According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a person is involved in an automobile accident in America every ten seconds. It is estimated that one individual will die in a car crash every twelve minutes. Automobile accidents are generally the leading case of death of Americans 35 years of age and younger, when there is not a pandemic or other widespread factor involved.
The term “road traffic or accident injury” refers to any injury that occurs while driving in a vehicle on a highway, or on a side street. Injuries from these accidents can be considerably serious, especially for accidents involving high speeds, multiple vehicles, and/or drunk driving (“DUI”).
Some examples of the most common causes of car accidents and road traffic injuries include the following:
- Inclement weather which obscures vision or creates unsafe road conditions;
- Violations of driving laws or rules, such as running red lights or speeding;
- Intoxication, both voluntary and involuntary;
- Cell phone usage or other distractions;
- Falling asleep at the wheel, or driver fatigue;
- Vehicle malfunctions, such as faulty brakes and non-functioning headlights;
- Reckless or careless driving; and
- Construction or other road work that interferes with driving conditions, or creates unsafe driving conditions.
To provide further clarification, motor vehicle accidents can include but may not be limited to any of the following:
- Car-to-car crashes;
- Truck accidents;
- Car-to-pedestrian accidents;
- Motorcycle crashes; and
- Crashing into a guardrail.
The majority of car accidents are caused by irresponsible driving behaviors; past statistics have indicated that 98% of car accidents involve just one single distracted driver. Additionally, it is estimated that one person dies every thirty minutes in vehicle crashes caused by drunk driving.
What Are Some Common Examples Of Road Traffic Injuries?
Some examples of commonly cited traffic injuries include:
- Rear-End Injuries: These injuries occur when someone is tailgating, or following too closely behind another car. Rear-end injuries can also occur when a driver is speeding and cannot brake quickly enough to avoid hitting the vehicle in front of them;
- Rubber-Necking Injuries: Rubber-necking is said to be one of the leading causes of accidents, as well as one of the leading causes of traffic delays. Rubber-necking injuries result from stopping or slowing down in traffic in order to view a road accident that the driver is not a part of;
- Jaywalking: Jaywalking means to cross or walk a street unlawfully, disregarding approaching traffic. Jaywalking is actually illegal in many states, and could result in criminal fines. Although jaywalking is considered to be a pedestrian-related offense, it is included under road traffic claims;
- Pile-Ups: These occur when multiple cars are involved in a single accident. This causes many injuries to the drivers, as well as damage to the vehicles involved; and
- Pedestrian Accidents: Examples of pedestrian accidents could include any injuries in which a pedestrian was part of the cause, or was otherwise associated with the accident.
How Is Fault Determined In a Road Accident?
Claims for a road accident are generally based on the legal theory of negligence. Negligence allows injured parties to recover for the carelessness of others. A person is considered to be negligent if they were careless, given the circumstances. What this means is that the plaintiff must be able to prove that someone else was negligent in causing the accident, in order to recover damages for their injuries.
Generally speaking, the following four legal elements must be satisfied in order to prove negligence for a road accident claim:
- Duty of Care: A duty is the responsibility one person owes to another person. People going about their daily lives owe a duty of reasonable care; meaning, the care that any ordinary and prudent person would utilize under the same circumstances. In terms of traffic or driving laws, all drivers owe all other drivers the duty to drive safely, as well as to obey all traffic laws at all times;
- Breach of Duty: A breach of duty occurs when a person’s level of care falls below the level of care called for by their duty. The plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant breached their duty to drive safely. An example of this would be if the defendant driver failed to obey visible traffic signs, which caused the road traffic injury;
- Causation: The breach of duty must be the actual cause of any resulting injuries. The plaintiff will need to prove that the defendant’s breach actually caused their injuries; and
- Damages: Generally speaking, in terms of negligence claims, actual and quantifiable damage must have occurred as a result of the road traffic injury. What this means is that the plaintiff must be able to calculate the losses and costs associated with their injuries, as well as translate it to monetary amounts. Otherwise, the damages award may be reduced or even denied.
There are some situations in which the other driver will almost always be found to be at fault; meaning, the previously mentioned four elements of negligence need not be proven. If a person has been rear-ended by another driver, it is nearly guaranteed that the other driver is the party at fault.
One of the most basic rules of driving is to ensure that there is enough room to stop safely such as at traffic lights, stop signs, and behind other vehicles. Because of this, the person who collided from behind was the driver who most likely was not following the rules, unless it can be proven otherwise.
Additionally, any time a vehicle is making a left turn, the driver will generally be held liable for a collision with a vehicle that is traveling straight and in the opposite direction. It is important to note that there are very few exceptions to this rule.
Are There Any Remedies For Road Traffic Injury?
Road accident injuries frequently result in a personal injury lawsuit. Personal injury claims can be disguised as legal actions in which a person has suffered physical, mental, emotional injuries or property damages. General remedies include a compensatory damages award that is paid by the defendant to the victim of the accident.
Compensatory damage awards are intended to cover the cost of the expenses associated with the accident. Some examples of these costs can include, but may not be limited to:
- Medical and hospital expenses;
- Lost earning capacity, or missed wages;
- Damages to the victim’s vehicle or other property;
- Reduced quality of life;
- Physical therapy expenses; or
- Missed time at work.
Compensatory damages are awarded in order to restore the plaintiff into the position they were prior to the harm or loss. Generally speaking, there are two categories of compensatory damage awards:
- Special damages generally include damages that can be calculated, such as those previously discussed; and
- General damages may be awarded for losses that cannot be easily determined through monetary calculations. Examples of general damages can include losses connected with emotional distress, defamation, or loss of consortium or companionship.
It is important to note that state laws vary in terms of compensatory damages. Some states place limits on compensatory damages, especially general damages.
Do I Need An Attorney For Road Traffic Injury?
A lawsuit for a road or traffic accident injury may be possible if you have been injured in an accident. An experienced and local car accident lawyer can provide assistance with road traffic injuries, as well as other related claims.
Because state laws can vary widely in terms of negligence and damages recovery, it is advised that you work with an attorney so that they can provide legal advice regarding the relevant injury laws in your state. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you gather evidence to support your legal claim, and will also be able to represent you in court, as needed.