Once again today we visit the issue of negligence or fault under Iowa’s comparative fault statute, Iowa Code Chapter 668. Today’s act is stopping on a highway. A driver could be found to be negligent if they stop over the crest of a hill. That means simply coming up over a hill and then stopping on the downside out of sight of oncoming traffic. Stopping in such a location doesn’t allow oncoming traffic the opportunity to have sufficient time to stop. If the driver in this condition is faced with an emergency a first impression would be to excuse the situation. But that isn’t always the case. If the driver of the stopped vehicle has time to exit the car and then to warn other drivers it could still be considered negligence. If they do try to warn, but fail to do enough to warn other drivers of the stopped vehicle it too can be an act of negligence.
There is a story being reported where an elderly woman for no explained reason stopped just over the crest of a hill on U.S. Highway 34 east of New London in southeastern Iowa. She was sitting in her car when a National Guard bus crested the hill and struck her vehicle. The bus driver stated he could not stop in time to avoid striking the vehicle. The woman died in the ensuing crash. A further investigation is necessary to try and explain the reasons she stopped. If it were a heart event then she would certainly be excused under the doctrine of sudden emergency.
Most of us think of negligent acts in terms of who was the one striking who. But in this instance it’s the person being struck that is the negligent one, or so it appears. Although this is an unfortunate accident it does demonstrate a point about negligence and fault and for no other reason we discuss it.
Of course the other party can always argue about speed, time and distance issues involving the bus driver and whether his acts amounted to negligence, but that is for another day.