Switch to ADA Accessible Theme
Close Menu
Rhode Island Personal Injury Attorney
You Don't Pay Unless We Recover 401-453-2700
Rhode Island Personal Injury Attorney / Blog / Personal Injury / A Friendly Wave In Traffic Can End Up Causing An Accident

A Friendly Wave In Traffic Can End Up Causing An Accident


Ever see someone stuck in traffic, or trying to make a turn, and you have a better vantage point than they do? So you want to be helpful, and when you see that traffic is clear, you wave that driver through or tell the other driver through hand gestures that the driver is free to go through traffic or make a turn?

You wouldn’t think that a seemingly innocuous waive or thumbs up or similar gesture could get you sued. But it could. Because if you tell a driver it’s clear to go, drive, or turn, and it turns out to not be safe or clear, you could end up getting sued by whomever is hurt in the accident.

Undertaking the Duty to Direct Traffic

Legally, liability stems from the concept of duty. You don’t have to direct traffic, or help anyone, or tell any other driver when it is or is not free to drive or turn. But if you do undertake that duty, you now have the legal requirement to do so carefully, and if you breach that duty, you can get sued.

And yes, you could be held responsible, even if the other driver—the one you waved on, or gave the “OK” to—was negligent, and had some responsibility for the accident. It doesn’t matter that you were trying to be helpful or nice. You’ve now undertaken the duty to direct traffic, and you can be liable when things go wrong.

Don’t Rely on Another’s Waving

Looking at things from the other direction, if you are a driver with limited visibility in a driving situation, it can be tempting to blindly follow another driver’s wave, or gesture, signaling that it is free and safe for you to do whatever you’re trying to do (usually, make a turn). But never just rely on another driver.

If that other driver, the one who signaled you that it was safe to drive, is wrong, you can sue that driver for negligently directing traffic—but you also will get sued by anybody that you may have injured, even though you relied on the other driver’s assurance that it was safe to drive.

You have no idea if that other driver knew what he was doing, or whether there is some miscommunication in signals between you and the other, waving driver.

Phantom Wavers

Unfortunately, many “waivers” usually aren’t actually involved in the actual collision that their waving causes, so they often are never identified.

This can lead to uninsured motorist claims. Because waving happens inside of someone’s vehicle, there may not be many witnesses to the wave or the negligent gesture, telling you that it was free and clear to drive or turn. This can make proof of a negligent gesture harder to prove.

Who is liable for your traffic or car accident? Contact our Rhode Island personal injury and accident lawyers at Robert E. Craven & Associates at 401-453-2700 today.




Facebook Twitter LinkedIn
Contact Us phone: 401-453-2700 fax: 401-453-1910 Office Hours:
9:00am - 6:00pm (M-F)
Visit Us

7405 Post Road
North Kingstown, RI 02852

Get Directions
Follow Us
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn