Motor Vehicle Accidents and Headlight Usage

Date: August 24, 2010
Posted In: DLP Law

Happy Jack was stopped at a red light at Hamlin Corners with the intention to proceed through the traffic light towards Newfoundland. Sloppy Sue was proceeding in a westerly direction on Route 590 heading towards Scranton. As it was raining extremely hard, Jack had his lights on as required by state law when the windshield wipers are in use. Sue often ignored that law, and despite the torrential rain, was approaching the intersection without her headlights on. Sue was driving a dark gray SUV and, as she approached the intersection, the light changed from green to red. Nonetheless, Sue decided to proceed anyway. Jack looked to his left before entering the intersection when the light turned green and simply did not see Sue approaching.

A violent collision occurred between the vehicles as Sue broadsided Jack. Both parties incurred serious injuries and each alleged that the other was the cause of the accident.

Jack\’s attorney alleged, among other reasons, that because Sue did not have her headlights turned on in violation of the statute, it was her negligence that caused the accident.

ISSUE: Is Jack\’s attorney correct?

ANSWER: Yes. It is a law in Pennsylvania that if one has their windshield wipers on, they must also turn on their headlights to increase the visibility of the vehicle in which they are travelling. The above situation highlights the absolute importance of making one\’s vehicle as visible as possible in bad weather conditions to other drivers.

Disclaimer: The above article is for instructive purposes only and each case is fact sensitive. Consultation with an attorney should be obtained instead of reliance upon the legal issues discussed in this column

Tom Cummings
Thomas P. Cummings has been a Partner with Dougherty Leventhal & Price, LLP since 1996 and has been with the firm since 1991. He focuses his practice on workers’ compensation, Social Security Disability and personal injury cases.