Skip to Content

Overdriving Headlights & a Wrongful Death Case

Daniel horowitz lawyers in lafayette logo with horowitz initials DH

Overdriving Headlights & a Wrongful Death Case

Wrongful death attorneys have a heavy burden. Fatal accidents are never compensated sufficiently. No amount of money repairs the loss. We are faced instead with lessening the burden on families in a limited arena of money and financial support. Now what does this have to do with “overdriving headlights”?

Overdriving headlights means going faster than you can stop.  Sometimes a driver who seems like the victim of another driver's negligent fault, can also be responsible because he overdrove his headlights.  In a very serious injury case or an auto death case finding everyone who is at fault is critically important.  

An Example of Overdriving Headlights in a Wrongful Death (auto) Case

Liability which is the legal term for responsibility.  Here is the story of a three car wrongful death accident.  The person who died is in car 3.  Car 1 is stopped on the freeway and Car 2 hits Car 1.

The accident starts with car 1 speeding down the road.  Car 1 thinks he sees a deer and slams on his brakes and turns sharply in panic.  His car spins out and is temporarily stopped on the freeway.

Now take away the sun. It is nighttime. Take away lights, it is a stretch of freeway without overhead lights and without ambient lighting from the sides of the road.

Car 2 is ahead of our client’s car.  Car 2 is driving the speed limit. He sees the wreck but cannot stop in time and he swerves to the right lane (which is open) to avoid a crash.

Meanwhile our client (who is now deceased) is driving behind that same car, just a bit slower. He also sees the stopped car and swerves. Our client is clear. He has seen the danger and is entering the safe lane on the right.

But, the car in front that was going the speed limit but faster than our client’s car, cannot completely avoid the stopped car. He hits it and flies into what would have been the safe lane. But he flies sideways in response to his crash and our client hits him and dies.

The first car, the car most at fault has very little insurance. They immediately offer their policy limits of $ 15,000. Their driver has no money. It is a loss. Our client gets the $ 15,000 but that is a drop in the bucket.

But what about car number 2 that was driving the speed limit? That is where overdriving headlights comes in. The speed limit is the top speed but not always the right speed. If you can’t see that well you can’t drive the speed limit. You can only drive as fast as you can stop. In other words as far you can see is a certain number of feet. You have to presume that as far as you can see will trigger an immediate need to brake. You brake - you stop - you do not hit anything. That is proper driving. But if you see, brake but cannot stop in that distance you have overdriven your ability to see which at night with headlights is called overdriving your headlights.

The math is interesting. Low beams will give you 150-200 feet of view under normal/dark conditions. You are moving at 90 feet per second when you are at 60 miles an hour. Two seconds is all the time you have between seeing a nighttime obstacle and hitting it.

A personal injury law firm has to look at all the potential liability issues in order to ensure that our clients are treated fairly. There is nothing more painful than telling a client that there is little or no insurance to cover an injury. In all cases, we look everywhere for coverage and liability. If you are injured or if you have suffered a tragic loss, Daniel Horowitz will fight for you and your family.