As we’ve written before, the driver of a vehicle which rear-ends another vehicle is usually responsible for the injuries and/or fatalities that result from the collision. But there are a few exceptions to this rule – and an auto accident on I-74 last week might be one of them.
On Thursday just after 4pm, a 40-year old woman’s car reportedly suffered an engine problem and became disabled in the center lane of eastbound I-74 near the Prospect Avenue exit in Champaign (which is just before Market Place Mall). The Sullivan woman was out on the freeway inspecting the problem when her vehicle was struck from behind by another car. The woman was thrown clear of her car and sustained non-life-threatening injuries
After the collision, the rear-ending vehicle continued on and wound up in a ditch. The driver of that car, a 50-year old Wisconsin woman, also suffered minor injuries. Both victims were transported to Carle Foundation Hospital and have since been released.
So which woman is at fault? The Wisconsin woman, who rear-ended the stalled vehicle? Or the Sullivan woman, who had stopped her car in the middle of a busy freeway?
This case would be somewhat unpredictable if it were to reach the courts as part of a personal injury lawsuit filed by either driver. On one hand, a rear-ending vehicle’s driver typically gets blamed for the injuries to people in (or near) the other car. However, it is reasonable to assume that a person driving on a freeway should not expect to encounter a stopped vehicle in a lane of traffic. So it’s unclear how a jury would rule in this type of case.
For the record, Illinois State Police did not issue any tickets related to this auto accident. That implies that they feel that A) the Wisconsin woman could not have avoided the crash, and B) the Sullivan woman was unable to move her car off of the roadway. (It is illegal to stop your vehicle in a lane of traffic on a freeway if it can be moved out of the road.)