Courteous Motorists Accept Responsibility for your Safety When Waiving-On
Midwesterners are generally known for their friendliness and hospitality. Drive the rural roads of Indiana and you’ll witness acts of courtesy as oncoming drivers waive and greet you with a friendly eye. During harvesting season, farmers operating their double-wide combines on county roads will pull off the berm waiving you on out of consideration for motorists. How often have you yourself waived on another driver who was trying to cross multiple lanes of stopped traffic near a congested intersection? At one time or another we’ve all extended this courtesy to the other driver. But did you know you were accepting some portion of responsibility for the other driver’s safety?
Motorists Duties of Care
Indiana law imposes several duties of care on motorists. They include:
- 1. Maintaining a lookout while traveling;
- 2. Keeping the vehicle under reasonable control; and
- 3. Using care to avoid a collision.
Indiana has no duty to “waive on”
There is no duty under Indiana law for a driver to conduct instructions to proceed, commonly referred to as “waiving on.” Yet if a driver chooses to motion another driver on, the waiving actor accepts the duty and responsibility to exercise care and skill in the undertaking. In 1924 the Indiana Court of Appeals found for the plaintiff after she was hit by a train at a railroad crossing where she relied upon a brakeman’s “waive-on” implying that she was safe to cross the tracks and out of harm’s way. Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railroad Company v. Cioffi. In the case of Claxton v. Hutton, the Court of Appeals noted that “[a] duty of care exists when a party assumes such a duty, either gratuitously or voluntarily.” Under Indiana’s Comparative Fault Law, each party involved in an auto, motorcycle or trucking accident is assigned a percentage of fault by a judge or jury. In that case, if the actor motioning another driver to proceed leaves the scene of an accident, he/she becomes a “non-party” to the lawsuit and can be assigned a portion of fault thereby reducing the defendant’s damages to the plaintiff.
Our lawyers understand the law
If you or someone you know has been involved in an accident as a pedestrian, bicyclist, or while driving an automobile, motorcycle or truck, an experienced personal injury lawyer will investigate and sort out the facts of the case. The personal injury law firm of Ward & Ward has over eighty years of combined experience in personal injury law. Call Charlie Ward for a FREE consultation or visit our website at www.wardlawfirm.com. We are here to help you 24 hours a day. Charlie Ward 317-639-9501 www.wardlawfirm.com