It might be hard to believe, but in most instances of a car accident, it is possible to pinpoint one common underlying cause: Negligence.
In the great majority of car accidents, the events leading up to an accident and the actions of one or more drivers will turn out to be negligent and in violation of the duty of care drivers owe to one another and others on the roadways. Negligence while driving is a common danger to everyone.
After a car accident, proving negligence is a large part of proving liability for your damages and losses. In both an insurance claim and a lawsuit, discovering who is negligent is one of the most critical elements to the case so that you can seek compensation from the appropriate party responsible for your losses.
Understanding the actions of another driver or the other liable parties will help you determine who caused your injuries.
What are Examples of Driver Negligence That Can Cause a Car Accident?
Car accidents don’t just happen out of the blue, although it can feel that way many times for the victims of a crash. Each day you share the road with many drivers that are negligent and, unfortunately, sometimes their negligence will result in an accident that can harm you or other drivers and passengers near them on the roadways.
Driver negligence consists of several different driver behaviors and actions that endanger public safety.
- Driving while under the influence – When a driver drinks and drives, they endanger everyone. DUI is not only a crime but a cause of many victims’ injuries and fatalities. Drivers under the influence impair their functions and abilities to operate a vehicle safely and are at a much higher chance of causing an accident with others on the road.
- Distracted driving – There is no short supply of distractions for motorists in today’s times. Many drivers have at their disposal any number of activities in their vehicles that can take their focus from the road ahead and lead to a motor vehicle accident. Mobile phones, other occupants, eating while driving and vehicle screens are just a few of the most common causes of accidents due to driver distraction.
- Speeding – Driving beyond the speed limits increases the chance a driver will lose control of their vehicle or be unable to stop if a car or other obstacles crosses their path in the road or within an intersection. Following posted speed limits keeps everyone safe. When a driver speeds, they not only break the law but violate the duty of care they owe to others.
- Aggressive or reckless driving – Aggressive and reckless driving behaviors such as tailgating, brake checking, quick lane changes, and other activities make a driver more likely to not only be in an accident but to be the cause of it. Aggressive and reckless drivers do not consider others’ right of way on the road or the safety of the public, resulting in accidents, injuries, and/or fatalities of victims to their actions.
- Weather conditions – Dangerous weather is not commonly the cause of accidents but rather the actions of drivers that find themselves in wet, snowy, or windy conditions. As a driver, you must adapt to changing weather and recognize when it is necessary to slow down or get off the road. Driving in hazardous weather increases the risk of an accident, but when a driver does not mitigate the circumstances and change their driving approach to match the conditions, they can cause unnecessary accidents and harm to those surrounding them.
- Inexperience – New drivers are part of life on the roadways. Unfortunately, the inexperience of new drivers, whether it may be their first time on the road or their first time behind the wheel of a semi-truck, can cause dangerous situations for them and those around them. Lack of proper training and practice can increase the chance of an accident.
- Traffic law violations – Failing to follow traffic signs, traffic signals, and other rules of the road are not only traffic violations that can result in tickets and fines, but also dangerous actions that are likely to lead to an accident. Motorists rely on and expect other motorists to abide by the rules as they travel along the roads. When you drive or are a passenger in another person’s vehicle, you are not only at risk due to your actions but are at the mercy of the decisions and actions of every other driver you encounter on the road.
Your Risk of a Serious Injury or Fatality in a Car Accident
Car accidents happen every day across every city in the U.S. From a neighborhood fender-bender to multi-car pile-ups on the freeways and interstates, it is rare for a day to go by without mention of a serious accident or without you encountering one personally on your commute.
Traffic accidents disrupt traffic and lead to delays, traffic jams, and in turn, increase the chance of accidents. You may not think much about your risk of involvement in a motor vehicle accident, but chances are you will experience multiple motor vehicle accidents in your lifetime.
Thousands of victims of car accidents each year will face severe injuries or lose their lives. The CDC estimates that in just one year over 36,000 people will die in car accidents and over 2.5 million will suffer injuries that require emergency room care.
Car accidents will happen and everyone is at risk; even the safest of drivers cannot control the actions of negligent drivers on the road that can put them in danger of injury or death.
Questions You Might Ask After a Car Accident
If you are in an accident, it can be a shocking moment that will leave you confused, possibly in pain, and unsure of what you need to do to protect yourself, any passengers with you, and your rights in the immediate moments following the impact.
What you do and do not do after a crash may bear on your case and damages claim. As a victim of a car accident, you must not hesitate to ensure you take proper action to prevent further injuries, damage, and complications at the crash scene and in the time following a crash.
How Can You Stay Safe at the Accident Scene?
An accident can be very disorienting. Depending on the accident you are in and the extent of your injuries, you may not know what happened or where you are. In the moments after the impact from another vehicle, you must ensure you are safe from further harm.
First, take a moment to check your surroundings and see if you are in imminent danger. If you are at high risk of another accident such as a secondary collision from oncoming traffic, get to safety as soon as possible if you physically can. If you have potentially severe injuries, it is best to remain buckled up in your vehicle until medical help arrives that can ensure you do not suffer additional physical damage and injury.
Should You Call the Police?
Everyone will ask themselves this after an accident, but it really should not be a question at all. If you are in a motor vehicle accident you should always call the police. Even if you believe you do not have injuries or that you can settle the matter directly with the other driver, there is too much at stake for you to not call a lawyer.
Calling the police brings in a third party that can gain control of the scene, gather the information necessary from all parties, and conduct a preliminary investigation. The police will also make sure everyone who needs medical help gets it and there is less of a chance that another driver will try to flee the scene or evade responsibility for the accident.
Failing to call the police to the scene of an accident can be disastrous for you. Not only do you risk losing compensation for your losses, another driver could claim they were a victim of your actions. If you leave the scene of an accident under an agreement with another driver, nothing stops them from calling the police to report the accident as a hit and run.
It is always best to call the police immediately after a crash and wait for their arrival at the scene.
Do You Need to Go to the ER?
Another topic that often causes a victim uncertainty is whether to visit an ER after an accident. There are situations in which it is obvious you are in desperate need of medical attention and require transportation by ambulance to the nearest trauma center or ER.
However, this question applies more to circumstances in which a victim might be unsure of the severity of their injuries or believe they have no injuries. If you feel any pain or discomfort or have visible markings or injury, you should go into an ER for a medical evaluation. It is best to have a medical professional evaluate you to make certain you do not have any injuries that you are not aware of.
If you feel okay after a crash and truly believe you have no injuries, you may be safe to go home and take a wait-and-see approach. It is common in the commotion of an accident that certain symptoms can mask themselves due to the adrenaline and chaos that surrounds you. Once you go home and settle down, you may begin to notice pain or bruising that you did not feel before.
Furthermore, certain injuries such as internal injuries and traumatic brain injuries might not appear initially, only to worsen and cause complicated symptoms as time passes. Any concern that arises or indication that something may not be right warrants an immediate trip to the emergency room.
Should I Call the at-Fault Driver’s Insurance?
You may feel motivated after an accident to get your insurance claim for damages rolling. You may think that you should take initiative sooner rather than later and call the at-fault driver’s insurance as soon as you can. This is not recommended, and you should not speak to the other driver’s insurance or any other opposing party in your case until you have consulted with a car accident attorney.
While your intentions are in the right place and you just want to get things resolved as quickly as possible, speaking to the other side’s insurance company can end up costing you your right to compensation. If you speak to the at-fault driver’s insurance, they will ask questions to decrease their liability for the accident. The company can attempt to pin the blame for the accident on you or convince you that your injuries are not as serious as you think and your losses much less than the compensation you could be eligible for under the law.
Do not call the other party’s insurer after a crash and do not answer calls from them. Contact a car accident lawyer for further guidance on your claim and case.
Do I Need a Lawyer After a Car Accident?
Yes, you need to contact a car accident lawyer as soon as possible after a motor vehicle accident. Car accidents happen for many reasons and you need to know your rights after a crash. A motor vehicle accident lawyer can help you protect your legal rights and help you seek the compensation you may be eligible for if you are a victim of a car accident due to another driver’s negligence.