Car Accidents

For most people, driving is essential to the fulfillment of everyday tasks. Many drive their cars to get to work, the grocery store, meetings with friends, and other places and obligations. Because people are exposed to driving so much, day in and day out, they tend to forget just how serious the act of driving actually is. Driving a car involves operating what is essentially an extremely heavy object at high speeds, which equates into a tremendous amount of force.

In accidents, this force is violently exerted upon other objects, often resulting in great devastation to property, and sometimes, people. Below, we provide insight into the questions you may have in the wake of a crash.

What are the Different Types of Car Accidents?

Although the circumstances that lead to a car accident can be highly varied, generally, most can be classified as one of the following types:

  • Rear-End Collisions: This type of accident commonly occurs at intersections. In most cases, the driver who rear ends the vehicle in front is responsible for the accident. However, there can be cases in which the driver in front acts negligently and contributes to the crash. Liability in these cases can be very hard to prove without ample evidence.
  • Head-On Collisions: This type of accident commonly occurs on multi-lane roads with no dividers between opposing lanes. Such crashes can be especially devastating due to the nature of physics. Each of the vehicles in a head-on collision contributes their force to the impact, causing destruction from the combination of such great forces.
  • Side Impacts: This type of accident, like rear-end collisions, commonly occurs at intersections. In many cases, one of the involved drivers fails to address a traffic signal or stop sign and plows into the side of another vehicle. Passengers sitting on the side of the impact often suffer the worst injuries.
  • Road Departure: In this type of accident, the driver, for some reason, loses control of his or her vehicle and the car departs from the road. Depending on the environment, a road departure accident can have minor to fatal consequences.
  • Rollovers: Vehicles with higher centers of mass, like SUVs, are at a higher risk of experiencing rollovers than other types of vehicles. This type of accident can be devastating to all passengers inside the vehicle, especially if the vehicle experiences roof crush.

Whatever their classification may be, all “accidents,” which is a misnomer, can be prevented by adhering to the rules of the road and practicing safe and cautious driving habits.

What are the Common Causes of Car Accidents?

According to multiple studies conducted in the past and in recent years, driver error remains the number one contributing factor behind car accidents. Driver error encompasses both passive and aggressive behaviors that increase the risk of a crash. These behaviors include the following:

  • Distracted driving, such as texting or talking, eating, conversing, adjusting radio settings, operating mobile devices, among other activities that take the driver’s eyes off the road
  • Speeding
  • Tailgating
  • Impaired driving, whether by alcohol or drugs
  • Driving while fatigued
  • Traversing intersections without making proper checks
  • Not maintaining awareness of surroundings

Bad road conditions can also contribute to a car accident. A road may be badly designed, or the necessary signs dictating the flow and speed of traffic may be inadequate, flawed, or even absent. In such cases, victims may bring a lawsuit against the government entity responsible for designing and maintaining the roads.

Furthermore, a car accident can be attributed not to bad drivers or roads, but defective vehicles. Every year, numerous vehicle recalls are reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Vehicle defects, whether they originate at the design or manufacturing level, can be behind mechanical and/or electronic failures that cause a driver to lose control of his or her vehicle. Victims who experience accidents due to such defects can file auto product liability claims against the auto company responsible for either designing or manufacturing the defective part.

What Should I Do after a Car Accident?

First and foremost, seek medical attention, even if no injuries are apparent. You may be in shock. Also, some types of injuries remain dormant immediately after an accident, but worsen over time. If it is safe for you to do so, go around the scene and collect information from everyone present, including other drivers, passengers, witnesses, and recent arrivals. Make sure you get insurance and license information along with vehicle makes and models from the involved motorists. It is also important to document everything you can. File a police report, receive a medical report from a physician, keep a journal that details your post-accident experience, take photos of the crash site and your injuries, etc. And, of course, get in touch with an attorney as soon as you can.

Should I Contact My Insurance Company after an Accident?

Chances are your insurance policy requires you to notify your provider of any accidents in a timely fashion. It is highly advised that you do so. Otherwise, the provider may cancel your coverage as a penalty. However, if you receive a request from your provider to submit a written or recorded statement, make sure you speak with your attorney first before proceeding.

Should I Speak with the Insurance Adjuster from the Other Party’s Company?

You have the right to refuse to provide anything to the other party’s insurance adjuster. If they call you on the phone, politely decline to speak with them and refer them to your attorney. If presented with any documents, review them with your attorney first before you sign anything. The adjuster is likely doing their best to sabotage your claim in any way. Avoid their traps in the best way possible – limit your communication with them.

What Happens If an Underinsured or Uninsured Driver Causes the Crash?

Cases in which the liable driver does not have adequate insurance coverage can be quite complex. He or she may be covered by another person’s policy, or his or her employer’s insurance may even compensate you. However, you cannot depend on circumstances like these to arise. It is highly advised that you get uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage added to your policy, if you haven’t already. With this type of coverage, your insurance company covers you in accident cases where the liable party cannot.

Why Do I Need an Attorney after a Car Accident?

The claims process can be quite difficult to navigate, with its various legal confusions and pitfalls. An attorney can guide you through the whole process while protecting your rights and preserving your options. Attorneys can also conduct a thorough investigation of your case and gather evidence that supports your claim. Get in touch with an experienced car accident lawyer today.

Auto accidents are one of the most common causes of injury in the United States. However, that does not make the trauma that is caused any less devastating. Statistics from the U.S. Census indicate that more than 10 million car accidents are reported in the country every year. Those involved will often have to deal with major injuries that damage personal and professional life and the families of those who die will be left to deal with their tragic losses.

Whether you have recently suffered a crash or have never been involved in an accident before, it is vital that you understand the risks faced on the road everyday.

Who Might Be Responsible in Car Accidents?

Accidents on the road may be due to many different factors, with some crashes the result of multiple causes at once. While some victims may be injured by their own reckless actions, many others are harmed by other parties. Those who are often the cause of a crash include:

  • Drivers – Their reckless actions on the road, such as speeding, driving drunk, distracted driving, and breaking traffic laws, can cause them to hit other vehicles or create emergency situations that result in a crash. 
  • Government Agencies – These are in charge of ensuring that roads in their area of operation a safe and maintained. If they do not, dangerous roads could cause a person to crash. 
  • Automakers – If they manufacture vehicles with defects, these could cause a car to malfunction, leading to collisions or other dangerous situations, like fires and brake failure.

Frequent Dangers in a Car Crash

There are numerous hazards that are present in the moments that a crash is taking place, as well as the time afterwards. While advances in car safety technology help to better protect the occupants of a vehicle during an accident, no one is ever completely safe.

There are often several key dangers that can occur during a crash. Whiplash occurs when an occupant forward and backward or side to side violently and quickly. If a seat belt or air bag does not retrain an occupant enough, he or she may strike against the dashboard, seatback, or side of the car. Additionally, any other object involved in the crash may strike an occupant. Serious impacts could shatter glass and rend metal and send this debris flying through the air, striking anyone close by. Also, the exterior of a vehicle could crumple on impact and lead to occupants being trapped and pinned by the vehicle.

However, there are some accidents that are more out of the ordinary, which features highly dangerous factors that could cause severe or potentially fatal injuries.

  • Ejection – If an occupant is not buckled in, he or she may be thrown out of the car upon impact. This is much more likely during a rollover accident, where a victim may be fully or partially ejected. 
  • Fire – If the engine and fuel system are compromised, a vehicle fire may break out. This may be due to damage caused by a collision or a defect in these vital parts. 
  • Crushing – Cars are meant to withstand a large amount of damage, but some crashes may crush the vehicle. If a smaller car collides with a large truck, it may easily be crushed and cause major trauma to those within.

Recovering from Auto Accident Injuries

In the aftermath of a crash, those involved may be coping with a wide variety of injuries. In any case, the road to recovery may take a lengthy amount of time. During this period, victims may be unable to work, require extensive medical care, and cope with pain and suffering. Combined, an injured person may also have a heavy financial burden.

However, those who have been harmed in a crash caused by another party have the legal right to seek compensation, which is payment from the at-fault party and their insurance coverage. This can pay for past medical procedures and monetary losses as well as future losses. By collecting proof of the accident and medical records of the injuries suffered, you can prove fault and find compensation.

David Silverstein

Lependorf & Silverstein, P.C. 4365 US Highway 1 Suite 104 Princeton, NJ 08540 (609) 240-0040

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