Steven A. Bagen | August 9, 2023 | Car Accidents
Driving is a task that demands complete attention and a comprehensive understanding of your vehicle’s capabilities, as well as its limitations. Among them, you must know how to correctly deal with your vehicle’s blind spots and those of other drivers.
A blind spot refers to the areas around your car that are not in our direct line of sight while looking forward or through the rear-view or side mirrors. Proper management of these blind spots is essential for your safety and the safety of other motorists and pedestrians. Contact a car accident lawyer for legal guidance.
Understanding Blind Spots
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over 1,500 people die annually due to accidents in which a driver’s vision was obscured. This number accounts for around 3 percent of all fatal crashes.
For every fatality that occurs because a driver cannot see the traffic around them, thousands more suffer injuries. These numbers underline the severity of this issue and the importance of proper blind spot monitoring. The statistics also reveal that blind spot accidents are more likely to occur on highways and busy urban roads, where continuous lane changing is required.
Understanding your vehicle’s blind spots is a fundamental aspect of safe driving. Blind spots can vary significantly based on the vehicle’s type and model. For instance, a compact car’s blind spots will differ from those of a large SUV or a commercial truck.
Reasons for Blind Spots
Blind spots occur due to the structural limitations of a vehicle. The pillars supporting the vehicle’s roof, rear-view and side mirrors, passengers, and even objects placed inside the car all contribute to creating areas obstructed from the driver’s field of view. In addition, the driver’s height, seating position, and mirror adjustment also play a significant role in determining the size and position of these blind spots.
Situations Where Blind Spots Can Cause Accidents
Blind spots have the potential to cause truck accidents in many situations. They are particularly hazardous when changing lanes, merging onto highways, and parking.
Large vehicles, such as trucks and SUVs, have considerably more obstructed views, and maneuvering them without full awareness can lead to severe accidents. Even for drivers of smaller vehicles, failing to check your surroundings properly can result in collisions with other vehicles, cyclists, or pedestrians.
While blind spots are an inherent part of every vehicle’s design, drivers can employ various strategies and techniques to manage and minimize their risk effectively.
Understanding how to adjust your mirrors correctly, conducting physical checks before maneuvers, and using modern technology can significantly enhance your ability to detect and avoid potential hazards lurking in your vehicle’s blind spots.
Adjusting the Vehicle’s Mirrors
As explained by Ford, proper mirror adjustment can reduce your vehicle’s blind spots. The rear-view mirror should provide a clear view of the road behind, and the side mirrors should barely show the edge of your car. By tilting the mirrors further outward, you can cover the areas not visible directly or through the rear-view mirror.
Remember, even with properly adjusted mirrors, blind spots still require further safety measures.
Physical Checks Before Maneuvers
According to Consumer Reports, 300 people are killed each year, and 18,000 are injured due to backover crashes, which involve a driver failing to look behind them before backing up. Unfortunately, most of the victims of this type of accident are children.
In addition to relying on your mirrors, performing physical checks is crucial for safe driving. This involves briefly turning your head to verify that there’s no vehicle, cyclist, or pedestrian in your blind spot before making any maneuvers, such as changing lanes or merging with traffic. This quick check offers an extra layer of security beyond what your mirrors can provide.
Use of Technology to Mitigate Blind Spots
Many modern vehicles come equipped with advanced safety features designed to help drivers mitigate the risks associated with blind spots.
Technologies like blind spot monitoring use sensors on the left and right sides of the rear bumper and rear-view cameras to enhance your awareness of the surroundings while driving. These technological advancements, however, do not eliminate the need for safe driving habits but supplement them.
The Driver Must Mitigate Blind Spots
All drivers who operate motor vehicles on public roadways have what is known as a duty of care. The duty of care refers to the requirement that individuals and entities take reasonable actions in a given set of circumstances to avoid causing harm to others.
For drivers, this means ensuring that their vehicle has been well-maintained and meets the insurance requirements in the state where it is registered. It means avoiding risky driving behaviors such as impaired or distracted driving or exceeding the posted speed limit.
Additionally, drivers must mitigate potential hazards such as an improperly adjusted mirror or a significant blind spot that prevents them from seeing pedestrians and other vehicles that can be traveling behind, in front of, or alongside their car.
Current safety regulations and guidelines vary by region, but many require side and rear-view mirrors on all vehicles. Some places also regulate mirror size and curvature to provide a wider field of view.
Newer regulations and guidelines are suggesting the inclusion of blind spot detection systems as standard safety equipment in vehicles, emphasizing the importance of trying to eliminate blind spot-related accidents.
Most states have laws that require drivers to ensure that a lane is clear before merging or turning to ensure that a vehicle or person is not behind them when they back up.
Failing to check blind spots is a form of negligence that can make the driver liable for compensating those they have harmed by their actions. When such a situation arises, understanding the legal implications becomes critical, and this is where a lawyer’s experience comes into play.
Legal Implications of Accidents Due to Blind Spots
Determining who is at fault in a blind spot accident largely depends on the specific circumstances. Generally, if a driver fails to check their blind spot before maneuvering and subsequently collides with another vehicle, they may be liable. However, other factors such as speed, distraction, traffic conditions, weather, and even the other driver’s actions can also contribute to determining fault. A lawyer can help analyze these factors and establish who bears the legal responsibility.
The party determined to be at fault in an accident could face various legal consequences, ranging from fines and increased insurance premiums to even losing their driving privileges in severe cases.
They might also need to compensate the victim for damages, including vehicle repairs, medical costs, and sometimes even emotional distress and suffering.
This intricate process requires a lawyer’s experience to protect the victim’s rights and recover the appropriate compensation.
Role of a Lawyer in a Blind Spot Accident Case
After an accident, your lawyer will collect evidence, interview witnesses, and review the police report to build a strong case for you. They will guide you through each step of the legal process, including negotiating with insurance companies, which can be notoriously challenging.
With their deep understanding of personal injury laws and regulations, your lawyer will work tirelessly to protect your interests and recover the compensation you rightly deserve.
Evidence is crucial to proving liability after a blind spot accident.
Some evidence your legal team will gather to support your claim includes:
- The police accident report.
- Photos of the damage to the vehicles involved in the accident.
- The testimony of witnesses.
- Medical documentation about your injury.
Valuing Your Claim
Blind spot accidents can lead to various injuries depending on the accident’s severity. These can range from minor cuts and bruises to serious injuries like fractures, whiplash, and concussions.
In severe cases, life-threatening injuries and long-term disabilities can occur. Immediate medical attention is necessary after an accident, regardless of the perceived severity.
The focus of your accident claim is to obtain compensation for all financial and psychological impacts you suffered due to someone else’s negligence. Because medical expenses and the long-term effects of permanent injuries can dramatically increase the claim’s value, your attorney will likely wait until you have reached maximum medical improvement before establishing the value of your claim.
Maximum medical improvement is a term used to refer to the point at which a person’s medical condition has plateaued, and further medical treatment is unlikely to improve the condition.
This milestone provides time to value the claim. You have developed a clear picture of your medical expenses and the presence of any permanent injuries. Your claim can now account for the need for future medical treatment and the loss of earning capacity that often accompanies disabling injuries.
Dealing With Insurance Companies
In blind spot accident cases, insurance companies often look at factors like speed, distraction, and correct mirror use. If a driver is found to have not properly adjusted their mirrors or didn’t check their blind spots before maneuvering, they may be deemed at fault and legally responsible for compensating those who suffered harm due to an accident.
The compensation provided by insurance companies through a personal injury claim typically covers vehicle repairs, medical expenses, and sometimes even mental distress caused by the accident.
It is important to understand, however, that insurance companies are not in the business of fairly compensating claims made against the policies of their insured. They’re in business to make money by selling policies and collecting premiums.
Because claim payouts represent a financial loss for the insurance company, they will seek to limit that loss by devaluing the claim, often through tactics such as convincing a claimant to accept a low settlement or attempting to shift the blame for the accident away from their insured.
An experienced personal injury lawyer will manage communication with the insurance provider to protect the claim’s value and advocate for the most compensation available for their client. This allows you to focus on your physical recovery rather than on dealing with insurance companies.
Filing a Lawsuit, if Necessary
While most car accident claims are resolved through a negotiated settlement, in some cases, the insurance company simply refuses to fairly compensate the claim. This often results from a dispute over liability or the insurance claims adjuster’s belief that the injuries sustained were not as serious as the claim suggests.
When this happens, your attorney can file a legal complaint (lawsuit) on your behalf in civil court so that a judge or jury can make decisions about the case.
One of the most important aspects of your ability to obtain compensation for the financial and emotional consequences of the accident is ensuring that the lawsuit is filed within the statute of limitations.
The statute of limitations is a deadline imposed by state law that bars lawsuits from being filed after a certain amount of time has passed. The clock begins ticking on the day the accident occurred, and most states allow claimants between one and five years to file a lawsuit in pursuit of compensation. Missing this deadline will not only bar the case from being heard in court but will also free the at-fault party’s insurer from the obligation to resolve the claim.
Your attorney will manage the timing of the claims process to ensure that all of your legal options remain open.
Affording an Attorney to Handle Your Blind Spot Accident Claim
Working with an experienced car accident lawyer is affordable regardless of your financial circumstances, as most personal injury lawyers use a contingent fee billing method. Cornell University’s Legal Information Institute explains that this allows you to hire an attorney and have them work on your case with no money upfront and no bills while the case is active. They are only paid when there is a successful outcome to your claim.
The legal landscape of personal injury cases can be overwhelming. Trying to navigate it alone can lead to missed opportunities for compensation or, worse, being unjustly held responsible.
An experienced personal injury attorney in Gainesville, FL, on the other hand, can help demystify these complexities and pave the way for a more favorable outcome. They can provide professional advice tailored to your unique circumstances, stress-testing every legal avenue to ensure a robust and well-founded case.