When To Turn On Your Headlights

Date: December 10, 2009
Posted In: DLP Law

Sam had just had a fine meal in Lake Ariel and was heading towards Hamlin on Route 191. Sam was in somewhat of a rush to get home and, despite the fact that it was now 6:30 and dark, he left the parking lot without putting his lights on for some reason. Poor Molly was pulling out of her driveway and, despite the fact that she looked in both directions, did not see Sam whose dark-colored pickup truck would have been virtually impossible to see without lights being turned on.

Sam broad-sided Molly, causing Molly to have serious injuries that resulted in a long hospitalization. Sam complained that Molly pulled out right in front of him and was basically responsible for the accident.

Issue: Is Sam correct?

Answer: No. Sam is in big trouble here. He violated a statute which mandates that he have his lights on so that his vehicle would have been observable in the dark. In all likelihood, a jury would find Sam 100% responsible for this accident, despite the fact that Molly did pull out in front of him. Molly could not be expected to observe a vehicle in an area that is not lit when that vehicle does not have its headlights on.

As a general matter of safety, one should turn their headlights on at the beginning of dusk. Also drivers are supposed to have their lights on if their windshield wipers are being used, even in the daytime.

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.