Car accidents make up a significant portion of lawsuits and insurance claims in the U.S. every year. However, many car accident injuries can be attributed to a handful of causes. Some of the leading causes of car accidents include:

  • Speeding
  • Drunk Driving
  • Disobeying traffic laws
  • Distracted driving (such as texting while driving)
  • Underage driving/ driving without a license
  • Bad weather
  • Driving while tired

Most car accident claims are resolved through a civil lawsuit. These will result in a monetary damages award.  However, some car accidents can also lead to criminal consequences, especially those involving drunk driving or DUI (DWI). 

Can the Cause of a Car Accident Affect the Outcome of a Case?

Certainly- for car accidents that involve extremely reckless or dangerous behavior, the monetary damages award can often be higher than those that involve simple negligence. For instance, if a person is recklessly disobeying traffic laws by speeding in a parking lot, they could face a lawsuit for such behavior if they cause any injuries. The lawsuit might result in a punitive damages award, which can sometimes involve very high amounts of damages.

In comparison, a car accident that is caused by bad weather may result in significantly less damages being required. In fact, if the defendant driver is not found liable for any violation, they might not be required to pay damages at all (for instance, if both drivers were injured due to an accident caused by inclement weather). 

Cases that involve DUI or drunk driving can also result in very severe legal consequences. The drunk driver may be subject to penalties such as a temporary or permanent loss of driving privileges. 

Lastly, the nature of the car accident can sometimes indicate which party is liable.  For instance, in most rear-end collisions, the accident is usually caused by the rear car following too closely (though this is not always the case).

What if the Injured Party also Contributed to Causing Their Own Accident?

In some cases, it can happen that an injured driver is actually partially at fault because they somehow helped to cause their own accident.  For instance, suppose a driver was hit by another car at an intersection, but both cars were found to be speeding at the time of impact. Here, it is difficult to tell whether they would not have suffered a collision if they weren’t speeding. So it could be the case that the injured driver is partially at fault in causing the accident. 

In some states, contributory negligence or comparative negligence laws can affect the amount that the plaintiff can be awarded. For instance, some state courts may reduce the damages award, or even completely disallow a damages award based on such laws. 

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With Car Accident Claims?

Understanding the leading causes of car accidents can be of great assistance if you’re dealing with a car accident claim. You may also wish to hire a qualified personal injury lawyer in your area if you need legal representation. Your attorney can advise you on the specific laws in your area, and can guide you throughout the entire litigation process, from start to finish.