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Common Causes for Car Accidents

According to the National Law Review, more than 6.5 million car crashes occur annually in the US, causing almost 3 million injuries and over 36,000 deaths. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that in 2017, motor accident victims’ medical expenses and lost wages totaled over $75 billion.

With these numbers, it’s no wonder that so many automobile crash victims hire auto accident attorneys to represent their interests. Unfortunately, insurance companies don’t want to pay claims; auto accident lawyers know how to obtain fast, fair settlements for their clients.

What Causes Auto Accidents?

Some collisions can’t be helped, but human error and distraction can be deadly. Drivers are legally obligated to operate their vehicles safely, but many don’t. Unusual crashes can and do happen, but several factors cause most car accidents.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is the number-one cause of auto accidents in the US. Every driver should focus solely on the action of driving, but not everyone does. They allow other things to capture their interest and attention, which can cause collisions. Three main categories of distracted driving exist: your eyes leave the road; your hands leave the wheel or your mind isn’t concentrating on driving.

Texting, or even reading messages on your phone, involves all of these categories. Other dangerous actions, such as putting on makeup, eating, looking at passengers and searching for something in the car, are considered distractions.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it takes 5 seconds to travel 100 yards at 55 mph. Taking your eyes off the road for 5 seconds might not seem significant, but a lot of traffic conditions requiring your attention can develop in that amount of time.

Speeding

Cars driving at higher speeds than the flow of traffic can’t stop or react quickly. Drivers who are purposefully speeding are also often impatient and reckless. This combination can cause many types of accidents; for instance, the speeding car may run into another vehicle, or be hit because of swerving into a lane too fast.

Reckless, Negligent and Careless Driving

Unfortunately, some auto accidents happen because a driver unintentionally forgot to flip their turn signal or stop at traffic lights or stop signs. However, sometimes drivers have no regard for the safety of themselves or others. Some examples are:

  • Drag racing
  • Road rage
  • Tailgating
  • Changing lanes improperly
  • Quickly weaving through slower traffic

All of those actions can cause collisions, sometimes severe.

Nighttime Driving

Driving at night often combines the glare of bright lights with fatigue, which is sometimes a recipe for disaster. If it’s raining after dark, that can make the problem worse. Many drivers have trouble seeing well enough to drive at night, but that doesn’t keep them from doing so.

Poor visibility reduces the driver’s understanding of the road and traffic conditions surrounding them, often leading to crashes.

Fatigued Driving

Everyone gets tired. Fatigue is a step farther; it’s not only feeling drowsy, but it’s an overall weariness that can affect brain function. According to the Sleep Foundation, the effects of driving while fatigued are similar to driving while under the influence. Fatigued drivers aren’t able to focus as they should, causing slower reaction times.

They often:

  • Fall asleep at the wheel
  • Aren’t able to maintain their speed, either speeding up or slowing down
  • Follow too closely behind other vehicles
  • Weave between lanes of traffic
  • Drive off the road

If you see a vehicle operating erratically, its driver may be fatigued. Keep extra distance between your car and theirs.

Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs

Driving while or after drinking or taking drugs causes many otherwise-avoidable accidents. Even prescription medications can impair a driver’s judgment. Impaired drivers have slower reaction times and often can’t make crucial driving decisions.

Disregarding Traffic Laws

Many drivers consider traffic laws suggestions rather than rules they must follow. Unfortunately, many accidents happen because of drivers who:

  • Drive in the wrong lane
  • Fail to signal a turn
  • Don’t stop at lights or stop signs
  • Don’t pay attention to warning signs

Adverse Weather Conditions

Rain, snow, sleet and ice can all cause accidents when they’re falling and afterward. Cars can hydroplane on standing water or accumulations of wintery precipitation. Black ice and raised roadways are particularly dangerous. Low-lying fog can limit visibility dangerously.

Drivers who lose control of their vehicle due to this type of environmental condition can crash into surrounding traffic, often causing chain-reaction accidents.

Inexperienced Drivers

Experience can make the difference between a safe trip and a deadly one. Drivers under the age of 19 don’t have experience and are more likely to be distracted than more seasoned drivers. Teen drivers also don’t have the reasoning ability of those who are older.

Other drivers who don’t have much experience behind the wheel can also cause accidents, although more mature people have more life and decision-making experience.

Animals

Dogs, cats or deer may run into the road suddenly, causing you to hit them. You will probably slam on your brakes or swerve violently trying not to hit the animal, but often, you don’t have enough time to avoid the collision.

Your sudden actions can potentially affect surrounding traffic as well, causing another vehicle to hit yours. Not only will you hit the animal, but you might also cause a multiple-vehicle collision.

Car Defects

Automobiles contain lots of crucial parts, and if one of them isn’t working right, accidents can occur as a result. Crashes caused by faulty brakes and tire blowouts, for example, might be avoidable because the driver usually has warning signs. However, manufacturing defects like a tendency to roll over or improperly-designed airbags trigger several collisions.

Road Hazards

Potholes and debris on roadways are behind several crashes. Drivers can also experience difficulty maneuvering around tight curves and lose control, running off the road or into other vehicles.

What Is Reaction Time?

Many of the above-listed causes of accidents refer to “delayed reaction time,” and you may wonder what that means. A reaction time is the time it takes from a person noticing something until an act is completed; in driving, an example is the time from a driver noticing the car in front of them braking until their car is actually slowed or stopped — not when they push the brake pedal.

When driving, many things require quick reactions, including:

  • Hydroplaning
  • Avoiding roadway obstructions
  • Cars or other moving objects such as animals suddenly entering your lane of traffic
  • Tire blowouts

If you’re not focused on the road and surrounding traffic when any of those things occur, you are likely to crash.

Reaction time includes several steps.

Mental Processing

This begins with noticing that something is wrong, like brake lights in front of you. Next, you realize that those lights mean that the car in front of you is slowing. You then interpret what that means to you: if you don’t do something, you may hit that car. Finally, you decide what your response to those brake lights should be: slow down also or change lanes if possible.

Your Response

Although minimal, you’ll take time to move the steering wheel to change lanes or move your foot from the gas to the brake pedal and push it down.

Your Car’s Response

Your car doesn’t know that it needs to slow or change lanes until you act. You’ve already taken time to notice the danger and react to it, but your car needs time to react also. It has to switch from accelerating or maintaining speed to slowing or changing direction.

Many accident investigators use a normal average reaction time of 1.5 seconds, although this can change due to several variables. Using that number, from the time you notice brake lights to the time your car is actually heading into another lane or slowing should be roughly 1.5 seconds to avoid a collision.

People who drive while distracted, fatigued, drunk, under the influence of drugs, or speeding usually can’t react to sudden issues quickly enough to make the best decision and act on it before a collision occurs.

What Should You Do After a Car Crash?

If you’re in a car accident, you’re probably shaken and not thinking clearly; you may even have injuries. There are several things you should do, however.

  • Attempt to assist others involved in the collision.
  • Call 911 and give the operator details about the scene so they can dispatch the appropriate first responders.
  • Accept medical treatment at the scene. If none is offered, go to a doctor or hospital as soon as possible after the accident. Continue treatment until physicians release you from their care.
  • Use your phone to take pictures and make audio and video recordings. These are often crucial pieces of evidence.
  • Speak to witnesses and record their statements. Also, record your recollection of how the accident happened, including every detail you can think of.
  • Contact an auto accident attorney.

Why Should You Hire an Auto Accident Attorney?

Many things must happen soon after a car crash for you to recover your financial losses, and you need to focus on getting well. A good auto accident lawyer will:

  • Serve as your point of contact for insurance company representatives
  • Gather evidence related to your case to argue that you are not at fault for the accident
  • File necessary paperwork for you
  • Aggressively negotiate a suitable settlement
  • Advise you on things you should and shouldn’t do
  • Present your options
  • Litigate your case in court if necessary

Hiring the right lawyer as soon as possible after your accident has many benefits. They can begin their investigation right away, obtaining evidence before it disappears and witness statements while the incident is fresh on their minds.

Personal injury lawyers have access to resources to get these things done, often things you couldn’t do yourself. For instance, they can obtain the cell phone records of other drivers; you don’t have that access. Attorneys will also get copies of video surveillance recordings that captured the collision as it happened.

They can also inform you about things you might do that would hurt your case. For instance, lawyers advise their clients to stay off of social media. Many people post accident photos and information on social media soon afterward; however, anything you post is discoverable by insurance company investigators and can weaken your claim.

Don’t discuss your case with anyone, and definitely don’t admit to any degree of fault for the collision. Investigators have a way of finding these statements, and they will use them against you during the claims settlement process.

Always ask your lawyer before you sign any paperwork related to your accident. Insurance companies may try to get you to agree to things that would ultimately reduce the amount they pay you for your damages.

Be honest when talking to police and investigators; however, don’t give too much information. Let your lawyer handle discussions whenever possible. Your auto accident attorney knows the implications involved with making on-the-record statements and will word the information they choose to give accordingly.

Don’t destroy or hide any evidence. If you do, you’ll look guilty. Your lawyer will use their knowledge and experience to present evidence in a positive light on your behalf.

Who or What Caused Your Accident?

Police, insurance companies and attorneys investigate the circumstances leading up to motor vehicle collisions, all trying to determine who is at fault. This is crucial in any car accident claim because insurance companies will try to point the blame at you in an attempt to pay you less or not at all.

In most states, car accident victims can recover at least some of the costs of car repairs or replacement, medical expenses and lost wages from the guilty party. The amount you can recover is usually determined by your degree of liability for the accident. Some non-economic damages are sometimes recoverable as well.

What Effects Can Car Accident Victims Face?

Your car may suffer damage; the insurance company may decide to total it. You’re likely to have injuries, from minor cuts and bruises to broken bones, brain damage and spinal cord injuries. You will probably lose time from work, either recovering from your injuries or dealing with the aftermath of your accident. These are economic damages.

Not every type of injury is physical. Many accident victims experience emotional and mental anguish as well. Some of these non-economic damages relate to:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Stress, anxiety and depression
  • Insomnia
  • The loss of enjoying life
  • Loss of affection from your spouse or damage to other personal relationships
  • Permanent disfigurement

Car collisions happen in an instant, but they often leave long-term consequences. You don’t have to face them alone.

How Can Fielding Law Help You?

Because we focus on auto accident and personal injury cases, the attorneys at Fielding Law are intimately familiar with the laws pertaining to them. Our extensive experience allows us to identify and overcome strategies employed by insurance companies to delay and minimize their payment to you.

We give our clients personal attention, beginning with your free consultation. You can always speak to your attorney rather than pass information through our staff. We are ready to assist auto accident victims in obtaining the compensation they deserve. You won’t owe us fees unless you win.

Contact us today by live chat, calling (877) 880-4090, or send us details about your case using our online form. Let us start fighting for your rights today.