over motor vehicle accident. But in the post, there was a brief mention that one or both of the drivers could be found liable for the hero’s injuries. That means, not only the driver that crossed over to the wrong side of the road, but also the driver who was in their correct lane could be liable for the hero’s injuries!

This statement bears some further explanation. Did the driver who faced another vehicle crossing over to his side of the road have is own emergency situation?  The answer is probably yes. That means, that even if the driver who was the victim of the cross-over driver might have been able to avoid the accident using a highly skilled NASCAR driver maneuver, he is not responsible for the accident. As long as the driver on the correct side of the road acted reasonably to avoid the head on collision, he is not responsible for any damage to himself or his car.

There are several factors to consider if a driver is facing an emergency situation. First, if the roadway was straight and level, did the cross-over occur suddenly within a second or seconds or was it gradual over a minute or two? Second, could the driver on the correct side of the road see if the cross-over driver was operating their vehicle erratically? (Thus, there might have been some warning of an impending accident.) Third, did the driver on the right side of the road contribute to this accident? Did the driver on the correct side of the road himself drive erratically and thus startle the other driver who crossed over? Based on the responses to the these questions, the driver on the correct side of the road would probably not be liable for the accident.