The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that motor vehicle crashes and fatalities increased in 2012. Over 33,000 people died in crashes that year, an increase from the year before. Car accidents are among the most common types of crashes that cause injury. Many of these collisions involve two cars, but a large percentage of fatalities involve motorcyclists and pedestrians. In fatal accidents caused primarily by someone other than the decedent, the family of the decedent may bring a wrongful death suit.
If you are able to talk and move around after a car accident, you should exchange contact information and insurance information with the other driver. Although you may be tempted to argue about whose fault the accident was, it is best not to debate the issue or to concede that you were at fault. Admissions of fault made to the other driver or his or her insurance company are likely to weaken your position. In many cases, it is not clear whose fault a car crash was, particularly when multiple cars are involved.
Car crashes can be the result of:
- Distracted Driving
- Drunk and Impaired Driving
- Hit and Run Accidents
- Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist
- Head-On Collisions
- Failure to Yield Accidents
- Side Impact Accidents
- Rollover Accidents
- Mechanical Malfunctions
- Defective Car Parts
- Aggressive Driving Accidents
- Chain Reaction / Multi-Vehicle Accidents
- Teen Driver Car Accidents
- Elderly Related Car Accidents
Recovering Damages for Car Accidents Caused by Multiple Defendants
Often, the negligence of several people or entities combines to create a car crash. Suppose for example, there is roadwork that changes the texture of the road. The construction company and the city fail to give appropriate warnings. A drunk driver loses control of his vehicle on the changed road and swerves towards a fatigued driver, whose fatigue reduces his ability to respond to the car swerving towards him. On top of that, his car’s brakes are defective, so he crashes into the plaintiff.
Usually an experienced plaintiff’s attorney will investigate all possible causes of an accident and bring in all potentially responsible parties. This allows the plaintiff the greatest possibility of full recovery of his or her damages. A plaintiff in the example above may be able to sue the construction company, the city, the drunk driver, the fatigued driver, and the manufacturer of the brakes.
A plaintiff bringing a lawsuit after a car crash has only one opportunity to obtain compensation for any injuries. If a victim sues only one party when there are multiple responsible parties, he or she has lost the opportunity to bring a suit against the other responsible parties.
In the example above, the jury will apportion fault among all parties found to be responsible. Often, one or more defendants will use the defense that the plaintiff is partially at fault. In those cases, the jury will also evaluate the plaintiff’s culpability. If the total award is $100,000, and the city is 10% at fault, the construction company is 20% at fault, the drunk driver is 40% at fault,
Thanks to advocacy efforts across the country, the number of bicyclists on American roads has increased substantially over the past decade. As more riders are on the road, the likelihood of bicycle-related accidents increases. While many cities have taken steps to make roads a safer place for bicyclists, others have not. Until all cities embrace bicycle culture and initiate changes to the infrastructure, bicycle-related accidents will continue to be problematic.
Overview of Bicycle Accidents in the United States
Statistics show that while the overall number of bicycle accidents in the country is declining, the number of fatal bike accidents is on the rise. In 2015, there were 45,000 reported bicycle accidents in the United States, down from 50,000 reported accidents in the prior year. However, the number of fatal accidents increased by more than 12 percent during this same time.
Overall Decline in Bike Accidents
If more bicyclists are on the road than ever before, why are bicycle accidents happening less frequently? The answer may be due to the fact that advocacy groups have been successful in getting towns and cities across the country to embrace the bicycling culture.
“An increasing number of cities have added safety features – including bike lanes and protective medians – to its existing infrastructure,” says Sherwin Arzani, an attorney who handles bicycle accidents in Los Angeles, CA. Others have also ramped up efforts to engage the community about bicycle safety.
Drivers are encouraged to be alert of bicyclists and careful when sharing the road. Bicyclists have more information available to them about their legal obligations on the road and how they can help to prevent bike accidents.
Significant Increase in Fatal Bike Accidents
Fewer bike accidents are happening on American roads. However, a larger percentage of these accidents tend to be fatal. Why?
Reasons that the number of fatal bike accidents has risen include:
- New bicyclists are less familiar with safe biking practices
- Drivers are not using caution when sharing the road with bicyclists, and
- Cities are planning, but have not implemented changes to infrastructure to support bicyclist safety.
Urban Bicycle Accidents
Statistics show that urban bicycle accidents (1) tend to happen more frequently and (2) result in more serious injuries. In fact, approximately 70 percent of all fatal bike accidents happen in our nation’s cities. Cities tend to have much more heavily-traveled roads and less flexibility to install bicycle safety features than suburban and rural areas.
Most Dangerous Cities for Bicyclists
Statistics show that the following cities tend to be the most dangerous for bicyclists:
- Albuquerque, NM
- Tucson, AZ
- Las Vegas, NV
- Phoenix, AZ
- San Jose, CA
- Columbus, OH
- San Francisco, CA
- Memphis, TN
- Philadelphia, PA
- Los Angeles, CA.
Most of these cities have seen a staggering increase in the number of bicyclists on the roads. San Francisco, for example, saw a 13 percent increase in riders between 2011 and 2016. The number of riders in Albuquerque has risen by more than 46 percent since 2000.
Safest Cities for Bicyclists
Smaller cities tend
Car accidents can be terrifying experiences. Often, at least some of the people involved are injured, sometimes severely, and the automobiles that crashed are damaged. The legal system can help the parties sort out who is at fault for the accident, and which party needs to pay the doctors’ and mechanics’ bills.
How a Car Accident Case Works
Car accident law is a combination of traffic and personal injury law. Someone who is injured in an auto accident can hire an attorney who will negotiate with the other drivers to determine who should pay for the damage, and if necessary, the attorney will file a lawsuit. The courts will piece together exactly what happened using police reports, photos, and other evidence, and then use the local traffic laws as well as legal concepts such as to determine who caused the accident. Whoever is at fault usually has to compensate the other party for medical and property expenses, as well as for harm such as lost wages and pain and suffering.
However, this is not always a simple calculation, since sometimes both drivers are at fault. Each state has slightly different rules for situations in which there is more than one person responsible for the crash. Some states require that one party pays all the bills, whereas others allow the two parties to split the bills according to the amount each party is to blame.
The Role of Auto Insurance
Fortunately, most people do not pay all of the damages stemming from a collision out of pocket. Automobile insurance may pay to repair at least some of the damages or replacement cost for all or some of the vehicles involved, and may pay for some medical expenses as well. Insurance companies may also pay for an attorney, if necessary, although clients do not usually get to choose their own attorney. State laws vary widely on the extent and types of insurance required to drive a vehicle.
Determining Who Is At Fault
The laws on who is at fault vary depending on the types of vehicles involved. Most states give more protections to pedestrians and bicyclists, since they are more vulnerable to injuries from a collision. Similarly, motorcyclists may have greater injuries, but motorcyclists also must follow different traffic rules since they can be faster and more nimble than an automobile. Truck drivers are usually professionally trained and certified, and have to drive more carefully than most other drivers. Determining who pays for the damage after a collision with a truck is slightly more complicated than other kinds of accidents because trucks are often commercially owned, so the liability may rest not only on the driver, but on the owner of the truck as well.
Look through the articles in this section to find more information on the different types of collisions, how auto insurance works, and on what to do after a car accident to ensure that any legal case that follows goes as smoothly as possible.
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