Motor Vehicle Accidents – An Overview
Motor Vehicle Accidents – An Overview
Motor vehicle accidents cause the loss of tens of thousands of lives and billions of dollars each year. Accidents occur for a number of reasons, including driver error, negligence, distracted driving, manufacturing defects and dangerous weather. No matter what the specific cause or result, a car crash can turn a normal day into a prolonged struggle. Speaking with a lawyer can help you sort out your rights, your options and your future. Contact Thomas C. Chase, P.A. in Fort Myers, FL, to schedule a consultation with an experienced attorney.
At-fault, negligent and aggressive drivers
When you have been in an auto accident, you may instinctively know who caused it. Proving that to a legal standard, however, is another story. Issues of fault can be complicated by who acted, when, where and which laws governed at the time of the accident. If the other driver was negligent, you may have to prove that the driver breached a duty of care to you and that this breach resulted in your damages. The assistance of an attorney can be immensely valuable when you are dealing with insurance companies, seeking compensation for your injuries or defending yourself in court against unfair allegations that you caused a crash.
Sources of information on the accident include police reports, witnesses, medical records, scene photographs, accident reconstruction (if necessary), and the condition of the vehicles themselves. All this information could collectively reveal what happened and why.
Actions, on the part of either driver, that may have contributed to the accident include:
- Failing to stop at a red light or stop sign
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Failing to compensate for dangerous weather conditions like snow, ice or driving rain that impairs visibility
- Driving well above or below posted speed limits
- Failure to account for potentially hazardous road conditions like steep curves, sharp turns, blind intersections, standing water, broken pavement, potholes or construction zones
- Driving while distracted by electronic devices like cellphones, tablets, text messaging, a GPS device, updating social media, changing selections on an mp3 player or checking email, or by eating, drinking, grooming, or chatting with passengers
- Drowsy driving/fatigue/falling asleep at the wheel
- Failing to obey traffic laws regarding turn signals, right-of-way, sharing the road with bicyclists or pedestrians, and other rules
Sometimes the at-fault driver is more than merely negligent; he or she may have acted recklessly or even intentionally. A reckless driver acts with conscious disregard for the probable consequences of his or her actions. Road rage incidents often involve reckless behavior, and they can escalate into intentional behavior. Road rage in particular can be extremely dangerous, leading to injuries and criminal charges. There have been reports of people having their cars run off the road, being assaulted or being shot or stabbed in road rage incidents that went way too far. Aggressive drivers are a serious threat to safety because speeding, weaving in and out of traffic, cutting off fellow motorists and taking other risks can easily result in a fatal motor vehicle crash.
If possible, try to avoid confrontation with aggressive drivers or those involved in road rage incidents. You have a better chance of staying safe if you:
- Get out of the way
- Avoid eye contact
- Refuse to make or return obscene gestures
- Let go of your pride for a while; don’t challenge the other driver
- Report the aggressive driver’s tag number to the authorities (remember, if you are driving, you should stop in a safe spot before using your cellphone)
Drunk driving and motor vehicle accidents
Drunk driving can obviously lead to criminal charges. If a drunk driver causes an accident, then there could be civil penalties as well in the form of a personal injury lawsuit. Additionally, the business that sold alcohol to the drunk driver may be held liable if it served the driver when he or she was visibly intoxicated. This is known as “dram shop liability.” Dram shop liability does not take any responsibility away from the driver who drove while intoxicated, however. If you have been in an accident involving alcohol or drugs, seek the help of an attorney who will explain your legal options.
Auto accidents not caused by the drivers
Sometimes, no matter how carefully you drive, you cannot avoid an accident. In certain cases, a manufacturing or design defect of the vehicle either causes an accident or makes it worse. This might happen if, for instance, the brakes on your car fail or the airbag does not deploy when it should. The law of products liability applies in those situations, protecting consumers when products create an unreasonable risk of harm. If a product defect caused your injuries, you may have a case against the designer, manufacturer or distributor of the motor vehicle or the defective part.
Another responsible party could be a mechanic or technician who improperly repaired the car that caused the accident. Both the mechanic and the mechanic’s employer could be liable in such a case.
Finally, poorly maintained roads, messy and confusing construction, unclear signage, improperly designed roads and similar problems can contribute to an accident. Government entities are typically responsible for maintaining roads and highways, so they might be liable for accidents resulting from the above factors. Keep in mind that special rules apply to lawsuits against government entities. Your lawyer will be able to explain them in detail.
Contact a personal injury attorney
It is important to take prompt action when you have been in a motor vehicle accident. This will help you preserve your rights to bring a legal claim for compensation for your injuries. Contact Thomas C. Chase, P.A. in Fort Myers, FL, to schedule a consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer.
DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.