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Most Dangerous Rest Stops

When traveling long distances by car, taking breaks at rest stops helps to prevent exhaustion and stay alert on the road. However, not all rest stops are equal; some can be dangerous for travelers. While many rest stops in the country are safe and well-maintained, some have earned a reputation as the most dangerous rest stops on the road, where crime and accidents are more likely to occur.

For example, just a few years ago, the Washington Department of Transportation closed several rest stops in the state following a surge in crime. In May 2022, a man was fatally shot at a rest stop in Bonneville County, Idaho. These are just a few of the many examples of how dangerous some rest stops can be.

So whether you are a frequent road-tripper or planning your first long drive, understanding the potential dangers of rest stops can help you stay safe on the road. Here is everything you need to know to avoid the most dangerous rest stops and what to do if you or a loved one are victims of a rest stop crime.

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Get answers to commonly asked questions about our legal services and learn how we may assist you with your case.

  • What Are Some of the Most Dangerous Rest Stops in the Country?

    Given that rest stop crimes are not as rampant as other crimes throughout the country, there are no official statistics about them. However, as mentioned earlier, rest stops have been the target of criminal activities over the past few years, making it increasingly important to learn the potential risks of visiting these places and how to keep you or your loved ones safe.

  • What Are Some Common Crimes That Occur at Rest Stops Throughout the Country?

    Some of the most common crimes that could occur at a rest stop include:

    Theft: Rest stops are often prime targets for thieves, who may break into vehicles or steal unattended items. Thieves may also target distracted or vulnerable travelers, such as those sleeping or using a restroom. For example, in the summer of 2019, thieves stole jewelry worth millions from a security truck at a California rest stop. Luckily, no one was hurt in that incident. So if they're daring enough to steal from armored vehicles, what does that tell you about your safety as an ordinary traveler at a rest stop?

    Assault: Because most rest stops are usually secluded and isolated, they are potential targets for violent crimes such as assault or robbery.

    Carjacking: Rest stops may also be targets for carjackings. These incidents mostly occur when travelers leave their vehicles unattended. In 2020, for example, a man was killed in a carjacking at a rest stop along I-26 in Charleston, South Carolina.

    Drug-related crimes: Drug trafficking or drug use are also pretty common at rest stops countrywide. A good example is the 2022 incident, where authorities recovered over 11 points of meth from an Iowa Park rest stop.

    Human trafficking: Sadly, not everyone who pulls over at a rest stop has good intentions; some are human traffickers. Even more heartbreaking is that statistics have shown that 41 percent of victims rescued through truckers at rest stops are minors. The situation is so dire that authorities in San Antonio are partnering with truckers to help identify human traffickers at rest stops.

  • Who May Be Liable for Crimes at a Rest Stop?

    For every crime committed, there is always someone responsible. That said, determining liability for rest stop crimes can be a complex issue. In addition, liability usually depends on the unique circumstances of each case.

    That said, liability for crimes at a rest stop may fall on one or more of the following parties:

    Rest stop owner/operator: Suppose the rest stop is owned or operated by a government agency, such as a state transportation department or a private company. In that case, the owner or operator may be liable if they failed to maintain a safe environment.

    A good example is when a rest stop is poorly lit, allowing criminals to hide in the dark and attack unsuspecting travelers. In that case, the rest stop owner or operator may be liable for failing to provide adequate lighting, which is a form of negligent security.

    Criminal: The individual(s) who committed the crime may be held liable and may face criminal charges and/or civil lawsuits.

    Other parties: Liability may also fall on individuals or entities that contributed to the crime in one way or another or failed to take action to prevent it. For example, suppose a crime was committed by an employee of a vendor operating at the rest stop; the vendor may be held liable.

  • What Are Your Legal Options if You Were Assaulted at a Rest Stop?

    As a victim of an assault at a rest stop, you have two key options to explore, as discussed below.
    You may file criminal charges against the party responsible for the assault. This option works best if the perpetrator of the crime has been identified. Criminal charges can result in fines, imprisonment, or other penalties. However, pressing criminal charges alone will not help you recover damages for your injuries or losses.

    Filing a civil lawsuit is the best option to recover compensation for your injuries or losses. With a civil lawsuit, you can recover both economic and non-economic damages resulting from the assault.

  • How Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Help if I Am a Victim of a Crime at a Rest Stop?

    Ideally, an experienced personal injury attorney can:

    • Evaluate your case to determine whether you have valid grounds for filing a lawsuit.
    • Investigate the incident to build a strong case on your behalf.
    • Create a legal strategy to pursue justice for you or your loved one.
    • Identify the parties liable for your injuries and damages.
    • Fill out complex paperwork to support your claim.
    • Represent you in settlement negotiations in or out of court.
  • What Damages Are Available for Victims of Crime at a Rest Stop?

    As mentioned, different types of crimes can occur at rest stops. Therefore, the exact damages you may be able to recover with the help of an attorney will depend on the details of your case.
    That said, in a typical lawsuit involving rest step crimes such as assault, plaintiffs can recover the following damages:

    • Medical expenses
    • Lost wages
    • Pain and suffering
    • Property damage:
    • Punitive damages

    In addition, if someone dies due to a rest stop crime, the surviving family member can recover funeral expenses and death benefits.

    Keep in mind that your attorney can also help you pursue compensation from other sources you probably didn't know existed. For instance, in Washington state, the state government runs a Crimes Victims Compensation Program that helps victims of such crimes with the costs related to injuries sustained due to a crime.

    Through such programs, crime victims may be able to recover all the damages mentioned above except punitive damages. In addition, they may be able to receive state-sponsored counseling and limited pension if they meet certain requirements.

  • What Are Some Tips to Stay Safe at a Rest Stop?

    Knowing how to keep you or your loved one safe at a rest stop is the first step to protecting yourself from common crimes in these areas. Here are some tips worth keeping in mind.

    Choose a well-lit rest stop if traveling in the dark. The rest stop should also have security cameras. The presence of good lighting and security cameras can deter criminals and also make it easier to spot suspicious activity.

    Park in a well-lit area, visible from the main road or rest stop building. Avoid parking in isolated areas or near large trucks or RVs.

    Lock your vehicle, even if you're only away for a few minutes. An unlocked vehicle is an easy target for thieves. And in the course of the crime, someone might get hurt.

    Travel with a companion, such as a friend or family member, especially if you're taking a long road trip. Having someone with you at a rest stop can deter criminals and make you feel more secure.

    Always be aware of your surroundings. Pay attention to your surroundings and be aware of any suspicious activity. If you see something that doesn't seem right, leave the area and report it to the authorities.

    Ensure your cell phone is fully charged, and always carry it with you. If you need help, you can quickly call emergency services for assistance.

    Trust your instincts and leave the area if something doesn't feel right. It's always better to be safe than sorry.

  • Why Are Rest Stops Easy Targets for Criminals?

    Criminals target rest stops for different reasons. Here are some of the most common.
    Rest stops are often located in remote or isolated areas, away from urban centers. As a result, such areas are usually difficult to monitor for law enforcement, making them attractive targets for criminals because of the low risk of being caught.

    In addition, these locations may have limited surveillance, making it easier for criminals to commit crimes without being seen. Criminals may also be able to hide from view in the surrounding terrain or foliage.

    Rest stops are often frequented by vulnerable populations, including families with children, elderly individuals, and those traveling alone. Unfortunately, these populations may be seen as vulnerable targets for criminal activity.

    These locations are also typically filled with parked vehicles, making it easier for criminals to target unoccupied cars, steal valuables, or commit other crimes. Keep in mind that rest stops offer short-term stays, meaning that visitors are often distracted and less likely to notice suspicious behavior.

    And given that almost everyone using a rest stop is a visitor in transit to another location, it can be difficult to separate regular travelers from Criminals. That level of anonymity encourages criminals to blend with travelers without suspicion.

  • How Morgan & Morgan Personal Injury Attorneys Can Help

    A simple stopover at a rest stop could be all it takes to change your life, or your loved one's, forever. Although most rest stops in the country are generally safe, some are not. Many people have been raped and even killed at these locations nationwide. Others have been trafficked and separated from their loved ones for the rest of their lives.

    Their fault? Trusting facilities set up help them rest and refresh before continuing with their journeys.

    We Can Help Hold the Other Party Liable for Their Actions or Inaction

    Most people do not realize that for every criminal activity that occurs at a rest stop, someone is usually liable. And in such cases, liability goes beyond the individual charged with assault, rape, trafficking, or any other crime. Rather, it includes other parties, such as government agencies, contractors, private developers, etc.

    We Will Take on Any Defendant, Including Government Agencies

    Since state governments usually manage most rest stops, you expect them to provide adequate security. And this goes beyond proper lighting for installing surveillance cameras; each rest stop is unique and requires security measures tailored to its unique needs. So when the parties responsible for managing these facilities fail to protect innocent travelers, they should be held accountable.

    That is where Morgan & Morgan, America's largest injury firm, comes in to protect the rights of the injured when government agencies, private developers, and other parties fail. As the country's largest law firm, our attorneys are uniquely qualified and equipped to handle complex cases, including those involving claims against government agencies.

    But here's the catch; personal injury cases are complicated and full of legal twists and turns. For example, by setting up short deadlines to file such cases, most states make it difficult and even impossible for the injured to take legal action against government agencies for their negligence. But these laws are only meant to deter the injured from fighting back. We can help you navigate these setbacks in your pursuit of compensation.

  • Morgan & Morgan Understands Your Pain. Contact Us Today

    At Morgan & Morgan, we understand how important it is that you obtain justice and compensation for your injuries and damages. Whether you were assaulted, robbed, trafficked, or treated unjustly at one of the most dangerous rest stops, we may be able to fight for you.

    But to put up the strongest fight against the liable party, we will need to evaluate your case, determine whether it is valid, and create a legal strategy to begin fighting back. That is why we offer a free, no-obligation case evaluation.

    Keep in mind that such cases are time-sensitive. The sooner you act, the better your chances of obtaining a favorable outcome.

    Contact us today to learn more about your options.

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