Steven A. Bagen | July 14, 2022 | Car Accidents
Car accidents can strike at any moment. In that instant, your entire life can change temporarily or permanently. All it takes is being around the wrong driver at the wrong time. No matter how careful you are, you cannot control the actions of other drivers who do things in their car that have nothing to do with you. However, the second they cause a severe car accident, their actions have everything to do with you.
Here are some of the leading causes of car accidents. If you have suffered an injury in a car crash that was someone else’s fault, you may be entitled to significant financial compensation. First, you need to contact an experienced car accident lawyer to prove that someone else was to blame and secure enough monetary compensation to pay for your injuries.
Reckless driving has increased dramatically since the start of the pandemic. It is as if drivers got used to fewer cars on the road and the lower level of traffic enforcement in the early days of the pandemic. Even though more traffic has returned to the road, drivers kept the bad habits they acquired. There is less regard for laws in general, as many drivers want to do their own thing no matter what.
There following are examples of dangerous driving behaviors that fall under the umbrella of reckless driving:
- Aggressive driving
- Drunk driving
- Excessive speeding
- Distracted driving
With reckless driving, the motorist is operating their vehicle with willful or wanton disregard for the safety of others. A self-centered driving habit places the driver’s interests above your well-being. It is little wonder that reckless driving is a factor in roughly one-third of the traffic fatalities in the country.
According to the National Highway Transit Safety Administration, roughly 30 percent of fatal car crashes involve a drunk driver. The legal limit for blood alcohol content in practically every state is .08 percent. Even driving with a BAC below that level can be illegal if the driver is impaired.
Driving impaired will affect the driver in many ways:
- Studies have shown alcohol to lower inhibitions, leading drivers to take more risks
- Alcohol affects the part of the brain that exercises judgment
- Drivers have diminished reflexes and perceptions when they have drunk alcohol
- Drivers have reduced motor skills when they have alcohol in their system
- Alcohol also affects the driver’s ability to see
No matter what the government does to increase penalties for drivers who use their mobile devices behind the wheel, it does not seem to stop people from sending texts or checking their social media. Although the main focus is on smartphone use, it is far from the only way that drivers take their eyes off the road. Some may eat with two hands behind the wheel or even do their makeup.
When a driver is on the highway, they can travel an entire football field in the time it takes to read a text. On city streets, the driver may miss a car stopped in front of them, at a traffic light or stop sign, or not see a car in their blind spot.
Although there is no law against fatigued driving, it is just as dangerous as drunk driving. Motorists often get behind the wheel late at night when they have not gotten enough sleep. If a driver goes 20 hours without sleeping, it is the same as if they have a blood alcohol content of .08.
The proportion of motorists who admit to falling asleep behind the wheel is alarming. Roughly 4 percent of adult drivers admit to falling asleep while driving just in the past 30 days. A driver does not have to fall asleep to endanger other drivers. They just need to doze off for a second to miss a hazard or lose control of their car.
Even fatigued drivers who do not fall asleep are a danger. Overly tired drivers will have worse reflexes and impaired judgment. It will impair their ability to avoid accidents.
Teenage drivers have a much higher accident rate than other drivers. Motorists will improve with time because they know how to react in certain situations. Teen drivers are often on the road at night when it is more difficult for anyone.
Teen drivers have three times the chance of being involved in a fatal accident than drivers over 20. The rate is even higher among male teenage drivers. Even teen drivers who are careful and follow all the traffic laws are at a higher risk because they simply lack the time behind the wheel to understand how to drive. In addition, teens are less likely to know when not to take risks.
The road itself can be the cause of the car accident. The state or local government has a legal obligation to maintain the road in reasonable condition. Hazards, such as potholes, make it far more difficult for motorists to drive safely. Potholes can cause motorists to have a flat tire or blowout that can cause them to lose control of their car.
Drivers may swerve to avoid roadway hazards, causing them to leave their lanes. Road hazards are becoming more common these days, as the nation’s highways degenerate and degrade.
Poor road conditions can also mean that drivers have not slowed down or did not take the appropriate amount of care in road work zones. There are more hazards and dangers, and drivers must slow down and be cautious. However, many motorists speed through work zones, increasing the risk of rear-ending other cars or losing control of their vehicle.
According to the American Automobile Association, roughly half of drivers report traveling over 15 miles per hour above the speed limit on a freeway in the 30 days before the survey. Nearly the same amount of drivers report traveling ten miles per hour above the speed limit on a residential street.
The faster a motorist goes, the more likely they will lose control of their car or not respond in time to a hazard. In addition, faster speeds mean worse collisions due to the additional force. Speeding is a factor in over 10,000 motor vehicle fatalities each year.
The speed limit is the maximum speed a driver should travel under ideal road conditions. In inclement weather, which can include snow, rain, or ice, the driver must slow down. Traveling the speed limit during a driving rainstorm can constitute negligence or reckless driving.
Cars can slip and lose control on the roadway without any warning. If a driver slips on the ice, they cannot blame the weather, and they will still be held liable for any car crash they caused. Drivers are best off pulling over in heavy rains or staying home in the snow and ice unless they must drive. Cars may be unable to see where there is ice because the roadway can appear normal.
Maintenance Issues and Car Defects
In some rare cases, the driver can be doing everything right and still end up in a crash because of the car itself. The car may have a defective part that caused the driver to lose control or be unable to stop in time to avoid hitting another car. The most common faulty vehicle parts that can cause an accident are the brakes and tires.
If a defective car or part caused your accident, you can sue the manufacturer and dealer in a product liability lawsuit. These complex legal actions require you to prove that the product was defective. The defendants will fight these cases as hard as possible because they can owe compensation to thousands of plaintiffs like you who may have suffered an injury due to the same defect.
If you suspect a defective part caused your accident, you must save the evidence for an attorney to examine. Your lawyer will work with expert witnesses to establish that there was a product defect.
It is far more challenging to drive at night. Aside from the obvious factor that drivers may go without sleep, road conditions themselves are more dangerous. Drivers can be unable to see hazards, especially when the area does not have adequate lighting. The accident rate for drivers is roughly double than during the day.
In addition, there is little that you can do to control the actions of other drivers at night. They take more chances then. The absence of cars on the road, and the perception that there are fewer police officers to enforce traffic rules, can cause people to act with reckless disregard for safety. While you should always drive defensively, you should double those efforts at night because of the actions of other drivers.
Proving What Happened in Your Car Accident
Of course, you have the burden of proof to show that any of these happened and caused your car accident. In many crashes, each driver may have a different story.
The responsible driver often will not admit what they did because they know it can cost them dearly. They may deny that they were speeding or made an illegal turn. If a police officer does not conclude that they were the cause of the accident, you may need something more to prove that they were responsible.
Therefore, you need an experienced car accident lawyer who can investigate your accident and gather the evidence necessary to show what happened. The insurance company may only make you a settlement offer if they see proof that shows what the other driver did to cause the accident. You might be unable to interview witnesses and gather evidence on your own at the scene of the accident or in the days afterward if you are dealing with accident injuries.
To show negligence in a car crash, your lawyer can gather:
- Witness testimony from people who saw the collision or the events leading up to it
- Dashcam footage that showed the accident
- The police report (although this report is not admissible in court)
- The testimony of an accident reconstruction expert who gives their opinion about what caused the crash
- Pictures from the scene of the accident (including the position of the cars and skid marks on the ground)
- The wreckage of the car crash
Your Attorney Will Work on Your Behalf to Obtain Financial Compensation
Once your attorney learns the cause of the crash and gathers the evidence, they will assist you in filing a claim for compensation against the other driver. Here, you will be dealing with their insurance company, which will demand proof of liability before trying to settle the case.
If the other driver pleads guilty to a traffic offense, you can use that as evidence in court. If the police officer issues a citation and notes it in the police report, you provide it to the insurance company as part of your claim.
Even if liability is clear-cut, you will still need an experienced car accident lawyer to handle your case. First, the other driver’s insurance company can try to shift part of the blame to you to try to save themselves money. Second, you will need to agree on an amount of compensation, and that is not always easy. An insurance company will always try to undervalue your claim, so they can pay you less.
This is why you should never go it alone against the insurance company. If you suffered an injury in an auto accident, you should be focusing on healing from your injuries. Let your lawyer handle the insurance companies and potential legal issues.