If you or a loved one becomes injured in an auto accident this summer, you should know how a car accident lawyer can help you.
Because of the ice and snow, you might think that most car accidents happen in the winter. But according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), summer is the time of year for the most car accidents, with August being the worst.
This blog entry presents facts and figures about car accidents, along with information about how and why you should retain a car accident attorney if you are involved in a car accident this summer—or any other season. FAQs include:
When are you most likely to have a car accident?
What are the most likely causes of car accidents?
What is motor vehicular accident law?
What is a car accident lawyer?
What types of auto accidents are handled by car-accident lawyers?
What services does an auto-accident lawyer provide?
What if I am at fault for an auto accident?
At what point should I retain an auto accident lawyer?
Can I handle a car accident claim myself?
Do car accidents always result in higher insurance premiums?
How do accidents affect insurance rates?
How much does it cost to hire a car-crash attorney?
1. When are you most likely to have a car accident?
No matter how safe a driver you are, you can nonetheless become the victim of a car accident because of someone else’s negligence. That said, car accidents are most likely to occur on summer weekends, with Fridays having the greatest number. This is probably because of longer trips to weekend destinations, DWI, and higher volumes of traffic (see source).
2. What are the most likely causes of car accidents?
Of the approximate six-million car accidents in the U.S. each year, 40 percent have alcohol as a factor; speeding accounts for 30 percent; and reckless driving for 33 percent.
Six percent of accidents result in fatalities (and, perhaps, wrongful deaths). This represents about six million people. Accidents resulting in nonfatal injuries are 27 percent of the total, and 72 percent of accidents result in property damage.
Distraction (a form of negligence) was reported as a factor in nearly 20 percent of car accidents resulting in injury. Texting and cell phones are the usual suspects. Consider:
Texting takes a driver’s eyes away from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, which is like driving the length of a football field with eyes closed at highway speeds.
Thirty-three percent of people text while driving, and they are 23 times more likely to crash while doing so. This results in the deaths of about 1,060 Americans annually.
Driving while using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37 percent, and 40 percent of U.S. teens report they have been in a car wherein the driver used a cell phone in a way that put them in danger.
It is worth noting that people without seatbelts are 30 times more likely to be ejected from a vehicle during a crash. Wearing a seatbelt reduces the risk of death by 45 percent and the risk of serious injury by 50 percent (see source).
3. What is motor vehicular accident law?
Motor vehicular accident law is a combination of traffic and personal injury law. It involves the establishment of fault in a traffic collision, and it is shaped almost exclusively by the laws of the state in which an accident occurs. Some terms to be familiar with regarding motor vehicular accident law are:
Negligence. This is conduct falling below the standard established by law for the protection of others against unreasonable risk of harm.
Comparative negligence. This is a way of assigning fault when more than one person causes an accident.
Vicarious liability. Blame for an accident is assigned to a party that was not directly involved. E.g. an employer might be vicariously liable for a car accident caused by his or her employee while on the job.
4. What is a car accident lawyer?
All lawyers are legally qualified to handle your car accident injury claim. However, you would do well to engage one who has extensive experience handling car accident injury cases. He or she can leverage wide-ranging skills and detailed knowledge on your behalf about car-accident injury suits, which is something a “generalist” attorney—a lawyer who takes on any or all cases—might not have.
5. What types of auto accidents are handled by car accident lawyers?
Car accident attorneys can help you with any sort of vehicular accident. Among them:
Rear-end collisions. Along with following too closely, these accidents are commonly the result of such negligence as driver fatigue, DWI, or distractions such as texting and cell calls. While rear drivers usually cause “rear-enders” by driving too closely to the forward vehicle, they might not be at fault if the forward driver stopped suddenly in an active traffic lane (as in making an illegal U-turn on an Interstate). Whiplash is a common injury.
Head-on collisions. These are less common than other types of auto accidents, but among the most dangerous, since the two vehicles are moving toward one another, and the impact force is the sum of both velocities. Thus, severe injuries and death are the norm. Frequent causes are distracted driving, DWI, driver fatigue, speeding, and/or recklessness.
Side-impact collisions. These happen when a car collides with another at a perpendicular angle. Such “T-bones” are most dangerous to the passengers in the vehicle that was struck. This is because the side of a vehicle offers less energy‑absorbing mass than does its front and rear. Common causes of side-impact collisions are failure to yield or stop at intersections, disregarding traffic signs or signals, distracted driving, DWI, driver fatigue, speeding, and/or recklessness.
Sideswipe accidents. These are instances wherein two or more vehicles traveling in parallel make violent side-to-side contact, often careening off the road to hit other cars, pedestrians, cyclists, or roadside objects. Injuries can be severe, especially when there is a secondary impact after the sideswipe. A frequent cause is not checking blind spots when merging or changing lanes, which can be secondary to distracted driving, DWI, driver fatigue, speeding, and/or recklessness.
Single-vehicle accidents. These generally involve a car hitting an object in its path, causing it to leave the road to strike a lamppost, guardrail, or some other obstacle—and perhaps even roll over. The object might be an animal, falling cargo, or road debris such as disembodied truck‑tire treads. Poor weather conditions and driving in areas having abundant wildlife (e.g. deer) are frequent precursors to single‑vehicle accidents, as are distracted driving, DWI, driver fatigue, speeding, and/or recklessness.
Multi-vehicle accidents. The involvement of three or more vehicles means there will be a greater number of people who might suffer injuries and a commensurate number of insurance companies. Thereby, determining fault for multi-vehicle collisions can be challenging. More than one driver might be at fault, and insurance companies often try to deflect blame from their insureds onto others involved in the accident.
Rollover accidents. The dynamics of being flipped inside a moving vehicle can inflict serious injuries to passengers, who can also be completely thrown from the vehicle and into traffic. There is also the danger of fire or explosion from spilled fuel. Driving off the shoulder is a common cause of “rollovers.” So are other vehicles or objects that might force a vehicle off the road. Added to these are distracted driving, DWI, driver fatigue, speeding, and/or recklessness.
Blind spot accidents. Failing to check blind spots is a common cause of sideswipe accidents. Motorcycles and compact cars can vanish in the blind spot of a larger vehicle. Large trucks have correspondingly larger blind spots that make them particularly dangerous to nearby motorists. Speed, angle of impact, and other factors contribute to the severity of a blind-spot crash.
Low-speed accidents. Bicyclers and walkers are at extreme risk, no matter the speed of the vehicle that hits them. Cars weigh between 1.0 and 2.5 tons. SUVs can tip the scales at 3.0 tons. So even at low speeds, they generate considerable force upon impact. The injuries they inflict are also a function of the angle of impact. Broken bones, whiplash, crush injuries, and severe bruising is frequent “low speed” injuries, along with injuries to the neck, back, head, and/or face.
Merging Accidents. Not checking blind spots, failing to match the speed of traffic, or driving recklessly—usually by speeding up to prevent someone from merging—are the frequent causes of “merging” accidents. And because these usually occur at high speed, injuries are often serious.
6. What services does an auto-accident lawyer provide?
There are five main things that your car accident lawyer can help you with:
1. Communicating with insurers. There might be more than one party at fault in an accident, and thereby more than one insurance company involved. Facilitating communication among these disparate parties is crucial to moving your claim forward, and a lack of such communication is a major reason for protracted delays.
2. Procuring necessary accident evidence. Your car accident attorney will collect, organize, and present the kinds of evidence needed to support your claim. This includes, but isn’t limited to:
Accident scene photos
Damaged vehicle photos
Data from vehicles’ event data recorders
Cell phone records
Manufacturer records and recall information
Medical and work records
Police crash reports
3. Acquiring evidence of your injuries. This is where your car-accident lawyer’s administrative and paralegal staff are invaluable to you. Healthcare providers can be notoriously slow to release your medical records, even though such records are legally yours, and you have the legal right to access them.
Also, medical records provided by healthcare providers often fail to speak to causation, prognosis, or disability. This is a critical omission because you must provide medical evidence that not only describes your injury, disability, or physical limitation but also states that such as a result of your accident and not, for example, an existing condition.
In such cases, your auto accident lawyer will solicit a statement from your attending physician in which he or she states that your injury, disability, or physical limitation is a direct result of the accident and that you will be disabled for a specific amount of time.
4. Negotiating with lien holders. Your accident probably has resulted in unpaid medical bills. And if your health insurance company (or Medicaid) has covered any of those bills, they might seek reimbursement. These liens, which can be numerous, might consume about 16 percent of your settlement. As part of his or her services, your car accident lawyer will negotiate with lien holders so as to reduce the amount they seek from you.
5. Negotiating with insurers and defendants. A lawyer who concentrates on automobile crashes will have extensive knowledge about the monetary worth of one or another kind of car accident case. This puts him or her in a powerful position to negotiate with insurers and defendants on your behalf—and at a level, you could never hope to match as a non-lawyer.
7. What if I am at fault for an auto accident?
You should never say you are at fault for an auto accident. This is because you might be wrong. How so? You only witness an accident from your own limited vantage, and so you can only interpret events from a single narrow perspective. Other drivers, passengers, and witnesses will have their own perspectives. Their statements will provide additional evidence to be analyzed by the police and your car accident lawyer, and they will together determine which parties might be at fault, and how much comparative fault there might be.
8. At what point should you retain an auto accident lawyer?
You can hire a lawyer to help you with your car accident injury case any time before the settlement is closed by the insurance company. But it is best to hire a car accident attorney as soon as you are injured. This reduces the chance that you will make a statement to an insurance company adjuster that diminishes the value of your claim. Also, your car accident lawyer can recommend specialist physicians who will speak to causation, prognosis, or disability regarding your injuries, which is crucial to making your case for compensation.
9. Can I handle a car accident claim myself?
Absolutely, if your injuries are minor and you have the time and energy to gather the required evidence and documents. Also, you should be willing and able to negotiate with insurance company adjusters. But in terms of getting fair and complete compensation for your injuries, the odds are heavily against you as a layperson lacking the counsel of an experienced auto accident attorney.
10. Do car accidents always result in higher insurance premiums?
Your auto insurance premium will rise if you are at fault and, as a result, your insurance company has to pay for the accident claims against you. If you are not at fault, generally your car insurance rates will not increase, because the at-fault party’s insurer will have to pay for medical expenses and vehicle repairs, not yours. But even if you are not at fault, depending on the circumstances of the accident, the type of coverage you have, and your claims history, your rates might nonetheless increase (see source).
11. How do accidents affect insurance rates?
Because the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior, your driving record is a primary factor in determining your insurance premium.
In addition to one’s driving record, insurance companies know that the likelihood a person will have one or more accidents is strongly correlated to his or her age, gender, marital status, zip code, and model of car. Consider:
The younger a person, the more likely he or she will be involved in an accident, teenagers being at the extreme.
Men have more accidents than women.
Single people have more accidents than married ones.
Inner-cities play host to more vehicular accidents than do suburbs.
People driving high-powered sports cars are more prone to accidents than those who drive an econobox.
Thus, the insurance premium for a 21-year-old unmarried male who has had an accident is living in downtown Chicago, and driving a Nissan-Z is going to be astronomically higher than for a 41-year-old accident-free married woman living in a suburb of Chicago such as Lake Forest and driving a Hyundai Elantra (see source).
12. How much does it cost to hire a car-crash attorney?
Galindo car-crash attorneys charge no upfront or out-of-pocket fees. We are only paid a percentage of the compensation we are able to secure for you. So by working with Galindo Law, you incur zero financial risk.
Contact Galindo Law today if you or a loved one have suffered major or minor injuries in an automobile collision.
Remember that proper compensation for pain and damages consequent to an auto accident is your right. You are not asking for charity. You deserve to be adequately compensated for your loss.
Or, if you prefer, email us.
And thank you for reading our blog!