Attorney Gary Bruce discusses viewer questions about being pulled over by the police and walking in crosswalks. Paul from Columbus, Georgia called in to ask whether the police have the right to pull him over for a headlight being out in his car. Gary explains our duty as drivers using state roads to keep our cars in safe operating condition in order to avoid wrecks. Another viewer asked WTVM what happens when a pedestrian who was not using the crosswalk gets hit by a vehicle. The laws differ between Georgia and Alabama, but Gary discusses contributory negligence and how it affects injury claims for pedestrians depending on which state you’re in. The outcome of your case can be completely different depending on whether it happened in Phenix City, Alabama or Columbus, Georgia.
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Narrator: This is legal break on WTVM with attorney, Gary Bruce. answering your questions about the law.
Maureen: Hello there. Well today we have some very interesting questions to ask you, Gary. So we’re gonna jump right in the one I’m going to read to make sure I don’t get it incorrect. Paul from Columbus called in asked: if the police have a right to pull him over for a headlight being out in his car?
Gary: Yes. And the quick answer is yes they do. Because we have an implied consent when we use the roads the state has a duty and an interest in keeping it safe. So when you take to the roads if your lights are out, you’re malfunctioning somehow, or even if you’ve been impaired, you’ve implicitly said: I’m subject to the state’s rules and regulations. So can they pull you over? Yes. The question comes up when it’s maybe a pretextual pullover. Was a really reason to pull me over, or were you just making something up so you could inspect my car, or see who I was. You know, and that that argument comes up sometimes. But the truth is they can if your lights are out, they can pull you over. So here’s the tip I think, Paul, and Paul and I talked about this. Walk around the car like you if you’re a trucker, you know. They have to do a pre-trip inspection and we don’t do this enough, I don’t do it enough, but none of us do. But make sure your lights are working, make sure your signals are working, and look at your tires. Make sure they’re inflated, you know that causes a lot of wrecks. Bad tread is an issue, and it comes up. So do it, take it on yourself, do it, inspect for yourself and that’s a good opportunity and a good time to talk about that, it’s a safety issue for all of us.
Maureen: It is, and this could help you and/or the passengers in your car too. So we have a man on the street question and a question from Rick, let’s roll it.
Question Two: What happens when you cross the median, not in the crosswalk, and you get hit – who’s at fault?
Gary: All right well the question essentially: Do you have to cross in a crosswalk? I think the good answer is yes, crossing a crosswalk. But if you don’t, you may recover in Columbus in Georgia you have different rules in Alabama. So the interesting thing is this, if you are contributorily negligent in causing your injury, in Georgia, the jury will have a chance to decide how much you contributed versus how much the other person contributed. So they come around a corner real fast and have fault, then you can still recover. In Alabama, the rule is a little different. If you’re one percent at fault under contributory negligence laws then you may be barred from recovery altogether. So, an interesting distinction between Georgia and Alabama, but use the crosswalk much safer, a lot better. Keep the questions coming we’re enjoy this.
Maureen: Yeah it’s been fun. Thank you so much we’ll see you on the very next Legal Break.