Kevin Etzkorn Law

Legal Liability for Waving Another Driver Through Traffic

Everyone has been involved in this scenario. You are stopped in the center lane waiting to make left a turn into a shopping center. But the lane to your immediate left is bumper-to-bumper. The only way you can get to the shopping center is if there is a gap in traffic. The nice gentleman to your immediate left actually backs up a few feet and waves to you, indicating that you are free to go in front of him.

What happens if you make that left in front of him and get hit by a car you couldn’t see in the next lane? Could the gentleman who waved to you be at fault for injuries to you? What if you collide with a car in that next lane and the driver of that car is injured too? Could the “waver” be liable to that injured person too?

The answer to all of these questions is “yes.” We see these cases from time to time. We recently filed suit on behalf of a client who was making a turn across two lanes of traffic when waved through by two drivers, and then was struck in a third lane. Both “wavers” fled the scene. We filed suit against our client’s own insurance company under the “phantom vehicle”/uninsured motorist coverage in her policies. Our client had very serious injuries with fractures in her neck and a major head injury. Her insurance company paid to settle.

Most clients who come to us with “wave through” cases are uncertain of their rights and of the responsibilities of the waving drivers. Similarly, clients are often unaware that when a driver who causes an accident flees the scene there is still a way to recover through a phantom vehicle/uninsured motorist policy. This is a policy that nearly every insured driver carriers, whether they know it or not.


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