Who Is Responsible for an Accident Involving a Broken Down Car?

You might strike a car without warning in the middle of the night. You discover that the car was parked along the side of the road. After the accident, the other motorist might claim that they were not at fault for the accident because their car was breaking down. However, a driver who is operating a car that is breaking down has responsibilities as well.

The Responsibilities of the Driver

When a driver's car is breaking down, they have the responsibility of pulling over to the side of the road under "move over" laws in the safest manner possible, if the car can still be maneuvered. The driver must also turn their emergency lights on.

If an emergency vehicle is present, the driver who is not pulled over will be responsible for the accident since the driver should have seen the emergency vehicle and slowed down. Otherwise, the driver of the other vehicle that was pulled over will likely be found to be at fault if they did not have their emergency lights on.

Comparative Negligence

The other party will likely try to find you partially at fault for the accident. For example, they might argue that you were not paying attention and that this contributed to the accident. For this reason, you will need to speak with a personal injury attorney about how you can craft an effective defense.

If you are found to be partially at fault for the accident, you will be required to pay for a portion of the accident. This means that the settlement you may receive will not be as large or you may even be forced to pay for the entire accident. For instance, if you were found to be under the influence of alcohol, you may be considered more at fault for the accident.


Visibility will play a role in liability in this case. For example, if the conditions of the road were so poor that you couldn't have seen the car, you might not be held responsible at all for the accident. However, depending on the road conditions, you will usually be expected to drive more cautiously to avoid accidents. 

Removal of the Car

The driver of the broken down car must remove the car from the road promptly by contacting a tow truck or by contacting the police. Otherwise, they might be held liable for the accident. If you're not sure if the other driver is liable or not, it is best to consult with personal injury attorneys, such as Burnett and Williams, who can also handle your case.