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Negligence and Negligence Per Se: Parking 18-Wheelers and Tractor-Trailers on the Roadway

Every now and then you may come across a semi-truck or car-hauler parked on the side of the road, or even partially in the road and think to yourself, “that is so dangerous,” or “they should not be allowed to do that.” Well, technically they aren’t supposed to do that. Section 545.301 of the Texas Transportation Code provides that an operator may not stop, park, or leave standing an attended or unattended vehicle on the main traveled part of a highway outside a business or residence district unless:

(1) stopping, parking, or leaving the vehicle off the main traveled part of the highway is not practicable;
(2) a width of highway beside the vehicle is unobstructed and open for the passage of other vehicles; and
(3) the vehicle is in clear view for at least 200 feet in each direction on the highway.
This means that unless you have some sort claim of necessity (see (1) above), there is ample room for safe passage of other vehicles on the road, and the vehicle is visible to other drivers, it is not a violation of the Transportation code. However, it may be evidence of negligence in a claim for personal injuries. Liability for money damages may be imposed if the person strikes the vehicle that is parked on the roadway, or if the person strikes any part of a trailer or other object that is attached to the vehicle. A key note here is that the statute specifically addresses “residences” and “businesses”. The legislative intent here was to limit liability placed on truck drivers, trucking companies, and their insurance companies while engaged in business activities or while at home. In all other situations, section 545.302 will apply, for which there is no exception like the one discussed above. For example, at some point you may have seen a car-hauler parked outside a dealership, with full lights flashing, sticking out into the roadway. In that instance, section 545.301 will apply because it is outside a “business”. If the exception to rule is met, then 545.301 is not implicated and the driver should not be cited for parking there. However, it may constitute negligence for them to park there nonetheless. However, it will be the plaintiff’s burden to show that the car hauler was negligent in parking there, which will be difficult to do, since it is an “industry custom” for car-haulers to park outside a dealership to unload the vehicles.
However, if an semi is parked outside a business on the main road, and there is not enough room for other drivers to get by safely, or other drivers are not able to see and react to the presence of the semi, then section 545.301 is implicated, which will provide direct evidence of negligence on the part of the semi driver. This makes proving that the driver was negligent much easier on the plaintiff as they may claim “negligence per se” because the driver violated section 545.301 of the Texas Transportation Code (Negligence per se is negligence established by a violation of some law, administrative code or municipal code).
If you have questions about a personal injury case, feel free to give us a call. We have assistants waiting to take your call. Consultations are free, and we only take personal injury cases on contingency, which means no upfront money out of pocket for you.

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Guest and Gray, P.C. is an experienced litigation team serving all North Texas counties. We are the largest and highest rated law firm in Rockwall and Kaufman County. We regularly pursue and defend various civil litigation claims and personal injury claims. Our practice is quickly growing, and we have offices in Dallas, Rockwall and Forney to provide convenience to our clients. We are longtime faces in our community and we love what we do. We seek to provide an air of calm and confidence for our clients during a difficult time. We believe that makes us a little bit different from everybody else, and we like it that way.

For more information, or if you are seeking legal advice, give us a call at (972) 564-4644.

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